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!

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.





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.

3D Modeling and Silliness

I’ve been working around the clock trying to get this guy finished. (I know his skin glows. I didn’t do that. It will be fixed.)
So, I’ve been spending a lot of time with these guys:
It’s an endowed film I’m involved with at school – the first ever animated endowed film the university has done. We’re the guinea pigs…
I joined the Silliness 3 class… doodling things like this in the bank line.
Folks are doing some wonderful art from these simple prompts. Mine are all in pencil. No watercolors or fancy pencils – because I am literally working them in on the run. 
It’s only week 3 of the semester and the roller coaster is in full swing.  It’s fun squeezing art in when I can. 

Pains of Creation

I’ve been working on some storyboards which is no big deal unless your hands have forgotten how to interpret what’s in your head.  And that’s exactly what was happening to me. I couldn’t draw a stick man.
The process of trying and failing and praying and begging and trying and failing was taking its toll. There were wads of paper all over the floor. I wasn’t sure what I was battling, but I was losing miserably.
I called the Hunk for a pep talk and all he said was, “I know you can do it, honey.”  That made me cry harder.
Now the storyboards are complete I actually laughed about it, but still wondered why it had to be so HARD.
Someone wise reminded me that creating is a birthing process. Pulling something new out of ourselves hurts!!! But WOW the excitement when we look at what we’ve accomplished and exclaim, “I did it!”
And God stands there beaming, “I knew you could.”
I’m glad He made me stubborn.
I love when I muscle my way through something that stretches every limit I thought I had, only to discover there is more to me than I knew.
I want to remember this the next time it happens.
And what if I were willing to voluntarily muscle my way through more in order to create more?