Floral/Flourish Design Tutorial

Posted by on Apr 8, 2012 in Tutorials & Walkthroughs | 3 Comments

One of my friends recently asked me to make a tutorial on how I make my flourishes, so I thought since I did the
henna tutorial and I usually build up my designs from these why not give it a try.

Have a look at the tutorial and then you can take a look below to turn the flourish into a digital piece.


I love drawing my designs by hand and then converting them into digital pieces, I think the flow looks so much more natural. Of course if you have a tablet you probably can skip this altogether but for those like me who still don’t have any *sad face* you can try this method. This is the process I usually use when drawing all of designs for my cards. Other times I use the pen tool for a cleaner look.


Image 1 is a photo I took of the final piece, however you will be scanning your design but if you are tracing this using the pen tool in photoshop or illustrator (I’m using CS3) then taking a photograph of it will be fine. I personally think this process is longer and doesn’t look hand drawn but if you prefer much cleaner edges then give this a go.

Trace your pencil sketch use tracing paper, to me it has the best absorbency when you apply ink to the surface and there is less bleeding. When you scan your design, use a high resolution about 300 dpi. You will see what I mean about the edges when you zoom in.

Your scanned image should like like the one in Image 2. Open the file in Photoshop and clean up the edges using the pencil tool and select the white colour. You can make the flourish into a brush as it is by going to Edit in the Menu tab and clicking on Define Brush Preset. This only works if your resolution isn’t way too high, so decrease your resolution until the tab is enabled, or try decreasing the image to 100 dpi (I have no idea why it doesn’t work on 300 dpi images). If your background is not white you won’t have a transparent background, so be sure your background is fully white.


If you don’t want to make a brush in Photoshop and prefer to make a vector, then save the image you just cleaned up in Photoshop and open it up in Illustrator, scale down the image a bit because larger images take a while to process. Click on the image and apply the Live Trace in the top menu, you can play with the Threshold by clicking on the down arrow right next to it and click Tracing Options.


When you click on this, click preview (right under Save Preset) to see how the vector will look, you can play around with the settings. Then click on Trace when you are satisfied with it. It won’t look perfect just yet. Click on Expand in the top menu, this turns the image into a vector.


You should have something that looks like this. See the pencil icons on the left? The middle one (smooth tool) is pretty handy for fixing jagged curves. Click in the right corner of the pencil tool in the Tool box to pop the little tab out. Delete the outer white border (this is the outline from the image) when you delete it, the vector will seem to disappear, this is just a (Compound Path) mask above it, click to delete the above mask.


Click on the vector and using the Smooth Tool, guide it across the edges to smooth out any jagginess (keep your eye on the shapes the smooth tool creates, it can deform some of the shapes at times, you can edit the preference of the smooth tool by double clicking on it for the preferance) and tweak any of the points with the pen tool to get them to a shape that you like. If you click on a point and hold alt, you can edit one of the paths rather than both to have more control over the shape. Work on it until you are and happy and there you have it.


I rotated the flourish horizontally (Image 3) and made a duplicate, which I then flipped horizontally to create the design in Image 4. You can build on the design by adding more flourishes to fill the space. You can also repeat the patterns to create a background. Experiment and have fun! 


This is a photo I took from the pattern I showed you in the video, the grey drawing to the left is my basic pencil drawing just to get a flow for the design, I sketched an outer shape as well to stay within the frame. Try to use a light pencil for sketching like an H pencil but make sure you can see the marks. Also keep a sheet of scrap paper under your hand to avoid smudging. I then retraced it and made the final inked piece which you see on the right.


This is a preview of the final after I made it into a vector and added some colour.


Hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. If you do draw a floral design I would love to see it!

Here are some of them

by Rima  |  by Talah


  1. Junoon Designs » Ramadhan Design Case Study/Tutorial
    July 14, 2012

    […] Floral/Flourish Design Tutorial […]

  2. Kubilay
    March 3, 2013

    Thanks. So Beautiful 😉

  3. Katrover
    October 11, 2014

    I used your tutorial to make this: http://katrover.deviantart.com/art/Very-Fun-Vector-Florals-487855667


Leave a Reply