Hand-painted to Digital: The Process

I’m an old school paper, brushes and paint gal. I’m pretty tech savvy and can hold my own with software, but digital art is still a learning curve I’m working to master. Imagine my delight when a client wanted a hand-painted header for her website! Be still my heart.

Everything was the same almost to the end when the “finished” header needed to be placed in its digital home. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the process:

First, brainstorming ideas.


Once we settled on an arrangement, I made the rough on vellum in pencil so we could move things around if needed. She wanted me to add ferns. 

ME_Template                       FernPlacement


Then the fun stuff – mixing the colors.

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Once the client approves a palette it’s time to bring it to life. The image is transferred to scale onto paper and I start painting. I like to work in small increments  – making a mistake means starting over and I want to avoid that.



When I’m not sure about an idea or stroke I’ll test it on the sidelines until I’m confident…like figuring out how I’m going to make the ferns. Sometimes I’ll play with a new idea and doodle with the paint until I find something I like. My clean palette looks like this by the end of the project.



It’s exciting to see it come to life bit by bit! I work with like colors in the same sitting if I can for consistency.





See that extra piece of greenery up top? Directly below it I smudged the paint with my hand. Up top I will recreate that section then use Photoshop magic to replace the smudged area with the clean version.  Once the original is finished, I erase all the pencil lines then scan it into the computer. My commercial photographic scanner gives me super high resolution options to make sure details aren’t lost in the transfer. Then it’s time to remove the background paper in Photoshop. The aqua background is in place to illuminate any spots I might miss. (Yes, I am working upside down. I’ll also use my other hand when necessary to reach tight spots.)

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Once I’m happy it’s sized accordingly and sent to the web-designer for import. You can see the final results on Michaela’s site!

Snow Day

If you live on the upper east coast or points north, chances are you have more white stuff than we do, but eastern Virginia doesn’t get much but maybe once a year.  Because we don’t get much, our highway people don’t have a bunch of equipment for it, so things get wimpy – people stay home, schools close and folks work from home if they can.  There’s not enough snow on the ground to go slide down the golf course hills, so it’s a regular day for me except everyone else is home here, too.


This is my view today as I work.  All that snow makes it BRIGHT in here! I had to pull the shades down 3/4 of the way to keep from needing my sunglasses.   Today I’m painting  a header for a client and doing other Illustrator stuff. Tonight is girly-crafty night with my girls, and I have hand work to do.

There are squirrel tracks outside the back door. From the look of the muddy prints on the door, I’d say they wanted in. And no wonder –  it’s 12.8 degrees out there with a wind chill of 10. Brrr! I made sure my feathered friends have fresh water, and they’re thanking me by singing outside my window. 🙂

Valentines 2013

When making last year’s Valentines I kept the theme “Love Letters” and had a nice surprise at the end. This year I had five Valentines to make instead of four, so it was time to come up with something new. I didn’t need to look far. As my friends and I gathered to make this year’s snippets of love, one of the gals showed up with cupcakes made by our friend, Alice. Alice’s cakes are famous and much sought-after here on the Peninsula. Not only are they works of art, they taste like Heaven in your mouth. True story.  🙂

With that inspiration, I baked up my own creations for the loves of my life in their favorite flavors: Cookies N’ Cream, Red Velvet, Lemon, Chocolate and Funfetti.

Designing and making my own Valentines is a tradition I started when the kids were little and just can’t seem to give up. As our family grows, I might need to start thinking about Valentines Day in July!

On Being an Artist Who Happens to be Christian

The past two weeks I had the opportunity to be a part of Regent’s Film Camp teaching the Animation track. What a blast!!  I had five campers under my charge, and we covered a LOT of material. There is nothing as exciting as watching the lights come on in these young minds as I helped them draw their creativity to the surface. [ No pun intended. Really 😉 ] It was an honor like no other.

