I’ve been a professional graphic designer for just over seven years but always had a creative mind from a very young age. I grew up loving to dance, write short stories, paint pictures and sketch animals and fictional characters.
When I left college, I decided to enrol in a Graphic Design Foundation Diploma at the University of Arts. I then went on to do a degree in Dance and Media Cultural studies at Kingston University where I learnt more about the theories and strategies behind media production and marketing. This degree opened my eyes to different techniques for advertising, animation and brand development and I fell even more in love with graphic design during a design module.
Fast forward to 2016 and I entered a design competition for Film Africa, where designers across the world were tasked to create artwork for the front cover of their programme. The above artwork was my submission and I was selected by industry professionals to be one of the top three designers! It then went to a public social media vote and I came second place.
Seeing as this was my first attempt at bespoke illustration, I was extremely proud of myself and my passion for illustration (portraits in particular) grew, leading me to start designing my own collection of greeting cards.
What is Illustration?
Illustration us a strand of design that can be broadly classified into two categories: traditional illustration and modern illustration. Traditional refers to hand-drawn using pencils, pens, paint and paper etc, whereas modern illustration, which I do, is created using software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator on a computer – although my work often does start off with a pencil sketch.
Illustrations are pieces of imagery that accompany text to aid understanding or visualisation. They could also simply be purely decorative and used in anything from books to magazines, annual reports to posters, video games and films. Illustrations are an effective way to communicate with readers in a creative and visually descriptive way – as they say… an image can paint 1,000 words!
What’s my style?
Many illustrators have their own unique style of working and drawing. For example, the work of Quentin Blake, Matt Groening, Dr Seuss and of course Disney, are all recognisable simply by their illustration styles.
Over the years I have experimented with a few different techniques to create the portraits featured on my greeting cards and gifts. These include:
Polyvector triangles – A time consuming but extremely detailed, decorative and effective technique, great for close-up portraits.
Free-hand digital – Starting from a hand-drawn sketch using a digital pen. This gives the artwork a traditional feel but with a lot more creative flexibility.
Vector illustration – Block colours and shapes put together to create recognisable features with simple shadows and highlights.
No matter the technique, my personal style uses bright block colours and I tend to embellishing the portraits with shapes and patterned backgrounds, which I believe has given my items their signature look and feel. I also like to use a range of different black and asian skin tones and hair styles to make my brand as representative as I can.
Children’s character design
I really enjoy working on children’s books and creating dynamic and expressive characters, so recently, I decided to start developing a style of character that I hope will be recognisable as a ‘Leanne Creative character’ in the future…
Meet my LC family! They will be the basis of my children’s characters (unless the client requests otherwise, of course) going forward. I wanted to create a black family of different ages that can be adapted to the client’s needs but can still be recognised as my artwork.
Here’s the break down:
Crescent eyes – They are simple but effective in portraying different emotions. They also portray an openness and positive engagement, which many children respond well to.
Button nose – It was important to me to capture black features and the nose is one of the them. The rounded shape and shadow above, I believe captures this.
Low ears – This was a cute a playful feature I thought would relate the characters to each other.
I really look forward to developing them further and working on more books and characters.
If you are interested in working with me, feel free to drop me an email and we can start to bring your ideas to life!
Written by Leanne Armstrong