from doodle to artprint (a tutorial)

I hope you are enjoying your new Spring Essentials freebie print! Doesn’t it just put you in the mood for spring? My friend says it looks like a wedding is about to take place – which now that I notice, it actually does. That would be one lovely garden wedding!

One thing I love to do on the blog is make pretty things and then (hopefully) inspire you to do the same. Hence, the many, many projects found on the tutorials page. Now I know not everyone loves to watercolor (or maybe you just haven’t tried since you were a kid and you really should!) but perhaps you’d like to turn a doodle into artwork or your child’s sweet drawings into a note card to send to friends and family and you’re not sure how to do it.

I’m pleased to show you how.  Let’s get right to it.

I always begin by sketching out some ideas. The scale is usually totally off and sometimes the sketches don’t make the cut, but it helps to get an idea of what I’ll be painting without wasting my good watercolor paper.

After the rough sketches are done, I move onto watercolor paper – sketching fairly lightly.

I wish I could just draw from my imagination, but I’m not always great at it so I look up images in google (in this case cute spring dress) and draw by looking at the photo.

Next comes the watercoloring part. I use a set of inexpensive prang watercolors that I love because the colors are bright and true. I always mix my own colors right in the case, often times adding brown to tone down each color.

My paintings were a little larger than necessary for this print, so I did them on two sheets of paper. Here they are, all finished.

Next comes the fun part of scanning the paintings and turning them into digital artwork that can be manipulated (colors adjusted, resized, rotated, etc.).

This little portable scanner (Fujitsu ScanSnap) is the best. It plugs into a usb outlet in my computer and scans with a press of that blue button. You can adjust settings for paper size, quality, color management. I love it most because when I’m not using it, I hide it away in a basket under my desk. The artwork is saved as a pdf onto my desktop which I then open in photoshop.

One thing to note if you are scanning a watercolor painting is that it may not pick up the lightest of colors. Try to make your original bright-ish and you can always tone it down later.

The goal of the next few steps is to isolate each little painting and save it as its own image. I like to separate the artwork this way so that I have total control when putting it back together for where I want each item to go, as well as adjusting the size to fit.

Using the lasso tool, I carefully trace around the outside of each individual drawing, then copy and paste into a new document – making sure it is set to have a transparent background.

Using the magic wand tool, I click on the white background to highlight and press delete to remove it. When I save the file as a .png it will open in Adobe Illustrator with that transparent background. This is especially helpful when the images overlap slightly or if you were going to put the images on top of a background color other than white.  This is not totally necessary for this particular artprint, so I ended up leaving a small white background on each image just to save time.

One more fun thing I sometimes do in photoshop is adjust the hue/saturation to change the color of my original painting.

In this case, I wasn’t sure if I wanted the dress to be yellow (as I painted it) or a more peachy-orange so I saved both files to try out in the final artprint.

Okay. Are you still with me?!

Once all of the images are adjusted and saved as .png files, I drag them all into a new 8 x 10 artboard in Illustrator.

This part is fun and sort of like putting together a puzzle. I rotate, resize and move all of the pieces around until I’m pleased with the layout.

The next step is add the titles which I do by drawing a path with my pencil tool and then using the type on a path tool to have my text follow the line. It’s one of my favorite things to do in Illustrator.

Once the artwork is complete, I change the artboard size to a standard 8.5 x 11, add my logo to the bottom and save as a pdf to make sharing easy.

And here it is: the completed spring essentials art print



(which you can download for free here).

I’m so grateful for tools that help make this process not just attainable, but also enjoyable! Hope you are inspired to create your very own art.

Let me know if you have any questions …

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73 Responses to from doodle to artprint (a tutorial)

  1. Kelly - Talk of the House March 5, 2014 at 5:24 am #

    Emily, thank you so much for sharing all your steps here. I love how you explain your use of each tool. That scanner looks like something I may have to invest in. I am still intimidated by photoshop. Have you used elements, and if so, could it do the job of what you used photoshop for here? I haven’t checked out elements yet, but I have been told it is so much more user friendly.

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:49 am #

      So I’m definitely not an expert in photoshop, but the functions I use are super basic and I can’t imagine not being about to do these steps in elements.

      Also, did you know you can subscribe to adobe products monthly instead of purchasing the software? This makes it nice because you will always get updates rather than having to buy them each time. Just a little fyi.

  2. Jessica @ Dear Emmeline March 5, 2014 at 6:50 am #

    Awesome tutorial. I’m curious too if Elements has the same features since Photoshop isn’t in the budget right now but I’d love to be able to try this!

