Drawing the Flourish Basics and Beyond | Jane Snedden Peever | Skillshare

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Drawing the Flourish Basics and Beyond

teacher avatar Jane Snedden Peever, Living the Creative Life

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Materials And Project


    • 3.

      Start With A Spiral


    • 4.

      Multiple spirals


    • 5.

      Working With Loops


    • 6.

      Using Different Pens


    • 7.

      Creating Symmetry


    • 8.

      Corners and Freeform


    • 9.

      Fancy up your letters


    • 10.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class


In this class we will explore flourishing techniques, from the simple spiral all the way to some more involved styles and ideas.  I will walk you through the different methods and how to use flourishes to enhance both your illustrations and your lettering designs.  I have provided worksheets to help you get the feel of creating a variety of flourishes, and also a page of more ornamental styles to give you some creative inspiration.  I will walk you through some of the ornamental styles on this page and show you how to use tracing paper to get the symmetrical look with a hand drawn design.

This class is for both beginners and seasoned artists.  I provide ideas that will get you started as well as inspiration to take the ideas further in whatever form of art you love to create.

Join me as we explore this fun and versatile art form.

What you will need

  • Paper
  • Pencil - regular and soft lead.  Any pencil in the B range is soft, I suggest a 3B.
  • Eraser.  I use both a white eraser and a putty or kneadable eraser.
  • Pen.  Regular fine or med tip art pen is great.
  • Tracing paper.  Any weight will work, as long as you can see through it nicely
  • 3 downloads provided, printed out.  You can print these worksheets as many times as you need to have lots of practice time.
  • Optional - brush pens, calligraphy marker, paint brushes - we will  use these in the lesson on exploring different pen styles.

Meet Your Teacher

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Jane Snedden Peever

Living the Creative Life

Top Teacher


- Create Some Space For Yourself, And Enjoy Simply Creating Something From Your Heart-


Hi I'm Jane and my favourite ways to relax are crocheting and doodling.

I love exploring creativity through texture, colour and shapes

and sharing this with you through

Simple and Fun Classes.

One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to carve out some space everyday for a little creativity. 

It doesn't have to be elaborate or complicated, just simple and fun and speaks to... See full profile

