Exercises to Grow Your Portfolio - Design a Gift Bag | Sandra Bowers Art | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Exercises to Grow Your Portfolio - Design a Gift Bag

teacher avatar Sandra Bowers Art, Illustrator + Surface + Creature Design

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Trailer

    • 2. Supplies and Class Project

    • 3. Painting the Artwork

    • 4. Designing the Gift Bag

    • 5. Designing the Gift Tag

    • 6. Bonus Video! Complete Painting Time-lapse

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class


As an Illustrator or Surface Pattern Designer, you need to have a portfolio that shows what you can do.  A great way to grow your portfolio is to create personal projects that target the market that you want your art to be in. In this class, I will show you the process of creating a Valentine´s Day design for a gift bag and gift tag. I´ll walk you trough my process of painting the flowers in watercolors, adjusting and creating the design composition digitally and putting it into a mockup gift bag and tag. By the end of the class you´ll know how to create a presentation sheet that´s ready to show.  So join me, and start adding awesome art to your portfolio! 

Basic knowledge of ADOBE® PHOTOSHOP® SOFTWARE is required. 

In this class, I´m sharing how I create my artwork and presentation sheets, there are many ways to do this, and some people might make them in a different way.  This is not a set standard and you should adapt it to you tastes and artistic needs and circumstances. 


Adobe, the Adobe logo and Photoshop are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe in the United States and/or other countries.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sandra Bowers Art

Illustrator + Surface + Creature Design

Top Teacher

Hello! I'm a Freelance Illustrator. I was born in Medellín, Colombia (puedes escribirme en Español!). I create detailed, stylized, playful illustrations, patterns and characters from my studio in Gabriola, BC, Canada.

I have very big eyes and I love animals. Most of my inspiration comes from nature and animals.

I love mixing traditional and digital media to create illustrations and patterns for a number of corporate clients around the world to use in home decor products, stationery, fabrics, kids products and greeting cards.

