Hello. I’ve been asked on many occasions if I create my birth illustrations with the use of images and computer graphics. I always state that my illustrations are done-by-hand (the old fashioned way with paper and pencils!). I thought it might be useful to illustrate (pardon the pun) the process that goes into creating the illustrations that I produce.
STAGE 1 – CONCEPT AND SCAMP
This is the concept/ideas stage. Once I know what theme the parents prefer (such as kittens, jungle animals, spacemen etc), my brain goes into overdrive and I try the different characters (in this case – kittens) in different positions around the letters of the child’s name. Once I have played around with the characters, in my mind’s eye, I scribble a very quick ‘scamp’ down on paper – showing different aspects of what I hope to include in the final illustration.
STAGE 2 – SKETCH
Following on from the ‘scamp’ stage, the idea is sketched out around the proposed lettering. I nearly always sketch in blue pencil (I must have some royalty in my family tree!) and refine the ideas and the characters as I go. Once Stage 3 is completed, the scamp and sketch can both be discarded. Please note that I try different expressions and ideas out around the edge of the paper. I also give an indication of colours.
STAGE 3 – DRAW ILLUSTRATION
The final line-drawing is produced for the illustration. If there are any parts that I wasn’t totally happy with at the sketch stage, these can now be re-drawn. These will nearly always be minor adjustments, such as, the kitten’s expression has changed on the letter ‘b’ and the budgerigar has moved position on the second letter ‘e’.
STAGE 4 – COLOUR THE ILLUSTRATION
This is the enjoyable part (usually) after the ideas and sketching has been done. I normally indicate (on the scamp and sketch) certain colours that I want to see in the final illustration. The mother of Phoebe, suggested she would like a gingham design to the lettering and that the budgerigar should be of the green-and-yellow variety.
STAGE 5 – PERSONALISE THE ILLUSTRATION
I hand-draw the lettering that personalises each illustration. The colours of the lettering can often ‘mirror’ the colour scheme of the child’s nursery/bedroom, or, more often, I just select certain colours from the main body of the illustration, whichever is preferred.
DETAIL OF THE ILLUSTRATION:
Once the final illustration is complete, it’s just a case of mounting and framing the illustration ready for hanging. This breakdown has taken me much longer to do than I expected, but thankfully it’s raining ‘cats-and-dogs’ here today in Great Britain, so there was no chance of me getting into the garden anyway :0(. Thank you for taking the time to read this (I hope it makes sense…). Michael