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I'm super excited for this, because I love Rachel's artwork! I actually already have this print hanging up in my kitchen, and I'd love to get a custom pet portrait of Trixie! They are seriously so cute. Thanks Rachel for sharing your process! Without further ado...

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Hello everyone! I'm super excited to be doing a post on Emily's blog. 
Over at my site I post a lot of illustration in addition to lifestyle and fashion things, and today I'm going to show you all a step-by-step process of how I work! I usually do funky fashiony art, but I decided to get back to my roots and do a bit of naturey storybook art for this post. The illustration I'm creating here is intended as a mock book cover for "The Secret Garden."

1. First I do a sketch. This is often in my sketchbook, but sometimes on a sheet of printer paper like I did here. In the top right you can see my thumbnail where I solidified the composition.

2. I then take a crappy cell phone picture of my sketch and bring it into photoshop, where I resize it to whatever size I want for the final. It doesn't matter if this looks blurry, and I don't really even care what paper it's on (hence the purple), because I'm going to trace the sketch to get nice clean lines.

3. I use a makeshift light table consisting of a tall lamp with no shade and a piece of plexiglass to trace my lines onto some watercolor paper. I use the professional grade Strathmore that you can find at craft stores because it's affordable and produces nice results. If I had my way, though, it'd be all Arches all the time! I do these lines with a pencil.

4. Now's when I start painting! I start with the skin (entirely out of habit), and lay in the basic background colors if there are any. The paints I use are a mixture of Van Gogh and Winsor Newton watercolors, and Winsor Newton gouaches. I also use this awesome opaque ink that I dilute.

5. I lay in more colors.

6. You can see things starting to come together at this point!

7. And here's the final painting.

8. I then scan it in using my home scanner. This is what an unedited scan looks like right after it's been imported!

9. And finally, here's the finished product! I adjust the levels, saturation, and contrast to make it look as true to life as possible, then I resize it for the internet and slap my watermark on it. This particular one will have text added to it digitally later, but that's pretty unusual for my work.

I hope you guys enjoyed this peek into my process! If you want to see more of my work, I update my tumblr frequently, and sell prints and custom portraits in my shop.


5 comments

  1. Ah! I love it. It inspires me to get my art on.

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  2. Wow Rachel! That is neat to see your work flow :)

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  3. I LOVED seeing the whole process, what a cool post it looks wonderful!

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  4. this is so amazing, rachel! i love seeing a project from start to finish and this makes me love your work even more. i think this is a perfect cover for the secret garden— be still my heart!

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  5. this was amazing and super inspirational to me seeing the diff steps and hearing about the process! makes me think maybe w/ some work my stick figures could look ok... oh just kidding : ). Rachel is so amazing!

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