Process Work

Sometimes I think that people see a drawing and imagine that the person who drew it just came up with it out of the blue and got it right the first time their pen touched the paper. Perhaps some artists are able to do that, but for me illustration is about a lot of trial and a lot of error. I recently added a new design to my shop called Night Owl. Here's the process that got me to the finished piece.

When I start an illustration, I like to draw some grid lines to keep my character style consistent.  Drawing these grids also help me to redraw the character in other poses, while maintaining the same proportions. I decide to draw an owl character but I don't have any reference so this is as much of an owl as I can draw from my imagination.

In order to draw this character from other angles, I'm going to have to do more research. I spend a while doing image searches of owls and try to sketch the character in as many poses as possible.

After I have them roughly sketched, I go back and refine each drawing, using the color palette I used in the original character design. I don't have a final composition in mind, but having a variety of poses to choose from will come in handy when I figure it out. You might recognize the bottom left owl as the basis for my Party Owl illustration.

I duplicated the previous page in Paper, and erased everything but the top two owls. These were my favorite and I thought it would be fun to do a night scene with one of these two owls as the subject. I really liked the contrast but something felt off about the composition. I wanted to give it something to ground the drawing. You can see on the right where I roughly sketched a thumbnail incorporating mountains into the drawing.

After some more tweaking, I added trees and then I felt like I had a good drawing.

The next step was to get the illustration cleaned up and in the correct file format. I used the app Inkpad to vectorize my drawing so that the resolution will be high quality and I can resize it to my heart's content. This allows me to upload the design to Society6 where I can add it to products, like the pillow below.

That's what my design process looked like for this particular product. What is your design process? Do you keep the process sketches & files?