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1. Intro: Hi everyone. My name is Jane and today I'm going to show you some beginning techniques in flourishing and how I use them in my designs. In this class, I'm going to show you techniques to get you started using flourishes. I'll walk you through how to form them and how to start experimenting with your own ideas. We'll explore simple flourishes, techniques for achieving symmetrical flourishes, and ideas for some ornamental flourishes. I'll also show you some simple ways to add flourishing to your lettering. The ideas for using flourishes in your work are endless. They really add a nice little pizzazz and flair to your illustrations and to your lettering. You'll see as we walk through the techniques together in this course that this art form is a lot of fun and really simple to do. So join me while we have fun walking through the steps of exploring this unique and wonderful art form. I'm looking forward to meeting you in class. 2. Materials And Project: To get started, you're going to need a paper, a pencil, a pen, and an eraser. For the second part of the class, we're going to need tracing paper, which you can get at any department store or art supply store, and a softer lead pencil, I suggest a 3B is what I use, but anything in the B range will give you that soft lead. I'm also going to experiment with different brush pens and pen tips in one of the lessons so if you have some of those hanging round we can try them then. I've also provided three downloads. They consist of two worksheets to help pick the feel of the spiral and loops, and the third sheet is a few examples of flourishing styles. I'm going to walk you through some of these styles and at that point is when we're going to use the tracing paper. I'll introduce you to how to use flourishes in my lettering as well. The project for this class will be to post your progress as we advance through the lessons. This class is to get you going and to introduce you to different ways to draw using flourishes. The only way we learn is to do it. I encourage everyone to post and share your progress so we can learn from each other and encourage each other. In the end, I welcome all of you to share in your project section how you have incorporated flourishing into your favorite art method. Without further delay, print out your worksheets, grab your pencil or pen, and let's get started. 3. Start With A Spiral: So to begin, we're going to draw a simple spiral. The basis of the flourish is most often a spiral like shape or movements. So we will start by explaining the different ways that you can draw the shape. The most common flourishes are either a single spiral or a double spiral that makes a scroll-like shape. I've provided a worksheet to help you get the feel for the basic spiral shapes. I've laid it out so that you can get the feel for drawing a spiral in both directions. You'll have a tendency towards one direction, but to get the most flexibility in your designs, it's important you feel comfortable drawing a spiral upside down, inside out and standing on your head. Just kidding. But this worksheet will help you get the hang of both directions. How you choose to draw it is up to you. You can start from the inside and work out, or you can start from the outside and work inward. This will make drawing the scroll easier as it starts from the inside and works out, and then it reverses on the other end and works back in again. It's useful to be proficient at both. So experiment and practice, practice, practice. Print out as many sheets as you'd like, and the more you draw the spiral, the more the shape will flow for you. In this spiral, I've tagged a small spiral onto a larger spiral going in the opposite direction from each other. Then again, I've provided it upside down. You want flourishes to fit into your design or lettering to enhance the look and feel of your piece. So they usually have to conform to a certain space or flow in a specific direction that is dictated by the design itself. This is why you want to have a repertoire of many spiral shaped variations, and be able to draw them in any direction. Once you have the basic spiral shaped down, you can start to add extra loops into space it up. You can do it with the simple spiral, or you can add loops into your scroll. These are some of the more common shapes you'll see in designs. Once you have these down, the ideas of free form variations are endless. Again, I've given you the scroll lying on its side, and then again, standing up on end. Visually, there's not a lot of difference between the two. But drawing them in these different orientations requires different coordination in your hand, and it all comes with practice. Finally, I have this scroll shape with a different loop version in the center and then again, with a bit of a knot style joining the two. You can come up with more of your own ideas just using these simple spirals and loops. Another really great way to practice is to fill a page with all kinds of sizes of spirals. Currently I'm just using a medium to a fine tip art pen. I'll get into trying different pen tips later on in the class, and that'll give you even more ideas to work with. But for now, enjoy drawing spirals, whether you're using a pen or pencil. When you're ready, we'll try some more advanced styles in the next lesson. If you'd like to get your projects sections started, you can upload your pages' spirals and share your progress. I'd love to see how it's going for everyone. 4. Multiple spirals: Now that you're getting the feel of the spirals, and your hand is starting to flow, we'll try working with multiple spirals and overlapping spirals. On the second worksheet, I've laid out the spirals and used different colors to help you discern between the two or three different strokes it's going to take to draw them. Most of the designs overlap and the colored lines will help you break the design down into manageable parts. The first design is two different spirals with long tails that are flowing in opposite directions. First I'm going to draw the green one, and then I will draw the red one. They're mirror images of each other and I make the lines touch so it looks like it's one unit. Practice drawing them starting at different ends. As again, depending on where you'll be using it, you may need to know how to draw it in different ways and in different directions. Now, the second design can be seen as two different scrolls with a curved line flowing down the center or the way that I've laid it out is it's a center scroll added to the same scroll pattern as the one above. Practice drawing it enough times that it makes sense to you. Often, you're going to develop your own methods and techniques as you go along. The third design has three full overlapping scrolls. You can start with the top one and work your way down. You will notice, as you draw them, that they all travel along the same center line. Keep practicing these styles until they feel comfortable and you can feel the flow of the design. We'll continue with the second half of the worksheet in the next lesson. 