PaintShop Celtic Knot

Recently I saw a Celtic Knot and found both the simplicity and beauty of it very intriguing.

This started me wondering if it was possible to draw one with PaintShop Pro.

My curiosity led to lots of Google and Bing searches and a few hours on  YouTube.  There sure were a lot of instructional videos that demonstrated how to create one with paper and pencil but I never did find one that explained how to draw a Celtic knot with a computer program.

As time went on I tried many different techniques (using my Intuos Pro tablet) with varying success ranging from really, really bad results to just plain bad results.  It certainly seems that a good product, like the tablet, cannot compensate for poor drawing skills.

Another approach was needed.  

As this project was bubbling about in my head I was also working on the Pen Tool tutorials and learningceltic knot end55 more about vectors and suddenly voila - the solution and the method became clear. 

To successfully create a Celtic knot with PaintShop Pro it was necessary to use the Pen Tool, Vectors and Shapes.

All that was needed, then, were some clear, easy to follow Celtic knot instructions and, as the saying goes, "when the student is ready the teacher will appear" was both accurate and appropriate.

Debbie Hodge is the very creative person who wrote fabulous instructions that were easy to follow.  Her instructions have been adapted to work with PaintShop Pro.

Drawing a Celtic knot with PaintShop Pro is a fun project.  We'll be mostly using Vectors with Pen Tool with lots and lots of Layers.  Don't let Layers or the Pen Tool to terrify you - the project is quite long but it's mostly easy to complete.

Let's get to this fun project ...

Setting Up The File

Step 1

Start with a new file with a white background  that's in landscape (that is the file is wider than it is tall). Any of the presets that are labeled horizontal are fine.  Mine is 7" wide by 5" high.

Then go View > Grid to turn on the grid and then View > Change Grid, Guide and Snap Properties ... and change the numbers to the ones in the image. 

celtic knot view menu
celtic knot change guides
View Menu
Change Guides

This simply gives you something easy to work with. 

Step 2

In this step we're going to add some dots to our guidelines with the Brush Tool so we'll know where to draw the lines.

My Celtic knot page is 9 dots wide X 7 dots high.  You can use any odd number you wish ( 7 X 5 or 11 X 9).  You can even go bigger if you feel particularly adventurous!  For these instructions I'll just go with a 9 X 7 dot pattern.

Create a new layer (call it something like dots) above the Background,  select the Brush Tool with a size about 20 pixels and set the foreground color to black.  

Start somewhere in the top left and make a single dot where two grid lines cross, count over two grid lines and do it again.  Repeat this pattern until there are 9 dots across the top.

Getting the dots exactly centered on the grid lines is not crucial but your end drawing will be much more precise if the dots are perfectly centered.

Now choose either corner and with the existing dot being number one, add 6 more dots going vertically, making sure you skip every other grid line.

Now fill in the rest of the dots across the bottom and up the other side.

celtic knot dots

Change the foreground color to anything you want and fill in the inside dots as shown (it can be done on the existing dot layer or on a new layer).  Notice that each outside dot gets an inside dot except for the four corner dots.

When you've got the dots done save the file as a .psimage and give it a unique name (I chose knot-dots.psimage) which preserves the layers and gives the file an easy to remember name - this is my Celtic knot template now.

Step 3

Now is the time to start connecting the dots, so to speak!

You can draw a Celtic knot freehand using the Brush Tool if you wish or you can use the Pen Tool and use vectors.  It's likely that freehand will be less refined unless you've got a very steady hand.  I don't so the Pen Tool is the one for me.

If you select freehand then create a new layer and move past the Pen Tool information..

If you are using the Pen Tool then here are the options with the Pen Tool selected.

celtic knot option bar left
Option Bar Left

celtic knot option bar right
Option Bar Right

What we are doing is connecting the inside dots on diagonals using the Lines and Polylines selection in the Options Bar - first from right to left and then from left to right.

