How I work

From brain to paper to computer

I start off by researching the place or thing that I would like to draw and then I do a quick sketch on paper. I find it easier to get my ideas out quickly with a pencil and paper. This usually amounts to no more than a few squiggles and lines but it helps to get it out of my brain. If I am drawing a travel poster then I use lots of photographs for reference and Google Maps is a great way to explore places if you can’t visit yourself.

This quick 30 sec sketch was the basis for these icons I designed for a local school.

Things I think about

In no particular order these are some of the things I think about when working. What do I want people to feel when they look at my work? What colours would make them feel that? How much can I simplify this and it still look like the thing it’s supposed to? What time of day does this place look most alive? How do people feel about this place or thing or event? What’s been done before and how could I offer something different? Where is the light coming from? What angle would be most interesting? Do I have the skills to draw this? Will anyone like it?

Tools

I have a MacBook pro that is on its last legs and a large monitor so that I can actually see what I’m drawing. I use an Apple mouse which now feels like an extension of my own hand and I have a mouse mat that looks like a bit of old carpet. I use Adobe Illustrator to draw and my computer files can have up to 30+ layers if the print is particularly complex. I have an Epson printer which can do A4 and A3 prints and I only use genuine Epson Inks. These are the DuraBrite Ultra pigment inks and I only ever use Epson Archival paper. Using high quality inks and paper means that the prints are more resistant to fading and will last well, however I wouldn’t hang in direct sunlight. Large format prints such as A2 and A1 are printed out-of-house but to the same high standard.

But how do you actually do it?

If you skimmed the above and just heard blah, blah, blah, then hopefully these pics below will be more useful. I will try and do a video at some point as this will really give an insight to how I work but for now these snapshots might help. This is my travel poster of Pittenweem in Scotland. It’s one of my dads favourite places so I drew it for him as a surprise Christmas present. My mum took a picture for me when they last visited in the summer. She took the picture in secret as she didn’t want to give the game away and she told me this was the specific view he liked and that they once saw dolphins from here. I did add some dolphins in but they are so tiny (2mm) that you can’t see them on an A3 print. Doh. I also added in a doormat in ‘Anderson’ tartan which is my family name. I am happy to say he was thrilled with it.

Thanks Georgie, I love it.

Dad