Monday, December 10, 2012

Silhouette Christmas Cards

And here's our second Christmas card design. 
This was a nice excuse to be a bit nostalgic and return to my Golden Age influences; when I did my honours project on the era I didn't get to do any silhouettes, but I love them. I did have grand plans to do the whole 12 Days of Christmas, but it became clear that I was going to run out of time, so I just finished off the first. I got about halfway through 9 Ladies Dancing as well, so hopefully I'll get time to finish that up in the near future. 

I put the design in a circle, to tie my two very different cards together. And then of course I added glitter:

I originally started without any clear idea of what era I wanted to depict, and did four draft silhouettes before I decided. Here they are, showing the 1780s, the 1800s, the 1830s and the 1920s:

Eventually I decided on the 1780s, as that's around the time The Twelve Days of Christmas was first published in England.

Adobe Photoshop CS6.

Reindeer Christmas Cards

I did two Christmas card designs for our own cards this year. I always like to do two for a bit of variety. 
The first card features an illustration from last Christmas. I cleaned it up a little and put it in a circular frame:

I printed all our cards straight onto white cardstock this year, which saved me a bit of cutting out (I just had to trim each card to a square). I also printed a message inside each card, and my logo on the back. It wasn't quite as simple as all that, however, as I then added lots of glitter, which my mother always likes to have on Christmas cards. These cards had gold glitter around the inside of the frame, and gold and green glittered baubles:

Winsor & Newton watercolours and Adobe Photoshop CS6.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Illustration: Pygmy Possum Christmas Cards

Some friends asked me to design some Christmas cards that were reminiscent of May Gibbs, and featured Australian wildlife. The design they decided on was a western pygmy possum among eucalyptus flowers and leaves:

For those wondering, May Gibbs was an Australian children's author/illustrator in the first half of the 20th century, who wrote and illustrated the classic Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, as well as many other titles. 

I originally came up with three concepts, two featuring western pygmy possums, and one featuring a scarlet robin. 

Once the design had been decided upon, I inked it traditionally using sepia Faber-Castel PITT artist's pens and then added colour in Adobe Photoshop CS6:

We got them printed at Moo, who always do a lovely job. Since they allow multiple designs in one order, I made up a number of colourways, and three were decided upon – red flowers, pink flowers and yellow flowers. Here's a snap of the pink and yellow (with 'Merry Christmas' in 'leaf writing' in the top left). The satin finish of the printed cards works really well with the illustration, I think. =)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Design: More Wagtail Christmas Cards

Here is the card I eventually designed for my Great Aunt. She gave me much more precise instructions, and I was told that there had to be a realistic willy wagtail, a brown frame, some red mistletoe and a papa meilland rose in the background, as she has a lovely painting of one in her room. I've never seen it, as she lives many, many miles away and I haven't visited since she got it, and I'm afraid I cheated a bit, and just altered the colours on a rose I'd already drawn for another illustration. =P She didn't say she liked it, but she didn't say she hated it, and she demanded more, so I suppose it's suitable! ^.^

These cards were handmade, with a printed message inside. I printed the illustrations on photo paper, and used double-sided foam to attach them to the cards, so that they're raised slightly:

Adobe Photoshop CS6 with a Wacom Intuos 3

Design: Wagtail Christmas Cards

I did a lot of Christmas card designs in November, and now that Christmas is nearing, it's time to blog them. 

This first design was originally done for my Great Aunt, who told me 'something Christmassy with a willy wagtail'.... I ran with that. And she hated the result. So I had to do something else for her, this time with more specific instructions, which seemed to work better. =)

Happily for me, my friend Tilly stepped in, declared she loved my poor wagtail cards, and ordered a batch for her own cards. We got them printed at the lovely, in five colour variations:

I did the main design in Adobe Illustrator CS6, and added textures (from Ming-ling) in Adobe Photoshop CS6. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Activity: Jacaranda Seed Christmas Decorations

We've had high winds the last couple of days, which blew down a lot of jacaranda seed pods in our front garden, so here's a method for turning them into Christmas decorations:
Find yourself a nice seed pod, and drill a hole in the top. They're quite slippery little suckers to drill through, so take care! 
Cover your seed pod with silver paint. I'd recommend spray paint, but I didn't have any, so I used silver acrylic, two coats.  
Paint a pattern on both sides with red acrylic.
This is the pattern I used. 
Add details in white acrylic, and thread a red ribbon through the hole you drilled.