5. Working With Loops: Now, onto the second half of worksheet number 2. This is the first design that does not have a spiral involved. Now we get into more of the loop styles. This design has a Figure 8 overlapping a double loop with a diamond center, so start where you would like. You don't have to keep your pen down for the entire loop, you can pick it up to readjust. Sometimes it's hard to get an even curve or just to get a good flow of your hand in one swoop. Pick your points to lift and reset a point or an intersection or both good areas. Eventually with practice, you can pick it up and rejoin mid loop. But be careful as it's tricky to do it where it will be obvious if you miss aligning the points. This next design, is made up of just four loops. It's really good practice for more involved designs. Try to do it without lifting the pen as it helps you develop your coordination for working the pen around in all directions. The next one is a Figure 8 lying on top of the four loop design that we just made. With this one, you have to be careful where they cross in the center so that you get the full effect of the design crossing through the other one. I didn't quite get the crossing right in that one. Now, this one is a little more involved. It's a version of the four loop design from above and you repeat it around four times. You can draw it two different ways. You can draw it as I've colored the lines, looping around the entire way without really lifting the pen and then adding the circle afterwards, or you can draw the four designs individually and connect them as you go. Again, you're going to develop your own techniques as you go along. You'll figure it however these designs make sense to you, is how you'll end up drawing them yourself. Now, the final design on this page, is a more involved version of the spiral with the loops joining them in the center. So the fun part of flourishes, is once you get the hang of them, you can add as many, or as few loops, or as long of a tail, or a tail as you desire to make it suit the design you're adding it to and the space that you'll be using it within. You can see when this one is finished, that it makes somewhat of a diamond shape, so the great thing is you can make them fit any space that you need them to fell in your design. 6. Using Different Pens: Once you've learned the basic shapes and movement of the spiral, you can take these flourishing ideas and expand upon them. My favorite method is to use a regular tip pen and then add my own line effects. I add petal shapes to the ends and thicken the lines in some areas to give a full calligraphy look. You can also experiment with different pen tips and brush pens, there's a large variety of pens available these days, everything from brush pens, calligraphy markers, chiseled tips to your simple crayola marker in thick, thin and tapered tips. First I'm using my favorite Farber-Castell pit pen with a brush tip, you can see how changing direction and pressure can give your spiral a more interesting look. Brush pens come in many sizes, and their tips have a range of flexibility. This Pentel pocket brush has a long flexible tip for dramatic effects. This Sharpie brush pen has a large brush for big spirals. Experiment drawing your spirals in all directions to get the feel of the pen. Prismacolor and Copic both have nice brush pens that give a nice even flow and they allow for good control. No matter what brush pen you use, it's going to take some practice to work with it. So if you have a chance to work with a few, try them and see how they feel. Eventually you're going to settle on a brush pen that really feels good to you, or maybe you'll have two or three favorites. Then there's my go-to phase for fun drawing the Crayola markers. Their taper tips are fun to experiment with, and once you get the feel for them you can create some really great stuff. Now, remember each pen does require a different touch, so you really need to experiment with them and draw different kinds of spirals to see what you can come up with, and to see which one will accomplish what you're looking for. Then the last marker I want to show you is a calligraphy marker, like the nib on a calligraphy pen it has a broad flat edge, and when it's held at a 45 degree angle you can create some nice calligraphic flourishes. Play around with what you have or go treat yourself to a new art pen, and have fun and see what you can come up with and post your results in your project section. 7. Creating Symmetry: Now we're going to look at some more ornamental styles of flourishes. These are a mix of spirals, and scrolls, and line work that we've already done, and illustrations such as petals, flowers, and shapes. I've provided you with a download page of some examples. These flourishes can be symmetrical, free form, or they can be shaped to fit a corner, which can be used in an invitation, a greeting card, or in framing. For this lesson, we'll be using tracing paper, so as well, make sure to have a sheet of that ready. I'm going to show you how to make this design. So on a regular piece of paper with a pencil, we'll draw half our design in. I'm making the one from the example sheet, but you can try any design that you'd like. Once I add in my spirals, and line work, I also add in some petals, and a circle in the center. This circle will be the center of my design. Now I want to mirror this entire design on the other side of the circle. That's where I'll be using my tracing paper. So before I get to that point, I want to make sure that all the parts of this half of the design, are where I want them to be. So I'll tweak that until I'm happy with it. Once I'm pleased with my design, I'm going to take my tracing paper, and place