Monday, October 10, 2011

Welcome Back, and a Marriage Equality Invite

Hi folks,

Apologies for disappearing for all those weeks, but I was off
-wedding planning
-getting married
-moving (again)

Thankfully, I'm back again and ready to whip out more fun invites!

This one is a bit delayed (see above), but I wanted to do something special to acknowledge gay marriage in NY. As a former New Yorker, I was proud to see my city and state make such a powerful statement in favor of equality.

As usual, this is just an invite mock-up, not an actual invite, and the text is not a part of the original image (and can be changed and edited).

I hope you enjoy it! Hopefully now that my life is a bit more in control, I'll be able to add thank-you notes, special stationary, and of course, more invites!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Lifespan of an Invitation Design, Part 3: True Watercolors

On to my favorite part: watercoloring.

I'm using the photo from Martha Stewart Weddings as a color reference. This picture is actually a little tricky because of all the white and blue (sky, mountain, snow, dress), so my painting will have to break away from that a little bit.

First, assemble the supplies:

I use Windsor and Newton watercolor paint, which I find holds the pigment well, lasts a long time, and is easy to carry.

My brushes, collected over the years.

An old episode of Project Runway (P-ject R-way!).

First, I start with the sky. Some people are masters at manipulating and layering the paint so that it looks like there are clouds and depth. I am not one of those people. My goal is to get it on there without looking too crazy.

I like to work in blocks, allowing one section of the picture to dry before I move onto another one. Here, while I wait for the sky to dry, I add little details of color on the snow.

Then it's back to the mountain, for the same details. It's a little hard to see in this picture, but each section has its own slightly different blue. The blue of the sky is a deeper, purer blue, while the blue of the mountain is a grey-blue with some yellowish hints. The blue of the snow has a slight tint of purple.

Prepping my brush for a dry application of detail on the mountain. It's important that the mountain section be completely dry before I apply the brown paint.

You can see a little of the mountain detailing in the back of this picture. Also, skin!

I like my brides to have pink cheeks. All it takes is a little drop of color.

Which then gets blended in. Like with the line drawing, the faces here are very important. The background can look pretty, but you better believe the bride and groom have to be the best-looking things out there.

Pink cheeks for the groom, too!

Blonde hair, and some detailing on the jacket. The jacket is white, but like the snow, the shadow it casts is blue. This is one of the reasons why it's very helpful to have a reference photo, since, not often going out in the snow in white fur jackets, I might have otherwise missed this detail.

The dress! It has to look more ivory than white, in order to stand out from the snow.

A full view. Here I added in the fence and some green trees on the mountain.

The groom! I love putting in red accents. It really makes the whole picture pop, but the thing with red paint, it has to be the *last* thing you apply. If it's even a little damp, the red pigment will leak and stain, and red has a tendency to spread. This is true even if you apply something on top of the red. Wait until the end. Let it be an accent.

The completed painting! This one has been slightly color-corrected on my computer, which is an extra service I offer. There's nothing wrong with the finished painting as is (text to be applied in the printing process), but I find tweaking the colors slightly, upping the saturation so it's brighter than reality, can brighten and liven up the image.

Here's some sample text to give you an idea of what the invite will look like as printed (10 points to whoever gets the reference to the bride and groom!).

And there you have it! A beautiful invite, from start to finish, ready for a couple of ski bunnies!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Lifespan of an Invitation Design, Part 2: Adding the Ink

Inking! A while ago I had a horrible idea that I would teach myself calligraphy so I could eventually address all our invitations. This, of course, did not happen. What did happen though is I ended up with a selection of beautiful inks and very nice pens.

I love using the black ink to outline everything. I know a lot of people disagree and prefer to just paint, which is also beautiful. For me and my style, though, I think it looks nice to have a little more definition. It makes it look a little more cartoony, it gives it some dimension and structure, and the ink makes the picture really come alive.

I use Higgins waterproof black calligraphy ink.

I do not love it. I've been long-searching for a nice, black, substantial ink that's waterproof, fade proof, and doesn't gunk up my pens. I'm still searching. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd be pleased to hear them.

My favorite nib.

I used to live in fear that I'd break it or lose it and then forget what kind it was. Then I had the bright idea to just buy a few spares. This nib will do nothing for calligraphy but draws beautiful, clear, even lines and holds a lot of ink. It is extremely cheap and I would not trade it for anything. I'm sure calligraphy-snobs somewhere would turn their noses up at it. But it works for me.

