Illuminated manuscripts can have some very complex borders. Take the above manuscript from the University of North Carolina. However a beautiful medieval border doesn’t have to be so complex.

Simple, elegant and pretty. And easy to do. Use a 30/60 degree triangle to make it. How? See below.

Also, simple, elegant and pretty. Use a 45 degree triangle to do this one. How? See below. Okay, I’ve wet your appetite a little bit. But how do you make this work? I did some simple examples of how to use the tools you need to make these borders easy to draw. Now the tools I will be using are modern and plastic. They are just the modern version of the wooden medieval tools. Wooden ones today are a bit out of my price range. First we draw the column. We do this in three simple steps. Step 1 – Figure out if your project will be portrait or landscape. Put your column on the paper and measure out its width. In this case one inch.

Step 2 – Turn your page 90 degrees and draw out the length of the column. I chose to use green ink to make it more visible for you.

Step 3 – Reorient your column in the direction you will be doing your work.

Alright so you have a column. What if you want a column on more than just one side? Draw them in too. I recommend using something you can erase until you get down to final parts of the project. I drew in three sample columns I will be using to show you different things.

Grab your drafting triangles and let’s see what we can do with them!

Take care to notice where the edge of the triangle is. In this case I’ll be using the 90 degree edge but the point edge works just as well.

Now how wide do you want your lines to be? Move your edge that distance on the t-square. In this case I will move it 1/8″ to the left. This will let me draw a line below the line I just drew.

Apologies to those who use the metric system. My t-square works best using the imperial system. So what do the drawing results look like?

You can create a pattern this way if you choose. Here I repeated it 1/4″ apart from each other.

You can turn the triangle around and get lines the opposite direction.

You can do this all the way down if you like.

Of course you can even overlap and cross the lines to make a variety of different patterns. So that was the 45 degree triangle, what about the 30/60 triangle. It works much the same way.

And there is the 30 degree version as well.

And if you really want you can add the triangles together!

There are a lot of things you can do using these basic drafting tools. I hope showing you some of the basic techniques will inspire you to try them out and to play around and see what else you can do with them.

At one point I was shown how to do this with an Ames Lettering Guide, but somehow this seems much simpler.

Great idea!