Illustration Tutorial: Peeper, Part One

Today we’re going to do Part One of How I Illustrate! This process is spontaneous, fun, and colorful. You can try it at home!

Step 1: Inspiration. For this piece, my source material/idea is this image from RedditGetsDrawn. There’s something fascinating about the fact that the author calls this “my very cute boyfriend and our plants.” In any other context, this image looks like a screen grab from a horror movie.


Step 2: Line art. I draw hella-simple line art. It can be smudgy or messy. This is where the composition is figured out. I moved the face to the other window to balance it out. I made the pots fun. I added in curtains.

Step 3: Basic colors. I locked the line art screen and set it to “multiply.” Then I added in shapes underneath. I used the Pen tool, but you could use the manual lasso or polygonal lasso and dump colors in places. When adding in colors, I make everything basically mid-toned.

Because I can’t quite see what I’m doing, the lines aren’t precisely matching up down there. I do not, under any circumstances, remove the line art screen at this point. Because I will begin to fuss. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.


Step 4: Highlights/shadows. I take the polygonal lasso tool, make a fresh layer, and start adding in highlights using a textured brush. Then I make another fresh layer and start adding in shadows using a textured brush.

Step 4 detail: Here’s how the highlight and shadow layers look on their own.


Step 5: The Reveal: Completely delete the line layer. It is not coming back. (Bye, Felicia.) You’ll be left with something sort of funky. Stuff won’t line up. Nothing will be straight. You will notice your mistakes. You will despair. Too late.

Step 6: Levels and touches. Here’s the part where you add in some contrast and add in a few details to the spots that look weird. (I realized, for example, that the curtains didn’t have any shading.)

Click here for the final steps: adding in some line work, highlights, definition, and color adjustments.

How To Make A Terrarium!

My friend Dana hosts parties that double as educational workshops. I don’t know how she has the energy or finances for this practice… but I’m grateful she does it.

Today’s lesson was moss terrariums!

Here’s how they’re made:


You can get a glass container with a lid at your Goodwill for $5 or less. The fun object can be plastic, or one of those ceramic miniatures. Thrift or antiques stores have tons of options.

The pebble area holds the water. The charcoal keeps excess fungus from growing (stinky!). The Spanish moss keeps the dirt from drifting downward. The dirt gives nutrients to the regular moss.

On top of the moss are your Fun Things. Figurines, bigger plants, seashells, decorative stones, etc. Go fun or go home. 

Once you’re done, this site has excellent care instructions.

Here are our babies:


Examine closely this Yoda terrarium, you must:


I’ll write a follow-up post when my terrarium dies.

Probably next week sometime.

Death On A Dime: How to Craft A Cheap & Easy Heart or Halloween Garland

Need to decorate for Halloween? This is a cinch.


I’m going to chop off some heads this Halloween, so I made a few home decorations to go with my costume. This was so embarrassingly easy (and cute) that I had to detail it here.

To create the heart garland, you’ll need a sturdy heart-shaped punch, a few playing card decks, hot glue, and string.

Punch hearts out of the deck. Affix two dots of hot glue to the bumps at the back of each heart. Press the string into the glue dots. Leave it to cool for a few minutes, then stick it anywhere you’d like.

Want to creep it up a notch? Try doll heads instead of hearts.

The doll heads are a little tougher. I made them by doing Google Image Searches of “creepy doll head,” then saving my favorites to the desktop. I uploaded those images to Wal-Mart Photo and printed them for something like 18 cents each. Then I snipped them out and did the same hot-glue-plus-string rigamarole as before.

The hearts are cute, but the doll heads might make your friends break up with you.

You didn’t need them anyway. The voices can keep you company.

How To Press Flowers in the Microwave


This project is also known as “flower pressing for impatient assholes.”

It’s shockingly easy — disgustingly, embarrassingly easy — to press your own flowers in under 5 minutes.

Collect the following:

  • Flowers
  • 2 Flat-ish ceramic plates (smooth on bottom)
  • 2 Paper towels (or leftover throw-away napkins from a party)
  • 2 Firm papers (like a Trader Joe’s bag)
  • Something heavy to put on top (like a microwave-safe Pyrex bowl)


Take those things and make a sandwich, like this:

  • Plate
  • Napkin/paper towel
  • Paper
  • Flowers
  • Paper
  • Napkin/paper towel
  • Plate

Then lean your body weight onto the sandwich, smooshing it down. It might crunch a little. That’s satisfying. 

Put the sandwich in the microwave.

Put your additional weighted object on top to help keep everything smooshed flat in there.

Microwave for about a minute. 

Remove & peel everything back. (Watch your hands; sometimes it’s warm.)

Your flowers are ready! 

Ready flowers means…


(Please note: your flowers are very delicate now.)

I pressed some flowers onto a collaged painted background to make a wedding card for some friends. (left)

The leftovers (right) were scanned to make the top graphic. I’ve lovingly “laminated” them in packing tape for their own protection and will probably use them for something else later!

Unexpected scientific delights:

  • Your paper & paper towels will be weirdly soaked. There’s tons of water inside plants for them to keep their structure. Zapping it out is Bizarro Science.
  • Stuff that looks kind of 3D from the front will transform as you twist it around. (see image above)
  • Flowers that were laid on their side when pressed look different than the ones you put face-down with the petals splayed out. Both are pretty in their own way.
  • Some of the flowers will shrink or change color; others will stay about the same. Surprise!

Got leftovers?

Here are a few more craft ideas for pressed flowers:


1. Pressed petal tray. 2. Pressed flower iPhone case. 3. Pressed flower mobile. 4. Pressed flower manicure.

Have fun!