Hey up duck, today I’m going to share a little behind the scenes exclusive as to how I create my illustrations/artwork. I’ve been an avid scribbler my whole life however it’s only been over the last year or so that I think I’ve developed more of my own style and believe me I’ve tried a lot. For the first 2 years of running my business I primarily stuck to pen drawings and felt a little nervous introducing colour in the fear of ruining my work however after starting to work on my trusty iPad, this problem has disappeared and I feel a lot more confident to experiment with my drawings.

So how do I start I hear you ask…

I usually work from a reference photo as a lot of the places I do draw I’ve never been to before or had the opportunity to draw up close and personal. Therefore I scroll through pinterest/google/friends & families photos for my ideal image, depending on the mood I like the composition of my chosen image to feel really open and inviting as if you were walking into the image yourself, I never really do any aerial views as it can feel a bit distant to the viewer.

Here’s my initial sketch layer drawn on adobe fresco, I usually set the art-board up to A2, 300 dpi so that it’s as big as possible and can be printed at various sizes in the future without losing quality.


Once the sketch layer is complete and I’m happy with the basic composition I then go on to outline the sketch with a vector brush to give the drawing a nice clean edge to work with, vector brushes also allow you to rescale your artwork without losing any quality.



The outline is usually the quickest part of the process and it’s usually at this step where I can tell whether I did a good enough job with the first layer as there’s nowhere to hide. A lot of people ask me how long my drawings take to finish and it really does depend, this one for example took over 5 hours in one sitting while I’ve drawn some chickens which took maybe an hour/2 hours. It all depends on the level of detail I’d like to achieve, initially I tried to draw one every 2 days but I found this pressure can hinder my creativity and sometimes prioritise speed rather than finishing to my high standards so now I take it a little slower and aim to draw a ‘larger piece’ at least once a week and maybe some smaller ones when I’m watching tv on my lunch break/after work. I am naturally quite an impatient person though so once I do get started and into the creative rhythm I don’t want to stop until I’ve finished, much to my boyfriends delight as I hide under the covers late at night scribbling away haha.

Anyway onto the next layer…

Here I add texture with a textured brush called seurat resembling dots, I found this to be a life saver as before I dotted every dot individually to give a little depth around each line. I first outline the whole sketch with the brush, then I rub out one side of the line to keep it sharp. I’m not sure if that makes much sense so I’ll add a time-lapse video here to better explain this section.


Next we have the fun part, colouring in! I have quite a niche colour palette using the brightest warm orange, pink and sometimes a little green tones to bring my work to life. I initially picked these because they’re my favourite cheery colours and I feel like they can bring warmth and excitement to anybodies home/life. It’s fun to experiment with these jazzy colours often against their corresponding more muted subjects, for example replacing the Taj Mahal’s white walls with neon pink adds a new character to the scene and can appeal to a whole new audience. I think this is one of the most unique aspects of my style and as I’ve experimented more and added new colours I’ve still not tired of it, a great sign for my usually unsettled personality lol.


Here I’ve added the background colour just to inspire myself to get creative, I usually begin with the colour palette dotted in the top right hand corner for me to pick from. Sometimes I begin with a vision in mind of how I’d like the piece to turn out but often times I start off blank and play around as I go, this can go one of two ways I either crack it pretty quickly (rare) or it takes a million decisions to decide on something I’m happy with, I’m hoping as I explore more and develop this style I become more decisive with this stage to save myself a few melt downs haha. It’s always the most fulfilling layer though as colour really is inspiring to me.

And finally...


It’s completed! I do generally stick to my colour palette however I do sometimes add a few other shades to show a little shadow/depth in areas, for example around the arches of the Taj Mahal.

As I said earlier this piece took over 5 hours to complete, I’m sure there are quicker ways to do some of the layers for example rubbing out the textured dot layer so if anyone has any tips or tricks please do let me know and I hope I’ve inspired you to get creative!

I sell the Taj Mahal print here: Taj Mahal or you can check out all my other prints here: Freya Niamh Design Shop .

You can also watch the time-lapse of me drawing this print on my instagram IGTV here… Taj Mahal time-lapse.

Thanks for reading! Please do send me your feedback I always love to learn more.



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