How did you make that?-The Creative Process Behind the Big Rainforest Poster

Posted by Hannah Raymond on

One kid-filled-brain-fuddled morning, on one of the many "what can we possibly do now" moments I have in a day, I struck gold when I found a book my mum had bought for the kids- a search and find book, filled with animals and objects hidden amongst different scenery. It kept my then 3 year old busy for AGES, and she came back to it again and again over the next few days. I started to think if I could possibly create something similar for her. This is how a lot of my print/product ideas come about, I think how I could make it for my kiddo then realise that perhaps OTHER children would also enjoy it.

Almost immediately I imagined a giant, colourful poster, absolutely full to the brim of detail, ready to be examined by little eyes whilst also remaining beautiful, something to bring joy to walls.

digital drawing of tropical birds and bugs-crop of main image

The rainforest seemed the obvious choice, as it's so naturally colourful and a habitat to thousands of species of animals, birds, insects and plants. Tropical decor always looks so awesome, I reckoned I could make some animal obsessed children very happy with an extra special art print for their bedroom.

The Process

-Begin researching the rainforest, particularly the Amazon. Find out all about the layers- the emerging layer, the canopy, the understorey, the forest floor.

-Lay down some initial sketches in Procreate on the ipad Pro, of where each layer will sit in the image. Be impressed with self how simple this was and how well it works.

-Start going over with more detailed rough sketches, filling out the tree shapes. Immediately realise this is much more complicated than you thought. Where do the leaves go? How many branches? Surely the trees in the emerging layer can't really be that tall? (they are).

 basic tree sketch on procreate


-Think you are happy with the trees...then realise you could do way better. Redo them ALL.

-Ok, you know what you're doing now. Emergent layer-DONE. Canopy-DONE. Understorey-DONE.

moody trees on procreate

-Now, it's time to have fun. Look up a whole bunch of animals found in the south american rainforest and pick some to draw. Spend way too much time on details like eye highlights that are literally a pixel in size. BUT THEY LOOK GREAT! Also discover that giant anteaters live in the rainforest and they look pretty cool.

giant anteater and capybara drawing

-Draw another tree. Really like it. It’s way better than all the others. DELETE THEM ALL AGAIN. Redraw them for the third time.

rainforest trees drawing

-Spend ages on Pinterest marvelling over all the different colourful butterflies that live in the world.

bright blue tropical butterfly drawing

-Create a frame round the image with leaves, leaves, more leaves, flowers, more leaves.

-Go to bed and dream about leaves.

tropical rainforest drawing in progress

-Walk around outside to get fresh air and see leaves everywhere you look, your mind entering a Matrix state where you see how they'd be drawn and shaded.

-Keep looking at the image-getting close to being finished now. But maybe add some more details- another bird there, some bright funghi here, hanging vines up there...yep, more leaves. Nearly there now.

digital drawing of plants and funghi in tropical rainforest

-It needs something else though... more grassy shapes and...CLOUDS. Lovely, humid, moody clouds. YES!!! Tis DONE!

-After lots of checking, send it off to print, hold breath for four days until it arrives.

-When it arrives, very slowly, still holding your breath, unfurl it. OH MA GAWWD. It is perfect. The colours are exactly how you wanted them, the giclee studio have done an amazing job.

-Immediately get very excited to show everyone. Then terrified they'll hate it. It's rubbish. No, it's brilliant! Need to edit that snake a bit though, move that frog over. OK, NOW it's done.

-Persuade partner to help you take photos and nervously list online. Share to email list and then on social media. Hold breath and throw phone out of reach until....PING!!! A FLIPPIN' SALE. EVERYTHING IS OK!

-Spend 2 weeks unable to look at your ipad screen without your eyes clouding over or hold a pencil without your hand/wrist/shoulder cramping up. This could be it, no more drawing, no more creating.

-.....hmmmm, but what would a woodland version look like....?



I hope you've enjoyed reading my pretty unruly but typical creative process. I'm so pleased with the final outcome of the rainforest poster, especially as when it arrived my children did indeed then spend time pointing out all the details in it. Plus, as I spent so long working on it (over 50 hours) it really helped develop my Procreate technique and settle on a style. For those interested in this sort of thing, the whole piece is created with the technical pen brush and the gouache brush, (in varying sizes and opacities) with a few bits done with the 6B pencil brush.

If you'd like to add some tropical vibes to a room in your home, the rainforest art print is available to buy in A3 and A2. If you've got enough wall space, I definitely recommend the A2 to really make a statement, either on its own or as a large piece in a gallery wall.

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