“I’m very passionate about what I do and believe that through my art I can impact the world in a positive manner.  This is why I teach online and why I create fun, colourful and happy... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Trailer: Hello. My name is Sandra Bowers. I'm an illustrator and surface pattern designer. As an illustrator or surface pattern designer, you need to have a portfolio that shows what you can do. A great way to grow your portfolio is to create personal projects that target the market that you want your work to be in. In this class, I will show you the process of creating a valentine stake design for a gift bag and a gift card. I'll walk you through my process of painting the flowers in watercolors, adjusting, and creating the design compensation digitally, putting it into Mockups, and creating a presentation sheet that's ready to be put in your portfolio or designed to art directors. Join me, and start adding some awesome art to your portfolio. 2. Supplies and Class Project: Since we're trying to grow your portfolio, you can use any materials that you want to create the artwork for this class. The idea behind this class is for you to get inspired and create pieces of art that are suitable for the market you want your art to be in. I know how hard it is to decide what to paint sometimes. I thought that it would be easier if you have some guidelines. Study the trends and see what's selling in the stores, but create your own artwork. Don't copy and give it to your own personality so you don't end up with the same thing that everybody else has. In this class have chosen to make a Valentine's Day gift bag with flowers and paint them in water colors, but feel free to choose a different occasion or subject matter. Make something that fits your art and style. Before you start painting, decide on the dimensions your art should have, and if it should be square, rectangular, round or individual motifs to create a pattern, I decided to make an 8 by 10 inches design, since that's a very common size for gift bags. You can even make it bigger in case you want to use it for another product. For the mock-ups, you can use my templates. They're available for download in the class area, or you can use your own. I'm using Adobe Photoshop software to create the final design, mock-ups and presentation sheet. 3. Painting the Artwork: I have my sketch here ready to start painting. You don't have to use water colors for your artwork, but I thought I'd share the complete process with you. Since it's for Valentine's Day, I will be using shapes of reddish pink for the flowers. I will start by adding a very light wash, making some lines as to mark the base of the petals. I will add a bit more paint on the base of the petals so it's darker. If you want to learn how I paint in watercolors in a more detailed way, check out my class, Watercolors for Illustrators. I'll place a link right here in the notes. I created this ad with flowers because it can be used for Valentine's Day products, but also for something like Mother's Day or even a wife's birthday card. I think it's always good if the artwork can serve different purposes or be applied to different products because it gives you more possibilities. After I have painted the base layer for each petal, I'll start adding a bit more paint to mark the shadows. I'll start painting the stems in the middle by adding a light layer of yellow and then dropping some water down the yellow ocher on the base. I'll do this while it's still wet, so that it blends in. I love this part of the magnolias. Now, I'll paint the stems by using a dark brown. I'll drop in some drops of darker brown around different areas to create marks on the branches. Adding a little bit of yellow ocher also gives them more life. I will start darkening my details. You can decide how realistic you want your paintings to be. For this project, I'm making my flowers in a realistic manner, but still keeping that illustrated graphic feel. I'll paint the leaves in the same way by mixing different shades of greens and yellows and browns on each leaf so that it creates texture and interest. I think the flower needs more contrast and I want to make the paints really stand out, so I'll add another layer of a darker red. You can keep going and adding as many layers as you want until you're happy with your painting. Now that the petals are darker, I notice I need to add more details to the stems too, so I'll use a darker brown. So that's basically how I paint the flowers' stems and the leaves. If you want to see the whole processes of speed painting, you can watch the bonus video that's at the end of the class. 4. Designing the Gift Bag: Here's my artwork. I scanned it in at 1200 ppi RGB mode and saved it as a JPEG. I opened it in Adobe Photoshop software. Now, I will make it CMYK by going to Image, Mode, CMYK Color, and hit Okay and now it's ready for us to edit. If I go to image size, you'll see the size of my document. It's the same size of the document I scanned and the resolution is 1200 ppi. That means that I can make it even bigger. I always save these file of the original scan unmodified in case I need to go back to it and I'll create this one as a different file to work on it. Now, I'll zoom in, and I can see that the colors are a bit dull. I'll fix the colors and eliminate the texture of the paper. I'll duplicate this layer by dragging it up or holding Alt. I'll hide this layer and click on these new fields or adjustments layer button here, go to levels and this dialog box opens. If I move this slider to the right, the colors get darker and if I move this one to the left, the colors good whiter. I want to play around with it until I'm happy with the result. This one in the middle works in the same way. I think it's okay, so I'll close that. I'll click