How to: Art Nouveau

Written by rs wagner
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How to: Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau replicates nature. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The first modern style of expression, Art Nouveau or "New Art" began in the 1880s, spanning western Europe and the United States until World War I. Decorative Art Nouveau was revitalised in the 1960s and used inspirational graphics to express a wish for change. Art Nouveau encompassed sinuous lines and "whiplash" curves inspired from studies of the nature. Art Nouveau appeared in art representations, graphics, and illustration and sought to change the styles of the past. Art Nouveau explores modern psychology, as well as sexuality, but the range of these topics were explored through everyday objects, such as furniture or architecture.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Sketch pad
  • Pencil
  • Various art supplies for drawing or painting
  • Computer
  • Vector graphics software

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  1. 1

    Create a sketch of your Art Nouveau design on a computer illustration software program or draw the art by hand.

  2. 2

    Observe plant life to gain ideas. Seek plants or vines that twist. Use the forms of flowers such as poppies, wisteria, water lilies, and Japanese lotus.

  3. 3

    Consider other forms such as peacock and bird feathers, insect wings, shells, and "S" curves.

    Female Forms

  1. 1

    Choose a female form to add to your sketch. Draw the female figure's hair in a long style, typically offering the appearance that her hair has been captured by the wind, whipping around in the breeze.

  2. 2

    Draw the hair with flowing curved lines. Create the drawing as a line drawing and do not add shading.

  3. 3

    Draw the female form with flowers around her head and create a long flowing dress with whiplash curves.

  4. 4

    Draw the figure as the centre of attention and create the flowing lines that bring the eyes back into the picture. Adorn the female figure with sweeping vines and curvaceous lines.

    Picture within a Picture

  1. 1

    Use a picture within a picture, such as a female figure with a border around her. Fill about two inches outside the border with flowers and vines.

  2. 2

    Repeat flower and plant designs throughout the drawing.

  3. 3

    Create the vines and flowers in circular pattern, and uses other aspects of nature to bind the circles together, interwoven to keep the motion alive in the patterns.

    Main Features

  1. 1

    Ponder the main features of Art Noveau. Use muted, delicate colours, such as mustard, sage, gold, peacock blue, lilac, or any pastel colour.

  2. 2

    Use natural forms on items, such as stencils, glassware, smooth tiles, ceramics, or posters.

  3. 3

    Use repeating patterns and objects within the picture.

    Computer Illustration

  1. 1

    Download swirl and vine brushes from a reputable source. Click on the download to open the file then drag the file into the brushes file in your vector illustration program. Click on the brush icon to create a design.

  2. 2

    Create your own brushes by opening a vector software program. Choose "File," then "New" from the drop down menu at the top of the page. Make an object or line with the shape, pen or pencil tool.

  3. 3

    Select "Brushes" from the "Window" menu. Choose "New Brush." Select between calligraphic, scatter, art or pattern brushes.

  4. 4

    Use calligraphic brushes when seeking the angled style of a calligraphy pen. Use a scatter brush to create copies of your object along a path.

  5. 5

    Try an art brush when creating representations of real painting techniques, such as watercolour or charcoal strokes or create an object shape distributed evenly on a path.

  6. 6

    Create pattern brushes that repeat tiled patterns along a path. Use the pattern brush for creating Art Nouveau borders.

  7. 7

    Save your brush after adjusting the type of brush you are creating. Use your sketch to illustrate the Art Nouveau design using the brushes you created. For more information visit the "Help" file of your illustration software.

Tips and warnings

  • Create a line and select a brush in a brush library, the Brushes panel, or the Control panel.
  • Do not confuse Art Nouveau with Art Deco.

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