Thursday, December 31, 2015

Cockatoo Christmas Cards

Before we actually end up in the new year, I'm squeezing a few minutes of time to post the last of the Christmas cards I designed in 2015. 

For these cards I was given a beautiful photograph of a Carnaby Cockatoo, taken outside the client's house, and turned it into a pseudo-woodcut illustration in Photoshop for a graphic look. (I should add that I didn't use a filter, I drew it out carefully, as I would if I was really doing a wood or lino cut (if I had the space/materials/strong wrist/time) I added chunky text behind to fill up the empty space while keeping everything simple and uncluttered, so that the cockatoo stood out.

I threw these together very quickly, before the clients left for a photography holiday to Antarctica (from which they returned with many more fabulous bird photos) and were out of reliable contact. We got them printed at Moo, in two colour-ways. I think they look quite striking!

Adobe Photoshop CC2015 with a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 and a Wacom Intuos 5.
6 to 7 hours. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas trampoline

This is last week's Colour Collective, which looked a lot better in my head, before I ended up with too much work to do to actually take the time to do it properly... >.> Ah well. I'm always really busy around Christmas, so I wasn't surprised. I should probably have chosen something less complicated, but where's the fun in that? We'll call it a sketch. 

The colour was 'white', for the Christmas special. I chose to go with summery white clothes rather than snow.

Adobe Photoshop CC2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2
Not sure how long it took - definitely not long enough! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Illustration: A Beach Christmas

This is my Colour Collective from a few weeks ago, which I never got around to posting here. The colour was 'Cadmium Red' and as it was the first week of December I had decided to move away from my Fadeaway girl series and do some Christmas illustrations. 

Of course, a really Christmassy scene would stereotypically involve snow... but not here! Cadmium Red is such a bright, saturated colour that I thought it would be fun to put it in a hot Australian Christmas illustration with lots of other bright saturated colours. The 'snow at Christmas' idea, while lovely, is all-pervasive. Almost all the Christmas cards we have received this year have snow on them in some way. Time to do something different! (Yes, yes I know my cards last year had snow on =P)

Originally there was a boy in there as well, but I ran out of time to finish him off, and just removed his layer entirely... I thought it was better to cut him out than to leave him in, poorly finished. 

I was trying something different with this illustration - It was all done with a chalky brush, with no outlines. Difficult for me, as I usually rely on outlines in my work, but it was fun! I'm inclined to think that people prefer my work with outlines, as my succeeding Colour Collective got over three times the engagements that this one did. What do you think?

Adobe Photoshop CC2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2
Not sure how long - 4 to 6 hours I think.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Tutorial: Needle Felted Robin Earrings

Merry Christmas everyone! 

As a Christmas gift, here is an in-depth tutorial for some festive needle felted robin earrings. They're easy to make and should take about an hour - they took me an hour and a half, including taking photographs on timer and writing down all the steps on my ipad. 

Alternatively, you can access the tutorial and others on the Resources page of my website.

Have fun! Any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Lapphund Christmas Cards 2015

Some lovely friends again commissioned me to illustrate their Christmas cards this year. The first time I designed their cards from scratch they had one Finnish lapphund in their family. The second time they had two and this time they have added an adorable baby to their brood! If this keeps up there won't be any room for everyone on the cards in a few years!

They had me work up a discarded concept from last year (when they did not have a baby). As you can see, I had to rejig it a bit to fit bub in as well - but if you've got a new baby you can't have personalised cards that only feature your dogs, am I right? Plus, he's just too cute to leave off!

(yes, yes I know. My concept sketches are really ugly)

We had them printed at Moo, and they did a lovely job, as usual. I initially did two colour-ways with this design, to take advantage of Moo's Printfinity capabilities. 

