Illumination is a technique used to enrich manuscripts, whereby the painted decoration, which might comprise initials, borders or miniature illustrations is further embellished through the application of gold sheet to the vellum or parchment. The decoration of a manuscript was a very laborious process, which took place throughout a number of steps. The desired text was usually written before the manuscripts were illuminated, on parchment or vellum cut down to the appropriate size. After the general layout of the page was planned, the pages were ruled, written and then either the monk himself, the amanuensis who had written down the text or an illustrator, proceeded with the decoration, first by silverpoint drawing the illustration, then by applying the gold sheet and burnishing it in the areas desired and finally by painting and modulating colours on the rest of the design. Illuminated manuscripts can range from very simple to wonderfully complex illustrated works of art.

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