How I Created Evolution – A Five Step Process

It’s not often that I’ll share my process with you on how I create an illustration from beginning to end for a few reasons. Namely, it’s uber difficult when hit with inspiration to stop what you are working on and scan that in or take photos of it in equally timed steps. Two, it’s apparent that one runs the risk of being copied and I’m not talking about being inspired or learning from another artists work. Where would any artist be without being inspired! Three, I’m shy.

So, here I am revealing to you how I created this whimsical illustration aptly entitled Evolution.

Step 1 – Ink on paper

Using Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens I drew the mandala shape freehand on Strathmore flower petal paper. I do not draw in pencil first and then ink over top. I eliminated that step a while back. I tend to use the Brush (B) tip to draw the illustration with and refine it with both the Fine (F) tip and Small (S) tip artist pens.

Update – And thanks to Lorrie who asked “how big is it?” Final finished size is 8×8 inches / 20,3cm by 20,3cm.

Step 2 – Watercolour on ink

By painting a thin wash of watercolour within the petals and varying shapes I created the underpainting of the illustration. I paint using Windsor & Newton Watercolour with a #8 long handled Deserres Turquoise Brush.

Step 3 – Coloured pencil

After the watercolour dried I highlighted and shadowed the mandala with Prismacolor Verithin Coloured Pencils. The image is beginning to pop now!

Step 4 – Ink details and coloured pencil refinement

I added the central stamens using a white opaque Pilot pen and added highlights with minuscule little dots to the ocher green watercolour. These pens are great and will remain opaque on most darker surfaces. And I added green ocher ink to the outer perimeter of the mandala.

Step 5 – Final

Drawing feathery wisps using a pretty pink Pilot pen I finished the outer perimeter of the Mandala and added a similar shade of pink with coloured pencil to create the illusion of melon… Well, that’s what I’ll call it. Melon.

Materials Used

•Prismacolour Colored pencils
•Windsor and Newton Watercolour
•Faber Castel Pitt Artist Pens
•Pilot Hi-tec C Pens

I welcome your feedback and hope you enjoyed learning about my creative process. Please feel free to share this post and/or link to any of your creative process blog posts within the comments below.

The original Evolution illustration is for sale in the shop and is also available a limited edition archival print.

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34 thoughts on “How I Created Evolution – A Five Step Process”

  1. i’ve been thinking so much about the process of creating from inspiration to completion lately…you’ve laid it out so succinctly!! i love it…thanks for sharing your process :)

  2. rachael – I was thinking about it to a few months back and it popped into my head when I began laying the first lines of ink on the page and I scanned it in. And then scanned it in 4 more times…

    Glad you like it!

  3. Thank you for sharing the step by step process of creating your works.
    Very nice!
    I really like your works!

  4. I have bookmarked this. Very useful, and in interesting read.

    I do pencil and ink over still, depending on what it is. I am working on an anniversary postcard in ink commision, and involves letterting and dates, etc, and the whole thing needs to be fairly symetrical…so can’t leave anything to chance. However, if it’s an abstract, I just see where the pen takes me…

    Lovely piece btw, impressed as always…

  5. What was the inspiration for this btw, and how big is it exactly? Very interested in some of the supplies.

    I loved the colour combination and balance…beautiful piece of work..

  6. Lovely work as always Jessica.

    I have a technical question to ask. Do you tap your paper down to a surface like a desk or board so that it doesn’t warp? Just curious. I do that if I work with any kind of paper and then also blow dry the hell out of it so the water evaporates. I was just wondering how you deal with that situation.

  7. Lorrie – thank you.

    I can’t beleive I didn’t post the size of the piece.
    It measures 8×8 inches /20,3cm by 20,3cm

  8. paintedskywoman – If I am painting on watercolor paper then yes, I tape the paper down to a board; sometimes matboard or illustration board. This piece I created loose and sparingly applied the watercolour so it would remain flat. It was not taped.

    I’ll use a blow dryer to especially when painting with acrylic. You can see one of my watercolors taped down during a process that I shared on Flickr.

  9. Very cool piece you’ve created here.
    I was just thinking, maybe two days ago….wish I could pick her brain and here you’ve picked it for me! Oddly enough, your steps are very similar to mine. Although, I’m not wild about watercolor. I need to have an attitude adjustment with this… I was asked recently if I’d ever played with watercolor pencils…I haven’t…time for some changes.
    Thank you for reading my mind! k

  10. First, Melon is so, so, so, pretty and when you go through the process all the little details of the illustration stand out. You’ve got me interested in the Pilot pens I’m gonna have to do some hunting around :)

  11. Heather – Staples carries Pilot g-tec C4 pens which i use quite often however if you live in the US they will not be available. they are only sold in Canada, the UK and Japan. There is a site called jetpens that you can take a look at.

  12. I enjoyed this, Jessica. Thanks for posting. I’d love to see/read more like it.

    The process is as mysterious and artistic as the finished piece.

  13. Hi Jessica,

    Loved reading this! It’s always great to see progress pics. It makes you really appreciate the time and effort that’s put into every piece. I especially loved being able to see all the details in that final close-up pic.

    And yay for Prismas!!


  14. Really great post… Stunning art. I will re-tweet.

    My process isn’t nearly as straight forward. Being a painter I have a tendency to rework paintings. Rarely am I happy the first go around… Even in my knitting I sometimes have several false starts.

  15. Thanks for the glimpse into your process Jessica. As usual you have created a beautiful piece. About how long does your whole process take?

  16. I hope no one tries to copy your work, even if they tried, I highly doubt that it would even compare to yours.

    Thank you for letting us in and showing us your beautiful work and process of it all.

  17. Andrew – Thanks! This process took hours… days to be honest.

    Shanda – Glad you liked the peek into my world.

  18. That was very interesting. Because I am not a pencil and paint artist I had no clue how you used coloured pencils with the other mediums, so I am grateful to learn how you did that.
    I also wondered how you made certain colours POP. Now I understand.
    Very cool.

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