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:50 am #

      I’m guessing yes, you should be able to use elements to do these steps. They are pretty basic functions.

      Anyone a photoshop elements user? Advice?

      • Sarah March 20, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

        I have been using Photoshop Elements for self taughtgraphic design for about 7 years. I have just now decided to take my work to a higher level by investing in Illustrator. I was one of the lucky ones that got in to your first round of “simplified” (I set an alarm on my phone to drop everything and register for your class)!

        My main reason for advancing to illustrator is that I believe the tools are capable of creating clearer graphics and when creating new graphics and texts your images are in vector so no matter how big you blow them up they still look good and don’t get blurry. I was starting to run into more and more issues that made it hard to be professional when creating web and print ads for customers, but for home use and crafts and making your own Christmas cards, you can do a lot with Photoshop elements.

        But beware it is not any easier than many of the videos I have been watching since I discovered the fabulous Emily!

  3. Madaline Meatte March 5, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    Lovely! I totally understood the steps…but maybe thats because I’m a designer by trade!

    I tend to use InDesign more for layout, but that stems from working for a newspaper for a couple of months. I can’t hardly do anything with text in Illustrator anymore because it makes me. so. mad!

    • Mo March 5, 2014 at 8:06 am #

      I hear you, Madaline! I love InDesign, too…and trying to work the same way in Illustrator seems to be impossible at times. This mentality was ingrained in me after working far too many newspaper gigs, too… ;-)

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:43 am #

      I’d love to try learning InDesign, too. I’ve heard it’s great for layout.

  4. Katja @ Shift Ctrl Art March 5, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    I love this tutorial. I will have to try that free hand text path in illustrator. That is so charming.
    Here is something I do when I trace and extract something. After I have my marching ant selection, instead of moving it to another document I hit Shift Ctrl J. That places your extraction on a new layer and you can just hide or delete the old layer which now has all the background on it. I use that all the time. So handy.

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:42 am #

      Thanks for the tip! I will try that next time.

  5. Harmony March 5, 2014 at 7:56 am #

    Thank you for this tutorial!! I was just wondering why you switch into AI. Could you do the same thing by staying in PS? I just don’t know how to use AI :(

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:42 am #

      Great question. I’m sure you could do the whole thing in photoshop, but Illustrator makes it so easy to manipulate the items and adding text without having to open a million layers. Sometimes layers are awesome, other times they get in the way and make things more complicated. And, good news … I have a new class coming soon about Illustrator :)

      • Karolina from H O U S E L O V E S March 12, 2014 at 6:53 am #

        I had the same question as Harmony – having both products is expensive. I use photoshop only and I am pretty sure you can stay in that programme from the beginning to the end. You work in one document and place each artprint on separate layer (using Shift Ctr J – as Katja suggested). Than you can move each artprint around the layout, add text and so on. however I am not sure if you can trace your text on the drawn line. I only know an option to shape text to wave or U-shape but I think it give similar effect and it is quicker.
        I recommend the option Ctr+Alt+ C, where you can change size of the layout/canvas simply by specifying new dimensions (when you want 8×10). Next you can use, Ctr+Alt+I – which scales the whole image (that is for when you switch from 8×10 to 8,5 x 11)

        Nevertheless, I love your for Spring Essentials – you are a STAR!!!

  6. Mo March 5, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    Thank you for this great tutorial! I’ve been in the market for a new scanner, too, so your suggestion is one I’m going to investigate.

    I never thought to use such basic watercolors, but the colors are fantastic! I’ll have to do some experimenting this upcoming weekend…

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:40 am #

      Oh, please do! You don’t have to have fancy supplies to start. Perhaps there are better paints out there (actually, I’m certain there are) but I just use what I have on hand and love the results.

  7. Amy W March 5, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    Thank you so much for that excellent tutorial. I’ve not used the drawing a path with a pencil tool in Illustrator and will have to give it a try! What font do you use for labeling all those adorable images? So lovely. I look forward to each season’s watercolor and am so excited that I now have the entire “collection”!

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:39 am #

      Glad you enjoyed it. I use a hand-drawn font I made called Stand Tall for the lettering. You can download it for free from the archive page.

  8. Sarah Barksdale Design March 5, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    I love this! Thanks for sharing and thanks for making these fun freebie prints!

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:38 am #

      Thanks, Sarah!

  9. Paige March 5, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    Thank you so much for posting this! I love seeing an artist’s process and this was certainly inspiring. I will be starting a watercolor class soon and it’s fun to see the different ways the medium can be used.