However, my friends are great gamers, and when they saw the finished images (before print) they thought it would be fun if baby Alastair had a hat like Link in the Legend of Zelda games. So I put together a tweaked design that they could send to their gamer friends (who will hopefully get the joke). I don't play the games, but I was inspired by the Wind Waker games, as they have wall decals from that in the nursery, and when I made them a needlefelted baby mobile, I took that as my theme. Anyway, I already had clouds so it seemed apt. And I went a bit further than just updating the hat:

I used references, of course, piecing Korra and Esther together from a number of reference photos so that I could get the poses I wanted while still very definitely drawing them, and also using several references for Alastair.

I think they look quite striking all together. Three cards with the same design, but vastly differing moods:


Design done in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 and a Wacom Intuos pro. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Illustration: Dreaming of a White Christmas

I haven't yet blogged my Colour Collective from the week before (oops), but here is my latest. I decided to go with a more ambitious Christmas theme for my December entries, rather than the fadeaway girls I've been doing for some weeks. And I decided this, obviously, because I don't have enough to do in December *insert slightly crazed laugh here*

This time the colour was 'Myrtle Green' and I was again inspired by a classic song - Irving Berlin's 1940 song White Christmas

However, I'm in Australia, and while we have been having fairly cool weather (it got to 28C today) for December, a white Christmas is not something we will be seeing. (It will probably be stinking hot by then)
Christmas here is hot: 

But that's okay, because the person singing White Christmas is sitting somewhere hot too. I don't think I've ever heard a recorded version of the song that includes the verse (there must be some, surely) but I know it, because I have the sheet music to play on the piano. 

The sun is shining, 
The grass is green, 
The orange and palm trees sway
There's never been such a day, 
In Beverley Hills, L.A.

But it's December the 24th
And I am longing to be 
Up north

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright
and may all your
Christmases be white. 

I ran out of time to do all I wanted to this, and I didn't plan it out properly either. And why? I was busy cleaning and decorating the house in time for Christmas, rather than drawing:

See that music book on the piano? That's the sheet music for the film White Christmas, and that's where I got the above lyrics! The verse lyrics may not show up online, but I promise that they are there!

And I've been greatly honoured this week, as the lovely Penny Neville-Lee chose my illustration to be the Facebook header for the week! 


Adobe Photoshop CC2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. About 4.5 hours (or, to put it another way, definitely not long enough!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Chiropractic Christmas Cards 2015

I was asked again to design a Christmas card for Burswood Health Clinic this year. Last year I did a comic snowman design, adapted from something they'd seen elsewhere, and they wanted 'something else funny'. A slightly scary request, but I did my best. 

I came up with six concepts, and they chose this one:

The Clinic was in a mad rush, as usual, so I put this together very quickly. Unfortunately my workspace was by no means quiet, and I was in such a rush to get it sent off that I accidentally masked the bleed. (I want my own studio! Anyone want to fund me a turret somewhere?) When working in Illustrator I mask it while I'm working because I find the artboard with stuff visible distracting when I try to evaluate the design as a whole - but usually I remove the mask! It was a stupid mistake, and even more annoying because I had carefully checked the outlines and the colour separations and everything else. I don't usually make such mistakes, but there's a first time for everything, I suppose. I rang them as soon as I realised, but it was too late to fix it. Arg!

Most fortunately, it doesn't seem to have mattered:

I think they came out rather nicely! The clinic likes huge glossy cards - A5 - so this looks rather striking. My father isn't very impressed with this design at all, but the Clinic seem to be very happy with it, and that's what counts, after all.

Adobe Illustrator CC 2015 with a Wacom Intuos 5. About 6 hours.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Christmas Cards 2015

Here our the Christmas cards I designed for this year. I'd been having such fun with the fadeaway girl theme for Colour Collective that I thought it would be fun to do more detailed ones for the cards - my Colour Collective illustrations are usually pretty quick and rough.

Originally I had planned to have two completely different designs, but in the end I got a bit busy and went the easy route of two different girls but the same overall image. 

