I’ve been busy the last few months working on a special project for my agent Jehane, Out of the Blue! Jehane gave all of her artists a series of creative briefs to work on throughout the year and now all of that work is being showcased in this fun event!
For one of this year's themes, Life on Earth, I decided to step out of my comfort zone a bit and tackle a subject matter that I’ve never tried before, dinosaurs! I can’t tell you how much fun I had creating these dinosaurs. Maybe it was because the subject matter was so different and so I had no idea what to expect, but I really got into it!
My inspiration for the look of this collection were the 80’s surf t-shirts of my childhood, Ocean Pacific anyone? I just couldn't stop thinking about how the slightly faded bright colours and scenic imagery would be a fun mashup with the dinosaur theme.
Seeing as I couldn’t go out and draw dinosaurs from life, I spent some time researching realistic looking dinosaurs and their skeletons to get a feel for what they looked like. Then I was able to draw my own versions after figuring out the general basic shapes that made up each dino. One of the most fun parts of this series was that I had no idea what my version of a dinosaur would look like. It was so interesting seeing them come together and I think they do look like they fit in with the rest of my work!
I also spent some time researching plants and the type of landscape my dinos would have lived in. I even came across some prehistoric-like plants at our local Butterfly World which I was pretty excited about! It’s the little things, amiright? I live in a small town and going out to source real inspiration is a luxury. I usually end up doing most of my research online or in books. However, keeping my source material limited to realistic imagery, photographs or vintage illustration and gathering from many different places helps give me a better idea of how my subject looks while also allowing me to interpret it in my own unique way.
Because I wanted to feature a single dinosaur as the subject of each image, I sketched out all of the dinosaurs first and then positioned them on each page, trying to vary the position and direction slightly. Then I started filling in the backgrounds with bigger shapes first then smaller until I was happy with each composition individually and how they worked together as a whole.
I always like to create a colour rough before I start working. I feel like it just gives me a better sense of how the colours are working together without focusing on the details too much. I wanted the colours to be simple yet varied enough to have visual interest. I decided to aim for a somewhat complementary colour palette for each image and play from there, pinks with greens, blues and purples with orangy yellows, etc. I also tried to keep the colours brighter than my normal go to colours and I was really happy with the result. Now I’m thinking that maybe I need to start incorporating more bright colours in the future!
Another reason I like to figure out my colours beforehand is that when it comes time to create the final artwork, all of the hard stuff is already figured out and so I can just create without using too much brain power. It’s easier for me to separate each stage of the process into focused work and less focused work and then I can space these stages out in the day depending on what else is going on and my energy levels. For example, if I’m tired near the end of the day or my kids are around, it's easier for me to work on final art because I don’t have to think too much, whereas I might save the planning and ideation work for the mornings when I have more energy and I’m thinking more clearly.
Lastly I created a pattern to go with the collection. I have my own bizarre way of making patterns in Photoshop that has always worked for me but this time I tried using the Pattern Preview tool and it was so handy! If you haven’t tried it, it’s definitely worth experimenting with.
Thanks for following along on this little dino themed behind the scenes! If all goes well I’ll have some dino themed products to share with you soon!
If you’re interested in learning more from me you can check out my free guides How to Draw Hands and 3 Simple Steps to Stand Out Colour Palettes, or you can scroll through past posts to see more behind the scenes!