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Q&A with Rhiannon

In case you didn’t know, Drawn by Rhiannon is run by me, Rhiannon.

The business isn’t named ironically – my name is Rhiannon and I draw stuff. I’ve had a few questions sent through social media recently so I thought I’d round them all up and do a blog post Q&A! Let’s dive straight in.

How did you start?

I studied fashion design then fashion graphics at university. After the first year of university I knew that I wanted to focus on print design so I moved from fashion design to fashion graphics. My final major project was a collection of homeware items made with my printed fabric – sound familiar? At the end of year show I had several people ask me if I would be selling any of the things I’d made so I was like hey, people want to buy this stuff! Using my FMP as a starting point, I opened Drawn by Rhiannon and it’s just grown from there. The puffins were the most popular design from my first collection so I decided to use the puffin as my logo.

My final major project at university was the starting point for Drawn by Rhiannon

Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere! I love travelling and many of my favourite designs have been inspired by things I’ve seen on holiday. I’m also super inspired by the beautiful North East where I live, as well as animals, random objects and food.

Do you do this full time?

I work pretty much full time hours at Drawn by Rhiannon but I also work part time in a craft shop. This just makes sure I know all my bills will be paid. Plus it’s great to use some of my skills at the day job too. I would really love to just work on Drawn by Rhiannon all the time as my main income so hopefully one day I will be completely full time here!

How long does it take to design a print?

I get asked this question all the time and it’s such a difficult one to answer! Every print design is completely different so each one takes a different amount of time to create. There’s the drawing and colouring stage, the digital cleaning and then arranging stages. Some things are quick to draw but then take forever at the computer stage. Others take such a long time to draw but are relatively easy to digitalise. The pineapple took over 5 hours to draw! One thing that I can say about all my designs is that they are all a labour of love.

The pineapple design took so long to draw I couldn’t look at pineapples for months afterwards!

What are your future goals?

Like I mentioned earlier, my aim is to run Drawn by Rhiannon full time. I’d love to have my own shop filled with things I’ve made plus other local artists’ work. And I’d have a little tearoom in there too because I love baking!

One day I hope to have a shop where I can sell my items and bake cakes too

Did you always want to be a designer?

Not at all! I was always changing what I wanted to do when I was older. For a long time I wanted to be a pilot but then I found out how much it cost to train and that you had to do physics so that kind of went out the window…

When I first went in to the fashion world, I thought I wanted to be a stylist. Then I wanted to be a fashion journalist – until someone who worked at a fashion magazine came in to give us a talk and told us that it was exactly like what you see on the devil wears prada. I basically fell in to fabric design because I never knew the job existed! It was only after a print design project in my first year that I fell in love with pattern design and knew that was what I wanted to do.

What do you do in your spare time?

What’s spare time again? Running Drawn by Rhiannon whilst working part time in the craft shop too doesn’t leave much room for spare time. But when I do get the chance to take some time off I love to travel. If I could get paid to travel I would drop everything and do that instead! Other than that I love baking and cooking, music (my ukulele featured in one of my print designs), and going to the beach.

Which is your favourite print?

Oh that’s so tough! There are some prints that I honestly can’t stand to look at because I spent so long designing them that I kind of never want to see them again… but I think my favourite prints might be either the bananas or the pandas. The bananas were really fun to design actually and I was so chuffed with how they came out! The pandas remind me of the amazing trip to Edinburgh zoo that inspired the design so I love that print.

Drawn by Rhiannon banana dress
I would love to make a dress with my banana design fabric!

What is your favourite item to make?

This changes all the time. I used to get so sick of sewing zips because everything I made needed a zip. Since then I’ve expanded my product range to all sorts of things that don’t need zips. At the moment I’m feeling a bit nostalgic for sewing coin purses and pencil cases.

If you have any more questions for me just comment below and I’ll answer them!

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Inspired by a sassy sheep

I get inspiration from all over the place but for this particular print design it was this sassy sheep that started it all off.

Sassy sheep at Sewerby Hall

I spotted this fabulous creature on a trip to Sewerby Hall. After calling the sheep to see if I could get it to look at me for a photo, it gave me this look. The character in its face was brilliant and I knew I wanted to make it in to a print design.

For sketching the sheep I chose to work in pencil. This gave me the ability to create a fluffy outline but also focus in on the character of the face.

Sheep drawing

The shape was surprisingly tricky to get right as the sheep was just so poofy. When I was eventually happy with the outline, I scanned it in to the computer.

