Sharing my Secrets! - My Illustration & Design Process

One of my favourite things to read on blogs is a little 'behind the scenes' peek, whether it's someones desk / studio or their work process. So today, I am sharing my, up til now completely secret, illustration process using a couple of my 'Oz' characters to demonstrate, these illustrations were used for my 'Oz' craft CD launched earlier this year...

I have a ton of notebooks and journals and each one I do something different in, one is for sketching for illustration, one is for sketching for craft designs, one is for sketching for future craft projects, one is for blog projects, one is for brainstorming etc etc... I probably have about a dozen in progress at any one time and these are all kept on my desk so I can get to them at any time. So from my brainstorming for product ideas, I decided to go ahead with the Oz craft CD, it was something I loved and knew would be popular. I then select a colour palette, I usually do this in illustrator just using trial and error until I'm happy with the combination...
Once I'm happy with the colours I then start sketching the characters and ideas for papers, embellishments etc... (I always start with the characters or digi stamps though, they really set the scene for everything else) 99% of my sketches are done with pencils / pens in my sketch book, I very rarely start anything digitally. Here are my first pencil roughs for the Lion and the Tin Man...

Once I'm happy with the overall look of the sketches I scan them into my computer, usually using illustrator to redraw the images (I like them to be a vector image so I can resize them for digi's / paper etc...) Here are the black and white outlines of the lion and the tin man once I had redrawn them... 
Once the characters are all drawn out in black and white I start to add colour (keeping a black and white copy as a back up for later changes, and for the black and white digi stamps that you like to colour in! Depending on the look I want for them and the project i'm working on, I use photoshop or illustrator for this or sometimes I print out the black and white version and colour using promarkers, paint or  coloured pencils and then scan back in for any retouching or adjustments.
Here is the complete 'Oz' line up once I had finished...
So there you have it, my process - summed up of course, this process from the starting sketches to the finished CD took around a month of almost full time work (fitting in other illustration and writing jobs around it) so much work goes into every project but CD's in particular have so much on them that they take a LONG time, hours and hours of work, I think Oz was around 150 hours of work in total, I'm constantly adding and thinking of new things as I work on it and often the thing that stops me and decides it is finished is that there wouldn't be enough room on the CD! LOL

Right now with all the things I'm working on for my craft range as well as the other illustration projects I have going on, I am literally buried in sketchbooks, pieces of papers, sketches, notes, schedules, briefs (the illustration kind, not the undie kind!), revisions, scans, prints, reference materials, colour swatches etc... It's a fun process though, I love it!

I'd love to see your design or illustration process if you'd like to leave me your link in the comments :o)

Sarah x


  1. Its great to hear how your projects are developed for us Sarah, it sounds like you need a book to keep a record of all your books lol.
    Claire xx

  2. Wow! You are so talented at drawing! Thanks for sharing your process!

  3. Lovely insight into your work.I have loads of notebooks-most of them empty-so I need to take a leaf out of your book and get something down in them!

  4. Thanks for your 'behind the scenes' post. I honestly didn't realise it took so long to make a cd!!
    Keep at it!! :)
    Take Care xxx

  5. Thanks for this Sarah. It's given me lots of confidence to go ahead and just convert my drawings into Vector. I still have all my drawings in my sketch book and so far they're just scanned into photoshop. I've tried tidying them up but they still don't look right. I'll now re-draw them in Illustrator like you suggest. Out comes the Wacom. Thanks. xxxx