Study ceiling: Constantine XI Palaeologus faux bas relief

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2015-05-09 17.38.52As I’ve posted before, 2015-05-09 12.51.56 Constantine XI Palaeologus is my favorite Byzantine emperor, and I’ve been looking forward to getting his faux bas relief into place over my world history stack in the study. 2011 trip

At the right side of the picture is my first attempt at portrait, that of Admiral Nimitz over the Naval History stack.  I decided to do these in round porthole-shaped panels, so the first step was to insert panels over the stacks (I did three at the same time today so I’d be a step ahead for U.S. and military history when I get around to them).  I didn’t include portholes in my original design for the “parapet” in the ceiling, but it’s an easy detail to add.  )The photo at right shows a series of circular panels already added on the east wall). 2015-05-09 14.38.39

2015-05-09 14.11.18To do this, I take a protractor and draw the necessary circles on the ceiling.  Then I pick out the highlights and shadow lines, and paint over the old lines, shown at right as I’m finishing up. 2015-05-09 14.44.16

There are no known reliable images of Constantine, the last Byzantine emperor, and I sure was not going to use the most common one , a truly awful woodcut shown at right Constantine-xi
so I decided to go with the statuet of his that stands in Cathedral Square in Athens (which I was happy to show off to the boys when we were there in 2011).

Constantine XI - originalThe first step is to locate a good head shot (at left), then “posterize” it is Picasa where it’s down to four shades (at right). Constantine XI  Next you print it out and use a protractor to figure out how it fits in the circle, and mark a grid to help in transferring the photo to the wall. The relevant sheet for Admiral Nimitz and the sheet for the future Thomas Jefferson are shown behind2015-05-09 12.50.39

The next stage is to transfer the drawing to the ceiling, shown at right.  2015-05-09 15.31.35

Obviously I can’t draw, but you really don’t have to – if you haven’t figured it out by now, this is now just paint by numbers, and you keep overpainting till it looks right.   2015-05-09 16.58.40In this case, I had an image of Constantine’s original signature in the original Greek, so I extracted his first and last names so I could put it under his portrait, instead of Latin letters.

Very enjoyable project – I think start to finish less than four hours.

About Post Author

Michael C. Smith

Marshall, Texas lawyer. I post on things that attract my interest while puttering in my study. Mostly family, books, home, history, World War II and scale modeling.
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