Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Calla Lily Process

Calla reference, pencil sketches and some test print outs
 This week I'm sharing my Calla Lily card illustration and a couple pics of my process.  Sometimes people don't understand what digital art is or what the steps are involved in going from sketch to final art.  To me, the computer is a tool just as a paint brush is a tool to paint with.
Pencil drawing after redrawn on the computer

The Calla Lily is an interesting symbol because it's often used for both weddings and funerals.  In weddings, the white symbolizes purity and makes a striking floral impression, whereas at funerals it symbolizes rebirth.  I didn't plant any in my garden this Spring, so I bought some burgundy ones for reference.

Final card
The first step is to draw the Lily in pencil, quickly sketching the way the petal wraps around the yellow stigma and seeing how to simplify the shapes.  Then I use tracing paper to simplify the shapes into a single line drawing that I can scan into my computer and use as the base for my line work.

I work in Illustrator and retrace my line work with a mouse for basic shapes.  The background is the bottom layer with a color and a fat line border.  The second layer is the white flower shape also with a colored line border and the third layer is the yellow stigma and the shadow behind it.  I have to make all the decisions, not the computer.  The computer helps by creating perfectly uniform lines weights that are difficult if done by hand but the artist still has to make all the visual decisions.
Then using the computer PMS to process color palette, I experiment with color combinations.  That's the other advantage of using the computer.  When I was air brushing art back in the 80's and 90's, I was limited to the colors I could mix with acrylic paint and then try to remix later.  Now I can create and easily recreate color palettes with subtle tones and experiment with the same line art trying several different combinations before deciding which I like best.  Then I print out a test card and make a card file for the printer.


  1. Very cool! It's nice to see some hand drawings :) Beautiful work Cindy!

  2. Thanks so much! I go thru a lot of tracing paper before it is a final drawing.