You could also make a garland of these, perhaps spelling out 'Merry Christmas' or something. And of course, with other patterns and colour combinations, the possibilities are endless. =)  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sneak Peek: Shanghai Lil

I've been told to post more pictures of my actually doing something, so here's a snap of me working on my weekend painting:

I spent all day yesterday creating blackline master illustrations, and all day today cleaning – time for some fun. ^.^

I'm using a 0.1 Artline Drawing System pen in a Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Watercolour: Snow White

I've been pretty busy lately, and also pretty tired, so I've been neglecting the blog. But I'm back, with a little watercolour of Snow White. 

Last weekend I was home alone, so I hired Mirror Mirror to amuse myself. The movie was good fun, and I thought it would be nice to take a break and paint Snow White. This is in no way Snow White from the movie, however, it's based roughly on a sketch I remember doing about 5 years ago (no idea where it is though =P) where I gave Snow White lots of unruly hair. 

I had a lot of fun giving her a complicated dress, and I drew her and painted her last weekend, and this weekend I added a background panel. Basically, this was purely for fun and relaxation, so I wasn't about to draw anything that meant I had to think! =P 

Winsor & Newton Watercolours and Series 7 brushes in a Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Activity - Haunted House

I did a test run for an art activity for my mother's year 3 class, and thought I'd post the steps here as well. =) In honour of Halloween, here is a haunted house inspired by the fabulous Jan Pienkowski. 

If you haven't seen Jan Pienkowski's lovely silhouette illustrations, here's a sample:

Image from
And on to the walk-through:

You will need: 
Paper – watercolour paper is best, but anything reasonably thick that can withstand getting wet would be okay. 
Paint – Watercolour, Ecoline Ink, Edicol Dye, watered down acrylic... anything like that. 
Waterproof fineliner
Brush – preferably one that's quite large.  

My mother will be using cut-out black paper for her class to make the silhouettes, but I opted for doing everything on the one piece of paper (in this case an A6 offcut of watercolour paper).

First I planned the house with pencil, incorporating as many scary things as  I could. 

Then I inked the outlines with a waterproof fineliner (except for the moon, which I coloured with a waxy white pencil to resist the paint later on)

Then I washed over everywhere with ecoline ink (watercolour or edicol dye should work just as well, I was just after something fast).
I started with yellow, and while it was still wet I added orange. I then loaded my brush with plenty of water and red ink, and touched it to the wet paper to make little dots that spread on contact with the water. I avoided painting the moon, but the wax meant that paint didn't soak in to the paper there anyway. The blobby look was the closest I could get to marbling without actually marbling. 

This is the result. Let it dry.

I then took a good old Sharpie and coloured everything in so that I had a solid silhouette. 

And here's the final product. As you can see there are more variations in the sky than there are in the scanned version. Scanners do not like watercolour paper. 
I coloured in the silhouette after I'd painted the background because Ecoline ink can be a bit shiny, and I wanted a good solid black without any watermarks in it. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Watercolour: Ann Miller

Here's a little watercolour portrait I did over the weekend. I've been doing so much precise detailed work that I needed to take a bit of time out to do something a bit more splashy. 

I used a drinking straw to blow the paint around for the background, and had fun not being able to control what was happening too well (and with that being just fine). What you see here is a photograph, as I added a bit of glitter to her jewellery. You can see a scan (sans glitter) on my deviantart page

Reference was a black and white photo from
Winsor and Newton watercolours with series 7 and series 7 miniature brushes, on a random offcut of watercolour paper (A4 in size). About 5 or 6 hours. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rita Hayworth

Remember the WIP of Rita Hayworth waaay back in July? It was picked up by the commissioner today, so here's a look at the finished piece:

Considering I had a Samba dancer to do for another client at the same time as I was finishing this off, right now I would be happy if I never saw another feather or sequin ever again. =P 

The whole thing took about 28 hours, most of which was spent on the sequins and feathers. Here are some details of some of the more intricate parts of the costume:

And here's a progress animation compiled of various scans:

This is on A3 Quill Drawing Cartridge. If you want to see a list of all the materials I use for portraits like this, take a look at my list over here. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

KAS Billboard

I did my very first billboard this year, for the Kelmscott Agricultural Society, which has been keeping me pretty busy lately. I was a bit nervous doing a billboard, because there was no one to tell me what to do, and I'm more used to the poster and flyer side of things. (And it was a good thing I did the 2012 Theme illustration as a vector, and didn't have to worry about the size!) However, I think it turned out pretty well, and it was in a great location – with the lights on it at night it looked rather striking, I think. =) 

My lovely father went to the trouble to get me this photo:

For a closer look at the illustration, you can see my previous blog post.