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:38 am #

      How fun! Enjoy your class and I hope this will be a good resource for turning your watercolors into printable art.

  10. Jennifer March 5, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Thank you for breaking it down into a step-by-step process! Very helpful!

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:38 am #

      You are very welcome!

  11. Amber {Kingwood Drive} March 5, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Thank you so much for this tutorial!! Photoshop is so intimidating to me. I open it up, look at all the tools, and then say “mmm…..maybe tomorrow” before I close out of it. Your post has given me a little more courage to try and figure it out.

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:37 am #

      I totally get it! I use photoshop for about three things and other than that, I just haven’t taken the time to learn it. Start with just a few easy tasks and as you become more familiar with the program, you can play around with different tools.

  12. Kathryn March 5, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Such a cute design, thanks for sharing this info. Do you print your own prints or have them professionally done? If self-printed, what kind of printer and paper do you use?

  13. jodi March 5, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    my 17 yo daughter does amazing watercolors and came up with the idea of having some prints made to sell as a fundraiser for her summer missions trip. how do we do that? local printer? big generic one like kinkos? your advice is appreciated-
    on the east coast (no competition)-

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:34 am #

      What a wonderful idea! You can print either at home on a nice ink jet printer, or probably the most economical is to contact a local printer to get quotes on laser printing on a 100lb smooth cardstock. I use a local printer (it’s small and I love supporting small shops!) that does my printing and cutting for a great price. You can definitely go with a larger shop like kinkos or staples, but if there is a local shop, try that first.

  14. Angela March 5, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    Wow, thanks! I looooove when you do tutorials and videos! Thanks Emily :-)

  15. Tina March 5, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Thanks for the great post—- you’re so generous with your time and talents!

  16. Chelsea March 5, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting this!!! I never have time to figure out how to do this, I want to sell my clip art doodles, but I just couldn’t figure out how!!! Your watercolors are amazing!!!

  17. Lauren March 5, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    Thank you so much, Emily! We have all these tools, and I never thought to use them for “fun” outside of the graphic “work” we do :) I’ll have to get on that…

  18. Justine March 5, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    Thank you for this post! I tried my hand with watercolors for the first time last night, and while it wasn’t horrible let’s just say I was hoping this post included a “how to water color” section too! :)

  19. Jessica March 5, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    I LOVE this watercolor print, you are so talented! I just printed it out for my office. It’s still snowy and cold here in Chicago, so this little reminder of spring totally makes my day! :o)

    I have Photoshop, but not illustrator. Do you think I could do both the clipping and compiling in Photoshop too?

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

      I’m sure you could use photoshop. I know there are a few limitations as far as text goes as photoshop is more geared to photo-editing, but it’s definitely worth a shot! I’m all about using the tools you have and figuring out ways to make it work.

  20. sunny March 5, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    Thanks so much! I have been looking for something like this for the past couple of days and could find nothing useful. I use AI and PS a lot for work, but have been playing with the sketching watercolor end of things just for fun. I am new to watercolors but have been enjoying playing with them and this is very helpful! :)

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:59 am #

      I’m so glad it’s helpful!

  21. Rebecca Trump March 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    Love this!!! Thank you so much for sharing – it’s always so fun to see other artist’s workflow :)

  22. Jamie March 5, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Love it. Thanks for taking the time to explain this!!!

  23. Amy J. Bennett March 5, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    I love this tutorial. I learned about the text on a path–it’s so cool. I might just have to break out some watercolors for this!

  24. Holly McCall {McCall Manor} March 5, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    Love this tutorial! I haven’t tried watercolor (or photoshop) in a long while. Maybe I’ll swipe my kids paint and my husband’s computer and try this method out! You are such a great inspiration. :)

  25. MeaganMusing March 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    Emily, thank you so very much for taking the time to share your steps and tools! This is just wonderfully helpful! I’m loving this spring print! :)

  26. Nan March 5, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful Spring print with us. I gave your Winter print to 2 of my best friends and am going to give the Spring print to them also. It is sweet of you to let us have it for free. I also appreciate the “how to” instructions. You are so talented!

  27. Stacie Garris March 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Katelyn March 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    So Fun! I am a graphic designer and I must say even though I learned different programs throughout school, I love Illustrator & Photoshop and daily use the two. Love this pretty print! Happy [ almost ] Spring! :-)

  29. Deanna March 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    Thank you Emily ! I’ve been anxiously waiting for this tutorial and it’s better than I had imagined . Looking forward to trying your technique . Thanks for sharing :) blessings !

