Do your own illustrations

ILLUSTRATING for yourself

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Illustration (in my opinion) is the MOST fun form of art. It’s a way of expressing creativity and fun in a quirky and loose style, it doesn’t have to be too serious (or even real at all!). I’m not saying that everyone who is an illustrator has quirky and loose styles (as like everything it isn’t a one size fits all!), but my way of working is quick, colourful and happy and I want to share with you loads of ways of being able to illustrate for yourself too! I hope you can get inspired to do some DIY and learn a bit more. Use whatever you like as a canvas. A napkin, a blackboard, ANYTHING! Get yourself into the groove.

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I’m mostly self-taught, so take everything I say with a pinch of salt, I’m no professional! But I did Art A-level and adored it. To be honest, my ‘art studies’ were more ‘fine art’ than ‘illustration’ but I soon figured my style once I decided to launch made by Leah, and these are the rules I stick by…

  • Don’t be precious. I don’t believe in rubbers or doing it in pencil first or starting again. If you go wrong then kinda dance over it and make a squiggle where it was a problem! (By the amount of squiggles in my work can you even guess how many times I go wrong each time I put pen to paper!?). Honestly though, once you have an idea, start squiggling. You might be a sketch book person or a straight pen to paper person, either way I urge you to just stop thinking of the mistakes and start throwing yourself in pen first!
  • Don’t be afraid of being too simple or too much. Too simple is never a thing, a simple wording or bit of greenery is top notch in most peoples books so if you fancy just doing a bit of writing or drawing something small, don’t think of it as being any less! Go on, get those paints out and paint a leaf. The same can be said about being ‘too much’, no! Too much doesn’t exist and if you want bows on glitter on swans with crowns with a pink lake and candy floss mountains then DO IT. Honestly, as someone who does a real mix of simple and busy, do whatever floats your boat.
  • Find your style. Just because you love the style of someone you have seen illustrating doesn’t mean it’s the one for you. It takes practice to find what naturally comes to you so enjoy the process and take some time to decide what you do best! I used oil and acrylic paint for years until one day I tried watercolour and BAM I was sold, knew it was the thing for me. I would like to go back and try some other techniques one day but for now I’m keeping busy with what I do best!
  • Get yourself a few little bits like paints and pencils so you can do what you wanna do! I’ll write a shopping list for starting some illustrating below, on a budget…
  • Illustrate subjects that MAKE YOU HAPPY. I can’t stress this enough. If you don’t love it, it won’t come naturally to you and it won’t be as good as if you went for a subject you absolutely love!

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I started off making cards for friends and family, perhaps start with something like this first and give your little creations to the people you love!

To create your own illustrations, paintings or drawings, I would recommend buying or making sure you have the following:

  • A nice pencil (no not for drawing something out first, for adding lines to an illustration!). I would suggest going into a store that has a lot of choice and deciding whether you like it soft or hard and go with the one that feels right when you test it out. (I use black wing but these are slightly pricey)
  • A sharpie or fine liner or biro. Something to scribble those lines and that you like the feel of on the paper!
  • A mini travel watercolour palette. Something with just a few basic colours for you to be able to mix and create all sorts. Watercolours can be expensive and I would suggest when starting out to literally just buy a cheap on the go style pack! I can recommend the Windsor and newton travel set; it’s fairly cheap and has good colours.
  • A sketchbook or paper, for the appropriate media! If you want to try watercolour, get watercolour paper; get oil paper for oil paint or normal paper if you just want to use pencil. Get the right paper and it will create the right effect! Perhaps start with a little sketchbook (places like WHSmith’s do good art books, or Hobby craft!)

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I think you’re all set!

I can’t wait to see some of your illustrations, remember EVERYONE can create something beautiful. Send me some photos of your pieces if you have a go!

Take care lovelies and have a lovely week.

Leah x