Art Process: From Watercolour illustrations to Garden Journal

Art, Creative life, illustration, Sustainable design

Hi all,

I’m going to be sharing more of my art-making and design process here, as well as my tips for anyone who’s interested.

My Patrons get full details on the process as it happens, as well as invitations for their input, and my newsletter gives a monthly run-down of the best bits as well as a heads-up on when things will be available to purchase in my shop.

I’ll be using this space to curate the processes of my most interesting and juiciest projects, and sharing any experience that I think may come in handy to anyone else. I know I’m always eager to see the design process of other illustrators, out of curiosity and to see if I can pick up any useful tips.

I’ll start with my pocket Garden Journal. This was a self-initiated project that I made basically because I wanted to use it myself!

Run-down of Development Steps

  • Pencil thumbnails and brainstorming ideas
Scribbly first ideas in my notebook, with teeny tiny thumbnai ideas
  • Watercolour spot illustrations, then scanned and digitally cleaned up
Cleaned up bird-feeder spot illo
  • Each page made up and imported into a digital page template
  • Mini thumbnails of all finished pages, placed in a layout overview document
Mini layout of thumbnails for an easy overview, to check it all works together
  • All pages assembled in a multi-page PDF template, then sent to the printers

Tips / Notes to Self

// A thumbnail overview is useful~ Even a ‘blank’ journal has a sequential layout that requires pacing. A zoomed-out overview lets you check out that colour-schemes and page layouts all have room to breath and are varied enough to be interesting. Especially with so many pages (mine has 44); that’s a lot of room for error!

// Leave lots of time for a multi-page project~ Give yourself a roomy deadline. I knew what I wanted for the finished journal from the start, as gardening is also my hobby, but if it had been an unfamiliar subject I’d have needed a way longer planning and research stage. I’m also naturally bad at time-management so I had to have a lot of patience when things took longer than I initially anticipated. On top of that it was also a new document format, being so many pages, in a publishing program that I have barely used. Patience!

// Ask for a proof version if you have time~ I DID actually go for a proof this time, and in the end it wasn’t needed. I ended up making no changes. I think this was down to luck though, and the fact I was making up a booklet to my own requirements. If it had been a commission, or anything with any word count at all (I think this journal has maybe 60 words in it, mostly on the back), then I’d definitely double check before approving the full run. These things cost money, especially with the cost of paper these days, and it’s just not worth throwing your money away. Enquire with your printers, if your print run is large enough then they may be willing to throw in a physical proof print for free.

This journal was certainly a challenge, and if you’re thinking of making up your first illustrated book I’d definitely recommend starting with a familiar subject matter as an anchor to grow your skills around.

If you have any questions, or there’s an aspect you’d like further explanation of, then feel free to comment below!

L

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