All done in Adobe Illustrator (CS4 and CS6).

Friday, October 19, 2012

Illustration: Happily Ever After

Here's a painting I did recently for a lovely couple in the USA. They saw my Tangled Wedding sketch and asked if I would create something similar for them, as they are getting married soon. They liked the sepia toning and sketchy look of the original sketch, so I kept it simple. They asked for the text to be added to fill the blank space to the left, so I typeset it in Recherche and then hand painted it. The faces are slightly characterised likenesses of the bride and groom to be themselves, but the rest is basically the same as in my sketch.  

It didn't scan too well, this particular watercolour paper and scanners do not seem to get along – it's a bit  less heavy and more subtle in the original. I think the texture of the paper reflects the light in an odd way. I'm happy to know that the clients were very happy with it when they got to see it in person. =) 

Winsor & Newton watercolours, Prismacolour pencils, Faber Castell PITT Artist pens, Uniball Gel Pen and white acrylic on Arches Medium 300gsm watercolour paper

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cards: Wedding and Engagement

 I needed a wedding card today, so finished off one that had been sitting unfinished on my computer for some time. It was originally designed as part of a set with an engagement card, although we didn't actually give this particular couple an engagement card, so that's rather irrelevant – but I shall post them both together:

Both were created in Adobe Illustrator CS4, although I finished off the wedding card in CS6. When I print them out I add some glitter – on the ring for the engagement card, and in the bouquet and veil for the wedding card.   
It is possible that I'll change the wedding card to have a long skirt – but I was in a hurry today, so it stayed short. =)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Illustration: So Near (And Yet, So Far)

I've had this in my watercolour sketchbook for around a month, and decided to finish it off today by giving it some colour. 

Here we have Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth in You'll Never Get Rich, dancing to 'So Near (And Yet, So Far)' It's not one of my favourite films, but it's a pretty dance, and I'm quite pleased with how this came out. The film features Rita Hayworth before they'd gone all-out red with her hair, and it was quite dark, so if you're wondering why her hair is brownish, that's why. =)

Winsor and Newton watercolours, Artline Drawing System pens and Atelier Waterproof Drawing Ink (Carbon Black) in a Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook.
About 2.5 hours in total. 

Previous in the Black Dress series:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Illustration: Kiss Me Kate

Here's the full illustration that I previewed on September 3rd. 

Kiss Me Kate is one of my favourite musicals, and here are the three main characters from the 1953 film, in their 'Taming of the Shrew' costumes:

Kathryn Grayson as Lilli Vanessi, playing Katherine, Howard Keel as Fred Graham, playing Petruchio, and Ann Miller as Lois Lane, playing Bianca.   

(Click for a bigger view)

This was a relaxation piece that I'd work on a very little most days, after I'd spent the day working on less interesting stuff. Today I finally cleared it off my to-do list, along with several other things. =)

Adobe Photoshop CS6 with a Wacom Intuos 3. 
Howard Keel was referenced from a publicity shot, but the other two were pieced together from a variety of screenshots. The diamonds in the background echo the publicity material. Three diamonds in these colours are used on the poster used as my dvd cover, and they seemed very apt for the three characters. =)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cards: Anniversaries

I've been very busy lately (good thing, but tiring =P) so I'm in danger of neglecting the blog, so here are some Anniversary cards I've put together recently:

Lilies of the valley for my best friend's 2nd wedding anniversary. 

And a lily for the 30th anniversary of one of my mother's friends. 
If I'd had more time I would have put a shadow in this one as well, but I put it together on Sunday, when I was completely flat out, so my object was to be as quick as possible so I could get back to work. As it was I used a similar colour palette and theme to the first card, to speed up my process.

These are the flowers associated with each anniversary, by the way.