here again and select brightness contrast, and I'll move this around a little bit. The difference is not too obvious, but it helps. Now, I'll click here and go to levels again and make my colors a bit darker and the whites a bit whiter, and I will do one thing and click here and go to Hue/Saturation because I think my colors are too bright. I'll desaturate it a bit. Now I'm happy with it, but it's all a matter of taste. Now you select all these adjustment levels layers by holding down Shift while you select them, and you right-click, create clipping mask, and now they are attached to this layer only so they won't modify the outer layers. I'm going to remove the white background. That is a class in itself. If you don't know how to do it, check on my class on removing water color background. I'll put the link in the notes. You can also leave it white if you want the white background, or if you've painted a complete background in your illustration. Here, I'm ready to start designing. I'm going to crop the canvas, select that tool by pressing the letter C, so that I get rid of the additional area that is not needed. Crop it to the size of your image and hit Enter. I will select this adjustment layers plus my painting layer by holding down Shift while I select them. I right click to Convert to Smart Object. Double-click on the name of the layer to rename it, and then I'll do the same process to the other one that has a white background. That way, I'm keeping the adjustment layers in case I want to modify them afterwards, but I'm dealing only with one layer. Go to File, New, and create an 8 by 10 inches, 300 pixels per inch document. Make sure it's CMYK and hit Okay. Go to File, Save and I'll save it as a Gift Bag, hit Okay. I'm going to drag the painting file down here. I'll select the layer with the transparent icon and I will drag it to my design document. Also mount and hit Command T or Control T if you're a Windows computer. By dragging or holding non shift, you'll keep the proportions of the object, and if you hold down Shift and Alt at the same time, you'll keep the proportions and keep the center in the same place it was. Hit Enter once you have it placed correct. Also mean, I can see the shape of the heart, but I think it's not too obvious. I want to make it stand out more. What I will do is create a new layer clicking here, and then select a normal hard brush. This is a very light pink, but what I'm doing is just drawing a heart behind my water colors. Select the Magic Wand or press W and click outside the heart, go to Select, Inverse, grab the paint bucket or pres G, and click inside the heart. Go to Select, Deselect, and now it's colored in. I don't just fill it up with the paint bucket because I don't like how the edges look. I don't like the colors, so I go to Adjustments, Hue/Saturation, or Command U, and start moving the sliders until I find a color I like, and I hit Okay. Every time I say Command, if you are in a Windows computer, just replace it for Control. Now, I'll change the color of the background. I'll grab the paint bucket tool and hold Alt, while click on the color I want to grab, and then click on the background. I really don't like that color, so I'll go to Hue/Saturation or Command U, and I'll move this lighters around. I love this tool because it lets me explore colors that I might not take into consideration. I want to add texture. I'm going to go to File, place embedded, and select the texture. You can download these from the Clouds documents. I'll hold Alt Shift and pull on the corner until it covers my heart. I will right-click on this layer, create clipping mask, and that way, it only covers the heart. I'll go to blending modes and select color burn and reduce the opacity a bit, so it's not too overwhelming. I also want to use that texture in the background. I'll hold Alt while I drag it down, and hit Command T, and holding down Shift and Alt, I'll expand it so that it covers my whole background. Then I'll hit Enter. I think the background is not too interesting right now, so I'm selecting my icon layer, and I'm going to drag it down here while holding Alt so that I duplicate it. I'm going to set the blending mode to multiply, and hit Command T and hold Shift and Alt to make it very big, and move it around until I think it fits. I'll reduce the opacity so that it doesn't take away too much from the main design. I'm not so sure about the color of the heart anymore, so I'm going to select the heart layer, and go to Image adjustments, Hue/Saturation, and keep changing the colors. I'll hit colorize. You'll see that I use this tool quite a bit during the process, and it's because sometimes I think that a color is going to look good, but as the design evolves, I don't like it anymore. This is a great way to try new colors. Hit Okay. I'll select my transparent icon again, and change the blending mode to linear burn, and hit Command T to move it around because I don't think it's working. I like it here, so I'll hit Enter. Now the bottom is empty, so I'll hold Alt while I drag it down to duplicate it. I can flip it vertically by going to Edit, Transform, Flip Vertically. We'll get some more and hit Enter. It's time to change the heart colors and more. I show you a different way to do it. I'll click on the heart layer and while holding down the Alt key, I'll click on this color, so I'll pick it up and grab the paint bucket tool or G. Right-click on the layer thumbnail and select pixels, and click inside. I select the pixels before filling it in, because I think the edges looks softer if I do it like this. I'll go to Select, Deselect. Select that texture layer and change the blending mode to multiply, and change the opacity. I'll hit Command T, and rotate it because I think it will look better like this. Finally, I'll select all the