Monday, April 23, 2012

Graduation Cap Process

I noticed views for my post, "Graduation Cap" so I will describe the decorating process in more detail. I broke it up in sections: Inspiration, Sketches, Application, and Result.

Note: Even if you don't use the same materials as me, the first two sections are still helpful.


The terms are used in both art and science.
I looked at Baroque/Rococo designs, but it had to have radial symmetry so that the design looked the same from all four sides of the cap.
A Rococo example
with radial symmetry.

8 slice circle
I found a blog post from a Middle School teacher on creating radial symmetry. I recommend looking at her brief instructions. She has examples.

You can use 4 slices instead. Radial symmetry may require multiples of 4 (4, 8, 16, etc...) for slices.


For my cap design, I tried to keep it simple, but I wanted to include raspberries too. For the design to pop out over a distance, I chose white lines over my black graduation cap for contrast.

I started the design on Photoshop, but space and angles are hard to apply without measurements. I did not use the slice method, which I now highly recommend.

2nd design on paper
I had tried again on paper with a shape repeated and rotated at each corner. I went with a more simple design, but kept my raspberries. The lines would still be white for contrast, but I decided to use color to differentiate the berries from the lines.

Then I tried recreating the shape with circle and oval stencils, which I highly recommend as well.
Found at most art stores

I used a color pencil for the lines that would show and pencil for drafting the shape.

Observations and decisions were written down:
  • The cap was smaller than I thought and I forgot that one corner had the school's name.
  • I'll use one large circle instead of two.
  • I'll place the arcs in the middle of one side instead of a corner.

More simple.
The oval is the raspberry

I decided on the most simple design, and I wrote the measurements from the circle and oval stencil. The sketches on the right did not capture the full curves. More mistakes would have occurred.

Final Sketch
The design was too simple for me though. Haha. Because the lines will be thin, I think it's better to add more more lines. I drew some thumbnails and liked the one with corner decorations.

I still had to worry about space between repeated shapes so I measured from one point in one shape to another point in another shape. In the photo on the right, I made this measurement blue for better viewing.

The planning was done. Whew.


Unfortunately, I do not have images for when I did this part of the process. Application was done in more than one day to keep a steady hand and rest.

I drew the design with pencil and stencil on the graduation cap according to recorded measurements.

For the corners, I traced the shape of a large oval object because the stencil did not have large enough ovals. Of course I marked the distance from the corner for each oval arc.

The raspberries were penciled on the cap last because they were more detailed.

I used this gesso.
Because I did not plan on washing my graduation cap, I used white acrylic gesso, which can be undone by water. Gesso is usually used as a primer coat on paper and canvas, but it can be used in place of white acrylic paint.

If you have used gesso before, then try it first to see how comfortable you are using it. Apply water to increase the drying time.

After Acrylic Painting, I felt more confident with brushstrokes and had used gesso in place of white acrylic. However, I did not paint one arc in one brushstroke. I did multiple strokes for one arc with two thin paintbrushes. It's better to pace yourself anyway.

I waited for the gesso to dry before applying more; you don't want to smear wet gesso. Rest your hand and eyes.

I had made an arc too wide, but I was able to take away some gesso by using a wet paintbrush (just water). If you looked closely at my graduation cap, then you'll see that the edges of that arc are not sharp. Thus, do not rely on fixing it with water.

Demonstrated on
For the raspberries, I mixed red-violet acrylic paint with the gesso. The leaves were still white though.

Instead of painting the lines of the raspberry, I painted the many square-shapes of the raspberry. I did not want the four raspberries identical so I allowed myself to paint more loosely.


The application step was done the week of the ceremony. Whew! But now it represents my hard work. =)

The school name looks like I painted over it but, I didn't. 

If you can text a picture message, then I recommend sending a picture of your finished design to those attending your graduation. As I said in my other post, friends and family found me after the ceremony because they spotted my decorated cap. :)

I'd like to see your results too even if you did not paint.

No comments:

Post a Comment