Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge: Day 1

SpoonChallenge: Design-A-Day
We are beyond excited to announce the first technique in March's Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge: Pencil drawings! Today, Esther Fallon Lau (known by many as nouveau_bohemian in the Spoonflower Marketplace) gives us a closer look at how she incorporates pencil drawings into her design process. Be sure to follow along (on theblog, too!) for the next 15 days as we feature a new Design-A-Day technique, presented to you by one of our many talented Spoonflower Marketplace designers!
Pencil drawings come to life with a pop of color and a lot of creativity! Gypsy Spirit (cream + purple) - Gypsy Feathers (pink) - Gypsy Spirit (cream + pink)
Esther: As it’s sometimes said, your weakness can become your greatest strength. When I first discovered the joy of Spoonflower I was forced to hand-draw all my designs in pencil because I had no technical graphic design skills. Now, this hand drawn technique has evolved into the real ‘hero’ of my work. In contrast to digital drawing, the unpolished look of pencil sketches lends a rawer, more organic quality to illustrations. Perhaps it’s the inherent ‘imperfections’ with pencil that allows the viewer a more personal connection with the artist. In an age where handmade and bespoke are having a real resurgence, I have found that ‘hand-drawn’ is a look that customers are really valuing right now. 
nouveau_bohemian details how her design Birch Bears (blue) comes to life through simple pencil sketches
Ready to get designing? Follow Esther's tips below to help you with today's Design-A-Day kick off challenge! 
Build a Pinterest board full of the style of drawing you like. Don’t worry about the content, it is the 'how' that is important. Is it technical, minimalist, folk, naive, or cartoony? If it is an animal, are the legs, arms and head disproportionate or anatomically correct? How is character/personality shown in the eyes? How is texture/pattern/shadow indicated? Now, find a photo (or real life subject) to use as a guide (I don't have ready access to bears in Australia so I used a photo!). Sketch the subject in your style. Don’t get fixated on the perfect line - don’t erase, just use soft lines, make lots of them, experiment. Next, within those lines, ‘seek out’ the best outline with a fine ink pen. I use a Sharpie extra fine point. Now erase the pencil and scan into Photoshop or some other editing program. Blur the image (to smooth out the lines slightly) then sharpen by increasing the contrast (I use Levels). You can add fillers (ex. flowers, leaves, clouds, stars, etc) to create movement, balance and interest. Finally, digitally colour and overlay with texture. Voilà!
Inspired by Esther's tips and tricks for pencil drawings? We want to see! Be sure to tag your designs influenced by today's SpoonChallenge technique with #SFDesignADay!

This method seems very close to what I already do in my own design process, and I was grateful to get into the swing of things with a familiar technique.

rough pencil sketch number 1

defining the lines in pen

rough sketch number 2

completing the pen work

Erasing all remaining pencil

Finished design Silver Tabbies


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