layers, right-click, duplicate layers, right click merge layers, and then hit Command A, and that selects the entire canvas, and then I hit Command J or go to layer, New, Layer Via Copy and erase the layer that's underneath. That away we have a merged Layer. Rename it, and you'll have the merged layer here and all the editable layers underneath. It's very handy to have your designing just one layer because it will make it easier to mockup and move around. Now, I'll save these and we're going to create the presentation sheet. Go to File, New, I'll make an 8 by 10 inches, 300 pixels per inch, CMYK page, and hit Okay. Go to File, place embedded and select a mockup file. Holding down Shift, resize it and place it on your page and hit Enter. I'll select the Magic Wand, you can do it by pressing W, and select area in front of the bag, and hit Command J or layer, New, Layer Via Copy, and rename this layer by double-clicking on the name. Call it ''FRONT''. I'll drag down the document that has my design, and select them merged layer and drag it into my presentation sheet. Right click, create clipping mask, and now the design covers only the front part of the bag. Go to Edit, Free Transform, or press Command T, and place it correctly and there is the front of our bag. We're going to do this to all the sides. Now, I'll go to the Mockup Layer, pick the Magic Wand, select all the areas on the bag while holding down Shift, hit Command J, and rename this Layer. Hold Alt while you drag the design layer to duplicate it. Right-click create clipping mask on Command T to move it around. Hit Enter and there's the back. I think the back will look a bit darker because it's inside the bag, so I'll select the shape layer and hit Command U to change the hue/saturation. This way, I'll make it darker. Now select the art layer and go to blending modes, multiply. I think it needs to be darker, so I'll select that again and Command U to make it darker and hit Okay. Now, I'll go to the Mockup Layer, and select the sides of the bag with the Magic Wand by holding down Shift, and I'll hit Command J. Rename the layer. I'll select the effects, color overlay, click on the color I want the sides to be. No, that's too bright. This one. Perfect, so I hit Okay. Hit Okay again, and there's our bag. I'll drag this layer up, and select multiply, so that the white is transparent, and the black lines of our mockup or over the designs. 5. Designing the Gift Tag: Now we're going to design the gift TAG. This is just a little added detail to give you interest to the presentation sheet, and show that you can create matching pieces. Go to File, New and I'm making a popular size for a gift bag, 3.5 by 2 inches, 300 pixels per inch, CMYK, and hit "Okay". Now I go to File, Place Embedded, and select the TAG file. Hit "Enter". I'm going to go to the document where I have my artwork. Select the Transparent Icon and drag the Window here, and drag that layer into my TAG. I'll zoom out, hit "Command P" and hold down Alt and Shift while I reduce the size, and move it around to see what looks better. I want it to be different from the back, so I'm not just repeating the same design. I could also cut the flower in the middle, for example, and make a design with that and some leaves. But I think this looks nice here, so I'll press "Enter". I'll drag this layer down and set the TAG layer to multiply so I can see where the image would be positioned. Then I'll add a bit of effects. Hit "P" and type "to, from" or whatever message you want. In the character menu, I'll change the size between lines. I'll draw some lines by using the Line tool that you can select with the letter U. I'll make it two pixels here and hit "Enter". Now I'll turn off the Tag Mockup guide. I'll save this. I select all this layers, right-click, Duplicate Layers, hit "Okay", and Command E to merge them. Hit "Command A" to select all the canvas. Go to Layer, New, Layer Via Copy or Command J and I erase layer underneath and rename this layer. Now its ready to move to our presentation sheet. I'll drag the document down, select this layer, and drag into the presentation sheet document. I'll hide that layer while I create a shape to hold it. Select "My Mockup Layer", grab the margin one, and select inside the bag and hit "Command J" and rename the layer, and make this beautiful. Right-click, Create Clipping Mask, and now it's inside our TAG. Hit "Command P" to resize it. Remember to hold down Shift. There it is. So hit "Enter". Now I'll create a layer on top of my background layer to place my logo on there. I have it saved as a brush, so I just pick up the Brush tool, pick a color I like, and it's ambiguous. It has my logo and my website. Every presentation sheet I make has my contact details on my logo. Now I'll proceed to start writing the name of the collection and a numeric code that I use to identify my collections. I move this around until I like how they look. That's it. Now I have a presentation sheet. This is ready to add to your portfolio or to send over to clients to show off your new designs. To make a smaller resolution to put online or share, I'll go to Files, Export, Save for Web, and make it 800 pixels wide, and hit "Save". In the name of the file, I'll put my name. So if an art director has a ton of files, they'll be able to see it's mine just from the name of the file. That's it. I hope you enjoyed this class and that you'll follow me on Instagram, and check out all my other classes here in Skill Show. Remember, you can watch my speed painting of the complete piece in the next video. Bye. 6. Bonus Video! Complete Painting Time-lapse: I always love watching how other people paint watercolors, so I hope you enjoy me painting my watercolors. If you want to learn how I do it, I have several classes here on Skillshare. I'll put the links down in the comments. Bye.