Illustration Process

Everything I illustrate is hand-drawn, digitally. That means I draw my portraits in the traditional sense, but I use a graphics pen and tablet, rather than a pencil and a piece of paper! Here's how I do it...

Step 1: Pencil drawing

I start every project with a pencil sketch. My initial sketches start to explore the principle concept you have given me, which together with my research and any photographs you have supplied me with help me find a starting point. 

Keeping in mind the ideas we have discussed, I start sketching out designs that incorporate all the key elements that make your stationery designs unique to you. 

Step 1 of any project involves me coming up with as many different possibilities as required until I come up with a design and composition I am happy with. 

Most of the earliest sketches are indecipherable to anyone but myself, but play a particularly important part in the design process.  This is such a critical stage for me to enable creativity to flow freely - I can then ‘clean up’ the best sketch to work from further. See more on my pencil sketches here.

Step 2: Scanning The Sketch

As mentioned, it may sometimes be that I draw many versions and make amendments to the sketch until I am happy with the design and that I have met your expectations. I then scan the drawing in to my computer. It is important to scan it in at high resolution (300dpi minimum) so that it can be utilised in the next step for any size digital drawing required. 

I sometimes make further adjustments to the sketch in Photoshop, by combining elements of different designs together to create a single drawing I can work from as a guide for the final illustration. I delete the white background of the sketch and save it as a layer with a transparent background in Photoshop to use as the template for the artwork.

 Step 3: Digital Drawing

I work underneath the sketch layer, using my graphics tablet and graphics pen to hand-draw the lines previously drawn in the pencil sketch (now working as my guide) on my computer. I begin by breaking the drawing down into separate shapes, drawing over each one and filling it with a block colour on it’s own layer. I label each layer so that I can identify it later (e.g. ‘Face’, ‘Dress Bodice’, ‘Trouser Leg Right’ etc.). On a technical note, all of this is done in Adobe Photoshop using the Pen Tool to create the ‘paths’ and the Paint Bucket Tool to fill the shapes. After some time all the ‘shapes’ have been traced and refined, and I can really begin to think about the final colours, shading and look of the piece.

From this point, until the illustration is finished, I hand-draw on all the layers adding shading, texture and details. I use a combination of textures and ‘brushes’ I have created to colour and finish the design. I work through the illustration as I go working on each section as I see fit, refining areas as I progress to keep the piece looking balanced and checking it against any photographs I have been given for reference. Even though this stage is dictated by my sketch, it never becomes a ‘paint-by-numbers’. I am always amending and re-designing the piece as I go along. 

Finally, I send the design/s to print and/or the digital file to you via email.