it over the design that I just drew. Using a softer pencil, I'm going to trace the artwork onto the tracing paper. I like to use about a 3B pencil. The soft lead is what you're looking for because it comes off easier once you do the tracing on the other side. So trace the artwork onto the tracing paper, and once you have everything completely traced, you're going to flip the tracing paper over, and place it where you want the design to be for the other half of your design. Because the tracing paper is so thin, it's easy to see your work through. Now trace the design from this side of the tracing paper, and go right over the lines that you drew before. This is going to put a light tracing of pencil lead onto your original page exactly where you want it. Now you just use your regular pencil, and go over the lines left from the impression of the tracing paper lead. What you end up with, is the other half of your design, done almost perfectly symmetrical to your first half. So you have a mirrored design for your flourish. Once you're done tweaking your design with your pencil, you can pull out your pens, and start to ink your design. If you were planning to digitize your design, you could just draw half of the flourish, and then bring it into your computer through scanning, or a photo, and mirror the other half in Photoshop, or Illustrator, or whatever program you use. However, if you are doing a hand-drawn piece of art, tracing paper will quickly and easily give you the symmetrical mirrored look that you're looking for in your design. In the next lesson, I'm going to show you how to do a corner design, using the tracing paper, as well as a free form design. 8. Corners and Freeform: Next, we're going to try a corner design using the same technique with the tracing paper. I start with drawing one arm of the corner design. This one will be the vertical that I've chosen to draw, and I'm just going to do a simple spiral design. Most of the flourishes can be simple ideas so that when you mere them, it makes them appear to have so much more detail than they really do. Once I have the design tweaked to the way that I like it, again, I will place the tracing paper over the design that I've already drawn and trace it with a soft lead pencil. Once I have all the details traced out, I will then flip it over, and now I will place it at a right angle. You may have to play around with it a little bit to see if it's exactly where you want it. You can also draw in guidelines to make sure that it fits into the corner that you mean it to fit into. Once I have it flipped over, I'll now trace over the lines through the tracing paper, so it leaves that light pencil tracing on my good copy. Remove the tracing paper and go over the lines with my pencil. I'm going to continue to tweak my design until I'm happy with the layout, and then I'm going to add in a little bit of illustration into the corner just to accent the flourish in that spot. Once I'm happy with it, then I'll do my inking. I'll pull out my pens and I'll start to add in the ink, and I will work with the line thickness as I go with my pen. This technique can be used to fill any angle of corner, doesn't have to be 90 degrees. When you turn that tracing paper over and arrange where the design is going to go, that's when you work with what shape the area is. Lastly, I'm just going to do a quick free-form design with simple spirals. I'm just going to use my pencil to create a whole bunch of spirals that come out of the same stem, and then I'll use my pen to ink each of them, and then I'll get a thicker pen, and here's where I'll play with some of the dimension of the lines and I'll create a little bit of interest in the flourish by giving thick and thin look to it. 9. Fancy up your letters: One of the ways you can use these flourished techniques is to fancy up your lettering. I'm going to write the word love in a script style with a regular fine tip art pen. I'll extend the bottom of the L, and create a flourish to fill up the space under here, duplicating a line work around it. I'll also extend the e around to create a spiral into the space above the word, and I'll extend the tip of the L, to create a little bit more flourish. Flourishing is used to flow around the word, to join letters in unique ways, and to balance out space around your design. In the word choice, I've extended the top of the C and joined it to the top of the h. I'm also going to create the dot of the i and use it to create a spiral that fills up the space above the second half and balances out the top of the h and the c. Then underneath, I'm just going to create two unique little spirals to add some interest, and then I'm going to add a few petals in. You can always add a little illustration to your spirals, to add a little more interest to the flourish. Certain letters lend themselves really well to flourishing the crossbars of the capital A and capital H and even the small t and the dot of the i, and then j can really work well into a design, and any letter that has an ascender or descender, you can work off of that. The whole point of the flourish is to create a nice framework for your design, to balance out the empty spaces, and just create a nice illustration out of your word. The ideas are really endless. What you can do with the number of spirals and swirls that join up the letters and circle around them. Use your imagination and have fun with that and add in little illustration along the way. Experiment with your favorite word or even your name and post your results in your project section. 10. Final Thoughts: There's so many different ways to use flourishes in your designs. I've just touched on the basics and hopefully given you a groundwork for exploring it further and experimenting with your own ideas. It adds a nice touch to your lettering and your illustrations. It can be used to frame a photograph or give your invitations in an elegant touch. The best way to learn is to do it, so keep playing with your spiral shapes and see what new ideas spring up. Experiment with different pens and brushes. My hope is that you will take these ideas into whatever artwork, medium, or creative endeavor you love to do and find ways to use them to inspire new ideas and beautiful designs. Thank you so much for taking this class and sharing your creative flourishes in your project page. I'm so glad to be part of your creative journey, so go have fun and go create.