Morwenna is not a leading character, but one I relate to. If you have watched the series, you will know her story. For those of you who are not familiar with Poldark—it is a five-season television series by BBC One (2015-19) based on the novels by Winston Graham. The series is based in Cornwall (South-West England, UK), set in 1781-1801. Morwenna is portrayed by English actress Ellise Chappell. I just finished watching season five, and many did not like the final season. For me, I enjoyed it the most, perhaps because it was the least depressing and everything came together nicely in the final episode (mostly … no spoilers here). If you’re interested in the series, try your local library! It’s a free way to test the waters of a series without committing to a purchase or rental. I’ve got a long way to go with realistic portraits but I enjoy doing them—I hope you like it. It was illustrated in Procreate on the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil.
This cosmic cat illustration was created as I experimented with lighting and shadows, to improve my understanding of where light falls and how to make an illustration appear more 3D. I still think I prefer flat colour illustration but it’s great to experiment and try new things and always push the limits of your own skills and creativity.
You can see the shadows and highlights better in the original, I think. The original was done in a blush colour.
However, popular opinion liked the black and white version better. What do you think?
I also turned it in to a seamless repeat pattern, as is my latest obsession.
If you’re interested in Procreate tutorials, you should check out Austin Batchelor’s videos on YouTube – amazing stuff. I picked up some great tips and tricks and binge-watched many of his videos the other night. Thanks for sharing, Austin!
“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?
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.
It’s been a little while since I’ve taken some time to sit back and immerse myself in creating something just for fun/personal development. Here is a little hummingbird illustration that I did about a month ago. I found myself getting very frustrated with the texture of the feathers on his chest – so I put it down for a while. Having picked it up again, I realised that it’s perfect the way it is – flaws and all.
I think it’s a refreshing reminder that perfection isn’t the goal – unique and authentic designs are. If you find yourself stuck on a project, it’s best to step away and literally sleep on it. Pick it up the next day.
John Cleese says in this video about creativity that on one occasion when he got stuck when writing out a sketch, he put it aside, went to bed and revisited it in the morning. And, the next day, when he sat down at his desk to continue, not only was the solution immediately apparent to him, he couldn’t remember the problem (or obstacle) that had been bugging him the night before. It’s a simple tip, but it’s also a very practical one.
The other point of putting aside time to create, for me, is to improve my skills. Bluntly, I don’t believe in talent, except in rare cases. For the majority of us, it takes practice, time, study, tutorials and plenty of mistakes. So, I just wanted to put that out there – don’t be afraid to invest your time in personal development. It’s easy to prioritise client work and there are times when you definitely should – deadlines are deadlines. But when you can, try and make time for personal projects and study because it is so important for the bigger picture and your long-term goals.
LF Shadows Series is a personal illustration project in progress – exploring shadows with members of my family. I have just finished this one, of my husband, James.
I really need to work on illustrating faces, it’s such a weak spot for me! But practice and time will help. This is why it is so important to undertake personal projects – it not only improves your skills, but it allows you to express your personal style, entirely unhindered.
James was quite pleased to see I had even included his Apple watch and socks! It’s these little touches that make it personal. Also, the choice of lavender as the background fill also holds meaning – it’s one of his branding colours for JF Music Studio. You can see the branding suite I created for his business over on my portfolio.
Below, my final illustration of the series is of my daughter Amelia. I may revisit the series later and include our cat, ha! But we will see. I quite like how this one captures her personality. She loves her bright yellow shoes.
Below are little miss Alice, one, and the first of the series, a self portrait of myself. Alice is depicted with her cute little baby pot-belly in her favourite Nike kicks and well, I’m pretty much always wearing the same outfit (which is another story for another day)!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have. Stay tuned for more updates soon.
Today I’m excited to launch my new website, Leysa Flores Design. Graphic design has been a life-long passion for me, even if I didn’t realise quite what it was as a young girl. I would illustrate “how-to” guides and create miniature publications, complete with advertisements and cartoons! Since then, working as a graphic designer at Fairfax Media has given me not only many fond memories working with wonderful people but years of experience and a great foundation of skills.
I soon began to juggle freelance projects and full-time work, along with the more important roles of wife and mama. I moved into a marketing services role and my second daughter came along a few months later. While I was on maternity leave I decided to make the leap to freelancing full-time and I have not looked back – it was definitely the right decision for me! I absolutely love the flexibility of freelancing and the ability to work one-on-one with my clients. And so, here I am a year later and I have finally kick-started my online space and rebranded to reflect who I am and what I do.
By definition, graphic design is the art of problem-solving by visual communication. It’s the intention to communicate a message in the most effective way to a specific audience. On this blog, the artist in me also likes to come out and play: creating thoughtful, whimsical and sometimes moody illustrations, wallpapers and typographic quotes. Art, you see, is more of a personal expression that is open to interpretation – the message is not always clear and may be deciphered in many different ways from person to person. It’s the process of creating an emotional response or bond with the viewer and depends entirely on taste.
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A big shout-out to gorgeous creative ladyTiffany Bonaserafor the wonderful content writing she has done for my website and for my lovely husbandJames Floresfor the initial configuration. It has been so much fun designing my own space – I hope you like it!