Supports: Parchment/ Velum
Dry ground pigments: Any pigment used in commercially available watercolor paint may
be used to make paint for illumination.
Inks: Iron-gall, lampblack inks (carbon, similar to India ink of today), modern drawing ink
Binders: Gums (A. senegal acacia and fruit tree)/Glair
Tools: metal points, fine round brushes, quill pens, shells for paint
Gilding materials and tools: See section under Heading Gilding "Gilding on parchment"
Mortar and pestle or grinding slab and muller watercolor
Traditional Palette /Pigments:
Despite the large array of available pigments most manuscript
illuminators selected a fairly restricted palette, probably for practical reasons.
Whites: Lead, Chalk
Blacks: Carbon (Lampblack and charcoal from various sources)
Blues: Ultramarine (Lapis), Azurite, Indigo
Orange: Minium (red lead)
Greens: Terre Verte Earth, mixed greens
Orange: Minium (Red Lead)
Yellow: Orpiment, Lead-tin yellows
Lake colors: Organic dyes Brazil, Kermes, Lac, organic colorants/plant dyes
Gold: Leaf, powdered
These pigments are available today, see section on sources under "home."
Some of these pigments are poisonous. Each has unique handling characteristics
which require practice to understand and use successfully.
Supports: Paper and Parchment are both used for illuminations today. They are very different. Paper is
absorbent so your paint will sink into it giving a drawing/ watercolor like quality to the work. Parchment
is not absorbent the paint will remain on the surface giving a painting like appearance to the work.
Dry ground artists pigments: A vast array of pigments are available today. Any pigments used in
commercially available watercolor paints are suitable for hand made paint for manuscript use.
Commercially prepared watercolors and gouache: Any color is suitable, use only good quality
paint. Watercolor paints are pigment bound with gum arabic and a hygroscopic agent of some sort.
Pencils: Hard leads should be used to avoid smeary lines and excess graphite getting into the paint layer.
Inks: Artist quality drawing inks
Shell gold: Commercially prepared gold powder in gum arabic binder, similar to dry watercolor.
Water color palette with wells for liquid paint