From pencil to print: my work process

February 9, 2018


Instagram, Pinterest and other social networks are great for promoting our products, but their styled, edited photos rarely show the blood, sweat and tears that's gone into each piece. So I thought I'd share my work process for you, as my very first post, to show you how my current Valentine's range became what it is...


Stage one: pencil layouts and procrastination



These are the very first pencil sketches of the cards you saw at the top of the page. Here I design a layout, decide what lettering style I'll use and drink a lot of tea, daydream and do things like tidying my studio when layouts aren't working. I often go through a few layouts and lots of stuff gets rubbed out. My desk is scattered with rubbings-out and it drives me slowly insane.


When I'm happy with the layout I move onto... 


Stage two: brushpens and notes to self



Going over the pencil marks in pen helps me make sure that the letters don't become cramped when the strokes become thicker, which can often be the case. I'll also add lines if I need bits to be very straight, then arrows to remind me to move stuff around when I'm painting it. 


Stage three: adding paint and making a mess


I don't have a photo of me actually painting, but I generally use a lightbox to trace over my layout, then add the splats by running my finger over a thick-bristled brush that's loaded with pain. This is why I usually have stained fingers and dreadful nails. 


For these, I used Ecoline watercolour inks (which are great for blending) on Bockingford watercolour paper (which takes paint really well and really allows for blending). If I'm doing a commission for the wall, however, I usually use Dr P.H.Martin's Hydrus Fine Art Watercolour ink, because they're lightfast, so won't fade over time. 


Stage four: digital editing and adding fairydust


I was seriously unhappy with the splats here though, so was really glad that I'd scanned the lettering before I added them. I did some more on a different sheet of paper, scanned then in and added them in digitally, editing out the ones in the centre of the letters, which can often make it look too busy. I also slightly altered the spacing of the capital letters to make sure they were even and added a few more fairy sprinkles here and there. 


Stage five: printing the final product


And here are the final cards! As a big fan of mid-90s indie bands, I'm dead pleased with how they've come out. If you like them too, you can buy them right here.




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© 2019 by Jules Birkby / Now Then, Sunshine.