A Peek Inside my Sketchbook, Process & Style

Typically, illustrators are the most secretive and introverted when it comes to showing others what's between the two covers of their sketchbook. We're perfectly happy to show you the finished outcomes, the polished pieces crafted after drawing and painstaking hours on Photoshop, but even in critiques I've seen (and done this myself) illustrators panic when the client turns to a page that is full of messy ideas and scribbles that they won't understand.

I say NOOOOO let's not be ashamed anymore! Show us your scribbles! Show us the drawing you did of your lecturer in class, show us the reminders and colour palettes that you blobbed all over the page without realising it had gone through the page. Show us the mistakes you make before that finished piece so we know that we're not alone.

I thought it'd be fun to show you the inside view of a project I've been working on non-stop: a veggie calendar. The aim of the calendar is to educate people that want to go vegan or vegetarian in 2017 and help them along with challenges, illustrate facts that lie at the bottom of each month to raise awareness and provide you with a beautiful organiser for the year. Not everything in this post will make sense until you see the finished outcomes and be sure to congratulate yourself if you can read my handwriting haha.

There's also a few irrelevant doodles in here just for fun:

I've been working primarily in watercolour lately, it just feels so natural- like when I painted as a kid. I remember my mum gifting me a set of Windsor and Newton watercolours when I was around 10 and to me, that was what you painted with. Over the years I've experimented with acrylics (a lot), gouache, watercolour pencils and pastels (my horrible old friend) but watercolour is the media that always feels most natural!

Actually, this may be the first time I've learned how to use them 'properly', it's all about layering and layering and layering, though this means I need to invest in some better watercolour paper. A lot of this paper is just scraps or sketchbook but the larger paintings are done on the good stuff.

A little of my thinking process is about collating everything you know about the topic into words (for me, words are a large part of my latest projects so this helps with that too), but if you write things down first you can pick out the fact from the fiction, see where you've misremembered information and put it all into your own words. Doing this also gives me a base to begin my artwork on!

After a little grafting my attention span drifts so it's common to find a bunch of crappy doodles lying around which I try to justify as practice instead of procrastination haha. Gotta make a mess sometimes, right?

Birds of Paradise are some of the most beautiful creatures on the planet! I'd been watching Planet Earth (if you've been watching it you'll know the scene I'm referencing ;) ) and later that same week got to visit a museum in the Lake District where they had birds of paradise. This is a little one I photographed then quickly painted at home.

Colour palettes are something I need to be constantly making, so it's good to keep a camera handy or some coloured pencils to 'save' the best combinations.

There's plenty more than that but unfortunately I'm too messy and the other pieces are strewn across rooms, in drawers and on desks in two different buildings! As a class we're holding an exhibition in Preston this Friday, so I might take a camera along and vlog it. Seeing everyone's styles and hard work side by side is going to be wooooonderful. Definitely head over if you get the chance!

Do you like to make things? What do you like to work with the most? Also send me links of your work so I can stalk 'em.

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p.s: I have an art instagram now! It's here if you'd like to see more of my process

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