Mr & Mrs Piggy Ready-to-Write Wedding Invitation

A Froggy Process

Hello there!

I hope you all had a wonderful bank holiday weekend and were able to grab a chance to enjoy the sunshine. I’m back at Frog & Pencil HQ after some time away and I’m feeling refreshed and ready to hop to it.

I’ve had this post stored in the depths of my brain for a while now and I finally have some current work to use to help illustrate my points and generally pretty the page up a bit. Occasionally I meet and speak with people who don’t quite realise how much time and effort goes into creating a new design and exactly what that entails. So, I’d like to share with you how I work, from initial idea through to final product; my Froggy process.

For the purpose of this post I’m going to use my new Mr & Mrs Piggy Design.

CONCEPT

Inspiration can strike at any point and I’m influenced by nature and the gorgeous colour combinations you can find all around us. I love hearing people’s stories and more often than not these turn on my creative lightbulb. If I’m working with a client, I listen to what they are envisaging, include personal touches and then sketch up some potential ideas for them to look through.

Lovely Kate contacted me via Facebook as she was looking for a wedding card for her brother-in-law and she desperately wanted something featuring pigs but couldn’t find one anywhere. I don’t usually create one-off cards however after talking with her for a while I started to picture what it could look like and I was getting quite excited about the prospect of it. I concluded that it would be a brilliant design for my next Ready-to-Write wedding invitation which I could then transform into a card for Kate (and others); a win win situation.

SKETCHING

Now, my sketches are really not the most beautiful drawings in the world but they do enable me to have what I like to call, a ‘brain dump’. I can splurge all my thoughts onto paper and tweak certain ideas before refining the good ones. It’s all about working up the right composition (including a garland with bespoke detailing), and some days are easier and quicker than others. It can either take me an hour or up to a day to get this right.

Thankfully with the pigs I already had quite a clear vision and it only required a few scribbles. With a final composition completed, I use my light box to reproduce this design onto good quality watercolour paper.

PAINTING WITH WATERCOLOUR

I love this bit…it is where I see my illustrations come to life! This is also usually the part where within a few brush strokes I decide I hate it! In almost every case I get this overwhelming feeling that it’s now utter rubbish. However, I have learnt to trust in my ability and believe that it will all come together.

When I begin to paint I already have in mind a rough sense of the colours I’ll be using for the main characters. Throughout my creative years and experimentation with style, I’ve had one constant, I’m a colourist. I love playing with different tones and making them pop.

Working with watercolour I find that you have to be patient and allow time for the paint to dry. I’m quite precise with my colours and I don’t want any unnecessary bleeds. So, with that in mind and depending on the level of detail within the design, painting my illustrations take at least six hours.

At this point, if I’m making something for a client, I will e-mail over a scanned image of the final piece so they can see how it’s progressing.

PHOTOSHOP

Ahh, my good friend Photoshop, how I have sworn at thee a million times. If we were a Facebook item our relationship status would read ‘it’s complicated’. I think it’s pretty amazing what you can do with this programme however my skills are limited but I manage fine and can navigate it with what I need to know…and youtube helps A LOT!

Additionally, I never ever want to lose the handmade touch in my work as that’s me, so I really only use Photoshop for a few things. Mainly, as a tool to tidy up my work once it’s scanned in. I always create a ‘clean’ file where I erase any pesky pixels and make sure the illustration edges are smooth; then the image can be transferred to any project with ease. Once I’ve created a Ready-to-Write wedding invitation for example, I can experiment with background colours, introduce text and brighten the illustration a smidge so that it’s print ready. This can be a bloomin’ lengthy process. To clean the image so it looks excellent digitally can take me around three hours…even more if there are lots of fiddly elements which makes me super cross-eyed. I’m sure there is a simpler option, drop me a line if you know one.

And let’s not forget my other pal InDesign, oh we do have fun! This is more of a publishing programme which is ideal for aligning and producing more text heavy design, such as the reverse of my Ready-to-Write wedding invitations. This can take me a while to work with, but I currently have a nice template in place where I can simply edit the typography; hurrah! As you can probably tell, I much prefer making the work over the digital delights.

This final design would then be sent over to my client to get their approval before it heads to my printer.

Clean file of Mr & Mrs Piggy Illustration

Clean digital file of Mr & Mrs Piggy illustration ready to be transformed into a Ready-to-Write Wedding Invitation.

PRINTING

Once I’ve had the nod from my lovely client, we are ready to print. I’ve been quite lucky and have found a local printer who’s reliable, quick and his prices are reasonable too…oh and of course the final result looks glorious! I always ask for a proof so that I can review the colours. If they’re a bit off, it’s back to my favourite friend Photoshop for a bit of tweaking. I will never send anything to a client or sell a product that I’m not 100% happy with, so this is a crucial part of the process. This too takes time. Thankfully we have a nice relationship and usually I can see a proof by the end of the day. After that, it’s around a 24 to 48 hour wait for the final prints depending on their work load.

