Here is the delicious branding I designed for Fox and Vine, a concept for a little deli-cafe. If you recall, the moodboard I shared earlier had the most delightful colour palette – tangy peach hues with calming analogous blues (that rhymed!). Modern, clean and calm with a touch of handmade quirkiness, it’s everything sweet and playful.
On my Instagram, I shared an initial sketch of the cute little fox icon, so now you can see how he (she?) has evolved from pencil on paper to a logo with that gorgeous hand-made feel. I always talk about starting on paper, you probably get sick of hearing me say it, but it’s so important for your creativity!
Just be creative! I have a newsflash for you, people. Sometimes the work creates itself, the artist comes out and the designer takes a back seat. Truly. My best work has happened by simply being creative, letting things happen and seeing what comes out.
These days, it’s easy to begin designing straight on the computer, but do you realise how many good ideas immediately get culled quicker than you can say “CTRL+Z”?
You must start on paper to truly have innovative ideas, every good designer knows that.
And no, by saying that I’m not promising you will have the answer to your visual communication problem immediately by doing so. You just generate a ton more ideas this way which increases your odds of coming up with something brilliant.
It also takes time and more than one sketching session. I have a sketchbook (A5, nice and compact), that I just put stuff in, doodles and sketches and ideas, absent-mindedly almost. And even (and especially) when I’m not feeling creative, I force myself to reference something or just pick a topic and draw something out. Then, (here’s the secret), sleep on it. Put it down, leave it there and come back to it again later at another session. Why? You will see things afresh and your subconscious mind has had time to work out the hidden connections between ideas you don’t see the first time. I’ve spoken about this before.
Gather. Just be creative. Sketch, draw, doodle. Paper is best. The iPad / pencil is also a second-best option. No computers.
Walk away, leave it, sleep on it.
Revisit your ideas (even from months back) and watch the magic happen. You will find something to use for your purpose.
Yes, this is a bit of an ambiguous tip, but I hope you understand where I’m coming from.
Here’s a peek at the moodboard for a new concept branding project I’m developing for a modern little deli-cafe called Fox and Vine. The direction is modern, clean and calm with a touch of handmade quirkiness. I absolutely love the colour palette – a tangy peach hue with calming analogous blues.
“A is for Amelia” is the result of me practising my illustration skills – and what better subject than my kiddies? Before they went to bed last night I snapped a few pics while they were romping around in their PJs and I really liked this pose as it captures her personality really well.
I’ve ordered a poster to hang on her wall which will add a nice pop of colour to her white room. Of course, now I have to do one for Alice! I wonder what colour I should do hers?
Happy Halloween twenty-seventeen! I had fun manipulating this type and animating it with a startling lightning-strike effect to make it extra spooky. Of course, I had to choose bold orange this time to get into the true spirit (spirits? whooOOoo) of Halloween.
I’m kind of addicted to the type-manipulation technique now. I love how unexpected the results are. You might see a bit more of it around here as I continue my design and illustration experiments.
Now, where’s my candy? (Slash lollies, sweets, chocolate, whatever!) Trick or treat! 🎃🍬
A quick little update for you today, to follow up on the moodboard I teased you about full of warm, autumn-inspired tones. This branding project is for a florist, Maeli, who wanted a more earthy, neutral feel that was different from the usual feminine florist brands out there. Her name is also very feminine and cute-sounding, so to go down the ultra-feminine path for her, she felt, would be too cliche.
So, we worked with warm mustard and copper blush tones against the green foliage. To emphasise the natural, earthy look I hand-lettered the logo with a slightly-rough, chalky feel and illustrated some leaves and turned it into a custom pattern. This is featured on her cards.
Maeli is a great example of how important it is to start with the essential foundation of branding even if you’re not currently in the position to build a website yet. It’s easy to want to get online and get your business known but if you don’t have a visual identity then it’s hard to make an impression on your audience and be remembered for what you do.
Next stop, a website build for early 2018. Stay tuned!
Only three sleeps left until Halloween! I illustrated these beautiful leaves originally in their natural green, but I manipulated them into spooky purple and blue hues to get you in the mood for October 31 and “dress up your tech”, as Bri would say! (Girl’s got an arsenal of mad wallpapers, check it out).
I did the purple ones in a mirror/Rorschach-type layout and the blue ones in a regular pattern. Which one do you like better?
I love how the purple leaves in the middle morph into mystical, moth-like creatures. They remind me of the winged keys from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!
They are a little lower res than I originally planned, but that’s all part of learning from your mistakes! Next time I’ll begin with a bigger Procreate canvas to allow for upsizing.
