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How To: Turning a Sketch into a Digital File

How have you all been?

I hope your family escaped the wrath of the whatever tummy bug is going around? Our family was not so lucky and one by one we all went down over the past week. Having a house full of sick people obviously doesn't make for much getting done around the house, but it did give me A LOT of time for sketching.

Today, I thought it would be fun to share with you how I turn my rough sketches into digital files for use in my fabric designs and other products. I can't say my process will work for everyone, but its still fun to see how a sketch can evolve. Oh, and if you are professional designers out there, no judging...I'm pretty much self taught unless you count my one and only semester at the Art Institute.

(Disclaimer: I use *Photoshop Elements for all my design work. My version is old, PSE 9, but I make it work. If you are familiar with PSE this tutorial will make sense, if not, I suggest learning the basics before moving on to more advance techniques. I also use a *Bamboo Tablet instead of a mouse whenever I'm working in PSE--- *indicates affiliate links)

So where do I start?

First I start by sketching my design ideas on regular old paper. If I am stuck on how something looks, I might Google images for reference or I look at things around the house. One thing I try NOT to do is look at other fabric designs or artwork, so that I can keep my designs unique to me. Its amazing how much influence we glean from all the media available and it can be hard to stay original. As I develop my style I find it easier to not be influenced.

Next I take my sketches and transfer them to white paper using regular old carbon paper. During this step I have a chance to clean up my lines and simplify my design.

I then take these "cleaned up" drawings and scan them into the computer. Or if the image is too large for my scanner, I take a clear photo of the image and upload it my computer. Once on my computer, I use the "lasso" tool to isolate each image and move it to a new blank file. At this time, I can make the image as large or small as I want by sizing it to fit my new file. I don't worry if the image gets distorted or blurry, because in the next step I fix that!

After my image is opened in the new file and sized where I want it, I open a new layer and pick a paintbrush tool. Depending on what I'm after I may start by "painting" first or I might just outline the whole image. I won't go into to much detail about how I achieve the final result, but basically I start playing with different paint brushes, colors and textures until I get the look I'm after. I always work in layers so that I can add in and take away things as I progress. This is no different than what I do when I am painting in real life - just lots cleaner and easier to walk away from!

If you're not comfortable "painting" on the computer, you can also do a real painting and scan/upload it into the computer. I reference THIS tutorial from Jones Design Company whenever I'm turning paintings into digital files.

Once you have your completed digital image, you can use it in so many applications! I used the bunny to create this fun fabric design (coming soon to my Spoonflower shop!)

I also uploaded my design to my shop so you can purchase my bunny design as art prints, pillows, and mugs!

I think this little lady would be the perfect addition to anyone's spring home decor! Or darling in a little girls room!

You can find her handsome companion there too!

Don't you think they make the cutest pair!?

These guys will also be available in my spring fabric collection. I'm just waiting to approve my designs and then they will be shoppable! Can you believe I submitted 28 new designs in just the last couple weeks. That's CRAZY!

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