A note about brush size (for both freehand and Pen Tool).  If you made your dots 20 pixels then perhaps choose a smaller brush size for the rest of the steps, perhaps about 10 pixels.  I kept my lines at 20 pixels for the example and feel they are a bit too thick.

It's easier if you zoom in really close so the starting and ending points are exactly where they need to be.  If this aspect is messed up then the final product may be a bit messy.

Start in the upper left corner and follow the pattern below.  As soon as you set the first node the program will add a Vector layer.  After each line is drawn make sure to right-click and select Apply or click on the Apply button in the Options Bar.

When all of the lines are drawn give this layer a name - 45 degrees seemed like a good idea.

celtic knot diagonals one

Save your work as your-namev1.pspimage.

Step 4

The next step is to add more diagonal lines from left to right.  Make a new Vector layer and start the second set of lines (if you do the second set of lines on the same vector layer as the first set then editing the knot at the end will be very challenging),   Follow the example below.

celtic knot diagonal lines left to right

I started in the top right corner - the new lines are highlighted in red to make it easier to follow.  Things are coming along nicely.  After these lines are completed give the layer a name and -45 degrees seemed like a good idea.

Save your work as your-namev2.pspimage.

Step 5

This step is preparation for the next step.

Add a new raster layer, select the paint brush and a nice bright color.  Now zoom in and add some guide dots as shown below.  These will be our guides for the corners and round edges.

celtic knot added colorful dots

Save your work as your-namev3.pspimage.


Part 1 Video

Step 6

Celtic knot sample cornerAll of those little dots were added to help make the corners of the Celtic knot uniform and even.

With the Pen Tool selected and the Bezier Curve option set zoom in on one of the dots (I chose dot 1 as shown in the graphic)  added in the last step and left click or tap with your pen.  This will set a starting node.

The easiest procedure is to set the second node at point 2 and without releasing the mouse button or lifting the pen off of the tablet, draw out the adjusting arm so that a nice, smooth curve is created between point 1 and 2.  I made sure that the curve just touched the bottom of the dot half way between dots 1 and 2.

Click on the Apply check mark in the Option Bar.

Now place another start node on point 3 and the next node on point 2 and draw out the curve as before.
Click  the apply check mark to accept the curve.

Your first corner is done - now do it three more times to arrive at the following ...

celtic knot completed corners

Save your work as your-namev4.pspimage.

Step 7

celtic knot edgesIn this step we are adding the scalloped edges of the Celtic knot.

It would be wise to create a new Vector layer (name it  Edges), select the Pen Tool and set the Option to Bezier Curves.

Place the first node at position 1 and the second at position 2.  Without releasing the mouse or lifting the pen from the tablet, pull out the adjusting handle so that the curve crosses through the grid line immediately above the dot between points 1 and 2.

Do this all the way around the figure and when you're finished it should look like this ...

celtic know conrers and edges

Save your work as your-namev5.pspimage.

Just for fun, start turning off the guide layers to see what you've got to this point!

Step 8

In this step we're going to add the inside curves at the corners and then along the sides.  All of the corners and inside curves were done with the Pen Tool.

celtic knot inside curves

Add a new Vector layer and name it scallops, or whatever you wish.

To aid in placement of the inside curves, the opacity of the the Vector layers were lowered so the guides were easy to see.

The next thing I did was add a new Vector layer and then drew the guide line on all four corners with the Pen Tool set to lines and polylines and the size of the line was decreased.  Adding the guide line made it much easier to create the inside corner.

Another Vector layer was added and a node was place on point 1 with the Pen Tool set to Bezier Curves.  A second node was added and without letting go of the left mouse button or lifting the pen, draw out a curve making sure the curves peak is over the top of the guide line.

Do the same thing for all of the corners.

Now it's time to add the inside scallops.

celtic knot scallop demo

A node was placed on point 3 and a second on point 4.  Without letting go of the mouse or lifting the pen, draw the curve up to make a nice curve.

