Tammy enjoys doing puzzles. The kids and I have started a tradition of making her a custom Christmas puzzle each year. This year we decided to do one for her “big birthday” and we decided to take a completely new approach.

Here is the final version and I’ll share with you how we got here.

To make this we started with a hand drawn image that Mazie framed out and then her and Tyler filled in. This allowed them to work with pencil and paper and the clear borders for the initial idea. Puzzles are pretty close to 8.5x11 ratio, but not exactly. After scanning I do a stretch on the size to get it just right.

Now that we scanned the original pencil drawing, we needed to recreate the entire image in digital format. We loaded up Procreate and put the original scan on a layer and made it 50% transparent, and then used the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil to trace a copy of the image on a fresh layer above. This made a perfectly clean digital version, and allowed us to clean up the image a bit. There were detail areas that were too small to do with the pencil but by zooming into the canvas on the iPad Pro they were able to get it just right.

After the image was traced we created two layers for coloring. One layer was “under the lines” and is where most of the coloring was done. We had another “over the lines” layer for select sections. We also segmented off the backgrounds and the “50” numbers into their own layer.

One of the super cool features of Procreate is the ability to share a video fo the drawing being created. Here you can see the entire process unfolding, as well as the couple of versions we tried for the “50” colors before we landed on the rainbow. Our creative process took 3-4 weeks and here you get it in 9 minutes.

The project took a while but the finished product worked out great. Plus the kids got to learn how to create digital art and got really adept at working with multiple layers and understanding how to use them to create different effects. Mazie got into the various brushes as well.

The only mistake we made was mine. I forgot that I needed to create a margin on the edge for the printer. We didn’t factor that in, so the finished puzzle lost about 1/4" of the image on all sides. On the top we had sky so that was fine, but on the bottom we had this cool seascape and a lot of that got trimmed off. Next time I’ll remember to mark a “safe zone” there so nothing critical is in that area.