Monday, November 11, 2019

My illustration process - Showing up online

Asked recently if I could share some of my knowledge about running a creative business online, I thought it might be useful to take stock of the platforms I use. Also to clarify for myself where I spend time and maybe change areas of focus.


The home of my blog which I started in September 2011. Free to use.

The platform I use to host my website. Yearly payment for website plus addition fees for email addresses. Launched my site in early 2018.

Not as active here as I used to be but I still find it a great way to connect especially with the more local community. I post about London Urban Sketchers events, my work, retweeting illustration and drawing related pieces. Free to use. Joined February 2012.

Posting sketches and work in progress on the grid. Exhibitions, travel photos and other drawing/art related pieces on Stories. Free to use. I’ve been on the platform since December 2013.

Home to my online shop. Lots of changes on this platform lately with more to come? Fees for listings and charges on sales. Opened shop February 2014

(Vine) - Really liked this now defunct platform where you could share 6 second videos. It was good for giving a little glimpse of where I was when drawing on location.

Original place where I shared my Urban Sketches and connected with the international Urban Sketcher community. Free to use for up to 1000 images. First posted September 2011.

A place where I find inspiration for my own projects but also a place now where I try to showcase my own work as it is essentially a visual search engine. Free to use

A place where I connect with people I know and have worked with. Also where I post articles about projects I am working on. Free to use

Association of Illustrators (AOI) Folio site
A selected sample of pieces from my portfolio. Annual payment.

Directory of Illustration (DOI) Folio site
A small selection of pieces from my portfolio. Comes as part of the AOI Folio package.

A limited selection of illustration projects. Free to use

A place where I watch videos from illustrators about their lives, see art and fashion tips. Free to use


The Design Trust
A great source of information for small creative businesses. Run by Patricia Van Den Akker, there are free resources, paid courses and business planners available.

Hashtag Authentic
Podcasts from Sara Tasker, aka ‘Me and Orla’, which are an informative listen. They cover lots of issues relevant to any business but particularly small creative ones run by women. She has a lovely voice to listen to

The Association of Illustrators (AOI)
The professional body in the UK representing and supporting illustrators. Annual membership fee. Online portfolio and courses also available to non-members.

Simple and Season
Podcasts about slow marketing from Kayte Ferris. The website of the same name has lots of free resources. Paid courses are also available,

Emily Quinton’s website contains lots of photography related resources, many of which are free to use. There is also a paid membership community.

Miss Magpie Spy
Illustrator Niki Groom’s blog has lots of articles relating to the business life of an illustrator and she doesn’t shy away for the taboo subject of money.

Urban Sketchers community
An international website plus lots of local groups in cities around the world. Free drawing meet-ups and paid workshops. My tribe!

Fran Meneses
An entrepreneurial illustrator, originally from Chile, creating weekly videos about her work and life in New York City. Also has a Patreon account and sells products.

Holly Exley
Watercolour illustrator living in the north-west of England, making videos about work and life as an illustrator. Dogs, vegan food and extinction rebellion also feature. Has a Patreon account and also sells prints.

Ohn Mar Win
Food illustrator who talks frankly on her blog and Instagram Stories about life as a creative. Lovely work and a very gentle way of telling her story.

Parka Blogs
Urban Sketcher, artist and YouTuber from Singapore who produces lots of art related video content. Drawing demonstrations, book reviews and more.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Londonist Drinks

It was lovely to be asked to produce an illustrated map for ‘Londonist Drinks’ the follow up to ‘Londonist Mapped.’ I was commissioned to work on a map for the best pubs near mainline train stations. All the research had already been done so it was my job to add the chosen venues to a map.

First stage was a B&W rough. I drew all the stations and pub signs separately before adding them to the map on Photoshop.
Here are some of the individual images and the finished map.

I also provided some of the smaller images dotted throughout the publication.

Thanks to Rebecca Needes who oversaw the design. The book is now available and would make a great present for anyone who likes London and drinking!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Drawings from Amsterdam

Drawings from a week spent in Amsterdam at the end of July, during the USk 2019 Symposium. Although I didn’t attend the workshops, it was great to meet up with many Urban Sketchers around the city. I used Stillman and Birn watercolour paper to make the sketchbook and really enjoyed working in it although scanning it was slightly problematic, hence the varying sizes of the images. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Workshops with Isabel Carmona in Valencia

Last month I went to a drawing course in Valencia entitled ‘Space Oddities’ run by PYSB, which stands for 'Pushing Your Sketching Boundaries.' There were three different tutors and today I’m talking about the sessions with Isabel Carmona.

The location of the first workshop with Isabel was at ‘Torres de Serranos’ and started with some nice loosening up exercises of quick drawings, including some ‘blind drawing’ exercises. We looked at the skyline and the ‘ground line’, where the people came and details on the buildings.

Rooftops and a line of detail
Rooftops, ground line, details and the line of people
Recording solid shapes
Using different strengths of colour to show distance
In the second workshop she focussed on a ‘fisheye’ technique, where you imagine your view to be inside a 180 degree sphere and draw everything in it. We drew in and around the ‘Centre de Carme Culturo Contemporania.’ I think I tend to draw a bit like this anyway so I was able to grasp the concept although it is tricky to do, especially round the edges!

