It's Albaquirky here (Tanya Paget) to talk you through the process of what I'm currently working on. All of us Finches are in full swing with our Surtex May '16 preparations. Oh my... it is not long now!
Recently I've been working on a seasonal collection of designs suitable for the Christmas market. This is a spin-off collection coming from enjoying working with the Finches on our advent calendar back in December. I made a mini-collection for that collaboration and wanted to develop it further. I like to take a brief like 'Christmas' and approach it with my own blend of quirkiness. I try to think a little off-beat and unexpectedly, whilst maintaining a commercial mindset. Also, some buyers at Surtex in May are specifically looking for Christmas themed artwork.
One wall in my studio is made of floor-to-ceiling pin-board. I'm a bit old school in how I use this; I trained back in the days when art students had dedicated spaces and were expected to make good use of those walls by their tutors. Pinning work up on the wall as a project develops is really integral to my creative process of review and refinement. I always start a collection with some very rough fast sketches of the potential designs. I draw out a page of boxes - which represent pattern swatches and quickly throw down all my ideas. This then goes up on the wall and is my map for the collection. Here is my studio wall at the moment;
On the right of this image I have included a close up of my Christmas collection initial sketches. You can see they are pretty rough and ready! On the left you can see a bit more of the wall, some of the designs I've already completed at the top, some sketches for them lower down and over in one corner of the studio my Surtex time plan. The time plan is a big old count down to Surtex in May; what I'm focusing on each week, collections, deadlines for going to print with banners, portfolio books and the like. It really helps to visualise the time this way. I'm a little behind at the moment as the more illustrative style I'm working in for this collection takes a long time!
I'll take you through the process of making my current addition to this christmas collection - an Amaryllis inspired design. It has been created over a few days. After the collection sketches I get onto drawing the elements. I start with pencil and paper.
When I'm happy with the pencil shapes, I add line detail using my Copic fineliners. Copic pens are great for giving a clean line that does not bleed, so that means less time cleaning up the image later in Adobe Photoshop. I'm working with a 0.5 and a 0.3mm pen here. I build up my illustrations, scanning them in as I go, just incase of any accidents like a muddy footed cat wandering over my work (yes that has happened)!
I take a bit of time to clean up each scan in Adobe Photoshop. Altering the levels to get a nice clean black and white image and painting over any marks or mistakes with my Wacom and pen tool.
I import everything into Adobe Illustrator and work with the image trace tool to convert the images into vectors. With a detailed image like this it takes a little time to get the settings right and retain enough of the fine line work. I wouldn't always use Illustrator for such a detailed design, but as the rest of the collection are vector based I want to keep a similar image quality. Then once the illustrations are all in I can get onto adding colour. It is fun to start to see the images come alive with a little colour!
This design took ages to colour because of the number of tiny sections I was working with. So I needed a few tea breaks along the way!
Once all the elements were coloured it was time to have a little fun pulling together the design. I work on quite a big canvas (A2 - 420mm x 594mm), so that gives you and idea of the scale of the flowers.
As I get near to finishing the design I need to see it printed out on paper. I can check it at the right scale and also there is something about going to printed proofs that helps me spot areas in the design where the visual rhythm is not yet working.
You can see the final design back at the top of this post. Thanks for reading along about my process making my Amaryllis design!