I love taking online classes. Victoria Johnson's are some of the better ones I've done. She provides succinct, useful information and then great briefs from which you can launch into new work. The classes aren't about learning techniques, but building concepts and ways of thinking.
Her Create Collections class got me thinking about leveraging all the ideas I have to create a small series. This is far more efficient than creating five unrelated illustrations. I do love working this way, because sometimes I feel this need to include all my ideas in one design! I don't want to leave anything out. A series allows you to explore as many as your ideas as you want to.
For this collection, I combined florals and something new to me - birds. It was great to take on a new challenge an fun to create some simple coordinates to fill out the mini-collection.
These designs are all available for licensing.
Last year I finally took the plunge. I had been building my illustration portfolio for maybe a year, and was getting prepared to start approaching art directors. The first market I was going to try my hand at was editorial. This can be book covers, magazine covers, spot illustrations... the kind of artwork that accompanies text.
So I had been adding artwork to my portfolio that included people and children, in order to show that I could do the work.
I wrote my email pitch and started introducing myself. I tried to keep my hopes realistic. After all, it's not like someone was going to get me to do a cover, but hopefully a couple of spot illustrations would come my way.
The very next day, I got an email from Mindful Parenting Magazine. The artist they had lined up for the next issue was unavailable and would I like to do it? YES! I would!
They send me a fab brief and a contract and I got to work creating some concepts. Once they had chosen their preferred sketch, I created some colour roughs for them before painting the final artwork.
This was such a dream project. I also learned some lessons along the way.
Communication is key and art directors and designers need to see what is in your head as much as possible. This is always difficult with painting, when the only way you can really show what the artwork will look like is by painting it!
For this project I created colour roughs with coloured pencil. I have also created them digitally, but for subsequent projects I'll be creating thumbnail colour roughs using paint. Thumbnails are small sketches with minimal detail and therefore faster to complete, while still communicating colour and feel.
Colour pencil didn't communicate the saturation or texture of watercolour. I have tried digital roughs but then need to mix my paints anyway.
The added bonus of using paint is that when I get approval, my colour mixes are ready to go.
This image was licensed exclusively in 2020, while that issue was new. It is now available for licensing.
At the beginning of 2021 I had a list of goals for the year. One of them was to get my work on a jigsaw puzzle.
I'm unbelievably excited to share my latest collaboration with you! "Beach Essentials" from Surf Shack Puzzle Co.
This was a match made in Heaven! Owner, Mahina is a fellow surfer who started Surf Shack Puzzles last year. I approached her about working together and she was full of wonderful ideas. This first puzzle was an adaptation of an illustration in my portfolio. I painted some additional icons to add more detail to the puzzle.
Mahina was wonderful to work with and I love that she promotes female artists across the world. Surf Shack Puzzles are made from recycled materials, come in plastic free packaging and are printed with non-toxic inks.
I created the elements with watercolours before scanning them and tweaking the arrangement in Photoshop. I kept to a colour scheme in order to make everything coordinate. (I talk all about this in my online class.)
I just love that there are so many avenues for illustration to find its way onto products. My second design will be launching with Surf Shack Puzzles a little later in the year. Sign up for my newsletter to be the first to hear about it.
I love painting and I also love surfing. So I love to combine the two wherever I can! Read on to learn how to create a cute paper doll with changeable outfits. Paper dolls are so nostalgic of our youth and have a long history.
Your doll can be a mini-me or inspired by someone you know, or completely fictitious.
300gsm watercolour paper or Bristol paper
Watercolour, gouache or acrylic paints, coloured pencils or markers
Pencil and eraser
Tracing paper (or cheap oven paper)
Waterproof fine-liner pen, like Unipin (optional)
Light box or a bright window
1. Let’s start with the paper doll. If you enjoy drawing, draw a person freehand. You can stylise the body, face and hair. Or if that is stretching your skills too far, take a full length selfie, or snap a pic of your friend. Wear something figure hugging, or even your bikini. Your doll can have her hands by her sides, or strike a pose that you want your doll to hold, such as a hand on hip.
2. View the photo on a tablet or computer screen and zoom it to the size you want your finished doll to be. Then grab your trusty tracing paper, or oven paper, and lay it on your screen. Pressing gently, trace the important lines. Make sure you get the outline, plus simple lines for facial features and hands.
3. If you like, draw a bikini on your doll, so she is still wearing something when she’s unclothed.
When you are happy with your design, go over the pencil lines with the black pen, so it is easier to see.
4. Now that you have the doll, you can use this as a template for drawing the clothes. Tape your tracing paper with the doll to a light box or to a bright window. Carefully tape the edge of the watercolour paper over the top so you can see your doll through it. Now draw an outfit straight onto your watercolour paper, or draw it onto a fresh sheet of tracing paper if you’ll need a few goes to get it right. The outfit can be bigger and wider that the doll but not narrower.
If your doll has its hand on its hip, you may need to include the hand on each new outfit. Once you finish an outfit, move the watercolour paper to align the doll with an empty spot so you can draw your next outfit.
Drawing wetsuits are super easy. You could also draw your fave holiday outfit, swimmers and post surf kit, wintery clothes, and evening wear.
5. On each outfit, draw tabs that will fold over and hold the clothes onto the doll. They need to be long enough that they can wrap around. One on each shoulder and a couple near the waist or hips is usually enough.
Why not draw some accessories, like your dream surfboard?
6. Using the window again, trace your doll onto watercolour paper. If your outfits are on tracing paper, transfer those too.
7. Paint the outfits using your preferred supplies. You can even use coloured pencils or markers, or a combination. You may like to ink the important details with the waterproof pen and erase your pencil marks before painting. When painting, wait for one area to dry before painting next to it. This will stop colours bleeding into each other.
8. When everything is dry, cut out your doll and outfits with a pair of small, sharp scissors. Don’t forget to keep the tabs attached!
These paper dolls make wonderful gifts or keepsakes from an adventure. When you complete the project, share your paper doll with @mermaidscoin and #surfgirlpaperdolls on instagram.
I joined Skillshare as a student about four years ago and I posted my first class - about combining watercolour and gouache - almost 2 years ago! Needless to say I have learned a lot since that first class.
I wanted to share a valuable tip with you about using gouache. White is magic!
When I started teaching my first class, I didn't know these tips, but wanted to share them with you. If you are keen to learn more about wonderful gouache and ways to combine it with watercolour, I hope you'll check out my class.
WELCOME TO MERMAiD'S COiN
Surf Artist, Hannah Katarski is based in Fremantle, Western Australia. She creates ocean-inspired art that is bohemian, retro and fun.