Drawing the Celtic Meerkats
To start the Meerkats, I created the outer boundary and the outlines of the three spirals with a compass. I drew the centerline of the bounding circle with a ruler.
The creation of spirals is a subject worthy of it’s own tutorial, so for the purposes of this tutorial, I will simply note that I created them all with the same spiral design, all turning clockwise, titled to balance the overall design with a difinitive bottom and top.
I was not completely confident of the shape of meerkats, so I spent some time looking at various photos before placing the stylized meerkats in the design. I decided to use two meerkats, back to back along the center line to reinforce the horizontal balance of the design and further solidify the upward direction.
A full discussion of zoomorphs is also a subject worthy of it’s own tutorial, so I will note that I used spiral designs to define the placement of the shoulders, and create definition of the abdominal region. The legs and tails weave over each other. The face and paw shapes are directly inspired by the Book of Kells.
After drawing in the focus elements, I was left with a significant amount of space. This is what I will fill with Celtic knotwork.
I decided to create a double-line for the larger portion of the design, and plan to later weave another chord through the spaces that are left.
To balance the large spiral at the bottom, I created a double-line arch over the meerkat’s heads. Crossing that, I drew two more double-lines, ensuring that I will not create a design which is unable to smoothly transition through the most narrow part of the space. I carefully eyeballed the lines so they would mirror each other along the centerline.
Next I joined the centerlines of the three parts I had created, forming a balanced weave that will evenly fill the space above the meerkats.
I filled in the rest of the two chords, and continued down through the narrow space. At this point I chose to follow the outermost line of the chords because it would come the closest to all bounding edges.
I wanted the two-chord part of the weave to have a very sweeping feel to it, and I wanted the transitions to feel very natural in line with the outermost circle. To this end, I drew the broad curves that would lay against each of the bounding lines. By doing this, I knew that the outermost parts of the weave would smoothly cuddle up to the other elements.
In order to evenly fill the spaces, I needed to ensure that the chords would not leave any large gaps, so I connected some of the sections by their centerlines in such a way that they formed a rough series of rows. At this point, I can be certain that the space will be filled regardless of where the crosslines fall.
At this point, I realized that I was going to be unable to create a closed double-chord because of the loops under the meerkat’s chins. These loops created a section that was too bound for another chord to return through it. In order for a chord to be continuous, what enters an area must leave an area. I had to remove the loop and create a joining line over the meerkats head by which the loose ends could eventually be joined to each other.
I finished defining the new two-chord line over the meerkat’s heads, and defined the transitions from top to bottom on both sides.
After defining the two-chords for all the joined sections, I joined the last two open ends on each side. I created an extra loop near the meerkat’s feet to fill the space roughly as much as it is for the rest of the design.
At this point, the meerkats are technically a complete design, and I could have stopped here. However, I wanted to add another chord element weaving through the two-chord design.