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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 …

    If this tutorial was helpful to you, you’ll love my Simplified Graphic Design class!

    Simplified Graphic Design - Adobe Illustrator for Beginners / jones design company

    This online course is perfect for beginners and you’ll finish the class feeling confident in your ability to create great graphics for web or print. CLICK HERE to learn more.

    90 thoughts on “from doodle to artprint (a tutorial)”

    1. Hello, thank you for sharing how you turn your artwork into printable items. What do people do with your downloadable art sheets like this spring essentials?

    2. Wow, thank you so much! I was so confused as to how to turn watercolor into prints and your tutorial help me so much! Thanks for the tip about making the colors brighter so the scanner picks up on them. I hope my rickety old scanner will be enough for this project of mine!

    3. Thank you so much for the tutorial about watercolors to PDF. I’ve been doing watercolors for friends for some time and really want to open my own etsy shop now, but I have been trying to find a way to make them more easily duplicable and this seems like something I can do!! However, have you ever done the editing process with any other programs other than Adobe? Just starting off I wouldn’t be able to invest in Adobe yet, but love the idea of using some of these features. Can you suggest anything else to edit it watercolors? Thank you in advance!!

    4. Great post, awesome tutorial! I was searching an article about how to put doodles into a softcopy graphic, and sooo glad that I found this. I really want to make my own design for my future wedding invitation, can’t wait to try this! >.<

    5. I just came across your page (from Kate at the Small Things Blog who mentioned your cute style, which she is so right about!). This is perfect tutorial! It is such simple instructions with an amazing result. I am learning to play around more in photoshop and illustrator and can’t wait to try some of these ideas out.
      I am loving all your posts and know what I will be spending my lunch break reading!

    6. Great tutorial. I am a watercolour artist just learning how to use the Creative Suite. What is the benefit of using Illustrator instead of Photoshop? I’m just getting comfy with photoshop but I am not happy with the pixelation of my art. How can I maintain the painterly quality of my art while digitizing?


    7. Thanks so much for this great tutorial! Just accomplished the goal I had set for myself today and thanks to you I did it by 10:30 this morning! Really appreciate it.

    8. I have been looking for a tutorial like this one. You have saved the day!
      Thanks a million for taking the time to take pictures, write the post and share all of this great information.

      With that being said… I hate to even ask you this.
      Is there another program that I can use to make a story board on? Is a story board needed if I am going to sell my individual drawings on an etsy shop?

      Thank you!

    9. What a great post! I’ve kind of taught myself how to do this but it’s helpful to see how someone else does it, step by step. There are definitely some tricks you mentioned that I didn’t know about. Thanks and I look forward to more tutorials like this!! :)

    10. Thank you so much for sharing this, Emily! It’s such a helpful tutorial/post. I used to do desktop publishing as part of my job years ago. So long ago, in fact, that I used Adobe Pagemaker, which no longer exists. I did use Illustrator, but only for a few simple things.

      I recently used a trial of InDesign to complete a simple project I’ve been wanting to do. Your post has made me want to get Illustrator, too.

      Thank you!!

    11. Thank you so much for sharing your process! I have been looking everywhere for someone to show me how to do something like this! I did have one question though… I have adobe illustrator but not photoshop, can this process be done in illustrator?

      1. Removing the backgrounds probably needs to be done in a photo editing program – but if you don’t have photoshop, don’t worry! You can achieve the same effect in programs like picmonkey or pixlr. You may just have to play around with the tools a little to get the hang of it.

    12. How can you use Illustrator to then make art prints from your designs? Do you save it as a jpeg to send to a print shop? Curious because I’m very new to Illustrator, not sure how to take the vectors of my art and turn them into an actual art print.

      1. Once I finalize my design, I save as a pdf in the finished size with cropmarks. I send this file to my printer and he trims them to size.

    13. Thank you thank you thank you very very much! I’ve been searching for this kind of tutorial and you saved my life for my final assignment! Thank you very much once again! x

    14. 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!

    15. 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.

    16. 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

    17. Emily,

      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!

    18. 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.

    19. Emily–

      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

    20. 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?

      1. 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!

        1. 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!

    21. 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!!

    22. 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!

    23. 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. ;)

    24. 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 !

    25. 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! :-)

    26. 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. 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! :)

    28. 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?

      1. 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.

    29. 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! :)

    30. 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…

    31. 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!!!

    32. 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)-

      1. 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.

    33. 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?

    34. 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.

      1. 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.

    35. 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.

    36. 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”!

    37. 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…

      1. 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.

    38. 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 :(

      1. 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 :)

        1. 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!!!

    39. 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.

    40. 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!

      1. 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… ;-)

      1. 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?

        1. 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!

    41. 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.

      1. 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.

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