Born to an aerobics teacher and a countryside ranger it was probably no surprise that I spent my early years with my brother running and jumping in the countryside. These early memories are definitely great inspirations to my illustrations nowadays, and when I create my work I always try to imagine what sort of world I would have liked as a child.
I always had a love for drawing and creating in general and could often be found tapping away at my granfather's old typewriter and making up stories about lost squirrels or injured kittens... and of course most of the page would be filled with a pretty picture.
Little has changed since those days. I've now got an illustration degree under my belt, an illustration agent that represents me, and perhaps a tad more maturity, but I still spend my days drawing pictures.
I live in a small market town in Hampshire, and work from home with my little springer spaniel, Bee, who can be very helpful indeed. I get a lot of inspiration on our walks together in the countryside, and she also likes to join in and help me with my sketching.
How I work
Below is an example of the working process for one of the page spreads I did for Care For Our World. In this case I was given the text for each page and had the freedom to work on the illustration as I wished.
1. initial sketch with notes
2. slightly more detail
3. Add colour
Each stage is sent to the client for approval before I start work on the next.
4. The final
Creating The illustrations
I start my illustration by completing the line-drawings just with an ordinary 2B pencil on paper. Once happy I scan into my computer and work on in Adobe Photoshop to colour.
I love to add textures and patterns within my work so I have a bank of previously scanned in items of clothes, fabrics or papers that I have found interesting in the past. I use these much like a collage by cutting out the right shape to fit within the pencil lines.
You work in layers in Photoshop and to make it easier to amend if necessary I put each different colour or texture on a different layer. This means that my illustrations often have a ridiculous number of layers in each, so I find it important to be organised with them.
This is a crop of a screen shot from Photoshop showing all the layers for this illustration down the right hand side. You can see from this that I have put the layers in folders to help me find what I want more easily.
It can get quite complicated!
The separate layers and order of colouring
How long does each illustration take?
I am often asked how long it takes me to do one picture. You can see by this that the whole process from initial sketch to completion could take a very long time, especially if the client asks for amendments to be made. For this reason it is a very hard question to answer.
As for how long the final illustration (after approval of the roughs) took me; in this case I had quite a while to complete the whole project so I think I worked on this piece for approximately 4-5 days. I do find that I can be lost in a picture, sat for hours fiddling with the colour of every layer to try and improve the look. Sometimes it's worth the effort, other times it would probably only be me who would actually notice the difference.
Obviously I don't have this long to to work on all my illustrations and it very much depends on the deadline as to how long I take on an illustration.