Welcome welcome lovely reader!

On this page you can find several WIP posts on how I create my illustrations.  I thought it would be fun for you to see how an illustration comes to live. Some posts will have a detailed description with the things I did and others are just Staring posts. All in all, it's a peek in my Mind and how I create my work!!

Other WIPs - The first link is always the most up-to-date post
October 2012 - Mysterious Creepy Lady (It's a video!!)
September 2012 - Sahel the Goddess of Nature
August 2012 - Dragons, Dragons, Dragons.
May 2012 - Floating Cupcakes
March 2012 - Koalas, Koalas, Koalas
April 2011 - Tropical Fluffiness
March 2011 - Flower Girl Ivy Liliana

October 2010 - WIP Sing My Pumpkins, Sing.
This is my first WIP post, created in October 2010. It's for a charity calendar for the organization called Diva Day. Twelve illustrators, including me, got the very cool opportunity to create an illustration for the calendar. I got the month October (my birthday month!!). Thanks for the opportunity mr. Griffin!

The only requirements were that we had to include a female character and if possible a musical element. Other than this...complete freedom! First step is...brainstorming. Well it was pretty clear from the start that I wanted to give it a Halloween feel to it and add a cello to it. I choose a cello, because I think it's an amazing & powerful instrument. It would complement the delicate features of the lady character. This brought me to another element of the drawing...I didn't want it to be like the chibi drawings I did here. I wanted to give a more mysterious feeling to it. So I started sketching and I got several ideas. First I wanted to create a nature environment, then I switched to a dark room with lots of Halloween elements in it. Well I can try to explain how this part works, but it's kinda chaotic and not sure if I would make sense haha. The drawings are just a bunch of lines on paper on this stage. And even though you would see the sketches, you wouldn't see what I wanted to create immediately. Sometimes I just need to have loose lines on paper, to get the first urge of drawing out my system. At this stage I'm probably the only one who can 'read' the drawings. I hope that made sort of sense.

The sketching process took several days. I kept adding and erasing elements, because it didn't feel quite right. In the end I switched back to a nature environment. reason for this is that I already painted several Halloween illustrations while I was sketching stuff for this and the idea of a purple sky seemed perfect!

I suggest to enlarge the pictures for a better view. Final sketch looked like this.

As you can see I taped the Pumpkin lady on top of a bigger sheet, because I drew her separately. After this I will ink the correct lines, so it's easier for me to draw the entire illustration on the correct paper.

So now I had my complete sketch and it's time to transfer it to correct paper. I used a medium sized lightbox to draw it again. And final inkage of the illustration is here.
It looks so plain! As you can see I also added more pumpkins to it and made some other changes here and there. When I'm drawing the final illustration I find myself making changes all the time, because what looked good at first, might look not so good later. It's painting time now and have to admit...I didn't quite know how to start. There were lots of details and I never used a masking fluid to block out certain areas before and I didn't want to try it out on this illustration, because I was afraid that I would damage the paper and I didn't want to draw the entire thing again! So I had to think what colors I would use before hand. Usually I just start painting and add colors along the way. I left it aside for a day and then I added a light wash of color.
After this it's just adding layers of color. I don't know from the start how many layers I'll exactly use to complete an illustration. For this I thought it would be around 4 layers. It really depends on the intensity I want to get with it in the end. I focused on the Pumpkin Lady at first, because I wanted that to have all the attention & depth.
To give an idea of how I paint, well I wish you could just see it in person haha. But in short, I always mix colors together to create the color I want and then I add a wash on paper. When a layer is still wet I add a darker/lighter color in it to have a highlight or shade. Example: to create a certain depth around the pumpkin I added a darker color at the edges of the pumpkins, with a orange/brown color. Then I blend this further out with a orange/yellow color. This I repeat like two to three times.
While I worked on this, I was working on several other small illustrations, so I didn't have to wait that long when I had to add a new layer. Ooh efficient use of my time hehe. This is the final result with a close up at the Pumpkin Lady. Until this stage I kept the cello uncolored. I just couldn't find the correct colors to paint it with and I didn't want to use another orange-y color. So my Creative Partner in Crime, Ms. Claire, gave a link to a cello with an old brown color. It sparked the idea to color the cello I did below, with a cooler blue/purple shade around the edges!
Tadaa! It is finished! I have to say that I'm quite pleased with the end result and I'm quite the perfectionist when it comes to my illustrations. It took some time to paint it, because I had to paint around lots of details and make sure it still looked good in the end. I will look into masking fluid and see how that works for me. I already have a few ideas for larger illustrations hehe.

Soooo what do you think about it? Feel free to leave comments here or on the post that linked you to this page. You can ask questions, give tips or things you would like to share. Anything is possible.

Thanks for sticking through the end & Hope you liked it!


  1. WOW! I love this! I really think its cool that you've started this tab and have a step by step look at your work of art!

