I live in a kingdom that does preprinted award blanks (that are then painted and the details about the recipients filled in later) for our Award of Arms level (and children’s awards). This allows our king and queen to give out awards with their persona involved in the process, and it also allows those who are new to scribal arts to try things out without having to buy a whole lot of supplies at one go. I know that this is anathema in other kingdoms, but it works well for Calontir.
I’ve had the great privilege to create preprints for a couple of reigns. (I got to do a simple AoA for Matsu and Elena, and a Swan and Mallet for Ashir II and Ashland II.)
So, in creating a preprint master, get a few details, the process is similar to any other scroll in the Society: asking questions. Will there be text? Who is doing the text? Is someone else doing the calligraphy? What time period are your royals going to be portraying? Will you need to do just the art, or will you have to do the entire thing? This will 1) help you figure out your next steps and 2) will help figure out where to research next.
The main process starts with line art. I’ve done both by traditional methods (pencil, tracing parchment, copious amounts of swearing, and art markers), but also digital methods. The Leather Mallet (see left) was done using Adobe Illustrator. Do note that if you’re creating digital artwork that it needs to be print-ready resolution (300 dpi or higher) so that it can be printed without too many digital artifacts. Nothing is worse than illustrations with blocky outlines.
Things you can do with preprint masters: tracing. Tracing is period. In Illustrator, you can place the artwork with the piece you want to use directly into the file (on a locked layer). In a more traditional method, you can directly trace out of a book. Now, if you want to create art, nothing is stopping you from that, but tracing is okay, and it is period.
It is important to note that preprints are usually printed on 8.5″x11″ cardstock (the colour of the paper could change slightly, depending on reigns, but it’s usually a parchment- or stone-look 65-80lb cardstock), so making sure to leave margins helps immensely for framing later.
I usually go with simple line work that allows for more details to be added by the scribe actually doing the painting – things like shading, background details, or diapering, but would look good even as swaths of colour blocks for newer painters. Your mileage, of course, may vary, but that worked well for this particular preprint.
Once all of the bits (calligraphy, etc.) have come together, it is ready to be printed and distributed. The Royal Scribe (in Calontir, at least) will handle getting things printed on a kingdom level, but if you’re in a barony or a similarly smaller group, ask your baronage about where to get things printed.
And lest anyone think that preprints are terrible, I give you some of the ones I’ve painted over the past few years.