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A long and waffling tale…

So I thought I’d make a little blog post about my process, as the most common questions I get asked are where do I get my inspiration from and how long does it take me to make a design?  Inspiration for me comes mostly from the people around me and I impose their personalities onto animal counterparts or use their favourite animals as a starting point.

c and l

These I did for my sausage-dog fanatic friend Claire and whale-loving Lou

These little guys didn’t take too long but for my card designs, from start to finish it’s probably hours… although the actual ‘colouring in’ is only a small part of that.  I find the ideas-part quite chaotic… All sorts of images, animals and (card) occasions are flying round my brainbox so I make tonnes of ideas-lists, Pintrest boards and have pages of thumbnail sketches… but then when it comes to channelling this jumble of ideas into individual designs and actually putting something on paper, every single last one heads off to Spain for a little holiday and I feel like there isn’t a single thing in the world to draw.  When this happens I take myself off to a coffee shop with a bunch of scrap paper.  I don’t have to be at all precious about these doodles and it’s a relief to start pairing up an image with an occasion or a phrase and have a few hard-copy first drafts.

drawing examples

Scans of scruffy initial sketches

As you can see below, some of these drawings can look remarkably, spectacularly awful – especially the characterisation… and quantity of limbs!!  But it’s the refining phase that comes next and it isn’t unusual for me to have a half finished body and a floating head on separate pieces of paper that I trace over to make the final composition!

monkey sketches

Spot floating wangtang head

I did this piece initially for my monkey-obsessed boyfriend.  Fortunately I learnt that orangutangs don’t have tails before I painted them on!!  The painting part is really special to me – it’s like meeting a new friend!  One minute they don’t exist and 15 minutes later they’re alive.  I’m in a bit of trance for this part – I work quickly, energetically and quite messily.  I rarely intend to use the ‘original’ for anything as I always scan them in and edit using Photoshop, but this one I was doing as an original and as you can see in the first of the 3 images, I fluffed it up in 5 seconds flat with a big ink blob centre stage!! Fortunately, I managed to camouflage it when it dried!  Although the splattery effect is genuine in my card designs, I must admit to a bit of shuffling around of blobs so that they are conveniently spaced!

process 2

Fluffifying process

If I’m incorporating additional elements to a design I will do everything separately – the typography, the animals and the background elements.  Again for this one I had to do everything in it’s correct place first time so I kept stopping and coming back to it if I got anxious.  The image below is the final original that I framed and gave to Mike, but I also scanned it in and will use it, with a slightly different sentiment, as part of a new range I’m working on at the moment.  I much prefer the final card design which is edited and composed in a four hundred-layer Photoshop file.  I think the colouring in on this one took me about an hour and a half in total, but the whole process from start to finish, including the amended card design probably took me about 2-3 days.

So there ya have it!  A long and waffling tale of how I create my little world of friends.

Me and you

The original

orangutans and bleed

A ‘you can do it!!’ card