WALLPAPER AND HOME DECOR
Inspired by a design prompt, but destined for a collection, this buttercup design satisfied a desire of mine to play with Arts and Crafts style.
When Spoonflower announced a “Buttercups Home Decor” theme for their weekly challenge I actually sighed. Not a happy sigh, either. More like a sigh of resignation accompanied by an eye roll. If you are familiar with these challenges, you know that Spoonflower requires that design entries must be original and not previously offered for sale. And I had just finished publicizing the last of a series of colorways for my “Bold Buttercup” print that is part of the Dandelions and Daydreams collection. Thus the sigh.
Understand, of course, that I’m not required to participate. I just knew that this would be a fun challenge and I had been really, really wanting to do another floral collection. So, yes, the struggle is real, if you consider creating art a struggle, which I don’t. So, Judy, stop your sighing and get to it.
As mentioned, I really wanted to try a design that was loosely based on the Arts and Crafts style. This required a fair bit of layout. I didn’t feel it was feasible to design a bunch of motifs and assemble them after the fact to create this type of pattern. So per usual, I started with a pencil sketch – a really, really messy pencil sketch. I used the diamond layout that has served me so well. In addition to sketching the floral motifs, I also roughly penciled in where the elements would repeat on each side so that I would have an idea what would need to overlap and what space would already be filled.
I followed my usual routine of snapping pics of the sketch with my iPad – no scanning required. I imported the image into Adobe Fresco and decreased the opacity so I could easily trace over them. I locked this layer and created a new vector layer to work on.
I have been playing with Fresco for a a little over a month now. While it lacks a lot functions, the brushes actually behave the way I wish they would behave in Illustrator. There are more vector brush options and the pressure sensitive setting is very precise and provides natural results. I also find that, while I have my iPad programmed to ignore hand gestures when using the stylus, Fresco is the only program that seems to truly honor this setting.
Using a dark color, I traced all the elements I wanted, but I decided I wanted more details for the leaves. Luckily, it was buttercup season, so I was able to snap some quick pics of local buttercups. I used these photos as the base layer to trace off several leaves, which I then added to my drawing layers.
Speaking of layers, I kept my working elements on several different layers to make it easy to move around and tweak the design as needed.
I had recently gone on a walk to a stream near my home and noticed a tiny blue-winged butterfly near the path. These butterflies have impossibly beautiful periwinkle blue wings. I am smitten with them. My original drawing had a few insects on it – bees, ladybugs, dragonflies – but, I was inspired and the butterflies replaced them. Sorry, bugs!
I decided to use Illustrator to color the design. I just really like my blob brush and shape builder tool. I’m sure as I work with Fresco I’ll find a method I like. For now my process is to use the blob brush to roughly trace the shape and then use the shape builder to fill. I adjust this vector shape as-needed, but I try and keep it a bit “organic.” I like for my fills to either spill out of, or not quite fill, an outline.
Once I was happy with my color fills, I added some extra shading to the buttercups, but the design still seemed a little flat. I opted to add various-sized dots to the background in a shade slightly darker than the background itself. This provided a nice bit of texture.
The next step was pure play. Yes, you’ve guessed correctly. Color! I should mention that this design was completed well in advance of the entry deadline, so I had plenty of time to tweak the colors. Too much time! I ended up with 15 choices, which I narrowed to ten and uploaded to Spoonflower. I further narrowed down to six colorways as possible entries, which I posted to Instagram to poll friends and acquaintances. “Dusty Blue” won the vote and I submitted it as my entry.
Buttercup Bliss is from the Sylvie’s Cottage Collection.
wallpaper and decor fabrics for cottage and home
from the Sylvie’s Cottage collection