7th May 2013
I’ve always been intrigued (and slightly baffled) by the process by which illustrators create their beautiful imagery, so I’m very happy that one of my all time favourite artists Kelly Smith (aka Birdy & Me) has agreed to shed some light on her process – from the first idea all the way through to the finished piece.
For those of you out there not familiar with her work, Kelly has the type of talent that most of us can only dream about – the ability to create whimsical and yet life like imagery that merges fashion and beauty to perfection. In short she draws life as we would all like to live it, full of flowers, pastels hues and perfectly tousled waves. Her illustrations have been commissioned by an awe inspiring number of magazines and brands, including Vogue, Net-a-Porter, H&M and Elle, and she is just about to publish the second book in a series entitled Sticker Fashionista. I couldn’t be more chuffed that Kelly took some of her precious time out to show us how she creates her amazing pieces, perfect for following along if you feel like honing your illustration skills (admittedly she makes it look easy when I imagine it’s anything but). Take it away Kelly!
There are so many different styles and techniques in illustration, and there’s definitely no right or wrong way to do it. Everyone has their own method and that’s what makes us all unique! So what I’m going to show you today is my process in 10 steps.
What I use:
- Pencils (HB, B, 2B and a super soft lead like 3H)
- Watercolour paints & brushes
- Adobe Photoshop.
Inspiration is the first step in any creative process. If you don’t have idea immediately, turn to what inspires you; imagery, nature, films, music – it can be anything. Once you have an idea you can start to gather images that reflect your vision.
2. REFERENCE IMAGERY
Create your reference image. Some illustrators work from their imagination. Others, like myself, work from reference imagery. I like to photograph my own images and collage them together with various others to create one picture to draw from. I’m pretty exact with this due to the realistic style of my work.
For this particular image I photographed myself holding an object of similar size to a skull. I then used images of flowers that I had photographed, along with the hair and facial features of various models that had been collaged together.
3. START SKETCHING
Using your reference image as a guide, start sketching out an outline. This will help you keep your proportions in tact before you start finalising the pencil work. Some people like to draw up grids to keep to scale. As I work on quite a small scale I prefer to draw rough lines over the reference image only so I can easily see where certain features or body parts line-up.
4. KEEP SKETCHING
Start refining your lines and existing pencil work. Don’t worry about going too thick or dark as you can erase these markings as you start to develop each area. We’re essentially ‘filling in the lines’ and developing depth and tone with shading and more refined pencil work.
5.TAKE A BREAK
Step back from your work. Have a break – grab a coffee or a cup of tea– and take 5 minutes out. Sometimes when you look at the something for too long, you can start to lose perspective. It’s really nice to take some time out and focus on something else for a little while and come back to a project with fresh eyes. This helps you to spot any flaws in the work, which you can then fix up or change.
The next step is to move the finished illustration onto the computer. I like to do this as soon as I’ve completed all pencil work, especially before I apply any paint or other medium. It means that you have a perfect digital copy of the work, just in case you make any mistakes! Unlike pencil, paint or ink does not rub out!
7. ADD WATERCOLOURS BY HAND
Sometimes I just add a little bit of colour digitally in photoshop, but this time I’m adding watercolour. It’s good to build the colour up slowly, so start with the lightest colour first and then add darker shades to create depth and texture.
When the paint is dry, scan the illustration again. Be careful to keep it perfectly straight on the glass so that both scans line up when you overlay them.
Adjust the layers/contrast/shadows on the original scan until you’re happy with the tones. Clean up any dust or smudges. I use the clone tool. Do the same with your painted scan.
10. LAYER IMAGES
Finally, overlay both of your scans so that you’re left with one image. Create one, or two, more layers, depending on how much colour you want to apply digitally. I like to add subtle colour to the face – digital make-up if you will!
Now that I’ve finished – save, save save! You should now be left with a perfect digital file of your illustration.
Thanks so much Kelly! You can purchase a print of one of Kelly’s drawings here, and make sure to check out her website for more of her gorgeous work and updates on her new book to be released this month.
5th May 2013
I couldn’t be more excited to announce the launch of my shoe collection for Tony Bianco. After many years of wearing and loving this Aussie shoe brand, the TB team and I began working on a collaboration – I plotted out the 5 different styles from scratch (after a quick crash course in drawing shoes) and we spent the rest of the time refining the details. It was an eye opening process, at times nerve racking and at others feverishly exciting, I certainly learnt that designing is nowhere near as easy as doing a DIY, ha!
