Patterns are amazing to create for many reasons. The repetition of similar elements help you learn and reinforce your technique, and lets you get lost in the creation process which makes pattern drawing a great mindfulness exercise. Also, you can decide how simple or complex your pattern will be based on your skill level and mood! Besides, they look awesome and can even be used on actual products! In this tutorial, you’ll learn to paint a fun, cheerful and beginner friendly floral pattern using acrylic gouache.
I’m Vinitha Mammen from The Pigeon Letters Design Team. I’m a freelance lettering artist and illustrator, and a Skillshare top teacher. I can’t wait to show you how I create floral patterns using acrylic gouache.
- Acrylic gouache paints (alternatively, any gouache paint)
- TPL Studio brushes
- Watercolor or acrylic paper (at least 300gsm): I’m using A5 size in this tutorial.
- Mixing palette or plate
- Jar of water
- Paper napkins
- Ruler/masking tape
Want to watch the video tutorial?
Step 1: Choose your Color Palette
Go through the acrylic gouache paints you have at hand, and pick out a few colors to use in this illustration. I would recommend a very limited color palette of just 3-5 colors to keep it simple and put-together. For this pattern, I’ve picked out yellow, white and 3 shades of blue. but you’re welcome to pick a set of colors that speak to you.
Depending on your specific paints, you may need to mix multiple paint colors to arrive at a given color.
It’s a good idea to test out how your colors sit next to and on top of each other. I do this by painting color swatches and pattern thumbnails on scrap pieces of paper before diving into my pattern.
Step 2: Paint the Background
Start by drawing borders around your sheet of paper or using masking tape to define the painting area. Water down the paint you intend to use for the background (I’m using Aqua Blue) into a creamy consistency- similar to that of cooking cream or melted ice cream. Load up a big brush like the TPL 1” wash brush with this paint and fill in the entire area. Start at a corner and pull the paint inwards till the whole page is painted with this color.
Let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.
Step 3: Paint the Flowers
Using a small round brush like the TPL size 2 round brush, paint flowers all across the canvas. I’ve picked white for my flowers and decided to have them facing the same direction for this pattern.
Paint a thin vertical line to mark the central petal of each flower and pull paint towards the sides to shape it into a teardrop. Use this middle petal as an anchor to place the remaining teardrop-shaped petals on either side of it. Then paint a semi-circular bulb on top of all the petals and fill it in.
When placing the flowers, offset their positions relative to previously painted flowers so that they don’t line up next to each other. Remember to add partial flowers to the edges of the page to create a continuous pattern.
Step 4: Add Stems to the Flowers
Mix the paint color for the stems (I’m using Ultramarine) into the right consistency and load up a liner brush like the TPL size 0 liner evenly with the paint. Use this brush to draw thin vertical lines below each of the flowers, starting from the base of the flower and ending either at the bottom edge of the canvas or where it meets other flowers below it. Add extra lines in empty spaces for the sake of continuity.
My number one tip to get clean lines is to adjust the position of your paper so that you’re always at your most comfortable painting angle. But, don’t worry if your lines are not perfectly straight right away, mine certainly are not. You will get better with practice and in the meantime, wonky lines are great to add a fun hand-drawn feel to the pattern!
Step 5: Paint Leaves
In the spaces between the flowers, paint in some freehand oval shapes for leaves using the TPL size 2 round brush and the same color as the stems. You can let these overlap with the flowers, stems or other leaves in some areas to add visual interest. Again, don’t stress about trying to paint perfect shapes.
Use the liner brush to add small branches that connect these leaves to the main stems.
Step 6: Paint the Central Bulbs on the Flowers
Remember we painted semi-circular bulbs over the flower petals? Next, paint over these with a different color (I’m using Permanent Yellow), using a small round brush.
Step 7: Add Details to the Leaves
Using a color that’s different from that of the leaves, but not too contrasting (I’m using Blue Compose) paint one half of each leaf using a small round brush. This adds definition to the leaves and visual interest to the pattern. Let your intuition guide which half you choose to paint in each leaf.
Step 8: Finish with Dots
As a final step, using any color from your palette besides the background color (I’m going with the Blue Compose) sprinkle in some dots over the flowers and empty spaces to make it more fun and whimsical. Use these dots sparingly as to not let the pattern look overcrowded or tacky.
And your playful, bright and simple hand-painted floral pattern is done!
I cannot wait to see what you created as you followed along with me on this tutorial. So please do share your own versions with me. If you post them on social media, definitely tag Peggy @thepigeonletters and me @vinithamammen.
Until next time, Bubye and Happy Creating!
See all of Vinitha’s tutorials on the blog!
Vinitha is a mechanical engineer turned fashion designer who's now a full-time freelance lettering artist, illustrator and Skillshare Top Teacher. She is most passionate about creating work around feminism, women empowerment, body-positivity and self love. She loves playing with bold colors and minimal styles and her best work comes from creating for the sake of creating.