PACKAGING & POSTAGE

With the invites hot off the press, it’s time to package and post. I like to include a handwritten thank you note and it’s finished off with a Frog & Pencil sticker before making a trip to the post office.

BUT IT DOESN’T END THERE…

Nope, the process continues on after a client has received their goodies. As a small business I need to keep up with my social media accounts and promote myself. Showing off recent work is key to drumming up new commissions. This includes taking good photographs of my illustrations and the final pieces in eye-catching and interesting compositions. We then revisit Photoshop for some more editing, cropping, resizing and brightening so they’re primed for the web. Be it for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, my Frog & Pencil Website or this blog, it’s all important work that takes up more of your time then you’d think.

And there you have it, my Froggy process. I regularly need to remind myself of this structure for when it comes to pricing up quotes as all of these fundamental parts need to be considered so that I don’t undersell myself. It’s tricky, but I love it and I’m getting there.

On a final note, if you’re interested in purchasing my new Mr & Mrs Piggy Ready-to-Write Wedding Invitations or Congratulations Wedding Card, get in touch and say hello, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Cx

Table-scape setting from Mexican Photoshoot - credit bigphatphotos

Diego & Frida; A Mexicana Photo Shoot!

Hello there!

I am stoked that I can finally reveal and share our Mexicana photo shoot. Today’s post is rather a long one and absolutely packed to the rafters full of lovely imagery, so I suggest you grab yourself a cuppa or a nice G&T and settle down for a blog feast.

Not long after launching Frog & Pencil, whilst at my first wedding fair, I was approached by the wonderful whirlwind that is Janie from Bigphatphotos. It was all a bit of a flurry but I managed to grasp that she had these brilliant plans for a Mexican, Frida Kahlo styled photo shoot, that was going to be big, bold, colourful and on an alpaca farm. She’d seen my work online and thought my stationery would be perfect and would I be interested in collaborating? Hell. Yes!

Later that month at A Most Curious Wedding Fair, I met two other collaborators who were also the fellow visionaries. The Cake Lady, Emma from Buns of Fun and The Florist, Sharon from Flower30. After seeing their gorgeous stalls, I was super excited to be working with these three amazing and creative women.

I’ll be honest, being new and never having collaborated before I was bloody nervous. So much talent was within this team and I didn’t want to let anyone down. To ease those nerves I met with Janie one morning to talk about the shoot and a few hours later I came away full of inspiration. I realised there really wasn’t any brief or any rules for me, it was simply an opportunity to showcase my work within a theme; so no need to worry.

We shared a Pinterest board that was jam-packed with ideas and I decided that this would be an ideal time to create my first stationery collection which would feature alpacas; from that moment Diego and Frida were born.

I wanted my designs to be colourful, luscious with flora and fauna and have elements of tribal detailing. Overall, the pieces consisted of a Save our Date, Invitation, Map and an RSVP. Additionally, I made ‘on the day’ stationery too which included a Table Plan, Name Cards, Table Numbers and a Menu. Everything is cohesive but not repetitive and I’m very happy with the final results. I especially LOVE my alpaca characters, the Bride & Groom are gorgeous…they really are the heart and soul of this collection.

Before I knew it, the day of the shoot arrived. I awoke to beautiful weather and was buzzed to get going. I picked up our lovely models Amy & Jake and together we travelled to College Farm. On arrival the models headed off to hair & makeup and I made myself useful by helping to build a beautiful tipi. We decorated it with crepe paper streamers and flowers in hot colours and above it, we constructed a curtain with what felt like millions of hanging ribbons. It was looking pretty, I couldn’t wait to get shooting.

With the tipi ready we moved onto setting up the table-scape. This was placed in such a special location. Within the grounds there is a long natural grassy aisle that sits through the middle of a large watery pond. A stunning spot for a wedding breakfast. Everyone brought along ‘bits and bobs’ that had a Mexican vibe and I was staggered at how well the pieces matched. My big lesson from the shoot is that styling is actually pretty hard! You can be super creative but you certainly need a good eye to make a space come to life. I revelled in watching how it all came together and took lots of mental notes for the future.

Shooting began and everything revolved around these two main locations. Janie & Dave were our ace photographers and they were particularly entertaining to watch; I believe their differing skills brought out the best of each other. I especially enjoyed seeing how they work and organise their shots. The models looked great and I fell head over heels for all the floral detailing. I had serious crown envy and was crushing hard on the blooms!!! The nails too were a lovely touch, in particular Jake’s; Laura did a great job of keeping the masculinity on point. The little star of the day had to be our flower girl model, Savannah. She totally rocked the pom poms while echoing a mini Frida Kahlo; adorable!