Digital colouring

Sometimes pencil drawings can be a real pain to manipulate digitally as the soft pencil marks don’t scan in well. Thankfully the sketch was bold enough that the computer could pick up all the small details. With a little bit of cleaning up the sheep was ready for colouring.

Sheep drawing digitalised

I wanted to create the feel of the wonderfully textured fur. To begin with I digitally coloured layers of different shades of creams and greys to get a base. I then took snippets of fur from the original photo and blended them in to the base colour to achieve the textured look. This is quite a difficult process as it’s important to get the balance of colour and shading just right to make it look realistic and not too computerised.

Digital sheep drawing coloured in

Finally it was time to assemble the design.

Creating the final sheep print

Similar to the cow print, I knew I wanted the sheep arranged in clusters to look like a flock. By scaling, rotating and skewing them, I made little family groups of sheep. Once I was happy with the layout, I worked on the background colour.

Sheep print design with white background

I always start every print design with a white background to check that I’m sure on the layout. Sometimes I keep the white background but I didn’t think this worked well with the sheep.

Sheep print design with cream background

Next I tried it with a warmer yellow cream colour which I thought was more successful. The sheep stood out from the background colour better than on the white.

Sheep print design with green grass background

Finally I tried a green background with tufts of grass to look like a field. Picking the right shade of green is always a difficult task but I’m really pleased with the one I chose here and I think this colourway is my favourite.

Let me know what you think of the new sheep print design by commenting below!

Sheep in the wild

You can find the sheep print design featured on the following products available to buy now from my shop.

Sheep coin purse
Sheep coin purse
Sheep wash bag
Sheep wash bag
Sheep passport cover
Sheep passport cover
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Cucumber the rabbit print: from drawing to final design

Have you read the blog post about the inspiration behind my latest animal print? If not, take a look at it here.

Drawing

One of the best things about designing your own fabrics is that you can draw anything you want. My pet rabbit is so fabulous that I thought she deserved her own rabbit print. She’s not your typical looking rabbit, more just a ball of fluff with ears. As adorable as this is, it makes her super tricky to draw! I chose three of her favourite positions to draw her in to give an idea of her character.

She likes to stand on her back legs to investigate things like a meerkat

I wanted to get across the fluffy texture of her fur so I decided to work in bold line work. I started with a pencil sketch to get the basic outline and an idea of where the fur ruffles were. Once I was happy with that, I went over the lines with a fine liner pen.

Her sitting pose is the most common pose she strikes

I found her face quite tricky to draw as there is so much fluff that a lot of her features get lost. The photo of her that I was drawing from here didn’t have her left eye in as it was hidden by fur. She does have two eyes!

She likes to lie down when she’s feeling very relaxed

Digitising the drawings

With all the sketches completed, it was time to scan them in to the computer for digital manipulation. The good thing about drawing with fine liner pens is that they show up well when scanned in. The sketches took very little cleaning up so I could move on to the colouring.

The colouring in was definitely the hardest part of the whole process. Her fur is bright white so it was very difficult to create any definition and depth with the colour. I tossed up between keeping the whole image light or having dark lines to define it more. In the end I decided to use darker lines to prevent the outline from getting lost.

On to the designing

When it came to arranging the design, I knew I wanted it to be a random scatter repeat. After lots of layers and nudging rabbits a millimetre here and there, the layout was finalised.

The finished rabbit print design with a white background

The design ended up being more cartoony than I envisaged which took a different turn from my other recent designs. I liked the simplicity of the monochrome rabbit print on a white background but I didn’t think this would translate well on to fabric.

Rabbit print with blue background
Rabbit print with blue polka dot background

My first thought was to contrast the white rabbits with a blue background. As you can probably tell from my print designs, I really like blue. There’s something very classic about blue and white together and I think this colour combination would work better for fabric printing.

Rabbit print with pink background

I don’t often use pink in my designs as I’m not a big pink fan. However I thought the pink worked well with the white for a soft girly design.

I was pleased with the final rabbit print design so it went in to production! You can find the mini lionhead rabbit design on reusable makeup remover wipes pictured above and on a coin purse with the blue background.

What do you think of the rabbit print? What other pet animals would you like me to make in to a print design? Let me know by commenting below!

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Where the magic happens

Drawn by Rhiannon industrial sewing machine

All the drawing, fabric designing, sewing and photographing is done by me in my north east studio.

I’m not a fan of long commutes so I love that my studio is just 10 seconds from my living room. When I moved in, the building in the garden was split down the middle, half a shed and half a playroom. The first thing I did (when it had stopped snowing… remember the glorious beast from the east?) was have the building completely renovated – the middle wall was ripped out, the walls and ceiling were lined with cosy insulation, and proper electricity was wired through to make sure the industrial sewing machine would run properly.

