Friday, December 18, 2009

Illustrating A Dog-Gone Cute Christmas Card!

Ta-dah!...presenting "Shelby and Santa"! A dear friend asked me to create an illustration of her dog to include in her Christmas card design this year. I couldn't resist the opportunity.

It may seem an easy task to just put the pencil to paper and out comes the drawing. But, it takes some time to mull over the illustration, jumbling it around in your head for weeks, penciling rough sketches, contemplating it some more, re-sketching....until you finally feel like the illustration is working.

With that said, I thought it would be of interest to post a blog about how this fun illustration came to be.

First, about 20 photos of the adorable canine subject, Shelby, were sent to me as reference material. Here's a peek at two:

After looking at the photos and getting a feel for Shelby's gestures, colors, facial expressions and more, my next step was a bit of mulling over how to approach the illustration.

What should the dog be doing? Is Santa in the sketch? Is she under a Christmas tree? Is she unwrapping a present? sledding? hanging out with snowmen? under the mistletoe?

Then, rough sketches over a few weeks helped me work out a composition that flowed:

Santa holding Shelby in his lap didn't seem to work, but I wanted to portray a warm, friendly interaction between the two of them:

This one seemed too flat and stagnant, but I'm liking the paw/hand idea:

Shelby's face seemed too rigid and the position too stiff: I'm sorta liking this approach. Shelby giving a sweet, backwards glance:

Ahhhh, and now it's got a good flow going. A doggie-pat on the head, and a pet down the back. Who knew that Santa was a dog lover?!

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy another one of my creative process posts:

* Mulling over Madison

Merry Christmas to all!
And, as my dear friend noted, be sure to leave a little doggie treat along with the milk and cookies on Christmas Eve....just in case Santa brings Shelby along for the sleigh ride! *woof*