A few months ago, I created my 2014 Christmas design. Following on from my cheeky penguin characters last year, I decided to opt for another cheery animal line and chose polar bears as my inspiration.
I liked the idea of drawing bold, white bears on a fun coloured background. I wanted to keep my characters fairly simple, like the penguins, so I decided to keep the detail focused on their faces.
First, I created a page of inky watercolour blots.
Once I had some inky brushstrokes, I then drew in some polar bear noses and eyes.
My characters were starting to appear! I scanned the pages into the computer and started to choose my favourite faces.
When I opened these drawings in Illustrator, I was able to Live Trace the textures and simplify them into vectors. This would allow me to rescale the drawings to any size without losing any quality. (Using the scans as they were could pixelate quite quickly if they were scaled up for bigger items, like tote bags or art prints!)
Here are some of the faces Live-Traced in Illustrator. I tried putting a coloured background behind them just to get a sense of how it might look.
I was pleased with the progress! The next step was to draw in their bodies. This took a lot of time to get right! The shapes look very simple but I edited them a lot along the way. Below are just some of the versions for one character. Tiny adjustments in the shape of the body could end up making a huge difference to the personality of the character.
After a lot of editing and adjusting, I created my final selection of characters. There were quite a few!
I started building a repeat pattern with these characters. In the end, I didn't need to use all of them but I was glad to have a large selection to choose from. I kept my repeat pattern quite simple in style, so that the focus would be on the characters. Again, I wanted the design to relate to last year's penguins. I put a subtle texture in the background and used a half-drop repeat.
The design was now ready to start applying to products! For wrapping paper, I added some cheeky snow-bears into the mix. You have to look closely to spot them!
I created a variety of card designs to accompany the wrapping paper.
Along with cards and gift wrap, I've also been designing coasters, placemats, gift tags, badge sets, tote bags and goody bags.
I applied for a Winter Gift Fair in Aberystwyth Arts Centre, and was delighted to find out that I had been successful. The fair will be launched on the 31st October, so it's going to be a busy few weeks getting everything ready. Watch this space!