Drawn by Rhiannon studio
Having the studio in the garden is great!

The studio is the perfect size to fit everything in. Check out the video below for a quick whizz round tour.

So let’s break it down a bit!

The studio drawing table

Every fabric I design starts with my hand drawing which I draw right at this table here (unless it’s absolutely freezing, then I resort to the sitting-by-the-fire-under-several-blankets style of drawing)

Drawn by Rhiannon studio drawing table
This table is where it all begins. I stick photos I’ve taken on the wall as inspiration for my drawings.

As you can see, this is also where I keep all my scissors plus my domestic sewing machine and overlocker. I’ve written a blog post about my top 10 tools and tips for anyone interested in sewing which you can check out here.

The crafting cupboard

Drawn by Rhiannon studio tour - the big cupboard of crafting supplies
This big cupboard houses everything I need to get creative.
Drawn by Rhiannon studio tour - the big cupboard of crafting supplies
Threads, buttons, ribbons, pens, pencils, paints…

In the big cupboard next to the drawing table, there are all sorts of bits and pieces! I have a drawer for paints, a drawer for pens and pencils, then all the threads, buttons, ribbons and extras that I could possibly need for sewing. The last owners of my house very kindly left this super useful cupboard in the bathroom so I re-purposed it for the studio.

Once I’ve finished my drawing, I then scan it in to the computer and turn it in to a digital print design. This is the only part I don’t do in the studio as my internet doesn’t stretch that far.

The fabric store

The tallboy of fabric in the Drawn by Rhiannon studio
This tallboy houses all the lining fabrics and specialist fabrics such as interfacing, towelling, fusible fleecing and insulating fabric.

Once the fabric has returned from the printers it’s time to get making. This is where this cupboard comes in. I bought this tallboy from Oxfam when I moved in to my flat in Southampton and it’s one of those fantastic pieces of furniture that can be used for all sorts of things.

Tallboy full of linings, specialist fabrics and yarn.
It also holds my stash of wool for when I get a chance to do some crochet.

It’s a bit of an organised chaos situation but it makes sense to me! The top shelf holds any excess printed fabric that I need to get round to making in to something. It also holds the plain cotton lining fabrics that I use for items like the coin purses, makeup bags, and passport covers. (Check them out here) The middle shelf houses all the specialist fabrics like interfacing, towelling, fusible fleecing and insulating fabric. There’s also a stack of printed fabric (not designed by me) that I have bought to make in to clothes. I have about 6 dresses in the pipeline, it’s just finding the time to make them!

Dressmaking in the studio

Speaking of dress making, here’s a quick shot of the corner of the studio. This holds my fabulous dressmaker’s dummy and all my tape measures (forever losing these so you can never have enough)

Drawn by Rhiannon adjustable dressmaker's dummy
The adjustable dressmaker’s dummy is so handy for making clothes.

I also have a selection of design books covering everything from creative garment construction and printmaking, to typography and packaging design. When I lived in Southampton I would take a day trip to Salisbury as there is a fantastic bookshop there that sells all sorts of really specialist books really cheaply!

Drawn by Rhiannon studio bookcase full of design books.
I just love books!

Time to get sewing

After that quick sidetrack it’s back to the making process. I used to use the domestic sewing machine that you saw earlier but, bless its little heart, it was not designed for the volume of sewing I do these days. When my studio was being renovated, I searched high and low for an industrial sewing machine to take over the main sewing duties. I was lucky to find this beauty not too far from me which used to be used in the Barbour factory.

Drawn by Rhiannon industrial sewing machine
My fabulous industrial sewing machine

This beast powers through everything and never gives up, even when I’m sewing through 8 layers of thick fabric.

An important part of the sewing process is ironing. Pressing seams ensures they lie flat and gives the completed item a better finish.

The final stages

Drawn by Rhiannon ironing station
Apologies for the photo quality, it was a super sunny day when I was shooting the studio and the bright light from the windows caused a bit of a problem here.

Once the items are sewn and pressed, it’s time to photograph them.

Drawn by Rhiannon photography area
Most of the items are shot on a light blue background to match my branding.

I’m lucky to have lots of big windows in the studio so the daylight helps a lot. I also use a daylight lamp (the one sat on the industrial sewing machine table) to help on gloomier days.

Drawn by Rhiannon photography set up
My photography set up is forever changing but I think I’m slowly getting there…

Just a little side note for eagle-eyed readers; the robin on the notice board was the first thing I ever screen printed when I was at university. It forms the base for the robin print which is still popular to this day!