Here are some details:

I went with a 1915-era - 100 years ago this year, and a good date for Fadeaway Girls, as Coles Phillips first debuted them in 1908. Plus, of course, they had some very pretty dresses then, which work well with the fadeaway technique. I had a lot of fun coming up with the different outfits and hairstyles!

As usual, we got them printed at Moo. They have such fabulous printing, and I love their printfinity option. 

Moo have just introduced gold embossing on their business cards, so I'm really hoping soon they will have that on offer for greetings cards as well - my mother simply must have sparkly cards, plain printing will not do for her at all... and currently I have to emboss or glitter every one of the 100 cards we get printed each year by hand

 I always design my cards with reference to a simple way that I can add either gold embossing or glitter. It always has to be quite simple, as I have to do them all by hand - but I'd just love to go all-out with lots of gold in a more intricate design that just isn't feasible at the moment. These cards took me 6 hours to emboss - and I cheated on half of them, only embossing the string (not the rings on the lanterns) - they can go to the 'less deserving' (i.e. people less likely to appreciate the hours of my life that went into  these cards) on our Christmas Card list. =P

I had two desks set up while embossing the cards - if you're interested, I used Ranger Perfect Medium pens and fine gold embossing powder. The perfect medium pens, like embossing pens, are tacky - draw where you want the embossing to go, quickly cover with embossing powder, shake off the excess, and then melt it with a heat gun. When we printed our own cards it was glitter or nothing, as the plastic coating on photo printer paper melts under the influence of a heat gun - but Moo's cards hold up wonderfully. 

And here's a progress animation, from my hideous base scrawl to finished card:

And for anyone interested in how I use references, here is the pose reference I took for this illustration:

Photoshop CC2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. I'm not entirely sure how long they took - as usual with our Christmas cards I start early and do bits piecemeal. I'd put the figure somewhere between 6 and 12 hours for the first one, less for the second, where much was already done. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Illustration: By the Light of the Silvery Moon

I'm a bit late blogging this Colour Collective piece. Heavens, I have been busy - always the way at this time of the year. The good news is that that means that I have a lot to blog about... the bad news is that I struggle to actually find time to blog!

However, here we are, with last week's Colour Collective - Silver. The obvious choice for this was Gus Edwards and Edward Madden's 1909 song 'By the Light of the Silvery Moon'. Really there was no other option, was there? 

Place park, scene dark, silvery moon is shining through the trees;
Cast two, me, you, sound of kisses floating on the breeze.
Act one, begun. Dialogue, "Where would you like to spoon?"
My cue, with you, underneath the silvery moon.
By the light of the silvery moon,
I want to spoon, to my honey I'll croon love's tune,
Honeymoon keep a-shining in June,
Your silvery beams will bring love dreams, we'll be cuddling soon,
By the silvery moon.
Act two, scene new, roses blooming all around the place;
Cast three, you, me, Preacher with a solemn looking face.
Choir sings, bell rings, Preacher: "You are wed for evermore."
Act two, all through, every night the same encore.
By the light, (By the light, By the light),
Of the silvery moon, (The silvery moon).
I want to spoon, (Want to spoon, Want to spoon)
To my honey I'll croon love's tune.
Honeymoon, (Honeymoon, Honeymoon),
Keep on shining in June. (Keep on shining in June)
Your silvery beams will bring love dreams,
We'll be cuddling soon,
By the silvery moon.
Your silvery beams will bring love dreams,
We'll be cuddling soon,
By the silvery moon. (The silvery moon)

Here's a version (from the film of the same name) with Doris Day and Gordon MacRae. Not a favourite version, but it does include all the words: 

Obviously the song is pretty heavy on the 'June' and this is a very wintry scene. Notwithstanding the fact that where I'm standing, June is winter (although no snow) I figured that it could very well be referring to someone looking forward to June, summer, and the option to stay out late. It never actually says it is June. 

This makes a total of 17 Colour Collective Fadeaway Girls - and I'm now taking a break from them to do some more Christmas themed entries.

Adobe Photoshop CC2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2.
About 2.5 to 3 hours.


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