How To Make An Enamel Pin, Pt. 1: Negative Painting Technique

Enamel Pin Design Process

Greetings all. Today I wanted to begin sharing the process of making an enamel pin, starting with designing and painting the paper backing the pin will come on. If you're unfamiliar with negative painting, I'll show you the steps I took and recommend some great videos that show the process in depth if you want to try it on your own.

As for making the pin, I know I'm ordering my pin through Awesome Merchandise, so the first step was downloading their art template so I knew the shape of the paper pin backing I should design for, and then thinking of what I wanted to put on it. I decided on a leafy wonderland for the snail I'm making into a pin and then got to painting.

What Is Negative Painting?

Negative painting isn't about painting in a bad mood. It's actually about painting the space around the object you're trying to show. For my example here, I painted a leafy, leafy world for my new snail pin to live in. So instead of painting the leaves themselves, I painted around the leaves, darkening the empty spaces to leave bright leaf shapes behind. Here are the pics I took of this painting at each stage.

botanical watercolor illustration negative painting

As you can see, I first laid down a wash of color that covered the whole paper, then drew some leaves on it. I then painted a darker layer of paint around those leaves. I repeated this process 5 times until I ended up with my finished leaf painting.

Designing Your Background in Photoshop

Next I took the finished painting into Photoshop to lay some experimental text over it and see how it would look as a pin backing for my snail. I haven't actually made the snail pin yet, but because I'm basing it on a snail sticker I've already made, I used the sticker as a placeholder for the pin to see if I like the direction it's going in.

enamel-pin-background-design-watercolor-negative-painting-snail-illustration-botanical-watercolor

Learning Resources For Negative Painting

Here are some links to some great videos showing the negative painting process on Youtube. These videos are by great artists with fantastic channels and I recommend checking out their work.

  • Video 1: PearFleur painting a girl and her fish squad
  • Video 2: PearFleur painting lilypads
  • Video 3: Iraville painting a snowy town
  • Video 4: Iraville painting cheeky bears

Next time I'll be sharing the rest of the pin making process, so stop in to see the finished snail pin! 

A Crab-tastic Painting Process

This week I wanted to take you through the planning and painting process of my most recent painting. It all started with an idea - *cue dream sequence music and slow fade*...

CONCEPT ART

Pom Pom Crab Concept Art Sketch

Specifically with THIS idea. I've wanted to put a Pom Pom Crab in a painting for a while because they amuse me. If you're unfamiliar with them, Pom Pom Crabs are a tiny creb that snip pieces off of poisonous sea anemones and either bandy them about like short swords in their crab hands, or attach them to the back of their crab bods as a means of warding off predators. So I took the idea of a crab waving an anemone at me and mentally connected it to the archetype of a grumpy old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn. Crab was now defending his turf, so I needed to give him turf. For his home I used a Red Fox Skull as a base because I think they look cool and I wanted to draw one. Then I filled the skull with an impossible combination of sea and forest dwelling plants because it's my painting and I do what I want. Then I wanted to emphasize the oblivious personality of the crab so I added some fish trespassers hiding out in the nose of the skull, and some octopus eggs attached to skull which would inevitably come with an octo-mom hiding behind them. Octo-mom's presence is felt but never seen because I wanted the crab to be the focal point. After the hit it and quit it sketch you see above I drew all the elements I wanted in the piece separately and then combined them into this final sketch.

Painting Process

Concept Art Ink Drawing

I scanned this line drawing in and played around with some color palette ideas, as well as painting some tiny little watercolor color comps traditionally until I thought I'd found the right vibe. I also digitally added the lines in the background and the circles near the crab as ways to include a background that emphasized the movement of things in the piece as well as to create additional depth. After all these things were done I printed out my sketch and transferred it using graphite transfer paper to a prepared wood panel that I planned to paint the crab on. Then I started painting.

Acrylic Gouache Painting Process

Using Holbein Acryla-Gouache I started with background elements including the lines behind the skull and circles near the crab, as well as some paint splatter and scribbly bits to even out the space and add some crab chi to the piece. Then I did the skull since it takes up so much surface area and I wanted to get the colors on it right.

crab-painting-process

Next I painted the ferns in the background and for some unknown reason I then painted the succulent and moss, but that was silly and I should have painted the things behind them first.

Aoede Pando Painting

Then I painted and painted for what seemed years until I'd gotten most things added. In a choice I will regret until my death, I waited until last to paint the mushrooms in the front of the skull and completely botched the colors on them. I asked my non-artist husband what he'd do to fix them and he said to "sparkle them up with some purple shit". Taking this sage advice to heart I made them purple and covered them in gold. I repainted the shrooms several times before eventually deciding they had reached an acceptable level and I couldn't look at them anymore.

crab-painting-process-pic

The scan of the final piece is below. This painting is titled "It's Only Good If It's A Weapon" and is currently hanging at Fresh Pot on Washington in downtown Portland. It'll be there for the whole month of March along with a lot of other original pieces and stickers for sale, so I encourage you to stop by if you're in the neighborhood.

acrylic-gouache-painting-process_crab_the-curious-wild_aoede-pando.jpg

Before signing off I wanted to announce I've been accepted to participate in Crafty Wonderland this May 5th at the Oregon Convention Center. I''ll be making lots on fun new things for the event so follow me on Instagram to stay up to date on those. If you're local and plan on stopping by Crafty Wonderland, please come by and introduce yourself, I'd love to meet you!