I took this photo out in my yard a couple days ago. It is an Oregon Iris, a wild variety that grows in the Northwest. I love these flowers and was so thrilled to find one in my yard. Coincidentally, it was that same day that I went to hear Jane Sassaman talk and see her marvelous quilts. She stylizes flowers for many of her quilts and this iris seemed to lend itself beautifully to interpretation.
I started by opening a new page in Illustrator and then placed my photo on the page.
Using the pen tool in Illustrator, I started tracing the outline of the flower on a separate layer. Tracing with the pen tool is an acquired skill. You need to learn to understand how bezier curves work. Sometimes black lines are hard to see when tracing a photo, so I often use yellow or another color that will show up well against the photo.
When I had the simple outlines of the flower, I moved the photo to one side. (I still wanted to look at it for details) and changed the line color to black.
This would provide a nice, simple line pattern if I wanted to make a quilt duplicating my photo. I was more interested in a stylized, symmetrical pattern, so the initial line drawing was just a start.
I started by taking individual elements from the line drawing to begin to make symmetrical parts that can be assembled later. Illustrator will copy and mirror image anything you draw, so it is easy to create a totally symmetrical design.
I started adding color to the pieces and moved them into place. Each petal, as a separate graphic can be moved, rotated and placed in front of, or behind, any other piece.
Now it was time to add leaves. These, too, were copied, reflected, sized to fit and moved into place. Here is my stylized graphic of an Oregon Iris, created in Illustrator. Here's another cool tip—I drew one leaf, then copied, flipped, rotated and resized to create all the others.
You can do a lot with this graphic. It can be turned into a line drawing to use for a pattern.
Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in Adobe Illustrator, just a devoted fan.