Posts tagged illustration

"Ace Cartoon Artwork"…

… According to Mixmag


I have been working on lots of lovely hand-rendered girlswear designs for Adams recently. Its nice to have an opportunity to incorporate some original illustrations. This is one of my sketches I have been working with:

New designs at

I’ve not blogged for a while as I’ve been completely swamped with work, and much of it consists of things that can’t be released in the public domain yet, so I’ve not had much to share.

The new season collection is now online at, and here are some of my graphics that feature:

Tea time

I went to see my Grandma today to watch the video featuring my Granddad tea tasting. It’s great! I found out a lot about his career with the Co-op and how he progressed from a mail-room boy aged 14 to head tea taster and being involved in the commercial development of the teabag.

I was also lucky enough to have been given the Wedgwood commemorative plate my grandparents were presented with to celebrate 100 years of Co-operative tea manufacture. They really were pioneers of Fair Trade.

The original Co-Operative head office in Leman St, LondonThe purpose built tea factory at CreweA tea clipperTea pickers

What I Wore Today…

I’ve joined the ranks of some of my illustration heroes, the likes of Gemma Correll, Amy Blackwell and Kate Wilson on Gemma’s 'What I Wore Today' Flickr Photo stream. What a Wheeze.

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour’s Shoes

I’m working on Miffy licensed girlswear this week which unusually for licensed is quite a lovely brief.

I spent the weekend visiting friends in London. While mooching about the usual haunts (Urban Outfitters/Shoreditch/Angel) I came across the work of James Hamilton Butler which I find very inspirational. I’d like to think its the style of illustration I’d be producing if all my time weren’t spent on commercial projects. And I was interested to find out he also studied at Manchester.

While in london I also did some digging and found out that the Ash Viper trainers I so covet are sold out worldwide but will be available again in January. Counting the months…

I feel honoured to have been mentioned in a blog of a designer I admire, Jen of Frilldesign. I’ve been a fan of social networking online for almost 10 years now and I love that you can connect with likeminded folk so effortlessly

New Lost My Dog Designs

We’ve added a couple of new designs to the range of merchandise I’ve created for my chums at record label Lost My Dog. Its really nice to work on something completely self-directed but still within a commercial famework. This tote features the new abstract design, which I’m really pleased with as I think its the most ‘me’ thing I’ve done in a long time.

Directional ladies fashion prints

I’m working on ladies fashion today which makes a nice change from kids and nightwear. The brief (and I use that term loosely - when I do ladieswear, I rarely get a nice clear, specific brief) calls for etherial, ambiguous imagery with hand sketch and paint techniques. I always struggle when I’m faced with this kind of project as in essence its got to look like nothing, but its still got to be something and that’s a real challenge.

I’m enjoying splashing the paints around and doing some hand rendering though, and the eagle design above it the fruits of this mornings labours. I’ve got to produce at least another 3 in that vein though so I’d better get on…

Make us a brew

While enjoying catching up with some old friends and revisiting familiar haunts in Manchester, I’ve stumbled across what could be a fun little project. Over a slice of cake and a cup of Mr. Scruff’s finest assam in… erm… Cup… I got chatting to a chap working there about the brew. I told him about my late granddad who was head Tea Taster at the Co-Op tea factory in Cheshire and how I still had his silver tea-tasting spoon and that he’d featured in a promotional video about the factory.

It turns out the Co-Op are involved in the Manchester Food & Drink Festival as are Cup, and they would be very interested to see the video and hear more about my Granddad and his work. And would I like to be involved in the festival myself and perhaps present the video? Is the bear Catholic?! What a wheeze.

And what a great inspiration for a little range of tea-inspired illustrations, just the focus I need to get my self-directed work off the ground.

Tribal girlswear butterfly print

I’ve been continuing with the tribal brief, completing the artwork above which will be a oversize front placement. I’ve been developing ways to create etherial painterly and photographic effects which are still solid colour and therefore viable for standard screen output and this butterfly is an example of this technique.

I’m off to Manchester now to visit some old friends and soak up some big-city culture (and no doubt get my Urban Outfitters fix)

Have a good weekend!

Working from home on a sunny day - tribal girlswear brief

I’ve been working on a great brief today for older girlswear 2010, incorporating some lovely tribal elements. There’s been lots of hand-rendering involved at this stage so I’ve been lucky enough to sit outside and work in the garden and enjoy the gorgeous weather we’ve had today. The jolly pair above who started life in the sunshine will hopefully end up on a girls tee on the high street.

This has been my studio for the day:

My colleague is a bit lazy…

But the locals are friendly.

Floral repeat prints and checks or maybe plaids?

I’ve been working on these allover repeat prints today, and some checks (or plaids for the American English). I find designing checks really theraputic but harder than they look.

I’ve been inundated with work requests the last couple of days from my regular clients and I’m now booked solid for the next couple of weeks which is great. looks like my self-directed illustration is going to put on the back burner for quite some time.

Nightwear seems to be staying strong in the downturn

Even after 7 years, I still get a buzz whenever I see my designs out there in the world, like the shortie set above. I found the Camille website the other day which is where some of my nightwear ends up. The first row and a half on this page are my designs, I love the poses they’ve got the model doing, its like they’ve asked her to really feel the message on the pyjamas.

I seem to be writing a lot about sleepwear at the moment, I guess thats because I’ve been working on it all week and been discussing some new opportunities to work with other companies on nightwear so its at the forefront of my mind. I’ve also added to the the nightwear gallery on my website. It seems its one sector thats staying strong in the downturn. I’ve always been one to follow where the work is so for now that’s fine by me. Below are a couple of designs I completed today.

Designing fashion graphics step-by-step guide

I thought I’d show how I go about putting together my fashion graphics. This is just one process of a variety I use. I usually do most of my nightwear this way.

1. I compile a basic placement layout in Illustrator. I then put this into a very light greyscale and print it out.

2. I then sketch the characters onto the basic layout print.

3. I trace over the sketch in ink (I sometimes repeat this process a few times till I’m happy they’re just right).

4. The ink sketch is then scanned in as a 300dpi bitmap and converted to greyscale in Photoshop. I usually play around with the lines in photoshop until I’m happy with them. I use a wacom pen tablet for all of my digital drawing. I then turn it back into a bitmap which I think gives the best results when live tracing.

5. I copy the bitmap and paste into the Illustrator layout document. I then live trace the design and neaten up the lines again.

6. I then compile the design in Illustrator and label any applique or embellishment elements.

7. I then use the print elements to create a complimentary all-over repeat design. I like to present the designs mocked up onto garments so I create a pattern tile of the repeat and apply that to the pyjama bottoms. I could scale down the placement print and use that on a t-shirt blank, but this would make the file larger. instead, I export the illustrator placement artwork into photoshop on a transparent background, save as a .png and then place that back in illustrator.

Working in this way means I get a nice un-uniform line quality that is still controlled and smooth. I neaten up my lines at every opportunity. One of my bugbears is rogue vectors and nasty jerky lines. I work in very different ways when creating watercolour style prints or photo-realistic textural designs. I might write a step-by-step guide on those one day!

Bread & Butter work - commercial nightwear

I’ve been working on high-volume commercial nightwear today. Above is one of the pyjama sets I designed. While this might not be the most cutting-edge, it is enjoyable and straightforward. And essentially, I’m still getting paid to sit and draw pictures all day.

The other day I blogged about feeling saddened by the poor standard of illustration and technical skill in commercial nightwear, pictured left are two of the sets I was shown as examples of bestsellers (these are not my designs). Well I guess we just have to give the public what they want!