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 a learning curve I’m still 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 header needed to be placed in its digital home. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at my 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 – choosing and mixing colors.

2013-11-02 20.52.37


Once the palette is approved the image is transferred 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. 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.





Sometimes things don’t go so smoothly.
See that extra piece of greenery top right? Directly below it I smudged the paint with my hand. Up top I re-recreated that section then used 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 beast 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.)

2014-02-06 19.17.37


Once I’m happy it’s saved so we can add text.  And it’s a wrap!

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. There were wads of paper all over the floor. I wasn’t sure what I was battling, but I was sure I was losing miserably.
Now the storyboards are complete I can laugh about it, but still wonder why it had to be so. hard.
I was reminded 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, right?
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. What if I were willing to voluntarily muscle my way through more in order to create more?