Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

When I first began my own business, Short And Sweet Web Design, I needed some mock ups for my website to show my clients what I was capable of. As my business caters to both corporate and personal websites, I felt that a page of illustration and customised graphics would help sell the personal website services.

I decided to make up a page showing my baby’s first Christmas, which would allow for lots of colour and design possibilities. While I have been partly university educated in art, I usually find that I put paint to paper a lot less these days, especially when software programs such as Adobe Illustrator CS can help me do the job even quicker. So long as I remember to press the SAVE button…..but that’s another story!

Obviously, being a Christmas webpage, I thought I would use Christmas colours and a few complimentary colours. The first thing I did was to close my eyes and imagine a very colourful page. Initially, I tried experimenting with red and green page backgrounds but it looked a little too gaudy, so I finally settled on making the illustrations gaudy and the background a lighter blue.

As illustration takes a lot longer to do than almost anything else in design, I wanted to do something a little different. Instead of a traditional pine Christmas tree, I created a topiary tree and decided to follow the style of Bob Staake ( which had interested me in the past.

After perusing Bob’s website once more, I decided to come up with the elements of the design (eg, Christmas tree, elves, holly etc) and drew up a few disjointed illustrations in Illustrator (see page of bits on right). My usual process is to sit, look and play with the bits until they form a coherent whole. For example, I believe it took an hour to make up my mind to have the topiary tree, the background and the elves as part of one illustration.

Once the separate parts I had created were combined, I was able to fill in the blank bits, such as adding the box of presents, the lollies and the plum pudding.

Illustration is one of the most relaxing forms of design, especially if you have time to do something for yourself! Often I find with creative projects like this that some sort of image comes to mind before I even begin (in this case it was a bit of a hazy image but worked in the end). I would definitely recommend using digital media as a medium as you can resize the images for print and web, and easily put them into any setting, especially if you don’t want to be bothered taking out the background!