Some new designs up in my Spoonflower shop!

This week’s Spoonflower design challenge theme is the 1960’s. I’ve always loved 60’s prints, art, home dec, and fashion, Pucci, Peter Max, Mary Quant, floral bed sheets, mini shift dresses, and on….

So I went with a mashup of styles and colours with a 60’s fashion vibe and came up with swirly skulls and roses, reminiscent of 60’s fashion style with a modern twist.  I thought I’d share a bit of my process, so you can see what I do behind the scenes, and 99% of my work is all behind the scenes!

First I research- online, books, Pinterest, to get a feel for colours and styles.  I usually write down colour combinations I’m considering.

I knew I wanted to do skulls made up of bouncy floral flourishes, surrounded with swirly leaves and flowers. I started with a sketch of the skull, or rather half a skull since it would be the same on both sides and can be easily repeated in digital art stage.

Sometimes I sketch on my iPad, but this time I worked with good old fashioned paper and pencil, in my sketchbook.

Once I had the basic skull figured out, I sketched some flowers, leaves, and flourishes. You can see some of my colour notes near the top of the page.

Then once I have enough basic elements drawn up, I scan in (or take quick photos with my phone and email them to myself if I’m being lazy and don’t feel like waiting for the scanner to start up which takes forrreeeverrr) my drawings and take them into Illustrator. From there I draw the vector shapes for every piece, put the motifs into repeat, and put everything on different layers.

After that’s done, I check to make sure my repeat works, then export the file to Photoshop where I paint in bits of textures, dust, scratches, and grunge. Then save as a jpg ready for Spoonflower, upload, and done!

Do I make it sound easy? lol.

This design took me a full day, including the sketch. Sometimes they can take longer, it depends on the level of detail and how involved the whole thing is. It also depends on whether I get it done in advance of the contest entry deadline or do it day before, or morning of (!!)- darn Eastern timezone time ahead of me messes with me sometimes!

Paisley Skulls + Roses

Vote for all your faves this week here!

Sometimes I will work almost entirely on my iPad. For last week’s design, 1950’s theme, my design finished 44th in the contest btw, I created all of the elements in Procreate. I wanted to do some curvy 50’s chicks, hanging out poolside. For colours, I love that minty turquoise from the 50’s and added bright lipstick red, shell pink, pearl, and charcoal. I’ve been trying to use limited palettes in my designs lately, usually I am all the colours all the time, but I’m challenging myself to reign it in a bit. I really like the challenge and it makes you get really creative with how and where you use colour.

I really love Procreate, and all the funky brushes you can get for it. I had just purchased a new set of Mid-Century brushes I wanted to try out and thought the 50’s theme was perfect for them.
Procreate does have limits to how many layers you can have in a file, according to the resolution you set your file at, so sometimes you have to get creative with what go on what layer, then separate elements out later in Photoshop. I also always work larger than I need, 300-400DPI or more, just in case I need to change up/resize elements later and need the extra resolution.

My graphic designer brain now kicks in and says: You can always size down, but never up unless you drop resolution so you have to consider the end usage of your art and how it will be printed or produced.

Once everything was drawn in Procreate, I exported the file to Photoshop, separated out all of the elements and saved them individually as Photoshop files. Then I brought all of the individual files into Illustrator and made my repeat. I know you can do repeats in Photoshop, and simple ones in Procreate, but I find Illustrator much more flexible and know my way around it much faster, so always use it for final files when possible.

I added some tiki drinks afterwards, as it was missing that sassy 50’s flavour. Much better! Now where’s my cabana boy?


50’s Poolside


So that’s my general process, of course it varies by project and what the file is needed for, and what technique or effect I want to use.  It also varies by what I’m learning and trying and experimenting with at the time, like using Procreate, and doing more painting in Photoshop, and of course, what kind of file I have to supply if it’s going to my agent or a client. My graphic designer brain kicks in again and I know if it’s going to be sent out, it has to be organized,  named layers and layer groups, in proper or exceeding standard print resolution and file size. A former employer used to drill into his design team that our files had to be created so that if we were not there, somebody could jump in and know exactly where to find what they needed without issue, and that has always stuck in my brain.

In other art news, I’ve been working away on new art for my agent, and getting some pretty cool contracts coming in, which is super exciting.

Client work is getting busier, I’ve been doing more sewing- watch for a sale coming up of some sewn goodies I’ve been working on to help us pay for our Starry’s recent ear surgeries- and I’ve been intending to paint, but just haven’t gotten in the studio recently (plan to remedy that this coming weekend).

I hope you are enjoying the last days of summer! I know I will be glad when the weather cools down and all the smoke from the wildfires in our province dissipates- man it’s brutal- and the rain comes back to freshen up the air and earth again.

Much love and gratitude as always,