Zain – Boy’s Birth Picture

I was asked a few month’s ago to create a birth illustration for a new arrival in Hull, called Zain, who was born this February.  Having done a birth illustration for his older brother, Lucas, it was great to be asked if I could do one for ‘Son Number 2’.
I had done a birth illustration on a dinosaur theme a number of years ago and the client asked if Zain’s design could be similar (I never do exactly the same designs).  So, I sketched out a few dinosaurs, the great ponderous Brontosaurus ‘the thunder lizard’ no doubt referring to the sound its great feet made it as it slowly pounded the earth, as well as Stegosaurus ‘roof/covered lizard’ with its kite-shaped bone plates on its back and Rhamphorhynchus – a flying bird dinosaur, rather like the Pterodactyl.  It’s always interesting to work from ‘real’ dinosaurs even if they don’t look exactly like their prehistoric creations.  I even included the ‘tyrant king lizard’ Tyrannosaurus Rex, with a much-softened and more friendly persona, as anything like the real thing would surely produce nightmares in one viewing it at a tender age!

I am hoping that Zain will like his birth illustration, which includes all his personal birth details upon it (you cannot see this on the photograph for security reasons).  His family should receive it in August or September when the family have a gathering in York.  Perhaps Zain will still appreciate and own this birth illustration long after I have also, like the dinosaurs, become extinct!

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Erin and James – Birth Pictures

I was delighted to hear the news that my friends, Keith and Anne, were to become proud grandparents, as their daughter, Sarah and son-in-law, Mark, were expecting twins in the early months of 2017.

Having done a number of illustrations for Keith and Anne in the past (of a canine nature) it was nice to be asked to do some birth illustrations for their two grandchildren. The grandchildren are beautiful and the parents have named them Erin and James.  Congratulations to all the family.

Erin was very traditional in being ‘ladies first’, with her ‘little’ brother arriving only a minute behind her. The proud grandparents wanted some animal illustrations to feature on the birth pictures, but each of them were to have a different theme, so I suggested African/Safari animals for James and British wildlife for Erin. I was inspired by all of the Beatrix Potter merchandise last year, so it’s not surprising that Erin has a red squirrel, rabbit and a hedgehog in her illustration. This illustration is also the first to feature a mole, an animal that I can’t remember ever drawing before. James, on the other hand, features animals that boy’s tend to like – particularly crocodiles, lions, monkeys and elephants. It also has my favourite animal, a giraffe in it too.

I heard from Keith that the new parents, Sarah and Mark, are delighted with their children’s birth illustrations, which makes it all the more enjoyable for me, as I truly enjoyed drawing them. I hope that when they are older Erin and James will enjoy them and that they will be a wonderful memory for them in later years.

I must make an apology for the quality of the images on this blog post.  I took a picture of these commissions with my mobile phone and not my camera (which wasn’t working at the time 😦 )

Grace – Girl’s Birth Picture

I’ve done a good number of birth names over the last two years, since I left full-time employment as a graphic designer. One of the nicest things about doing these birth illustrations is knowing that they will be enjoyed for many years to come. Another nice aspect of the work is that many of my customers come back to me over and over again to have some more work done.

Grace completeforblog
One friend and customer, Angela, has now purchased several of my birth illustrations for newly-born members of her family – as birth presents or christening gifts. I am always delighted to do these illustrations, as each and every one I do is unique and tailored to the client’s tastes and specifications.

A little while ago, I received a message on my blog, from a lady who said that I should do a birth illustration for a ‘Grace’, so I promised to post something this month. The illustration above was done for a little girl who loves ballet and all-things-pink. The client also asked to include a picture of a dancing marmalade-coloured cat, which was one of my favourite parts to do.

Many people think that my illustrations are created on the computer, and are surprised to find out that each one is sketched on paper, with all of the details marked on the ‘rough’ copy.  I later draw these out by-hand and then hand-colour the whole illustration.  The only time that a computer is involved in the whole process is when I scan in the final illustration, so it can be included on my blog.  It takes approximately two-days to complete each illustration, with the required amount of detail that my clients expect from my work.

I later heard that Grace, loved her picture, as did her younger sister who also received one – as a special gift. It was nice to have two satisfied ‘customers’, as well as my client 🙂

Huey – Boy’s Birth Picture

I have had quite a few commissions for children’s nurseries over the last two months, but I have particularly enjoyed working on the illustrations that contain the jungle animals theme. One such illustration was for a little boy called Huey, whose Grandmother, Linda, had commissioned me to produce. Huey is an adorable little boy and is already (despite his young age) keen on a game of football, so jungle animals playing football was the theme of the illustration. Hueyillustrationinprogressforblog(smaller)
I chose a range of animals that Huey would know and recognise, a bear, lion, hippopotamus, monkey etc and dressed them in football kits. I sketched the illustration out in half a morning and worked out what colours I was going to use. One of the stipulations of the illustration was to keep the colour green to a minimum, so that had to be held in mind when choosing the animal characters.

During the final colouring stage, I was just colouring in the baby hippopotamus, when my good friend, Mary, rang me to see how I was doing.

“What are you doing today, darling?”, she asked.

“Well, at this very moment in time, I happen to be painting a hippopotamus’s bottom” I replied.

“Oooh” said Mary, “that sounds like a big job!”

Fortunately, my drawings are not life size or on this occasion she would have been right.

