Pick Your Pollen — A Bee PSA

Bees need our help.


Now if you can't get behind bees, you can surely get behind the food they help to produce. Our crops and our entire farming system relies on honeybees. Honeybees are absolutely essential to our society and our life. Did you know that doing something as simple as planting flowers in your garden can help to boost and maintain the honeybee population? Really, I'm not kidding. From poppies to coneflowers, clover and bee balm, there are dozes of species of flowers that are of vital importance to bees. Many can be purchased as seeds or starters at your local nursery or hardware + grocery store. Simple actions lead to amazing results.


 (To learn more, visit TakePart.)

For the last few months, I've played around with different sketching techniques. I have a few sketch pads lying around my room and when the inspiration hits, I draw a few things out. I was actually inspired by my uncle's father who has a very similar technique.

I thought it would be interesting to create a PSA-style design to bring additional attention to the honeybee population. Thus, 'Pick Your Pollen' was born. The slogan is a (quite obvious) play on the phrase, 'pick your poison.' Through a bit of research I found that the slogan has not previously been used so I felt it was a safe, but clever choice.

I began this design with a few rough mock ups using simple Prismacolor 01 and B weight pens and a few highlighters.

Aren't these pretty?

Aren't these pretty?


From there came the challenge of digitally converting these designs for a cleaner, more precise and, let's be honest, artistic look. My first thought was to re-sketch the images and then scan them onto my computer, but then I realized the lines wouldn't be vectorized which would create serious problems down the road.

My second option was to design them straight in Photoshop. I don't own any sort of Wacom or similar brand tablet and I really wasn't keen on the idea of sketching these out with a mouse. Then I thought, "I have a laptop with a small trackpad. Couldn't I use a stylus?" So, after running through the torrential downpour that was the BestBuy parking lot, I purchased a stylus. 

When I got home, ripped open the package, booted up my laptop and tried it, I realized it wasn't going to work. The trackpad was too small compared to what I needed. In all honesty, it might have been feasible, but I wasn't sure my patience could have handle it.

Then the blessing came: my mother's iPad. 

Did you know you could turn an iPad into a drawing tablet? I mean, it's commonsense now, but at the time I was really amazed. Using a free app, RC Helper Trackpad Lite, I was able to connect the iPad to my computer via wifi and draw. It was like the heavens opened and I was alive for the first time. In hindsight, I should have spent a little more money on a thinner, more sensitive stylus, but that aside, drawing was a marvelous experience.

On an unrelated note, I can't even get over how talented some artists are when it comes to using tablets as their medium. It took me three solid minutes to be able to draw the first poppy. I know some amazing individuals who are currently recreating scenes from The Lord of the Rings with depth and grace. It's a struggle that I will overcome, or at lest work on, through practice.

Anyways, after a bit of trial and error I was able to get the designs I wanted. I used the plain brush tool with 100% opacity and a weight of 5px to outline and then worked with watercolor brushes at varying opacities to fill in my flowers. It took about 1.5 hours per each design. 


I'd like to expand on these designs in the future, but for now, all I can say is, "Go out and get some flowers!" Or, seeing as it's September, you might consider waiting until next spring.