Zen Elephant and Mandala

I just love this design!  It took quite awhile to get the elephant colored the way I wanted -- I think it took about three tries before I got the final look that that I wanted for this!  

First of all, I really wanted to do all shades of purples because, well, I love purple. However, I quickly discovered that the design was too complex and there probably are enough shades of purple to do it all, but the differences in the shades just weren't distinct enough to get the POP I was looking for.

Then, I tried bright, circus-y colors, but I found myself just adding random colors here and there.  About half way through coloring it, I realized I had kind of a globby colorful mess with really no cohesion.  So I scrapped that and decided to find something different.

Finally, I started picking out the colors I really loved from the circus design and got muted down versions of them.  The muted colors really seemed a lot more "zen" than the bright ones.  I settled on a palette of orange, green, yellow, of course purple and pops of a toned-down red, with a bit of blue thrown in here and there.  I loved how these hues worked together, and it was easy to keep all my colors within the same range of shades.

What was not so easy was actually getting the thing completely colored.  Working for awhile every morning until it was time to go to my "real" job, and then on into the night when I came home, it took me around three weeks to get it finished.  Bear in mind, I am fairly new to Illustrator and I haven't learned all the shortcuts for this sort of thing yet.  But I certainly learned a bunch in the process!

Even though I had settled on my final palette and finding shades of those colors wasn't too difficult, it took a bit of trial and error to get the ones that I thought looked the best.  First, I was just going to outline everything in purple.  Although that looked great in some places, like around the face, I realized that the individual color spaces kinda blended all together and got lost within the field of purple.  So I decided to outline each color patch in a slightly darker shade of that very color.

The whole outlining process took me some time, because I drew them in all by hand.  I know there are easier ways to do this in Illustrator (now), but I hadn't really figured that out yet.

Finally, my elephant, who I had named Harry somewhere along the line was finished!  He looked just the way I had originally intended -- it just took me awhile to get to that point.  And although Harry himself was beautiful, he looked lonely when I put him on a shirt.

That's where the mandalas came in.  I decided on a subtle gold shade for them, and dulled that down further by increasing their transparency.  With the mandala background nestled in behind Harry, he finally looked at home!  I really fell in love with him at this point, and many people have commented that he is their favorite of my designs.

Check Harry out, and place your order so he can hang out on a place near your heart (literally), too!

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