It’s nice getting the occasional phone call from family, friends and colleagues…whilst I am working, as they can add an extra bit of information to my picture, or in the case of my latest birth illustration add in some of the elements, such as a panda, a kookaburra(!), a rabbit and a tiger…
Huey illustration(complete)lighterforblog
Linda was delighted with the Huey illustration, which was presented to Huey’s proud parents on Christmas Day. I do hope that these illustrations will prove to be family heirlooms in years to come, a happy memory of family love and affection…

Newsletter No: 3 – January 2015

Welcome to a few thoughts and some items of my work in this newsletter for January; I hope you enjoy it…  I’ve been doing some work at my previous workplace, so I have been splitting my time between there and my base at home.  It’s been great being back with some of my special friends and colleagues, but a bit awkward at times balancing work priorities on occasions.  I’m sure I’ll cope {sigh}.

I’ve also had a very interesting and fun-filled time at a local school on the 14th of January.  I was asked to go and talk about ‘my life as an artist’.  The teachers and the children were a pleasure to speak to, as they asked me all sorts of questions about my life and work.  I then showed them some work in my portfolio case and also did a live demonstration, sketching and colouring a ladybird with coloured-pencils.  I was amazed when the children went to draw their ladybird pictures; they had really listened and studied the techniques that I had shown them.  It was a very special morning and I enjoyed both their company and their enthusiasm.  Their parents must be extremely proud of them, I know I would be…QNA Newsletter(2)September2014

Felicity & Matilda – Birth Pictures

I was approached from Judith, a former work colleague and friend, to do three illustrations for her adorable grandchildren: Eleanor, Felicity and Matilda. Felicity and Matilda are twins, so I tried to use similar colours for their birth names, but gave them totally different themes.Felicity(complete) forblog

Matilda(complete)forblog
Judith thoughtfully and wisely provided me with a list of ‘favourite things’ that the girls liked and enjoyed doing. With Felicity and Matilda she also provided me with the first two words that the girls could utter. Felicity’s was the rather advanced word ‘teapot’ and Matilda’s word was rather cute – ‘goggly’. I decided to use these two key words to provide the basis and theme of the illustrations. Felicity is making her friends a cup of tea, from the aforementioned teapot, whilst Matilda is hanging out her washing (another one of her favourite things) with a t-shirt with rather goggly eyes.

I was delighted to do this trio of illustrations (I will post a picture of Eleanor’s illustration at a later date), and was equally delighted that the illustrations received full approval from Judith, whose comment is shown below. I do hope that the girls will treasure these illustrations as they go through life and that they will always give them some delightful childhood memories, as well as remind them of a special love, given to them by a grandmother, that commissioned these illustrations especially for them…

Thank you so much for the beautiful pictures!  Lots of love from Judith xxx  We will cherish them!

To see the process of how I create these bespoke, hand-drawn illustrations, please take a look at the posts in May (Phoebe) and June (Joshua).

Joshua – Boy’s Birth Picture

Further to my last birth picture posting on 22 May (please see Phoebe post), I have had a couple of messages asking me how the colour is ‘built up’ to complete the illustrations.

On one of my latest commissions, I have tried to photograph the different stages (I was halfway through the commission when I thought of it), to show you how this is achieved. To be brief, the colour is built up in stages and because there (probably) isn’t a specialist coloured-pencil to match each and every colour required in the illustration, these pencils have to be blended to create the desired hue and shade.

STAGE 1 – CONCEPT AND SCAMP
Image  (Stage 1)
I usually play around with the name in my mind’s eye and try different variations before I begin to start putting blue pencil to paper. I wanted the dogs to be quite interactive in this illustration, so came up with the idea of the canines holding the letters of the little boy’s name. I had originally intended to do different coloured food bowls for the dogs, but changed my mind at a later date.

STAGE 2 – SKETCH (drawn in blue pencil)
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I produced a more detailed sketch of what I hoped the final illustration would look like. I have had a good idea from the clients what they are expecting and they (a family of dog lovers) have also let me know what breeds they would like to be included. From the list, I chose a West Highland Terrier, Old English Sheepdog, Labrador, Dalmatian (one of my favourite breeds of dog), Basset Hound, Boxer and, finally, an Irish Red Setter. I chose various implements to surround them with (rather than the dog bowls I had previously decided upon), which represent their characters (often as they appear in the world of the media).

STAGE 3 & 4 – COLOUR THE ILLUSTRATION
From the sketch a final pencil drawing is created. This will be coloured to create the final piece of artwork. You can see the pencil drawing at the right-hand side of this picture, where the Boxer and Irish Red Setter are shown as feint outlines.
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I have started colouring the illustration, adding in a rather ‘fetching’ cushion, which shows the West Highland Terrier to good effect! I am now beginning work (you can see from the illustration) on the Basset Hound. Already I am blending different colours on the dog’s side (see under the letter ‘s’). I have also started adding in a second colour (this one is raw sienna) on the right-hand side of the dog’s head. I’ve also begun work on the maroon-coloured shoe (I won’t say the possible brand name), which sits in front of the Basset Hound.

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At this stage, the work is complete on the Basset Hound (I may touch it up later, but the majority of the work is complete on him). The maroon shoe is finished too. I have started work on the Boxer; this is at a more advanced stage than the Basset Hound was in the previous illustration. I have also started to put the first ‘coat’ or layer of colour on the boxing glove. The wooden box, which he is sitting in, is about halfway complete at this stage.

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The Boxer and his crimson glove are finished. I am now working on the letters ‘u’ and ‘a’, along with adding the first two layers of colour to the Irish Red Setter’s coat. Building up the colours can be quite time-consuming (having to look for different coloured pencils and blending them), but it all depends on the subject. The Setter is more or less different shades of the same ‘colour family’, so this will not take as long as the Boxer or the Basset Hound.

ImageThe final illustration will then be completed with the name and personal details relating to Joshua’s birth. I am pleased to say that the family were delighted with the picture and are going to come back to me when they have their next ‘new addition’ to the family.

I hope this was of some interest to you. Michael