Who knew when I went out for
fresh bagels this morning that I would find the inspiration for a fresh
Figure 1. California blooms.
We’ll use the photos
for guidance, but there will be no tracing or cloning and no attempt at
realism or exactness.
a new blank white canvas with a vertical format. I’m working on a 2 × 3
inch canvas (dimensions always specify width before height) at 300 dpi. Of course the
image will fill my screen and spill over a bit. You might want to use a
lower resolution so you can see the entire image at 100 percent.
There is a custom
palette called Watercolor Sketch available for this project in the
Palettes and Libs (libraries) folder on the CD. Import it using Window
> Custom Palette > Organizer. It has three variants: Flattened
Pencil for preliminary sketching, Scratchboard Tool (a Pen variant) for
line drawing, and Pointed Simple Water from the Digital Watercolor
category to apply color.
a new layer to the canvas for a rough layout sketch. Notice that the
stems and leaves of the daffodils are tall and strong compared to the
fluffy bush under the California poppies. That suggests a layout with
the poppies below the taller flowers. Don’t forget the tiny daisies at
the base of the daffodils. The scribbles in Figure 2 indicate all of those elements.
Figure 2. Springtime for scribblers.
To change your color set,
click on the Library Access button at the bottom left of the palette.
Use the Open Color Set command and switch to Vivid Spring Colors. It’s
found in a long list of color sets in the Painter Support Files folder,
and it’s perfect for this project. Add another layer and use Digital
Watercolor to dab in rich yellow, orange, and a couple of shades of
green. Be sure to use the Gel or Multiply composite method for your
color layer so the pencil marks can show through. I added a second color
layer so I could overlay more color to suggest shading. Figure 3 shows my Layers Palette at this stage.
Figure 3. There’s always room for Gel mode.
Rename your layers
with the Layer Attributes dialog. It’s available in the Layers Palette
menu or by double-clicking the target layer. You can group layers by
Shift-clicking to select them, then using the Group command. To commit a
group to a single layer, use the Collapse command. Easy access to Layer
commands is available with the left-most icon at the bottom of the
a new canvas, practice sketching some of the flared shapes of the
poppies and the more complex structure of the daffodil flowers.
Depending on your viewing angle, the poppies either look like bowls or
overlapping triangles. Notice that the daffodils have a six-pointed star
base and a central hollow tube with a frilly edge and a stamen or
pistil (or whatever) sticking out (I know it’s a sex organ of some
If you feel a need to start
by tracing, make a Quick Clone of the Daffodils_2 photo and do a few
quick blossoms with the Flattened Pencil. Then draw some from memory
with Tracing Paper turned off. Simplify the structures as you work and
use different viewing angles. Avoid any tendency you might have to
achieve perfection! Figure 4 shows some practice flowers, both traced and freehand.
Figure 4. Cover your stamens or pistils, please!
Drawing the Line
Make a new layer for the
line drawing. Turn off the visibility of your color layer(s) and reduce
opacity of the layout layer to about 30%, just enough to serve as a
guide for the sections of your artwork. Choose the Scratchboard Tool and
make some practice strokes with it to get the feel of working with
different amounts of pressure. You might want to make the tip smaller,
so adjust its size either with the slider in the Property Bar or with
the left bracket key ([). Don’t forget to use Preferences > Brush
Tracking to customize the sensitivity of your Wacom tablet, as needed.
Sketch several flowers,
daffodils above and poppies below. Keep it loose and lively. A cartoony
style is fine. Some vertical strokes will establish the long stems and
leaves of the daffodils. A few bushy scribbles will work nicely at the
base of the poppy section. Figure 5 shows this work in progress, with the layout layer opacity at 30%.
Figure 5. Loose and layered.
are charming for this kind of work, but if you must remove some bits,
turn the Scratchboard Tool into an eraser by simply holding down your
Option/Alt key while clicking on the background white. Sample black
again to return to drawing more flowers. This is so much quicker than
actually switching to an Eraser variant.