I start with the face. Like with the drawing, if I mess it up, it's back to the (literal) drawing board. As in, just throw the damn thing away. There are a lot of things you can fix to salvage the rest of the drawing. Lazy-eyed brides are not one of them.

I love the ink because, unlike with the pencil, there's a spontaneity and unpredictable quality. The ink goes where it wants to, and you get to try to figure it out. A line that looks fine in pencil can be changed with ink, made more stylish and interesting. It's so satisfying to see the ink transform the drawing.

And here's the groom. On the pant legs you can see the ink is a little more faded than I'd like it to be. Need to find me something better... And yes, I gave them smittens.

The background. It doesn't need much.

And a few more trees and details.

All it needs is to erase the pencil lines, and we're done!

There's nothing stopping this being the actual invite (except for, you know, words). It could easily be colorized or printed with white or black ink on colored paper. But, the watercolors will look amazing.

A note on the words: I don't especially like the idea of putting the text right into the drawing. I toyed with the idea for my own invites for a long time and finally decided against it. In part, I had found a font that was perfect, but I also worried about clarity, color, making mistakes. It's easy to change text in a computer if you misspell something or need it to be bigger, but once it's a part of a drawing, it's in there. For this invite I'll be making a separate text file to show how it's done, but for my next, I plan on going the daunting text-in-image route.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Lifespan of an Invitation Design, Part 1: Getting the Sketch Right

As I build up my portfolio, I'm making a few sample invites to show my style and ideas. These aren't real couples (although they could be!) but different composites and images I made up. Here, I'll show you how I go from idea to a completed invite.

Aaaand, perfect for 82 degree weather: a winter wedding!

The inspiration was this beautiful spread in Martha Stewart Weddings. I loved the couple on skis, the beautiful backdrop, the bride's awesome faux-fur jacket.

Step one: assemble the supplies: pencil, paper.


All of my drawings are done on watercolor paper, inked with waterproof ink, and painted with watercolors. But first, I like to sketch things out on scrap paper.

You start with the head...


Legs. I don't hate this, but the skis are a pain in the neck.

Probably I could have kept it as is if I wasn't adding skis, but they make a whole new world of annoyances.

But that's why it's called scrap paper! Here's version 2.

With the couple side by side, the perspective looks less wonky.

Full bodies.

And the faces. Even though the faces are very simple, nothing more than four or five lines, they can be tricky to get exactly right. There's an incredible amount of suggestion in very slight changes, and if I'm not lucky enough to get it right on the first go, I always end up erasing and redoing the faces several times. If they're not perfect, you might as well start from scratch.

Some background.

And a detail of the faces and torso. It doesn't look great yet, since this is just a quick sketch, but it's enough of an idea to give me a guideline to work with.

Next step: drawing on the watercolor paper.

I draw (very faint) guidelines on the page, making a cross where the couple's faces will go. This tells me the page is centered, and the faces are the focus of the image.

Ladies first.

And the groom.

And the background.

Here's the side-by-side comparison between where I started and where I ended. It's a big change!

I call it quits for the night (the Bachelorette having long made her poor relationship decisions). Next, I ink. Check back later in the week for The Lifespan of an Invitation Design, Part 2: Adding the Ink.

By the way: if you're interested in your own custom invites from me, this drawing is the "proof." It has the flexibility to make any changes, but is clear enough to see where the design is going.

*I know all the tabloids are saying she ends up with JP, but I'm rooting for Ben, the nice, nerdy vineyard owner. But don't you think she's sort of jinxed? Every time she says something like "But how much do you reeeally like me?" I just hear *sad trombone* wamp waahmp...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Lifespan of an Invitation Design

As I work to build up my portfolio, I'm having a lot of fun creating new designs. And while I'm creating, I thought it would be fun to show how a drawing gets from this:

to this:

I'll be posting my first Lifespan of an Invitation Design (getting the sketch right) Thursday morning.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Welcome to Sunshine

The short version: I have always loved to draw.

The longer version: This spring, as I got ready for my wedding, I decided to try to design my own wedding invites. Several months and many torn-apart pieces of paper later, I came up with this, a lovely pictorial of me and my kiddo. They got dropped in the mail a few weeks ago, and since then, I have been happily hearing two things: a) Wow! Great job! and b) Where did you get these?

A conversation with my kiddo later, and I had the idea to design and sell invitations and other wedding-related stationary online. And as I build up my portfolio, look for clients, and refill my ink wells, I thought it might be fun to document all this work.

Like what you see?
Have a wedding coming up?
Already married but want a custom-made cartoon of you and your beloved?

Please leave me a comment, and I'd be happy to discuss the details.

Thanks for stopping by!