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

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It’s All Hotting Up…

Hello there!

Things have been getting rather busy over here at Frog & Pencil HQ which is why I haven’t had a chance to publish anything recently. I’ve bitten the bullet and set an official date to launch this little business and go live with the website…and it’s only a couple of weeks away, eeek! My saint of a husband and I have been getting our hustle on to make sure we have everything we need for the website (between you and I, it’s looking really good!).

It’s been an exciting, albeit sometimes frustrating process and I love that we can work together on it. Now, I have zero coding knowledge, that’s Lew’s department but I can bring my design eye to the table and it’s a dandy collaboration. As I said before, he’s a saint and has patiently listened, applied all the changes and minute pixel tweaks that I want to make, there have been plenty! He’s also learnt that when I say ‘I don’t hate it’ to a particular element, that means we need to modify it. I’m in complete awe of his skills! Lew’s never said ‘No, we can’t do that’, he will always find a solution and I adore him even more for it.

The website is starting to come together and I’m hyped to be popping on all the final content shortly. Watch this space…it’ll be up and running in no time!

Alongside all those shenanigans, I’ve been finalising the designs that I want to display on the site. Everything has now been sent to the printers and I’m excited to see the final results. Once these are through, I will attempt to take some kick ass ‘I want to hire her’ photographs ready to use on the website. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some good weather so that I have lovely light to work with. It could result in me busting out an epic sunshine dance or two.

This week I completed my Lovebirds Wedding Invitation. This is the first design that will be a part of my Ready to Write collection. Ready to Write’s are a budget friendly option for couples who like my style but funds are tight. These will be a simple invite with a lovely image on the front and you write on the back, filling in the blank spaces. I created a pair of Lovebirds and I’m thrilled with how they’ve turned out…I think they are my best illustrations to date and I hope that others will love them too.

 

The future plan for Ready to Write Invitations is to extend the collection with other designs and to include a Save the Date, RSVP and a Thank You card. But to kick things off with, I think these guys are pretty damn delightful.

In the pipeline for the upcoming week I’ll be writing website content, planning the Frog & Pencil launch party (gotta celebrate this moment!), making an appointment with the bank and hopefully start photographing my work.

Not long now; it’s feeling so real I could burst!

Have a brilliant weekend.

Love what you do.

Cx