The same procedure is followed around the inside of the celtic knot until all of the inside curves are completed.

This is the end of the drawing of the knot so increase the opacity of the dimmed out Vector Layers, zoom out and have a look.

This is where things stand now with the celtic knot ...

celtic knot post draw

Save your work as your-namev6.pspimage.

Step 9

We no longer need the grid lines, dots and some of the lines.  This is where having a lot of named  layers makes the project so much easier than doing all of the work on only a few layers.

Firstly, go to the View menu and turn off the grid and remove the visibility of the Raster Layers with the dots.  This is what you've got and there still are some things to do to complete the project.

Now is when some creative erasing will happen.  All of the erasing will be done on the 45 degree layer and the -45 degree layer.  The goal is to erase the hard corners around the curves. 

celtic knot sharp edges

When you turn off the visibility of the -45 degree layer then all that's visible are the 45 degree lines.

celtic knot 45 offThis is how the Celtic knot will look with the -45 degree layer turned off. 

Highlight the 45 degree vector layer, zoom in close, grab the eraser and erase the short little lines where they go beyond the curves.

As soon as you start erasing, PaintShop Pro will ask if you want to convert the vector layer to a raster layer - click OK.

Methodically work your way around the knot and when all of the little lines have been erased you're done with the first part.

Turn on the visibility of the -45 degree layer, turn off the visibility of the 45 degree layer and highlight the -45 degree layer.

celtic knot minus 45 degrees

As before, erase the lines where they extend beyond the curves.

Work your way around the knot and when you're finished and the -45 degree layer is turned on again then you'll happily arrive at the graphic below ...

celtic knot layers deleted

Save your work as your-namev6.pspimage.

Step 10

celtic knot over under

This where we are going with this - it may look challenging to go from Step 9 to the finished Celtic knot but with a bit of care it really isn't too difficult.

The first thing to do is choose a starting point and then following the strand over then under and so on until you end up back at the starting point.  When you do that then you will be finished other than some additional embellishments.  

If you start in the top left corner and head down toward the bottom right corner you will see that the strand in continuous and follows a pattern of over then under then over then under until a fully formed and really attractive Celtic knot appears out of the chaos ...

celtic knot over and under

Here's why having all of those layers comes in handy.  In the above image I want to have the strand appear to go over the first strand it meets.  This is how to get started ...
celtic knot first over
Select the vector layer that has the lines running from the top right to the bottom left and then lower the opacity of that layer.

Lower the opacity of this layer until there's a visible difference between these lines and the lines running in the other direction.

Select the Eraser tool and erase the light lines as shown here.  When you first start erasing PaintShop will tell you that if you want to use the Eraser on this layer then the layer has to be changed to a Raster layer.  Click OK.

Erase the first two lines (as shown).

As we travel along the strand it will go under the next set of lines.

Highlight the Vector layer with the lines running from the twp left to the bottom right at -45 degrees and lower the opacity of the layer as before.

Grab the Eraser tool once again, click OK when asked to change the layer to a Raster layer and carefully erase the light lines.

Increase the opacity of the layer, sit back and admire your awesome work.

Keep doing the preceding two steps until you arrive back at the beginning.

Zoom out and prepare to be amazed by your fabulous Celtic knot! 


Video Part 2

You can stop here or do some additional things to spice up your Celtic knot, such as ...

  • Save as a .png file and add as a tattoo.
  • Color you knot.
  • Add some 3D effects to your knot.
  • Or simply admire your creation!

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PaintShop Pro Celtic Knot

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Celtic Knot
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Step 1 - Setting up the file.

Step 2 - Adding guides.

Step 3 - Pen Tools and first lines.

Step 4 - Adding the next lines.

Step 5 - Colorful dots.
Step 6 - Corner curves.

Step 7 - Edge curves.

Step 8 - Doing the inner curves.

Step 9 - Turn off the layers and start erasing.

Step 10 - Over and under.
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