A Peek into the Process: Be Still

Last week on Instagram, I shared a new piece of lettering and illustration I created that week. I wanted to share my process here with it’s creation because it’s a typical process in which I work.

Be still and Listen is a phrase that was stirring in my soul in the beginning of the week. I got the feeling it wasn’t for me but for someone else. Someone that was experiencing anxiety and pain that had a way forward but was overwhelmed with life.

Then I showed it to my 10 year old who immediately thought it was the perfect lettering piece for a teacher – definitely not what I had in mind (smile). And as I posted it on Instagram I got the feeling it was for those who need to open their hearts and minds and really listen to what others have to say – especially other people different from them.

You see, I think art is not only for the artist or the receiver of that art but is open for interpretation to anyone with the heart to see it. Each person may read it differently – even if it is words – but that difference is what speaks into their own lives and says something they need to hear in the moment. This is what I love about art. A piece can resonate with many people but in many different ways.

Anyways, I wanted to give you a little peek at my process, so here it is!

Ideation

First I begin with something on my mind. At times it’s words but is also often an image, a color, or a feeling. I’ll usually jot it down in my journal or sketchbook. Sometimes I get on it right away and other times it lingers before it boils up and grabs my attention again.

Most of the time the inspiration comes from someone else. A connection I made with another person, or something they said, or many times something they are feeling.

With Be Still, it was a connection from someone else who asked for prayers. It came as words and I wrote it down but it was so strong, I decided to begin work on it. I set out first in the sketchbook several ideas for layouts in thumbnail sketches.

From there I brainstormed what those words meant and how they made me feel in the moment. I knew I wanted to convey a breeze that speaks softly but is so sweet feeling (maybe it’s because of the oppressive heat we have right now in the south). I wrote a couple of ideas then began sketches on possible drawings that included trees and leaves and swirls of wind.

Sketching

From there I took two thumbnails I liked and sketched them in a larger format. As I considered what feeling I wanted to convey and these sketches, I knew which one I wanted to use. So I scanned that sketch in and began drawing over the letters using the pen tool in Illustrator. From there was a matter of fixing and perfecting the lines and the letters. It looks like this: Draw, print out, notate changes, fix, print out, notate changes, fix, print out and here on my 3rd try that was it.

I used my illustration sketches as a reference and began drawing in the swirls based on the layout of the letters. Here, I only used values of black and white to illustrate contrast between the different parts. I printed this then adjusted.

Color and Texture

Once done with adjustments, I researched colors. I knew I wanted blues but was unsure of using a monochromatic scheme. I researched some more and this is the color palette I created – which funny enough is basically the colors in my home (smile).

I replaced the different grey values with a color similar to it’s value. Then comes the fun part for me – in Illustrator I use the recolor artwork tool and the palette I’ve chosen to flip through numerous color combinations. I chose several and exported each.

After taking a look at each, I decided to combine the bottom two and tweak them. Now it was time for texture. I love texture. Here I chose a stippling brush and created shadows along the swirls. I also added an inky, watery texture on the background. Finally, I added a shadow on the lettering to give it a little more beef.

That’s it!

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