Alongside the main model shots, Janie & Dave captured the details too. As I’ve mentioned, Sharon’s flowers were incredible and super tropical. She is one talented florist, I never knew you could be so inventive with flowers. Emma’s cakes looked stunning. She arrived with 5 iced cakes and then the decorating took place within the kitchen of College Farm. She is a wizard! It was such fun to watch her transform the sponges into modern designs with a Mexicana twist. They also tasted delicious…a nice little perk of the day! The Horse Box came along and pitched up in the grounds and I think they fitted in brilliantly with the theme of the shoot. A second perk, we were able to eat everything they made and holy moly it’s gooooooood! I’m still drooling over their seared skirt steak flatbread with their zingy fresh sides; I can’t wait to find them at another local event and indulge some more!

Finally, not forgetting my stationery! I had a range of shots within the tipi, settled upon one of the bouquets which I thought looked splendid, the flowers complimented my work well. Alongside that, Dave snapped a few close-ups with an exotic bird of paradise which also enhanced my designs happily. I think my favourite shots though are those on the table-scape. The menu and name cards blended in perfectly and I think everything within that setting looked sumptuous!

Ok, ok, I hear you! I promised a plethora of imagery, so I’ll pipe down now and let you enjoy these galleries so you can see for yourselves what an epic day we all had.

First up, introducing the Diego & Frida stationery collection. All the photographs in this gallery are credited to the very talented Janie & Dave of Bigphatphotos:

Next up, some behind the scenes action courtesy of moi…

Finally, a handful of my favourite shots from the day, again all of these are credited to Bigphatphotos.

Wowzers! Aren’t they just brilliant!

I was honoured to be a part of this collaboration and I had a tremendous time. Everyone was so friendly and I was made to feel really welcomed by all. I should also mention our gracious host Katharine of College Farm, she was just fantastic; thank you for having us. Your home is a delight, perfect for a wedding and if the grounds don’t swing it for potential couples then Brian the alpaca most certainly will; what a charmer!

An extra huge thank you goes to the brains behind this experience, Janie. I truly appreciate you bringing me aboard this brilliantly bonkers ship, I loved every moment and congratulations on your beautiful shoot!

Big news! We made it into County Wedding Magazines ‘Your East Anglian Wedding’ with a glossy three page spread and we even snagged the front page (gooo Janie)! Frog & Pencil also had a fab little mention in the Brides Bulletin page under the ‘Editor Loves’ section which was just lovely. You can pick yourself up a copy online or locally in WHSmith.

A TEAM CROAK OUT…

Bigphatphotos: Janie & Dave are a fab duo and as you can see from above are damn talented. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer give these guys a look.

Buns of Fun: Emma is awesome and a total whiz when it comes to beautiful bakes. Give her a call if you’re in need of a cake, you won’t be disappointed.

Flower30: Sharon is lovely and a genius when it comes to flowers. Be it traditional or a chic modern arrangement, she’s your florist!

College Farm: Beautiful venue for a wedding and it’s a place where you can truly make it yours. Give Katharine a call, she’d love to hear from you.

The Horse Box: Georgia & Steve whip up some of the tastiest street food I’ve sampled in years. A great, fresh alternative for you wedding or special occasion…I hear that their sausage rolls are legendary!

The Beauty Hobo: Laura was our nail artist and they looked stylish and current. Give her a call to give your fingers and toes a fancy treat!

Lanoi Makeup Artist: Lanoi did an incredible job with the make up on this shoot, the models look was tribal but contemporary! Looking for a make over, Lanoi’s your gal!

Arcadia Hairdressers Norwich: Hannah transformed our models hair for this shoot and in particular did a great job with our little Frida. Contact her about your wedding hair today!

Elle Harris:  Elle was the styling assistant on the shoot and she helped created a modern mexican look. If you’re looking for some styling advice (or a model), give her a call.

Models: Amy Bevan & Jakey Richardson – these two were lovely and really professional. It was a long day for everyone but they kept up their energy and enabled Bigphatphotos to capture loads of amazing shots. If you’re in need of a model, check them out.

Mexicana Photoshoot Crew! Credit Bigphatphotos

Mexicana Photoshoot Crew! Credit Bigphatphotos

Overall, what an incredible experience and amazing exposure for Frog & Pencil, it’s a day I’ll always treasure. I do hope to be part of another collaboration again in the near future and learn more from other talented folk.

A final note before I part. I am truly encouraged to see so many successful, creative and entrepreneurial women locally in this industry. It was a pleasure to work alongside you and amazing to study from you. In an environment that could be catty and competitive, these women ooze support, inspiration and love; you gals are awesome. Deep from my Froggy heart, gracias you beautiful GirlBosses!

‘Til next time,

Cx