“I find wildlife endlessly inspiring. A lot of my work draws on the things I see… I’ts always there and the inspiration is always outside and it’s just waiting for you to utilise it.”
Jim Kay is my new idol. Seriously – have you seen his illustrative work for the children’s Harry Potter Illustrated Series? I bought the first three, currently the only ones released so far, and I think if I’m not careful I can easily waste my whole day perusing the pictures. Jim Kay has been commissioned to illustrate all seven books, so I’ll be pre-ordering his subsequent works like a fangirl. (Published by Bloomsbury, written by J. K. Rowling, of course).
I found this video really great to watch – it’s only five minutes long, check it out – He has a good tip about making physical models – even just quick, rough ones from paper and plasticine to assist him with illustrating a scene in many ways from different angles or with different lighting. Extra work to be sure, but the results speak for themselves.
In this video, Jim talks about his experience of illustrating the third of the Harry Potter books – The Prisoner of Azkaban. He speaks about the dementors, and how, as ethereal, floating, weightless beings they provide a wonderful sense of movement and rhythm throughout the book. In just one or two brush strokes you can create a beautiful representation of the creature. He plans to make the books more malevolent and sinister as the series itself grows darker with the gradual rise of Voldemort and as Harry grows older and has more difficult and challenging tasks to face. A fan of all things spooky, I am utterly gleeful at this statement, of course.
I was struck but this illustration of Sirius Black, hiding in the shadows (spoiler alert) of the Shrieking Shack. He captures such terror in what is otherwise a straightforward composition and his eyes – often called the ‘window to the soul’ immediately capture your focus and draw you in to the page, willingly or unwillingly.
I particularly like how his illustrations capture the characters in the way we all know them visually without them being too much like the actors and actresses that portrayed them in the movies. It allows the authenticity of the original story and characters to be retained and treasured by those of us who know the books to be ten billion times (accurate figure) better than the movies, which are still utterly delightful but come nowhere close to the books.
It’s interesting to hear him speak about the use of scale in his works. In particular, he talks about this scene of Buckbeak on Hagrid’s bed – how a large animal on a giant’s bed just looks like a normal sized animal on a normal sized bed – a bit of a dilemma! So he placed a chicken on the end of the bed to allow the true scale of the Hippogriff and the giant bed to become apparent.
His insight into his portrait of Professor Snape is a great example of how objects in a scene helps to tell a story about the overall illustration and “fill out his character in visual form” – it’s one thing to paint a portrait of a person, but another to add context and clues with additional objects. Think about the classic, The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base, and how objects in clear sight were actually hidden clues to the mystery at hand to be solved. It is the same in Jim’s approach to his portrait of Snape: the slug is a hint at his prior membership in Professor Slughorn’s slug club, the mole in the glass jar representing Snape’s role as a spy (or a mole, or a double-agent) working for both sides, and (grab the tissues!) a Lily of the valley plant as a beautiful nod to his (spoiler alert) love for Lily Potter. Together, all of these visual elements come together to reveal the mystery of this person – who he is and what his story might be.
Do yourself a favour and get your hands on some copies – I buy most of my books from Book Depository (free worldwide shipping, wheee!), all packaged securely and come with cute little illustrated bookmarks. But ahem, it’s also best to buy local, where you can, so try your local bookshop first.
I’ll leave you with some encouraging words from JK (That’s Jim Kay, not Rowling): “Remember, it’s your ideas that are important, the technique will come along with practise. So don’t be down-hearted if things don’t always come out the way you’d intended. I’ve never produced an illustration that I think is ‘finished’ or that I’m particularly happy with, but I keep trying. Sometimes it’s the mistakes that make us interesting and different, in my opinion.”
Starring Lily James, Paul Dano and James Norton, it follows the fortunes and the rise and fall of five aristocratic families in the diminishing days of Imperial Russia.
The ‘love story’ between Countess Natalya “Natasha” Ilyinichna Rostova and Prince “Andrei” Nikolayevich Bolkonsky is just one of the many captivating narratives told in one of the greatest novels of all time. Davies, as usual, portrayed everything enchantingly. He really is a genuis!
I encouraged (made) James watch the entire series with me during our last week off, hoping to inspire some sort of shared enthusiasm for the genre. I don’t think he’s quite converted, but I appreciate the effort on his behalf for willingly subjecting himself to a few evenings of polite boredom 😂
As for me, I like to illustrate whatever takes my fancy some evenings and this time it was Natasha and Andrei’s intimate ballroom dance from the third episode. Find yo ‘self someone who looks at you the way Natasha looks at Andrei!!
On a final note, the soundtrack by Martin Phipps is brilliance itself.