Drawn by Rhiannon packaging cupboard
Tissue paper, paper bags, business cards and mailing boxes are all housed in here.

And just in case you were wondering, the cupboard that I take the photos on holds all my packaging supplies for sending orders out to you lovely people! I recently changed to cardboard mailing boxes to be more eco friendly which fit nicely on this shelf. The bigger ones had to sit next to the cupboard as they are HUGE when they’re not folded in box form.
This was another cupboard that was very kindly left by the previous owners in the bathroom. Much more handy in my studio though!

Off to market

Finally when everything is photographed and listed on the website, it’s time to go to market.

Drawn by Rhiannon market prep
Another piece of furniture that was left by the previous owners of the house. A quick clean up and it makes the perfect market prop storage.

This shelving unit here holds all the props and accessories needed for my market stall. It adds up to quite a lot of equipment! This is all carefully planned out before each market to make sure I’m happy with the layout before I go.

So that’s it! I hope you enjoyed a behind the scenes snoop of my studio. Stay tuned for my next post about my favourite sewing tools and tips.

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The final stages of the cow print design

Cow print design with cream background

With the cow drawing scanned into the computer, it’s time to add colour to the print design.

For this print design, I decided to colour the cow drawing digitally using layers of photographs. I photographed different angles of the cows to get sections of their fur. Next I took a look at the colours of the cow to see which areas needed to be lighter or darker. By doing this I was able to cut different pieces out of the photos to use in different areas. Then it was a case of layering the different pieces and blending them to create a smooth coverage of fur. Take a look at this video to see all the layers that went in to colouring the cow.

I needed lots of layers of different shades to create the beautiful fur of the cow

The final step

Once the cow had its fur it was time to create the print design. I had a vague idea in mind of how I wanted the print to look which really helped. Quite often I’m not sure what I want the finished print to look like so it takes longer to create because I don’t have a base to start from. For this design, I had the idea to have the cows in clusters, as if they were scattered about a field. First of all, the cows were grouped in to small groups of twos and threes. Also some cows were rotated and resized to give some variety to the print.

Cow print with cream background
I always like to use a cream background with a brown print design
I also wanted to use a green background to symbolise the grass

And here’s the finished print design! What do you think? Do you prefer the cream or the green background?

Earlier this week I sent off the files to the fabric printer so new fabric is imminent! Using the cow fabric I will be making a coin purse, a passport cover and a wash bag. If you would like to reserve any of these items, just let me know!

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Back to the drawing board

Cow pencil drawing for the cow print design

The last post saw the first stage of the cow print design. Continue on to see the next steps…

After the realisation that the oil pastel drawing wasn’t going to work for the base of the print design, it was time to go back to the drawing board. I’ve been enjoying using thick pencils recently so I started there. I knew I wanted to use something that would pick out the layers of the cow’s shaggy hair so a simple pencil seemed the best way to go.

Pretty cow serving as inspiration for the new cow print design
Such a pretty cow

Although I liked the effect the oil pastels created for mimicking the cow’s hair, I felt that they missed some of the details. The cows had such beautiful faces and really pretty eyes so I spent most of my drawing time focused on the face.

The finished cow drawing for the new cow print design
The finished pencil drawing

I think the pencil drawing captured the character of the cow much better than the oil pastels did. I’m really pleased with how the face came out, isn’t he just so adorable! I still wanted to get across the texture of the fur so I decided to digitally colour the hair. On Photoshop I planned to use several layers of photographs of fur.

The cow drawing scanned in really well and is ready for being made into a print design
The pencil drawing of the cow scanned in much better than the oil pastels drawing

Thankfully the pencil drawing scanned in much clearer than the oil pastels did. By fiddling with the levels and exposure, I was able to get a really solid outline. This works great for print designs as it shows up better on fabric. I was also able to clean up all the little lines that I’d drawn slightly wrong so I was completely happy with the drawing – thank you Photoshop!

Stay tuned for the final blog post in the cow print design series to see the finished print! You’ll also find out what items I decided to make with the printed fabric. Feel free to drop me a message in the next post if you want to reserve anything.

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Hello Mr. Cow

Cows inspiration for a new print design

It’s time for a new print design and for this pattern we’re off to the farm.

Growing up in the Derbyshire countryside definitely gave me a lot of inspiration for my print designs. From the patchwork field landscapes to the farm animals on the doorstep, it’s come through in my work more than once or twice.

