I regularly get requests for clarifications on the sigil-making process, so I thought I’d show a few of the steps I use to (quickly) create some of the custom sigils I make for Tumblr followers.
This isn’t meant to imply my process is the “right” way to do it, as there are many, many techniques and approaches to sigilcraft. This is a fast, efficient way to make a sigil I have no personal investment in. In your sigil work you probably aren’t going for speed, and you may need to go through dozens of versions to create the sigil that speaks to your personal desire.
The example below is one I made yesterday, and I chose it because it came together quickly, on a single page, and in a matter of a few minutes. It’s common for sigils to take a half-dozen pages like this before I finally settle on a design.
Step 1: Drafting
The request here was a simple one. “I am enough.” I wrote it out using a charcoal pencil on a page i my cheap sketchbook ($4 from Michael’s). At first, I thought I’d try working with Irish uncial characters (top left), but soon decided that Orkhon characters (”Turkic runes”) were a better fit for my mood.
Note that I didn’t strike out the vowels. I often don’t when I’m working with non-Latin alphabets, and if you’re curious about why, I explain it in this post.
You can see the merging of shapes as I play around with the basic structure. It may be harder to see the process, but a large part of my process is simply to turn letters and shapes until they overlap, then merge the lines.
The final rough sigil is in the middle.
Step 2: Clarifying
Once I have the overall symbol worked out, I break out the charcoals, conte crayons or oil pastels. Then I do a few versions with different line weights and proportions. It’s common for me to do pages and pages of these, looking for the one that comes together just right. I’m going to be showing these off on Tumblr, after all.
You don’t need to worry about this step. Your sigil is for you, and no one else. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. If you’re going to be activating it through a destructive ritual (burning, for instance), it’s usually best to keep it simple.
As you can see, this isn’t a home run. The lines are uneven, and it’s pretty rough. It doesn’t look as polished as the things I post to my site and to Tumblr. It has also changed a little from the charcoal sketch, as I’m still playing around with some of the details.
In this case, I didn’t create a final charcoal version. I knew I was going to make yet another version in ink, so this was more like a second draft.
Step 3: Final Draft
Now that I had a draft I liked, I brought out my brushes and ink. After warming up with some rougher versions (just to practice the strokes), I made an ink version. Here’s how it looked.
Again, I’ve made a few tweaks to the design, but the fundamental shape hasn’t changed much from that first charcoal draft.
Step 4: Finalization
I didn’t feel like waiting for the ink to dry so that I could scan this in. Instead, I took a photo and ran that into Photoshop for a bit of cleanup. (If you’re curious, I cropped it, desaturated the image, and put it through the Treshhold process to get clean a black and white image.)
From there, it was just a matter of placing the text, resizing it for the web, and posting it.
In retrospect, I could have cleaned up the edges a little to make for smoother lines. But art isn’t supposed to be perfect, is it?
Okay I need to get back into doing horse portraits n stuff so I need a few to practice with before I open commissions and whatnot.
If you are interested in a watercolour or pencil portrait or a conte/charcoal sketch of your horse or your fav horse submit, message or tag me in photos you yourself have taken or have permission to use. Tag/send me as many as you want! As many horses as you want!
Until next Friday (June 16th) I’ll pick 3-6, possibly more, different horses to do. ily
edit : if you want to tag me in photos of your dogs/cats/other pets do it and I’ll pick from them too!!
You have such a strong understanding/usage of value in your work—is there anything you find helps with varying your value and maintaining contrast? I often have a difficult time with this
Oh man, thank you so much!!!
I think I owe my understanding of value and contrast almost 100% to taking many many traditional drawing classes throughout my art education. I used the most obnoxious media possible– charcoal and/or conte crayon– and really fought with it.
Having to struggle with the medium is what enables you to appreciate the fine distinctions between values, and most importantly observational drawing is the only way to learn how to see properly. Also, using real media is a great way to learn to be not precious with your work, which doesn’t have anything to do with value but is an essential development for any artist. I am a huge huge huge promoter of learning traditional drawing technique.