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!
I'm so excited to finally share a new collaboration with you today! Last Spring I had the pleasure of illustrating three Jane Austen covers for French luxury brand Olympia Le-Tan. Books you might think? Nope! These are limited edition, hand embroidered clutches, book shaped purses! How fun is that!
You might know that one of my big dreams is to illustrate a Jane Austen novel so of course I was over the moon for the opportunity to illustrate these beautiful clutches. The Complete Novels of Jane Austen and Sense and Sensibility are available now and I can't wait to see how the third book, Persuasion, turns out!
Happy holidays and I hope you’re having a lovely December. This month I worked on a couple of pieces for my agent Jehane’s 12 Days of Christmas event on Instagram. I thought it would be fun to go behind the scenes and share a bit of my process for making this piece inspired by the prompt "Christmas Cocktails."
As you might have already guessed, I love drawing people and so rather than focusing on just the cocktails I thought it would be more exciting to draw a cocktail party. After some time spent playing around with the layout this is the final sketch I ended up with.
I usually change my mind a lot when it comes to colour and so I like to plan those out in advance. This helps me get a general idea of how everything is going to look as a whole and then I don’t have to spend time fiddling and changing things after the fact. I usually create a colour rough by just blocking out various colours on separate layers in Procreate and then experimenting with various combinations and making small adjustments here and there. A few things I’m looking for here are an overall balance and harmony within the colour palette and whether there is enough contrast. Contrast will help make everything pop where you want it too. Squinting is a great trick to tell if there's enough contrast but because I’m working on the Ipad I'll sometimes just desaturate my image, then I can clearly see where I need to make adjustments. In this case you can see below that I could have added more contrast between the tree and the hair of the woman petting the cat which I ended up doing in my final piece.
Once I had my colour figured out I started on my final image. If you’ve taken my Draw Simple Figures course you’ll know that I like to build up my sketches in layers, and I do the same with my final artwork as well. Usually I like to lay in all of my solid colours first and then add all of the little details last. I just find that this helps me keep the whole piece balanced.
And here is the final image with all of those fun details brought in to make everything come alive!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little behind the scenes. I can't wait to share more of what I've been working on lately with you in the new year!
All the best,
I'm so excited to share some new holiday cards I designed for Lagom Design that are now available over on their website. The more cards I design the more I fall in love with it. A well made card is like holding a tiny treasure. It's a keepsake and these ones are particularly close to my heart. I love Christmas! They are beautifully printed on quality card stock with blind embossing and gold foil detail to make them extra special. I hope you and yours enjoy them as much as I do!
You can also check out my designer interview, The Magic of Small Things here on the Lagom blog.
All the best,
I’m so excited to share with you a sneak peak into my creative workflow. I’ll be sharing everything from how I come up with ideas to planning, sketching and creating a finished piece. Starting is the hardest part for me, but when I break my process down into steps it really helps to remove the overwhelm, and lets me get to the fun part, painting!
Firstly, I should say that this is the method that I’ve found works best for me. There are infinite ways to create artwork and this is only one. I work mainly with traditional media in an illustrative style so that’s what this process is geared towards. If you prefer to paint intuitively or work purely digitally then some of these methods might not be a perfect fit but you can always adjust them to suit your unique process. Take what works for you and leave the rest! So with that said let’s get to the nerdy good stuff…
Research involves, gathering ideas and inspiration. Taking inspiration from your daily life is an easy place to start. You never know when a great idea will pop into your head so be ready to write it down so you can reference it later. A little notebook works great for this but my favourite tool is the Notes app on my phone. I keep a running list of anything and everything. These don’t have to be flushed out ideas, just a word or two, and not everything will pan out but you might be surprised by what does make it into a finished piece!
Creating a mood board of colour and reference images can also help you create a beautiful finished product. You can create a physical inspiration board with magazine clippings, colour chips and and other objects or you can create a virtual board using Pinterest. Reference things like home decor, photography, vintage patterns or anything else that you find interesting, but try not to include artwork in a similar vein as your own. You want to come up with your own, original work and not be overly inspired by someone else's.
Planning ahead will help remove the overwhelm when starting a new piece of art. Once I’ve done my research and I know what my subject matter is, I like to spend a little bit of time experimenting in my sketchbook to get warmed up. You can play with sketching or painting some individual elements or jot down a few quick layout ideas that you have floating around in your head. Look for interesting shapes and details that you might want to feature or embellish later. Don’t think too hard just play and discover. No one is going to see this so just try anything and everything you can think of.
Next I usually move on to figuring out a basic layout by drawing some simple thumbnail sketches. I find it easier to do this ahead of time partially out of personal preference but also because, depending on what I’m working on I may have to send sketches to a client for approval before moving forward. They don’t have to be complicated, these are just rough layout suggestions to act as a guide or jumping off point. These are meant to be quick and rough so take the preciousness out of it by giving yourself a time limit of 4 thumbnails in 20 minutes. Make it 10 minutes if you’re up for a challenge! If you’re comfortable painting loosely, without a lot of structure then you can choose your favourite thumbnail and move on to paint from here but if you’re like me you might want to refine your chosen thumbnails into a slightly more flushed out sketch. Either method is just fine so do what feels best for you.
You can also plan out your colours in advance which is what I do. Check out my Free Guide to Creating Stand Out Colour Palettes, to learn all about how I choose my colours.
Now for the really fun part…
Of course you can tackle this step any way you’d like and if you have a way that works for you then go for it! There is no right or wrong way to create your final image, be it paint, collage, digital, etc., but here’s what I do because it works for me…
I like to build up my artwork in layers. This allows me to see and adjust the entire piece as I go and that helps with getting a well balanced look to the final artwork. I start by either lightly sketching or using a light table and then blocking in the basic shapes of my composition first. The idea is not to focus on just one area at a time and make it perfect, but to instead focus on the overall shapes you are creating and build up the detail evenly around the piece. Think of it in terms of writing an essay, you need to create your outline first and then refine and refine from there in order to end up with a cohesive finished product.
Side note - If I’m creating something that I know is going to end up as a digital file for licensing then I will usually break my composition up into icons so that it’s easier to edit and assemble on the computer, however I’ll still use this method of working in layers within each icon. Again, not necessary, just what works for me.
Finally, take your time. Give yourself a break. If you find yourself struggling, sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away and come back with fresh eyes, and if after that you still feel the need to stop and and start again, that’s okay too. What might look effortless on Pinterest or Instagram probably had a lot of hard work and a good dose of frustration put into it. It’s totally normal and all part of the process.
Thank you so much for following along! I hope that you’re able to implement some of these strategies into your own workflow and I’d love to see what you create! Feel free to leave a comment below, tag me on Instagram or send me a message letting me know what you want to learn about next!
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You can also check out my full range of greeting cards with Lagom Design here.
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