• Shayda Campbell

Floral Bookmarks


If you are just learning to draw, illustrating flowers is a great way to practice! So, that is exactly what we are doing, and will create these beautiful ripped paper bookmarks. One of my favorite things is to create something beautiful out of nothing but paper, pen, and pencil. We will practice florals, and focus on layout and design, so we end up with a great finished product. You can gift them, or just hoard them all for yourself.


Follow along with the video:

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I am using the sketchbook as a soft surface so I can draw on top of something. For the actual bookmarks I am using scrap watercolor paper, it is toothy and thick and will create a great ripped edge. I'm ripping it first along a ruler to keep the edges straight, and punching a hole so we have the final product to work with. I have different twines and ribbons on hand for the end as well. Rip as many as you like, use up your scrap paper and keep on practicing those illustrations.




Pick one bookmark that you want to start with, and we are ready to begin. For the first one, I want to do something really simple for a warmup. You can use pencil first if it makes you more comfortable. This one is a leaf and berry illustration, something you can be successful with even if you have never drawn before.


With the layout and design of this one, I am just thinking about balancing the negative and positive space. The whole bookmark won't be leaves. I start with one branch and stem, adding leaves and more branches and a few berries. Most of the branches are curving messy lines. If there isn't room for a leaf, it is a perfect spot to add a berry. Just go one branch at a time, remembering to leave the negative space in between. Don't overthink it, just have fun!



This next layout I go back to again and again, for decorating journal spreads or making greeting cards. It is basically a bouquet in a vertical design. Starting at the bottom of the page I draw a cluster of lines going up, some curving outwards. From there the layout is really easy, I just choose which will have flowers or leaves and what florals to use. It is the perfect way to put all the florals you've been practicing together in a very pleasing way.


For this one I created the layout in pencil first. I added variety in by making simple tweaks - some leaves were more rounded or pointed and some were different sizes. Don't be afraid to erase the pencil and try it again, this is a chance for you to practice and refine your floral illustration skills. I added a few scribbles and dotting for shading on the stamens, and some line shading to finish it up. I kept my lines a little messy and wiggly to create a natural and imperfectly perfect design.


This one I would call a crescent layout, I draw a swooping curving line and use that as the guide for the illustration. So many of my designs begin with a guide: first, the line gives us the overall shape, two circles to show me where the flowers will go, and then I start bordering those with leaves. Using those circles, I started drawing in the flowers, filled a few of the empty spaces with buds and smaller flowers, and added a little more detail until I'm ready to go over it in pen.


For this illustration I am using the 0.4nib, a slightly larger nib size, it is not overly detailed so I wanted to give more weight to the lines. I wiggled the pen as I went around the petals - you want everything to look organic and perfectly imperfect. With my guide, I know the size and shape of each leaf but can add a little more detail now. I added a toothier edge and extra line shading with the 0.1 nib.


Between the contour drawing and adding the line shading I like to get rid of all the pencil marks. It gives me a better idea of what the illustration looks like before adding in the details. Remember to follow the shape of the flowers, if the petals are facing up and out then the lines should go up and out. Think about where the light wouldn't hit, in the center of the flowers or where the petals overlap you can add a little shading. Some lines show the shading and some accentuate the shape of the petals and leaves.




This one will be vertical again but the flowers come right from the bottom as if they are growing onto the page. I like to tell myself it is almost spring, so i was inspired to use some pussy willows.


Starting with my guide of lines, I added little ovals everywhere I want to add a blossom. They are messy, somewhat grouped together, and I can make changes as I go along. Taking my 0.3nib blackliner I am going over this one right away since it's quite simple. When I get to a blossom I wiggle the pen to give it that fuzzy look. The stem needs to be thickened and darkened to give the look of those woody branches. To enhance the look of the branches I am leaving some negative space as well. It helps with the look of rough, natural branches. I added a tiny bit of line shading with messy lines on the blossoms.


By making the leaves or branches dark, and the blossoms very light, you can easily differentiate between the parts by creating more contrast.


The final step now is adding some paper string and twine to the tops of each bookmark. I love the look of the ripped paper, it is so simple and sophisticated. Have fun making these and practicing your florals!


If you don't need the practice but still love the bookmarks, head over to my patreon page for the printable version.




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