The making of the Stripes Collection

12:00 PM

As most of you know, I am an artist and sell my art on various platforms and one of the series I am focusing on these days is what I named "The Stripes Collection" on Society6.

This is how all the art in that series look like (give or take a few tweaks, more on that later) :

It all started as a happy "accident" except it wasn't really as much of an accident as much as it was my "Waste not want not" attitude kicking in.

You see quite a few of my designs in that "Stripes collection" were made with artwork recycled from my 2016 printable calendar.
The pages of said calendar were looking like this :

Each of these illustrations started as a watercolor medallion that ended up being cleaned up and used in my calendar design which back then was still done in an old version of paintshop pro and took me hours to pull.

This is how every single one of my watercolor designs take shape on paper :

This one above was my rain boots design originally created to illustrate the month of July. As you can see, I first draw a circle and  outline the major element in color pencil before using watercolor paint. Then I use a black gel pen and either a gold or silver gel pen to add outlines and highlights to the design.

One of the trademark of that style is that the medallion border always has a metallic design to it, in this apple illustration (September if you remember), I drew a diamond pattern in gold.

I always test my color blends in a corner of the paper since the work will then be scanned and the color samples cropped off. That Sushi and stripes design at the top of the page, this is how it looked like before going in the scanner.

For the artwork I sell on Society6 I scan all my pieces at 1200 dpi resolution in TIFF format. Because I needed this high resolution I had to re-scan all my old Calendar illustrations which I keep in a portfolio at home (I keep all my original artwork that way).

Once the art is scanned and saved as a TIFF file in photoshop, the first thing I do is clean up the TIFF file. It means all the pencil marks, blotches, and paper scratches the scanner picked up (and it does that a lot at such a high resolution) will have to go, along with the white background around the medallion.
It's a tedious process, not gonna lie, while the magic eraser tool will remove most of the white background, I will still have to remove quite a few stray pixels in various shade of grey and black (the paper grain and smudges).

Then once I am satisfied with what lies outside the medallion illustration, I tackle the inside. For this task, you can't use the eraser tool, it will remove everything, leaving a digital hole in the illustration where the dirty pixels were.

But before I do tackle those imperfections, I adjust the vibrance and saturation and level of my artwork to make colors pop. The scanner has the nasty habit to wash out the colors a little. Once that is done, I clean up the mess.

To clean up a painting you will need to use the "Spot healing brush tool" in Photoshop. This tool is the same tool that you can use to remove zits and dark spots on a portrait picture and why models in magazines look like they have a flawless complexion.
This tool will pretty much make the pixels from inside the correction area being swapped by pixels found in the clean area just outside the selection.

This part means I often zoom in to about 200% the actual size and go through one small section at a time, looking at anything that shouldn't be there.
This work won't make a difference for something like a small art print or a mobile phone case, stray pixels and tiny scratches won't show up on such small scale prints, but they have a MUCH higher chance to show on something bigger like a blanket, or a shower curtain, and this is something you do not want.

Once I am satisfied with the clean up, and can't see any imperfections left, the time to save my file has come. I first re-save it as a TIFF, taking into account the background transparency. Then I save an additional copy as a PNG file.

I then open that PNG file and start working on it to add the stripes.

The first thing I did, and I only did it once was create a stripe pattern to fill my background, this pattern is saved in my files and ready to use in Photoshop.

Back to my PNG file, I start by increasing the canvas size to 8000px by 8000px, this is the size of the final artwork that will be the default print for every pieces in that collection.
The stipe collection is a series of square pictures if you were to ever order it to put on your wall, either as a framed print, canvas print or metal print.

Once my photoshop canvas is set to the desired size, I create a new layer and move it below the illustration.
This is the layer I will fill with my stripe pattern. To do so I use the "fill tool". This give me a default white and grey stripes pattern as it is how I created that pattern in the first place.
The stripes will have to be changed to a color of my choice. And to do that, I usually use the color dropper tool to select a shade that is already present in the painting so that there is some harmony in my final piece.
I don't always pick an obvious color with the color picker, in the case of the Sushi Illustration I picked a very dark green from the almost black looking seaweed roll. For the coffee bean above, I picked the warm brown at the centre of the bean for my stripes.

Once I am satisfied with it, I save my artwork as a PNG file again, because this is the type of file that gives you the best resolution even for large prints.

But my work isn't done yet. This art size works great on most products on Society6 and Cupick, but it will not look its best on Mobile phone cases and coffee mugs (and other few items I haven't yet opted for on Society6).
For these two products, I had to create and additional file with a different ratio. Fortunately every print on demand sites will have a list of dimension requirements you should meet for specific product, so I created a striped phone case template and striped mug template.
Each time I create a new art piece for the collection I also create one version on both those templates. All I have to do is change the color of the stripes on the templates and move the medallion illustration and resize it to fit inside my template.

This is what led to my Society6 mugs looking that way :

In short, there is a lot of work going into making art available for print, painting it, or drawing it is usually the tip of the production iceberg.

Out of the all platforms I sell on, the Stripes Collection is available only at Society6. It even has its own designated collection on Society6.

Check often as I keep adding new designs regularly.

2020 Edit, Cupick no longer exist, so I removed all links and mentions, I have created a Printable sticker set with all the designs in the Stripes Collection and it is available in my Etsy shop.

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  1. Anonymous1:28 AM

    I didn't know you sold your art, these designs are really nice, I especially like the strawberry with stripes, it would look nice on a child T-shirt. Well done, you ! Take care -Pad


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