The making of my botanical and bird print collection

The making of my botanical and bird print collection

My newest collection of exquisitely detailed botanical and bird artworks are finally here!

I set out to create a joyful collection of art that people would love and cherish in their homes. My goal is for you to wake up to beautiful walls without the high cost of original hand painted art. I do this through a meticulous process of professional digitisation and extensively editing/sampling each print until the colour and definition is jaw droppingly close to the original painting.

Check out the artworks in my shop now or carry on reading for some background on what inspired me to create these artworks and the process of creating a print collection.

 

Botanical collection by Diane Hill - collection of 6 prints side by side
My Inspiration Came From Antique Indian Bird And Flower Paintings

In late 2019 I visited a breathtaking exhibition at the Wallace Collection, called ‘Forgotten Masters - Indian Painting for the East India Company’. Which showcased paintings commissioned by Company officials from Indian painters in the late eighteenth century. The artist I was most drawn to, with a wealth of incredible paintings was Shaikh Zain ud-din. The paintings explore the beauty of India’s vibrant heritage in astonishing brilliance, with details so fine and precise I knew I had to adopt the style into my own work.

 

Shaikh Zain ud-din, ‘A Golden-fronted Leafbird Perched on a Peach Tree Branch’.

Botanical illustration of Indian Roller bird

Shaikh Zain ud-Din, “Indian Roller on Sandalwood Branch” (c. 1780)(image courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Art)

The Painting Process

I set out to create a collection of six paintings that featured the flora and fauna of India, as well as showcasing how far I could take my own level of detail. I took note of the Indian artists stylistic approach as well as the warm vintage feel of the paper.

To achieve the delicate antique style I subtly dyed paper backed silk with a sponged aged effect. This formed the perfect background for my paintings.

 

dyed paper backed silk

Hand dying the background silk to look aged

I use natural chinese paint brushes as they are able to retain a lot of liquid, as well as forming a very fine tip for the most precise line work. I even cut half of the bristles off my smallest paint brush for the ultimate in fine strokes. To paint, I use watercolour gouache for the vibrancy of colour, its opaque quality and ease of use.

Chinese paintbrudhes and watercolours; an original hand painted golden fronted leaf bird

 

Researching Beautiful Birds And Plants Native To India

I spent time researching birds and plants found in India as I wanted to pay homage to the Indian artists I was inspired by. As well as needing to find beautiful subject matter, I also had a colour palette in mind of lush greens, vibrant yellows and hot pinks. I finally ticked all the boxes and narrowed my search down to six.

Mango - the national fruit of India

Kadamba - the favourite tree of Lord Krishna

Lesser Flamingo - every year thousands migrate to Mumbai

Sarus Crane - the state bird of Uttar Pradesh

Golden Fronted Leaf Bird - found in the Indian subcontinent

Golden Oriole - found in the Indian subcontinent

Sketching And Composing The Artworks


This part takes a lot of careful planning to get the balance right. Especially longer when you are a perfectionist!

 

Some Photos Of The Painting Process
Diane Hill painting the botanical collection flamingo
Diane Hill painting the botanical collection work in progress
Diane Hill painting the botanical collection work in progress mangos
Professional Digitisation (Aka - Scanning)

 

The most important step in the process is to find a good high res professional scanning company. I use Panopus Printing, East London for their professional and friendly service. But it does not end there, there is lots of editing work in photoshop after this. Notice the creased paper has shown up in the scan, this happens when using watercolours on silk and needs to be rectified afterwards in photoshop.

digitising original artwork by Diane Hill
Editing The Artwork In Photoshop


I have 3 years experience in this, all of which I taught myself through trial and error. I have learnt so much along the way! Photoshop is not easy to use as the tools and processes are endless, so I always turn to my most valuable resource when I need help….youtube! More often than not the colour that is scanned is not correct, so I amend the colour using ‘selective colour’, ‘colour balance’ and ‘hue/saturation’ until what is on screen looks as close to my artwork as possible. I change the ‘levels’ which gives a much stronger looking image. As well as using ‘smart sharpen’ to ensure the image is as sharp as possible, without being too sharp! Sharpening is especially important in hand painted detailed work like mine. Finally I clean up the image using the clone stamp tool to remove any small blemishes as well as any creasing in the paper.

Sending Off For Samples…And Waiting Impatiently!


The most exciting part!! I usually send off small sections of the files to my printers but this time I was quite confident and didn’t want to waste any time so I went ahead and ordered the full scale prints. When I first started sampling for art prints, I would go through many rounds of samples and edits until I got it right. Now the process is much quicker because I have learnt the exact tools needed to achieve a high quality reproduction. Luckily this batch were perfect first time round.

Diane Hill botanical collection reviewing images

 

How I Make My Prints Ultra Special


To give my limited edition art prints something extra special I certify them with a unique embossed logo, as well as hand sign and number each piece. This collection is very limited with only 30 pieces available in the standard size, and 20 pieces available in the statement size.

signed prints by Diane Hill

 

Presentation And Marketing


This involves product photography, copywriting, web design, marketing materials, ordering (sturdy!) packaging, writing email campaigns, filming engaging video content and being on social media 24/7 making sure everyone knows you have new work coming! This part is the most involved, because I mostly work alone I have learnt a wide range of skills to enable me to present my work to the best of my ability. I learn by looking at other inspiring businesses, I take note of those who come across well online and who manage to engage their audience. I try my best to make the buying process as easy as possible, with a wealth of images for each product, engaging video content, and clean web design.

It is all in the presentation, and that is why this part needs the most careful consideration.

Diane Hill holding prints from her botanical collection in her London studio
Customer Service


Finally, and most importantly my customers will always experience the best service when buying from me. The job does not stop once the collection is ready to buy, it only just begins. My mission is to ensure that every one of my customers has a great experience because the service must match up to the quality and standards of my artwork. My limited edition customers will get a beautiful textured postcard with every print order, as well as free premium worldwide delivery. That means each artwork is packed with care and shipped on a fast service, anywhere in the world. UK orders arrive next day from dispatch and the majority of worldwide orders arrive in 2-3 days (delays longer than this may be due to the pandemic or packages being held in customs).

I encourage you to send these as gifts to friends and family as a way of spreading joy and lifting spirits in these unprecedented times. I offer complimentary hand written gift notes on the back of the beautiful postcards pictured below. These artworks are designed to fit standard frame sizes, so you should find lots of options online. There are also many bespoke framing services online if you are looking for something quite specific.

Botanical collection by Diane Hill complete prints

 

Thank You!


I hope you enjoyed reading this post, this collection of work is so special to me that I felt the need to share the process in depth with you. I also wanted to show potential customers how much work goes into a collection like this, and to help other creatives who may want to do the same.

If you love this collection as much as I do, go check it out. Each design is very limited with only 50 prints available, so don’t miss out on this joyful art!

complete botanical collection by Diane Hill

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