Duration: Jan 2021
Client: Private Commission
Role: Illustration Designer
Mediums: Pencil, Ink, Procreate, Watercolor
I had always wanted to illustrate the letters of the alphabet, so when I was approached to create this original large-sized piece for a kid’s room, my mind began to race with what I could create.
The client wanted to depict a wide array of animals alongside the letters of the alphabet. Dimensions were specified, an earth tone color palette was established, and guidance for the animals was to feature anything appropriate but to also include a few standard farmyard animals as well. This piece was to compliment any age, so that it could be enjoyed as an heirloom into adulthood.
Research was divided into two phases, followed by a couple rounds of sketch proofs before finalizing.
Phase 1: Featured animals
Establish a list of 2-3 animals per letter. A mixture of mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, inserts and fish were acceptable. For the more difficult letters, it was acceptable to define exact species names. (Prime example is for letter X: Xantus Hummingbird & X-Ray Tetras)
Phase 2: Color palette
Vary the approved color palette over all letters so the overall look and feel is achieved. By going with 6 established colors from the approved palette across all 26 letters, I could use a wide variation of colors for the animals and not affect the overall feel.
The initial sketches of the letters and animals were done in Procreate for ease of making edits to layout and color. Knowing the final was to be in watercolor, there needed to be an accurate representation of them in Procreate.
I did a swatch of every color in my set of Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencil set, scanned them, and created an entire brush set library in Procreate to sample from.
Each letter design was done with intention and care. The client collaboration ensured revisions and iterations that made sense and moved the project forward. The carefully curated color palette and list of animals all came together in a pleasing way and after two rounds of proofs, we were all thumbs up to proceed with the final. I printed each letter sketch from Procreate to scale and used my light table to trace onto Arches watercolor paper. Each letter received 2-3 layers of watercolor, and once dried, I traced the outlines and added details to the animals with archival ink. The names of each animal was then hand lettered next to each animal.
The final piece is easy to get lost in while exploring each letter and their details. It continues to be one of the most viewed pieces on my social media.
There is not a perfect equation on how to create a winning illustration, but there are some elements of design that can steer you in the right direction. I learned quite a bit about alignments, proportion, hierarchy, white space, color and what it takes for individual pieces to work together in a cohesive illustration.
Disclaimer: The thoughts shared in this blog are solely my own and do not represent the perspectives of my professional relationships or clientele.