Christmas Illustrations

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It’s summer, so time to draw Christmas things!  Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on some line drawings for a Christmas coloring book for educate.ie, an Irish educational publisher.  Here are links to those illustrations on my blog.

Christmas in May
More Christmas Things
And More Christmas Stuff
One last set of Christmas Illustrations

Some are just coloring pages, some are connect the dots, some are spot-the-difference, and some are hidden-pictures.

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2 responses »

  1. Thank you. I’m glad you like them.

    I got the job through my agent, who deals mostly in the educational market.

    The brief was pretty specific on what they wanted for each image. Say, “A scene of Santa relaxing in an armchair by a fireplace reading a book to some elves. They’d prefer child-like elves rather than old-men elves. The fireplace should be decorated for Christmas. Either the fireplace or the armchair should be connect-the-dots.” Then I open up Photoshop and sketch out my rough design, showing what I want where. Then I add some details, enough to show exactly where I’m going with it, but not spending too much time on perfecting it.

    I send that to the client as a rough and they look at it, tell me if they need changes. Most of the time my roughs are approved as-is. In this case, “Can you put a Christmas Tree behind the armchair next to the fire?” If necessary, I revise the rough and send them that. When it’s right, they approve it and I move on to the final.

    For the final, I mostly just trace over the sketch, but with nice, refined lines. Then I hide the sketch layer so only the pretty lines are visible.

    The hard ones for this project were the hidden object ones. One thing I’ve figured out with hidden object images: design the scene to have both man-made objects and organic objects present. So, an outdoor scene with a house or a fence or a bench. Or an indoor scene with some potted plants or a pet. Straight lines and curvy ones. This gives you the best variety of shapes for hiding stuff. Most items in the scene should have a purpose for hiding something. If you add shutters, they’re so you can hide a keyboard on them. If you have icicles, it’s to hide a snake. Girls’ hairstyles are great for hiding things. Be aware of your shapes and what you can use them for as you draw. Ten hidden objects doesn’t sound like much, especially when you’re allowed to choose the objects, but it’s a challenge.

    And don’t be afraid to surf google images to find references if necessary. I used google for armchair references, sand dune references, camel rider references, nativity scene references, etc. I don’t trace the references, but I do use them to figure out how the object looks. Just because it’s cartoony does’t mean you don’t have to make it look realistic to the limitations of the style you’re drawing in.

    And don’t be afraid to ask the client for more details. I asked about what the client wanted on the table in the Christmas Dinner scene and it was a lot different than what I had initially thought of based on my own family’s Christmas dinners. This was for an Irish market, so Christmas pudding was a thing and they wanted both ham and turkey on the table when I would have just had one or the other. I also made a point to put the forks in their left hands, since only Americans hold their forks in their right hands. Anytime you’re not sure, ask.

    Seems silly to put that much thought into pictures for just a coloring book, but that’s what makes for professional-quality illustrations and happy clients.

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