I’ve already created a couple of designs inspired by farm animals. The chickens came first (no pun intended) when an escaped flock of chickens made a break for it down the village road. The gorgeous colours of their feathers made me grab my colouring pencils and blend those tones in my sketchbook. If you’ve not seen the chicken print design before, click here to take a look at this chicken pencil case.

Next up was the goat print, inspired by my sister’s love of goats. They are pretty great little fellas aren’t they.

Goats always ready to eat anything that’s going.

When I was thinking of what prints to design next, I took a look back through the photos I had taken over the years and came across these beautiful cows.

Fluffy cows to inspire a new cow print design
How fabulous are these cows!

I absolutely love the cow’s hair (hair/fur/coat?). The texture leapt out at me and the blend of colours was lovely and warm. I knew right then that the cows would be my next print design.

The wiggly texture of the hair drew me to oil pastels straight away. I thought this would translate really well so I rummaged through all my pastels to get a warm colour palette.

If only I could draw this fast in real life…

I really liked the effect of the oil pastels but I wasn’t sure it would translate well as a print design. The rough nature of the oil pastels look nice on paper but they don’t scan very well in to the computer to make a digital print, so it was back to the drawing board…

Check out the next blog post for the next instalment of the cow print design!

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The finished panda print

Drawn by Rhiannon panda print

With the panda drawings being simple black and white pencil sketches, they were nice and simple to digitise ready for their print design. By playing around with the levels and tones on Photoshop I was able to create a nice bold image of the pandas. Next it was time to design the print.

Usually when I design a print I don’t quite know the direction I want to go with it, but for the pandas I had a very clear vision of what I wanted the pattern to look like. I took both the panda images and resized them, rotated them and flipped them to create a mix of different shapes and sizes. I then arranged them so that they weren’t too crowded or too far apart until I was happy with the layout. After some last minute panda shuffling, the print was finished. Introducing my very first monochrome print design…

Drawn by Rhiannon panda print design white background

If you’re familiar with my print designs, you’ll know how rare it is for me to have a completely black and white pattern. So of course I had to try it with some different coloured backgrounds too!

Drawn by Rhiannon panda print design blue background
Drawn by Rhiannon panda print design pink background
Drawn by Rhiannon panda print design green background

So what do you think? Which is your favourite? Please let me know by commenting below!

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When your job calls for studying photos of pandas you know you have a good job

Drawn by Rhiannon panda

If you’ve joined me from reading the previous blog post, hello again and thanks for continuing with me on my panda journey! If you’ve just landed here from out of the blue then it might be best to check out the previous blog post first to see what’s going on.

Every time I want to design a new print I start by researching. I always try to design prints from things I’ve seen and photographed so that I can get a real feel for what I’m going to be drawing. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I took some great photos of pandas when I visited Edinburgh zoo so to begin the print designing process, I took a while going through my panda photos and having a really good look at all their features.

Drawn by Rhiannon panda

Next it was time to start drawing. I chose to simply draw in pencil for this design. Most of my designs are full of colour so knowing that I would only be using black and white was a real challenge for me. By using a soft pencil I was able to add some areas of grey shading as well just to give a bit of depth and tone to the drawing.

Drawn by Rhiannon panda drawing

The first panda drawing took inspiration straight from the panda I saw at Edinburgh zoo that was sat eating bamboo right in front of the viewing window. I just love how cute and chubby they are!

Drawn by Rhiannon panda drawing

I always knew that I wanted two pandas in my panda print to represent the two pandas that live at Edinburgh zoo so I set about drawing the second bear. This one took a bit more imagination as the photo I had of the panda standing up at the zoo was surrounded by bamboo so I couldn’t see all the details. Using a collage of the photos I had taken, I worked out what should go where and how the panda’s frame would sit. Just look at his cute little smiley face!

With the drawings all sorted, it’s time to scan them in to the computer ready to be made in to a digital print. Check out the next blog post for the finished design!

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Fruit print range: banana prints

Drawn by Rhiannon new banana prints

Hopefully you’ve read the previous two blog posts and have seen the progress of the banana print design so here’s a sneak peek of the finished designs!

Beginning with a classic half drop repeat, I like the negative space that’s created from the shape of the bananas. I’m thinking this would look fab on a pencil case, might have to see if I can find some banana stationery to match it…

I always like to make a random repeat version of prints too. They take a lot longer to design as you have to arrange them just right and then make sure there are no gaps in the finished print, but I always think they’re more versatile and can cover a bigger area.

I also made the random repeat print with a green and a blue background, but I just can’t decide which is my favourite… Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below!
P.S. Does anyone else have a sudden desire for a dress made with banana fabric or is that just me?