Creating the Oh Comely cover - My artistic process.
I had a few of you lovely people ask about my creative process and how I create my imagery, and what better project to do it with than the Oh Comely cover. Illustrating for the wonderful Oh Comely in 2017 was a dream come true. I had been subscribing since the first year of uni and religiously followed every illustrator they featured. It was a career goal for me to work with them so to be asked to do the cover one year after graduating was mind-blowing.
Getting the brief and drawing roughs.
The brief was for the midwinter issue, with a cosy feel theme and there needed to be a jumper involved too. I was already working on illustrations for 2 interior articles so to get an email asking for a cover illustration was a complete surprise. I started with sketches and did nearly 30 rough coloured pencil sketches, on reflection maybe a tad too many? I remember this was a tight deadline, maybe 2 or 3 days for sketches and just one day for final artwork, all whilst I was juggling a 9-5 job. The first PDF I sent over included 4 roughs. I got the comments through the same day; the jumper needed to look knitted and to increase the size of the lady. I sent an amended rough and it was ready to go to final artwork!
Creating final artwork by hand
All my final artwork is hand painted with my Sennelier watercolours. I would wholeheartedly recommend these , they are a pricey but well worth the investment. The colours are so bright and pigmented and the pans last and last. I have 3 paintbrushes in total, one for washes and 2 detail brushes in sizes 1 and 3 and mix colours on a ceramic palette. I have always loved painting by hand, I think it gives my artwork gives it a tactile quality, gives the work character and juxtaposes the more minimal, clean composition. On client lead projects I work in layers with each part of the image painted separately. This means if there are any client changes to final artwork it is super easy to edit on photoshop and ends up saving a lot of time and stress. It also means there is less pressure on me creating the artwork as if one element isn’t quite as I’d like it to be, I just repaint that one section, instead of the entire image. Once all the sections are painted I scan using my epson scanner and bring everything into photoshop.
Finishing the final artwork digitally.
After altering the colour balance, and levels, all the white paper texture is removed and any smudges or marks are edited. I may also overlay light layers of digital colour to alter or brighten colours or create more of an even colour and texture. I then save the file as a PSD and tiff and send using WeTransfer or Googledrive.
Waiting for the release
This was my biggest project to date so the wait between sending final artwork and the cover reveal felt like forever, in reality I think it was around two weeks! My mum actually saw the magazine in print before me and showed me over facetime. I had so many lovely comments, new followers and projects are still coming in as a result of people seeing my work on the cover and inside Oh Comely. As an illustrator you usually get told when to expect something going live on a site or a project being launched on social media. I still get so excited seeing my work in print or online, and love sharing the release.
And there you have it, a step by step guide from start to finish.