There are two questions I get asked most often about how I create my doodles. The first is, “Do you draw them yourself?” Answer: Yes! The second is, “What tablet do you use?” Answer: none. I’m a real pen and real paper and really messy fingers kind of a girl.
Here’s a quick peak at my creative process (originally from an old blog post from June 2008) :
How I make my doodles
1. Armed with a list of the doodles I want to make I use a sketching pencil to sketch out the ideas onto a medium textured, medium weight cartridge paper. I have a constant struggle trying to find a paper that has enough weight to hold watercolours (and all the other stuff I throw at it) with enough texture to create some depth to my drawing, but not too much texture that the drawn lines end up wobbling about everywhere! I think I have pretty much found a compromise with this 220gsm paper now.
2. Once the doodles are all sketched out, I either go over the pencil with a black pen, or if I’ve really piled on the pencil when working out the design, I trace my finished outline onto another sheet of paper. I’ve used Pilot Drawing Pens here. Then I rub out the pencil lines and I’m ready to colour.
3. The first stage in colouring is to lay down a base wash all over the doodles. Sometimes I use watercolours, watercolour pencils or my favourite Inktense pencils for this stage, but here I’ve mainly used watercolour style marker pens as I want a really rich, solid, bright colour. I have a mixture of pens in my collection, but for these doodles I mainly used Marvy Le Plume II (the small nib at one end is really handy for tricky little bits).
4. Next stage is to work over the first wash of colour to add more detail and some definition. I used some more pens and some hard (ish) pencils here to build up the colour. One of my favourite effects at the moment is to lay down a lot of pencil pigment and then work over it with the pen, blending everything together (WARNING: this technique doesn’t do the pen much good, it needs a good clean afterwards and the nib takes a bit of a hammering too. Don’t try it with your favourite pens!) Rubbing soft pencil or pastel pigment into the paper is another fun way of building up some interesting effects. And getting satisfyingly grubby hands too 🙂
5. Once I am happy with all the shading and the colours, the next step is to scan everything into Photoshop. Then comes the bit that I enjoy the least: extracting and cleaning up the doodles. Sometimes I also need to change the colours slightly if I’m working to a swatch. The only good part about this stage is cleaning up any lines where I’ve made a mistake in the drawing and seeing the “proper” doodle take shape. Other than that, I have to admit that I find it incredibly tedious!
So, that’s the process in a nutshell: lots of washes and layering of colours and media to build up the design. And lots of messy fingers and happy accidents, and a few disasters thrown in for good measure (think full cup of tea knocked over my desk, keyboard, and almost finished sheet of doodles…..shudder. It brings me out in a cold sweat just thinking about it. Thankfully it has only happened once and my kids were in bed and so didn’t hear the rather naughty words that came out of my mouth!)
If you have any questions, let me know! I shall do my best to answer them!