Day to day I get to find out about new people and illustrate their quirks and hobbies, my latest commission was no exception - this pair are such characters! The super-trendy couple from Shoreditch consist of Babs and Bobby. Babs describes herself as a "geeky fashionista" who loves her oversized pink specs, her partner Bobby is a self confessed "bearded extravert".
In this special, extended blog post I take you through everything I did to create this bespoke portrait, from start to finish!
As with all of my commissions, I requested the brief from the couple via email. Their reply included an attachment of a photos (this couple sent through six: three of Babs, two of Bobby and one of the pair of them together, but this can vary from client to client). Also included in their reply was a brief description of their personalities and what sort of clothes they like to wear. (Briefs can often include any hobbies, objects, or any jobs each person may have too.)
I then took a good look at the photos and descriptions and started to create small, rough sketches of the couple's facial expressions, body language and accessories. It's at this point, I concentrated on their fashion sense and experimented with the composition and position of their bodies in relation to one another.
As they're a fun-loving, "larger-than-life" couple, I chose to pose them in a way that spread Bobby across a good portion if the canvas to exaggerate his bold and playful personality. He loves Babs to bits and this is easy to see from the brief I received "he's dead romantic, and always showers me with little, but meaningful, gifts - I can't count the amount of playlists he's made me... he's a real goof-ball". This dictated the expression on Bobby's face: I chose to have his eyes shut with a cheeky, goofy grin. I placed Babs in the centre of the composition (after all she is, as Bobby says, "the centre of my universe!"). Her arms are raised with shoulders shrugged in a way that suggests she isn't surprised by Bobby's playful behaviour in the slightest, and the smile on her face portrays she quite likes it.
When happy with the sketches, I made one final preparatory, line sketch that consisted of all of the things I think worked well in the preliminary rough sketches. I then scanned this into Illustrator and began working it up into layers of line and colour.
I chose subtle colours for Babs' clothes and accessories to highlight her calmer character. Bobby, I dressed in earthy tones, because although he's an extravert, he likes the relaxed look: "being raised on a farm, I just can't part with my tweed patches and chunky-knit jumpers".
I coloured the complete composition using complimentary tones from the same palette, rather than mixing colours belonging to contrasting palettes, like neons and pastels, which, believe me, can look really odd! With pink being the couple's favourite colour, I chose to colour the background of the portrait in a subtle pink, which also compliments Babs' top.
After colour was applied, I focused on the shadows. For this, I needed to think about where the light source would be coming from. Many directions of light would confuse the shadows, and as the charm of Tiny Grey prints come from their simplicity, I chose to have the light shining directly from above the couple. Shadows would then fall beneath areas where the light couldn't reach, such as under Babs' collar, under Bobby's cap, and on the underside of both Babs and Bobby's limbs. Including shadows adds more interest to the composition and helps bring more life to the characters' forms.
I then emailed the composition (called the proof) to the couple where they had the opportunity to feedback anything they would prefer to be changed. In this instance the couple loved their portrait and approved it for print immediately. The print was then dispatched a week later.
"OMG, thank you! We've opened our portrait and couldn't love it more. We'll be in touch at Christmas as my sister has now seen it and wants a Tiny Grey too!"
If you're looking for a unique portrait of you and your family, or as a gift for a loved one, please pop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org detailing the following things:
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