After test driving the sample pairs while at Sydney Fashion Week (keeping it on the downlow was v. v. difficult) I worked with my girl Margaret Zhang to create the campaign for the collection, and I couldn’t be happier with the way that it turned out. Marg’s skills behind the lens are incredible and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on her in the coming years (hashtag one to watch). Read on for the first story in the campaign – I hope you like!
You can get your hands on the collection here.
For those of you based outside of Australia, Tony Bianco are happy to organise international shipping for you, simply email the lovely team at firstname.lastname@example.org with your shoe choice and they’ll ship them out.
I’d love to hear if you have a favourite pair!
- Look 1: Cameo Tank – Geneva’s DIY Skirt – Versace Blazer from VOI Store – A Pair & A Spare for Tony Bianco Kloe Heels
- Look 2: CUE Coat – Bonds Tee – Bec & Bridge Skirt - Geneva’s DIY Bag with Commes des Garçons Pouch – A Pair & A Spare for Tony Bianco Arla Heels
- Look 3: Zimmermann Dazed Check Jacket – Jamie Ashkar Skirt – A Pair & A Spare for Tony Bianco Kasandra Heels
- Look 4: DIY transparent satchel, A Pair & A Spare for Tony Bianco Arla Heels
- Look 5: Manning Cartell Jacket - Roksanda Ilincic Saddle Laminated Dress from MATCHES – A Pair & A Spare for Tony Bianco Fringe Heels
- Look 5: Sportmax Leather Skirt, A Pair & A Spare for Tony Bianco Kasandara Heels
- Look 7: Bec & Bridge Floral Short suit – A Pair & A Spare for Tony Bianco Tachet Heels
- Look 5: Camilla & Marc Framework Blazer – Eska Alikai Thane Leather Top – Jamie Ashkar Skirt – A Pair & A Spare for Tony Bianco Kloe Heels
Campaign shot by the lovely Margaret Zhang
On a side note, I have to say that if you had told me when I first started my blog that one day I would design a collection of shoes, I would have thought you crazy (my career as a town planner seemed pretty permanent). At the risk of sounding like a hallmark card, I must say that it’s a good reminder that life is never set in stone, and that you should always think big because you never know where life will take you!
2nd May 2013
Many of you will think a stacked neck is merely about putting loads of jewelry on and leaving the house, but that’s only about a tenth of it – Drew (aka Dylanlex) has taken it to another level (read:artform) and I couldn’t be happier to share her secrets with you today. In the last year or so Drew and her sister have built a loyal following, inspiring stacked necks and perfect minimalist/logo tee/sport luxe outfits all over the world. Drew and I recently got chatting about our love of craftiness and neck jewels in particular, and it wasn’t long before we were feverishly planning her cameo here on A Pair & A Spare. Read on for a pro’s guide to the stacked neck.
- 5 or 6 necklaces that you are willing to break up, hit your local flea market to find bulk deals
- Jump Rings
- Stringing Wire (Metal or Rope)
- Extra Chain (in case length alteration is needed)
1. Pick the base necklace. The base necklace needs to hold the weight of the rest of the pieces, so make sure it is sturdy, the clasp is strong, and it has loops or holes where knots can be tied.
2. Take the second piece and center it on the base necklace. You will have to cut the excess on either sides of the necklace and attach Jump Rings. Cut 4” of stringing wire and tie the second piece to the base. The jump rings will help keep the conjoining parts secure, yet flexible so they don’t snap while wearing.
3. Select the third necklace and do the same as the second – center it. Cut the excess on either side if there is any and attach jump rings.
4. Attach on the other side with jump rings.
5. Work your way down the necklace, using jewelry wire to secure and making sure to use various types of necklace to create interesting textures.
6. Some necklaces you will have to cut to size and others, like chokers and other short necklaces, won’t need to be cut. Keep the leftovers for your next project!
7. Finally, attach large and eye catching pieces necklace to the bottom of the necklace to finish it off.
Voilà – a unique statement dylanlexneck is made!
To stay up to date with what Drew is wearing/making follow her on instagram @dylanlex, you can also tag your own stacked neck with #dylanlexneck to share your own creation with her!