Adobe Illustrator (CS4 for the first one, CS6 for the second)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sketch: Rachael Stirling

Here's a sketch I did while watching tv last night. It's based on a photo of Rachael Stirling, from, I think, Marple, but I'm not sure. It's not the best likeness either, but I quite like the result even so. I love big 20s hats. 

0.5 mechanical pencil in a Moleskine Sketchbook. 

And here's a sneak peek at a digital image I've been doing, on an off (in 15-30 minute chunks) for some weeks, as a reward for getting work done. It's part of a larger image, which I hope to have finished soon. I'm using Adobe Photoshop CS6 for this. Today I cleared a bunch of illustrations for a phonics book off my desk, and did much in the way of invoicing and other boring things, so tonight I was incredibly lazy and just flopped. Not productive of me. =P

Monday, August 27, 2012

Illustration: My Shining Hour

It's been a while since I did one of these. I've been pretty much tied to my computer lately, and felt the need to spend a little while with my watercolours. I'm going to need to be painting for an upcoming project, also, so it pays to get back in the swing. 

This is Fred Astaire and Joan Leslie (although not the best likenesses, I was working off a very low quality youtube screenshot, as I only have the movie on VHS, and our pause button no longer works – not that it was even overused! =P) in The Sky's The Limit – dancing to 'This Will be My Shining Hour'. 

Winsor and Newton watercolours, Artline Drawing System pens and Atelier Waterproof Drawing Ink (Carbon Black) in a Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook.
About 2 hours in total. 

Previous in the Black Dress series:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Week: The Booksniffing Pug

My second Children's Book Week Australia post!
I really don't have the time to do much, alas, so here is a small review of one of my favourite book-related blogs:

If you like children's picture books, and you haven't yet found your way to the Booksniffing Pug's blog, make sure you rectify that omission soon! The Booksniffer sniffs only the finest in children's picture books, and often conducts charmingly quirky interviews with their creators. Based in England, the books reviewed are naturally English, but all gorgeous, and I find it a great blog to introduce me to books, authors and illustrators I might not otherwise have seen, and gives me titles and people to look out for when I'm browsing the more adventurous children's book sections in local shops. 

The Booksniffer's reviews are always a bit eccentric, so fun to read, and the interviews, where we often get glimpses into the sketchbooks and studios of illustrators, are always interesting. Plus it's just a great site for finding new books and seeing what's popular at the moment. 

Go check out the Booksniffer!

Illustration above is by me, 0.5 mechanical pencil with #B lead in a Moleskine sketchbook. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Screaming Book Week Bookmarks

It's Children's Book Week here in Australia (and also the National Year of Reading) and if you ask me there just isn't enough stuff around for it. It's such an important thing, to try and get children interested in reading, but compared to the stuff I see for equivalent events in the UK and America (the web is good for breeding discontent!) we don't make such a big deal of it. Which is a shame.

So I thought I'd do a few Book Week posts. First up, some screaming bookmarks. I'm really rather busy at the moment, so I didn't have time to do anything particularly inspired, but these always go down well. I first learnt how to do them from the fabulous British tv show Art Attack, when I was little. I couldn't find the video on youtube, so I've made up my own instructions. Credit for the original idea goes to the show, though. =)

The bookmarks are made to print on A4 paper (open in a new tab or window to get the full size), and they're a nice high resolution so that you'll get nice clean lines. You can use them for home or school use, anything that's non-commercial, but I do ask that you don't remove my logo and credit line. 
For those of you who haven't heard of the 2012 Book Week theme, it's 'Champions Read!'

And here are the instructions:

These were drawn in Adobe Photoshop CS6 with a Wacom Intuos 3. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Illustration: Danielle Darrieux

Remember the quick pic I did of Brigitte Bardot? Well, here's another one. I think this is turning into a series of 'Why can't I live in a 50s musical? They have such pretty dresses!' =P 

This is Danielle Darrieux in Rich, Young and Pretty from 1953. I haven't actually seen the film, but I play a piece from it ('We Never Talk Much (We just sit around)') on the piano, and so looked it up on Youtube. She has such a pretty dress, and I had lots of fun unwinding by seeing how to do satin with this colouring technique. 
And look, there are elbow length gloves again!

Photoshop CS6 with a Wacom Intuos 3. 
About 2 hours. 
I used a half-body screenshot as a starting point.  


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