Each of the instructors provides a set of approaches/ideas which you can use to help your drawing if you choose - a bit like adding more tools to your drawing toolbox.

Isabel is on Instagram @isacarand and you can find out more about PYSB and their upcoming courses @pushingyoursketchingboundaries

Friday, October 4, 2019

Workshops with Swasky in Valencia

Second attempt at the square

Last month I went to a drawing course in Valencia entitled ‘Space Oddities’ run by PYSB, which stands for 'Pushing Your Sketching Boundaries.' There were three different tutors and today I’m talking about the sessions with Swasky.

My first attempt

For the first workshop we walked to ‘Plaza de la Virgen’ and Swasky asked us to start by making our own drawing of the space. Then he talked about how he would approach drawing it and we produced another drawing using his ideas. I had difficulty in working out how to draw the corners of the square and took a while to get the hang of it. Then we made a drawing trying to focus on one side of the square. I struggled again with this and it’s something I probably need to try again!

Focusing on one side of the square

For the second session we moved to the ‘Torres de Quart’ and talked about the concept of ‘bending the floor’ and imaging that your drawing has ‘hinges’ showing different angles and perspectives. Of all the techniques from the workshops, I found this concept the most difficult to understand but Swasky was very patient trying to explain. By the end of the session I produced something sort of along the right lines. My sketching boundaries were definitely pushed!

First attempt

Starting to get the hang of the concept
Each of the instructors provides a set of approaches/ideas which you can use to help your drawing if you choose - a bit like adding more tools to your drawing toolbox.

Swasky is on Instagram @swasky and PYSB are @pushingyoursketchingboundaries

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Workshops with Hugo Barros Costa in Valencia

My drawing from the terrace

Last month I went to a drawing course in Valencia entitled ‘Space Oddities’ run by PYSB, which stands for Pushing Your Sketching Boundaries. There were three different tutors and today I’m talking about the sessions with Hugo Barros Costa 

I first remember seeing Hugo’s work at ‘Rendez-vous du Carnet de Voyage’ in Clermont-Ferrand in 2017 where he had a stand displaying his drawings from his book ‘NYC Graphic Chronicles’ so when I saw that he was going to be one of the tutors for the PYSB workshops in Valencia, I was keen to take part.

Hugo’s two workshops were located near the large Spanish department store ‘El Corte Ingles’ - we were to draw the view of a street from ground level and then the same street from a terrace at the top of the building.

My rough of the street view

In Hugo’s own drawings, he is not afraid to tackle very complicated views and he showed us lots of examples of his work, quite a few which were drawn over several sheets of paper and over several days. He talked about planning out the drawing using a pencil as a unit of measurement. It’s something I have done in the past but often forget to do now even though I know it’s a really useful way to help get everything in the right place. I tried to take my time and not rush, and Hugo gave lots of feedback and encouragement.

My colour drawing of the street view
Each of the instructors provides a set of approaches/ideas which you can use to help your drawing if you choose - a bit like adding more tools to your drawing toolbox.

If you want to find out more about Hugo and his workshops, he is on Instagram @yolahugo

More information about PYSB on Instagram @pushingyoursketchingboundaries

A drawing made a few days later from the hotel in Seville trying to use the techniques from the workshop

Monday, September 16, 2019

My illustration process - Creating an illustrated leaflet

I worked with ‘Incredible Edible Lambeth’ again this year to produce a folded illustrated leaflet promoting all the wonderful Harvest events happening in their area.

The leaflet, which is A6 size when folded, is printed on both sides of an A4 sheet.

I needed to create a cover, back, middle spread and large central list based on the one from the previous year. The text was to be handwritten again and the first job was to write, scan and collate this together. 

Next I needed to change the text colour from black to a dark green using the ‘Colour Range’ tool on Photoshop. After this it was a case of adding the illustrations on a separate layer until everything looked about right.

The leaflet was checked, I made final amendments and the complete version was sent as a PDF, ready for printing.

It’s a lovely event, so if you are local, do pop along!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Trying out 'Daniel Smith' watercolours

I was excited to win a raffle prize at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam this year, especially as it contained a set of Daniel Smith watercolours. I’d always wanted to try them as I had heard such great things about the paints!

My raffle prize!
Firstly, I set about painting some colour swatches. The ever so tiny Hahnmuhle zigzag sketchbook, which was part of the prize too, was perfect for this. The set I won has colours put together by Jane Blundell. My initial reaction was that they were very earthy colours with no greens. The texture was quite creamy with an almost gouache feel when using them. I particularly enjoyed using the Buff Titanium, both on its own and as a mixer.
Colour testing in the Hahnemuhle zigzag sketchbook

Colour testing in the Hahnemuhle zigzag sketchbook
Next was to take the box out on location. I painted with them at Greenwich, Dulwich and Pitzhanger Manor. The lack of ready mixed greens was the biggest problem for me. Also at one point the colours fell out of their box so I bought a metal tin to hold them instead. 

The main result from using them was that I realised what my favourite colours are from Winsor & Newton. I missed their Cobalt Blue, Naples Yellow, Indian Yellow, Cobalt Turquoise Light and Opera Rose. I love their greens especially Oxide of Chromium and Perylene Green.
My usual W&N palette, just one DS - Lunar Blue
I’m off on an exciting trip soon so I think I’ll combine the two sets, picking my favourites from both companies and see how that works.