Driven by Color: Digitally Painting Light, Pattern, and Texture

Digital art of plants and planets

You can’t help but take a few extra moments to observe Madeline’s creations. While her work is entirely digital, she beautifully captures the depth and richness of plants and animals. Much of her work morphs into a surreal and mesmerizing pattern. We spoke with Madeline to better understand her creative inspiration, go-to tools, and workflow.

A colorful pattern of Madeline with green plants behind here.

Maker Spotlight: Madeline Spetrino

Tell us a bit about your work.

I am a graphic and web designer by profession. In my free time, I enjoy digitally painting nature-themed prints and patterns. I have always liked illustrating plants and animals, and once I taught myself how to illustrate digitally, I loved how it allowed me to imitate any color or texture I wanted. The patterns I create are mostly driven by colors. I will start with a palette I like and find elements within each shade that I can use. Most of my images wouldn’t make sense in nature as I sometimes put an insect next to a plant from two different environments, but the purpose would be that their color pairing looks nice together.

A pattern of pink and white fighting fish.

What’s your workspace like?

It is really important for me to be portable. My schedule allows me to be remote at times. I use a MacBook Pro accompanied by my iPad and Apple Pencil.

How does Astropad fit in your practice?

All of my work is digital, using Photoshop with Astropad. I usually test out a variety of Kyle T. Webster’s brushes in Photoshop until I find the right layering formula to recreate a surface. This usually takes me several attempts but once I find a combination that works I will remember it and use it again on other pieces.

A pattern of lizards, bugs, and large leafs.

Walk us through your daily routine. 

Because I sit in front of the screen for the majority of my day, I like to get up early and spend time with my dog to get outside and take in my natural surroundings. If I am commuting on the train, I draw on my iPad to pass the time.

How do you brainstorm fresh ideas?

I like to check out Behance and Dribble to see what other artists are putting out into the world. To further my own abilities, I use educational sites like Skillshare or Behance Live to learn new techniques. I also like doing things by hand like wood burning or screen printing.

What’s your favorite thing about the work you do?

I like that trends are constantly changing and there is always something new to try. Experimenting is fun!

A pattern of brighten colors, circles, and squares.

What’s the hardest part about the work you do?

In terms of my work, illustrating fur and feathers are always the most difficult for me to figure out. But, I still enjoy taking the time to get a texture right. Also, sometimes clients don’t know how to express what they are looking for and coming up with various options without a starting point can be difficult depending on the subject matter.

A pattern of dark and colorful flowers.

What inspires you?

The outdoors, the changing of seasons, music, and colors. Usually, I pull colors from photos I take or sometimes from shows or movies where there are interesting color groups repeated throughout. That inspires me to create new work.

A pattern of two koi fish swimming side by side.

How do you merge traditional creativity with digital tools? 

I love how realistic the brushes in apps are becoming. Because of that, it helps me to create a traditional style that I can easily edit. 

As a designer, how have digital tools improved your workflow? 

The ability to instantly share my ideas and work from wherever I want to saves a lot of time.

A design of a blue crab.

You can check out Madeline’s portfolio here.

Want to be featured on our blog? Share your work with us on social using #Astropad and tag us @astropadco to be considered. 

A design of an old video game system melting.

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