  2. Wow! Great job TJ! I truly love seeing the Work in Progress tab! I can truly see the scope of the project and it really is a huge illustration! I am very familiar with string orchestra instruments. Is it a String Bass or Cello? One detail I noticed is how you reduced the amount of F Holes that existed in the instrument. I love all the expressions in the pumpkins hehe. I notice the tiny kitty that's taking a nap as well haha! Great job once again!

    - Ollie

  3. Wooo I love this idea of a work in progress page! When you said you were doing one, I had just presumed it would be a word document.

    Maybe you could do a flickr slideshow too?

    What happens when you start a new project? As you can't post just to this page? So would you just moved the content to an archived/post dated post?

    I don't know much about lightboxes, to be honest I am not sure what exactly they are used for.

    A million questions as usual!

    I think the project is fanatbulous and I can't wait to see what the calendar looks like! Will we be able to see it online? Do you know who the other doodles are?

  4. This is fantastic. I have just this week started using water colour paints and am learning all about washes and layering.

    the pumpkin lady is great - I am glad you got a month with 31 days - your picture will be on show one of the longest!


  5. @ Deray: Ciao Diana! Thanks so much :D

    @ Janz: Hello again! Aww thank you!! I’m glad you like it ^_^

    @ Ianne: Hey Ianne, thanks so much!

    @ Ollie: Hey there! Haha it’s a huge illustration indeed. Although…I have bigger ones in mind. Really, my mind doesn’t stop! I had a cello in mind when I painted it...ehm reduced amount of F-holes...you kinda lost me there haha. I know quite a few things about instruments, but that I don’t know. I love the pumpkins :D! Hahah the kitty was a funny detail, he just appeared! Thanks again!

  6. @ Claire: Thank you, thank you!! I’m so glad you like it, ms. Pumpkin Lady! Oh a slide show is a very good idea! I shall do that for the next WIP I think…yes there will be more.

    Only you raised a good question! Because I didn’t think of how I would want to display more WIPs. A back dated post, was a post where I would changed the date in the options area, so it would be like one of the first post right? Aaah you explained it a while back…can’t quite remember it now. I doooo listen to you though!

    I use the light box to trace the sketch on correct paper. It saves me time from sketching it by hand again and saves me time to erase all the pencil lines too! I shall send you a picture later. A while back I just held it against the window, but that was really tiring.

    I shall ask Griffin if the calendar will be online! I’m very curious as well!!

    One of the doodlers is Kristine, she commented on the post that linked you to this page & mr. Griffin is the other one as well. They also participated in the Zero2illo project.

    Feel free to ask more questions! *wonders if that was a good thing to say...*

    Hehe ^_^

    @ LadyGoodWood: Hello! Ooh will you post them on your blog if you have paintings? I would love to see it! Oh I didn’t think of the fact that I got a month with more days! That’s very cool indeed! *waves & smiles*

  7. TJ, this is great. A window into your creative mind. I can see all the little wheels turning, and the lovely images they're creating and putting on paper. Your work is so playful, light-hearted and fanciful. I love it.

  8. @ NP: Thanks so much NP! I'm happy to show you all how my mind works...well a tiny part of it anyway haha. Sometimes I confuse myself with all the thoughts and ideas ^_^.

  9. This is a great addition to the blog! I love art but I'm certainly not an artist myself, so this is a great way to learn a bit more about how the process works.

    The illustration turned out great!

  10. @ Andrew Walsh: Heey AJ! Thank you :D. Even though, I'm still a beginner myself, I do hope people can get some tips from me or that they will learn something. Cya!

  11. Hi =) I just found your Blog, and I love your Art..

  12. @ Seaprincess1: Hello There & Welcome!! Thanks so much for checking it out ^_^. Hope to see you again!

  13. 2-20-11

    i see what you mean, this is something i've been interested in for a long time. i used to draw, and do it pretty well, when i was younger. but now it feels like i can't even draw a straight line, lol

  14. Ciao Lisa!

    Oooh I'm curious in what kind of style you used to draw! I think you just need a bit of practice :D. It's has to be hidden somewhere! I will post more WIP soon, I have a few waiting.

  15. I love the idea of seeing an idea become a reality through all the stages! You're so good at watercolour- it's something where I lose patience very quickly... But I love looking at watercolour paintings/llustrations. I also really liking your whimsical style. *awesome* :D

  16. Hi there Heart!!

    I loooove to see WIP posts from artists, so naturally I love to share them as well haha. I'm really glad you liked it too :D. You know, I always kept my drawings in sketch form because I could never get it coloured the way I wanted it with colour pencils. So when I started my blog I wanted to add a touch of color and of all mediums I choose watercolours. I love it and with practise it isn't as hard as you may think. You do need patience haha. Something I'm still learning myself hehe.

    Thanks so much for your lovely comment :D


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