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 …

Continue Reading | 71 comments

spring essentials (freebie art print)

Well, it’s still raining daily up here in the Pacific Northwest and I know elsewhere around the country fresh snow covers the ground, but I’ve seen tiny buds on blossoming cherry trees, heard the first chirp of a bird and have the itch to give our house a big wipe down. This could only mean one thing: Spring is coming.

To get us in the mood for all things floral and bright, new and – ahhh – spring-y, I compiled a few of my favorite spring essentials into a new watercolor painting.


I scanned the original painting, added titles and turned it into a printable pdf for your enjoyment (I’ll show you how I did it on wednesday). It’s a fun piece to put out this spring (maybe on your entry table? Or on your mantle?) or to give a friend who loves springtime and all the beauty it holds.


You can download the print below, then print on your favorite paper (try watercolor paper for an authentic look).


To download this print, I invite you to join our library of freebies called the archive


It’s our best way to organize all of our best fonts, templates, downloads and more and make it easier for you to find and access them. Simply click on the image above to join.

We new have all four seasons of essentials prints! Download each one in the archive.



Continue Reading | 21 comments

dear february

Dear February,

I wonder if you ever get tired of being called ‘the month of love’. Do you kinda want to be known for more than just chalky conversation hearts and a little man-baby called cupid? I mean, look at you. You’re the shortest month, but full of all kinds of goodness like superbowl sunday and half of our family’s birthdays and a gloriously long presidents day weekend. You produce crazy weather – obnoxious amounts of snow mixed in with beautifully clear and sunny days, which make our skiing adventures extra special.

You have your downsides, no doubt. You’re still winter and by now we’re all pretty ready for that to be over. Colds and flu bugs seem to hang around you and make their way into our homes.  The whole valentine’s day rose prices are a little out of control.

But still, you are good. Fun. Busy.

And we love you.

Until next year …




our february in instagram snapshots.

Notable moments: seahawks superbowl win, No.1′s 10th birthday, Ryan’s birthday, sledding & skiing, our 15 year anniversary, Audrey’s birthday and lots of creating.




Continue Reading | 4 comments

Hosting provided by WPEngine.