  30. Michele March 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    You’re the best! As always thanks for sharing – I love seeing your process. Watercolor was never my ‘thing’ but seeing this I may reconsider. ;)

  31. Renae March 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your process Emily! It answered a lot of questions I had and I’m excited to give it a shot. Can’t wait for your AI class too!

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      I’m so excited for the class … itching to get it out!

  32. Deb @ LakeGirlPaints March 5, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    Emily , Thank you so much! That was one of the most informative and useful posts that I will refer back to. I am just beginning to experiment with water color. You are so generous and inspiring. Thanks so much!!

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      I’m so glad it is helpful!

  33. Anna March 5, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    What a greate article! I am a watercolor artist and have people asking for prints. I called a local print shop and having the artwork scanned was going to cost $100 for each piece. They are 18″ around so not small pieces. I spoke with a watercolorist over the weekend that has made a name for himself and he suggested I purchase an at home printer, cant remember which one, and 100% rag paper to do the job myself. (An ink jet plus 100% rag paper = gilcee prints ) I am now wondering if God is trying to send me a message?

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

      Oh, you should start printing your work! I’m sure having your watercolors professionally scanned will give you a better output, but it is worth a try to do it yourself. I am very happy with the results I get from my scanner. Best of luck to you!

      • Anna March 7, 2014 at 8:10 am #

        Thank you Emily. I heard back from the artist and he uses an epson printer. I can’t wait to check out the classes you will be offering. I’ve never used a computer as part of my art making process. It seems like fun!

  34. tammy March 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    thanks so much for the detailed tutorial! your work is so pretty!

  35. Liz P. March 5, 2014 at 4:35 pm #


    Thank you a million times over! This is so fantastic and superbly timed. Your willingness to help and teach and share is amazing and I’m so excited to try this with my own artwork sometime :)

    xo Liz

  36. Ruth Baumgartner March 5, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    I have wondered about the artistic process that you go thru, thanks so much for sharing the “Behind the Scenes.” It was fascinating, informative and inspiring. Thanks again Emily.

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

      I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  37. Lisa March 5, 2014 at 8:55 pm #


    I loved that you shared the tidbit about looking up pictures on Google! I do that always when I draw and now I can feel legit about it. It always made me question my “artistry.”

    Thanks for sharing your process! I love reading your blog!

  38. Tamzin March 5, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    This was a lovely tutorial! Thank you.

  39. Eunice Sousa March 6, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    Dear Emily! You became an inspiration to me. I have learned a lot from your experience! Thanks! :)

  40. Aja @ March 6, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    These are my most favorite post you do. I love learning this stuff.

  41. Rebecca March 6, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    Thank you so much for the fun, educational, and inspiring post!

  42. Vio March 7, 2014 at 5:22 am #

    God bless your heart for this helpful tute! I’ve been looking for such a tutorial for a while now. This is great!! Thank you!!

  43. Atmosphère Demeure March 8, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    Here is still other one and marvellous season.
    Thank you for sharing us your talent.
    See you soon. Best regards

  44. Marie-Maguelone Créations March 10, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    I have read and translate the post and I find it cool to have said how you do! Me, I thought the drawings were made ​​together on the same page! I tried and I had to realize that I was not as talented! But now I know that I am as talented as you! Thank you to say how you’re doing, it makes me want to paint in watercolor tomorrow there too long that I do not, I need to paint again! Carole

  45. Sheree March 11, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    This is a wonderful tutorial and beautiful artwork. Thank you so much!!

  46. Julie March 14, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    I hope you will include in your tutorial how to “drawing a path with my pencil tool and then using the type on a path tool to have my text follow the line.” I seem to always search for this tool and can’t find it.

  47. Linda Wheat March 16, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    Re. Photoshop Elements, yes all the functions in this tutorial are in PSE.
    I teach Digital Media and Art at a private school. We use Photoshop Elements to introduce 7th & 8th grade students to graphic design. It is far more user friendly than Photoshop. The Elements software is quite
    sufficient for any non professional wanting to edit photos or create graphic art projects. Thanks, Emily for this tutorial; I plan to use a version of it with my art classes!

  48. Carmen October 15, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    I will definitely try this! I use Corel Paint Shop Pro though, but it has a lot of the same tools that Photoshop has!

  49. Erika Jones March 23, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    I am a year late, but Erika Jones thanks you very much Emily Jones! I am enjoying your free print as well. I love your work and missions! Keep it up.

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