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Saturday, May 17, 2014

"Butterfly Ripples"

Butterfly Ripples digital art orange pink rings

The weather has been very warm this week—even a few days of break-out-the-shorts-and-tank-tops warm—and after the winter we endured, it's more than welcome. It also means more springtime inspired art!

Butterflies are another thing I love about warm weather. Who doesn't love them?  They're second only to bees in the service of pollination and their presence is a positive reflection of the environment's health. They're symbols of transformation and one of the most popular tattoo image choices among women. Even total insectophobes are likely to admit that butterflies are non-threatening and beautiful.

Butterfly Sketch As butterflies move from flower to flower, I go from one project to another; I feel a resonance with them. Not long ago I needed to design a buddy icon and wanted it to feature a butterfly. I liked what I came up with, and this week re-worked that design into something more.

Butterfly sketch - Chrome edit
Initially I drew a simple butterfly using a photo of a lovely blue one as a guide. Of course I couldn't possibly stop there and tried running the image through various filters, eventually deciding Chrome had the "cool factor" I was after. Next I made gradient overlay and put that through a few edits.

My Butterfly Buddy Icon

I liked how it turned out, but in my haste to complete the icon, had not made any record of all the steps and settings used to create the look in case I wanted to duplicate it. When I wanted to make a version where the butterfly sat on a larger field, I was stuck in a guessing game attempting to retrace my steps (a rather un-butterfly-like activity). This is what I came up with. I call it "Butterfly Ripples" (shown here is the cutout version).

Butterfly Ripples (cutout) digital art orange pink rings

Recreating the gradient was no trouble. I went back to that layer in the original and used the color picker to get the exact shades of orange and purple I'd used before and made another of the Radial type. This time, instead of a portion of the the circle being in the picture, I wanted the whole thing. But I also knew I'd probably make a pattern with this design, so I didn't want it perfectly centered as that would make the pattern too uniform and hard on the eyes.

Butterfly Ripples layer in creation processSo I drew it off center, copied the layer, rotated that one 180 degrees, then played around with the blending modes to see what looked interesting (experiment and see what works--my standard procedure). In this case, it was Luminosity. It gave the image depth, or perhaps, as it turned out after more filters were added, the impression of seeing double.

After making copies of each layer and merging those, it was time for some filters. First I posterized it going to Filter>Adjustments>Posterize. (This is a little different than Poster Edges found under the Artistic Filters.) This put some definition into the gradient and produced the rings that looked like water ripples after tossing a pebble into a still pond. Recalling having used Plastic Wrap and Paint Daubs with the Sparkle Brush, I experimented along those lines next. I never did get the exact look, but was happy with the result.

I added in three copies of the butterflies in different sizes. With the buddy icon, a fair amount of the gradient layer was visible on the butterfly, but as a small portion of the image, they just looked blah. I made them more interesting by adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to colorize them with a golden yellow hue. I finished up by adding some shadow beneath them with Layer Styles, placing them under the gradient layer, and changing the gradient's blending mode to Overlay. Just look at this closeup displaying the incredible detail in the final work.

Butterfly Ripples Closeup digital art orange pink rings

Thanks for visiting and here are some of the Zazzle products I made with this design:

Butterfly Ripples digital art orange pink rings LunchboxButterfly Ripples digital art orange pink rings Night Lite
Butterfly Ripples digital art orange pink rings KeychainButterfly Ripples digital art orange pink rings Paper

Thanks for visiting and please come again! 

Have an extra busy schedule coming up for the next week or two... might be longer than usual before I can post again. Or maybe I will manage it. We'll just have to see. : )

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