My favorite part of camp was joint time we spent each morning with all the campers. Our theme for the week was Creation (God’s first act recorded in the bible) and our role as artists. We began the day with a film clip of some sort, and the instructors took turns presenting short devotionals that fit our theme.
This time was a watering hole of sorts for me.
It reminded me of how very much I LOVE film – my insides literally tickle watching behind-the-scenes footage and working with cameras, lights, scripts. Even working with high-schoolers creating silly short films is magical.

It also reignited my passion to change the face of what people consider “Christian” art. It helped to be with other like-minded artists passionate for Jesus.

Today, Jim LePage posted a video that encapsulates this passion and exposes the fallacy of common Christian thought regarding the arts much better than I could articulate. The video is produced by Mars Hill, and they were kind enough to post the URL to share this video with you.

Sketchbook Project 2012

Whew -I did it! I got my sketchbook to the post office in the nick of time…. luckily the gal picking up the last batch of mail was running behind.
The theme I chose was “Fill Me With Stories”. Imagine that.
Am I the only one who has a hard time sending off my “art”? It’s such a fun idea in theory, but the thought that I’ll never see this little book again is … weird.
Here are a couple of my favorites.

Doodle Swap #9

I jumped in to Doodle Swap #9 -what fun! The theme was “Under the Sea”.  I had a little play on words fun.





Great Creative Links

Confession: I’ve been asking the wrong questions!
Stumbled upon “How to Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon.  Wowza.

In the chaos of final projects I’m having fun with these characters:


Spilling Over

…That’s the theme for this month’s sketchbook challenge, and the first one that I’ve actually had any ideas for! Lots of ideas. I usually start with words that come to mind. March’s page looks like this:

I didn’t really need the word prompt the way I usually do, because the ideas came faster than I have the time to create them… [sigh]  Which explains the first doodle in my book. I call it a doodle because I managed not to worry if it was “finished” art. It’s a sketchbook, and I’m trying to let go of the it-has-to-be-perfect thing. So I played until I thought I’d mess it up if I kept going…

Yep – this one says it all! My sketchbook is “spilling over” with ideas. I’m currently working on another page with this theme, with several more ideas in the queue.

Tangle #11 and Catching Up

This week’s theme was “Monotangle”. My little tangle was inspired by the gumballs hanging on for dear life in the tops of the trees. Spring is here, they won’t last for long…

UPDATE: For those who aren’t familiar with “gumballs”, they are the seed pods from Sweetgum trees – affectionately known as “Gumball trees”. Pretty to look at, murder to step on!
I also finished Week 5’s tangle. The theme was “Orbs”. I don’t know that it qualifies as true tangle, but it’s what came to mind.
It’s spring break, and I hoped to get a lot more creating accomplished this week, but I was busy catching up around the house. The Christmas decorations are re-organized and put away (hallelujah!), piles were filed, and I got caught up on small tasks that were hanging over my head. Feels good!
Last night I worked on these. A friend requested I make them for her study group. Each person chose a focus word, and she asked if I’d make them pretty so she could frame them for everyone.
While I was at it, I made one for myself.
The Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival was last week. I had three hours! My friend, Valerie, and I made our way through there with purpose. I think I set a personal record. As usual, the quilts were eye-candy, and I snapped pictures of my faves, including details of techniques/ideas for later reference. I bought the most beautiful basket made by ladies in Ghana. I buy one every year, and this year I wanted a bright blue round one. I scooped!

I came home inspired. Monday is back to real life.

Tangle #9

For some reason I had a hard time making this little tangle. No matter how closely I followed the directions, mine didn’t look right. I finally got it – whew! I wanted something that looked free, which is my prayer for Laura’s little “Artoo”.
I call it “Breath of Healing”. (It’s dark on the right because of the angle of the sun through the window, not because of any artistic genius on my part…)

Yesterday I  found some adorable bird cage fabric, complete with tiny birds… which led me to auditioning fabrics a bit. I came up with these. Now – what to make with them?

I cleaned off my work space and plan to spend any breaks sewing productively.