Retro Houseplant Illustrations

I've always been inspired by 'mid-century modern' architecture, fashion and design, but after watching the show Mad Men I've become especially enamored with the simple and playful illustrations of the age. I remember looking at old books on houseplants and gushing over the sleek illustrations of Monstera deliciosa and Ficus decora amid the clean lines and deep wood grain backdrops of modern homes. I used to love looking at the work of architects like Luis Barragan and Paul Rudolph, or the illustrations of Charley Harper.

This style appeals to me because I love the clean and optimistic simplicity in the bright offset colors, sleek lines and simplified forms, and vector illustration is my strong suit anyways.

First I drew out the outlines in a light 4h pencil, and then I drew over those marks with a fine drawing marker. I went back over those lines with a wider marker to give the drawings a solidified and inviting look that's easy on the eyes.

Then I scanned the drawings and loosely blocked in the colors in Adobe Illustrator (this could be done in marker, watercolor or goache as well for an old school approach) and made sure to leave some overlap and whites showing to give that quirky offset look that I love so much. Where I wanted the lines to show through, I blended the shapes with the 'Multiply' blending mode. Lastly, I took the illustrations to Photoshop for cropping, and I played with 'Curves' to make sure the backdrop was completely white.

My wife joined me last night as well, and her subject was a potted nerve plant. She likes to use a combination of colored pencil and marker for a textured and more realistic, yet loose impression.

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