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The beautiful lighthouses of the North East

Lighthouses of the north east

I’m lucky to live by the North East coast, a stunning stretch of coastline that inspires me all the time. The bold colours and wide range of styles of the lighthouses of the north east made me want to grab a sketchbook and get drawing so that’s exactly what I did. But first, I had to decide which lighthouses to include in the print design.

Beginning in County Durham, the first landmark I chose was Seaham lighthouse. The colouring of this lighthouse is slightly unusual as it features black stripes, rather than the usual red or blue.

North east lighthouses: Seaham lighthouse

Moving further north up the coast, my next pick was Souter lighthouse. This lovely classic style lighthouse is located in Whitburn, between Sunderland and South Shields. It’s owned by the National Trust and the view from the top is incredible!

North east lighthouses: Souter lighthouse

North of the Tyne

Next I travelled north of the river to Whitley Bay. I knew from the start that I wanted to include St. Mary’s lighthouse as it’s the closest lighthouse to where I live. It’s an icon of Whitley Bay so I want to do it justice. Keep an eye out for the next blog post to see how it turned out…

North east lighthouses: St. Mary's lighthouse

I’ve previously designed a print based on the North East coast which featured Longstone Lighthouse. This lighthouse located on the Farne Islands has the classic red stripes that will bring a great splash of colour to the print.

I was struggling to choose the final lighthouse of the north east as I wanted another one with stripes but I was coming up short. Then on a day trip to Amble I struck lucky. Not only is Amble lighthouse a fabulous red and white striped landmark, it’s also an interesting structure which will bring some diversity to the print design.

Amble harbour

With all the lighthouses chosen it’s time to get drawing. Stay tuned for my next blog post to see how they turn out.

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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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Belgium: First stop, Brussels

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit Belgium.

It’s a country I’d never been to before but I had wanted to visit for a long time. We flew out from Manchester to Charleroi airport and our first stop on the tour was Brussels.

The first thing that struck me about Brussels was how beautiful the architecture was! I had always thought of Brussels as a business city but of course there is an old town with incredible buildings. The main square is a great place to start; you could even do a tour in a horse and carriage.

One of the main icons of the city is this peeing statue. There seem to be many stories as to how it became such a famous landmark, but whatever the reason is, he’s a very popular guy. You’ll see the crowd of people as you walk up the street so you can’t miss him. We were lucky to catch him in a special outfit which was really fun to see.
There’s even a huge street art shrine to him just around the corner…

Speaking of street art, this fab Tintin mural is hidden in plain sight on the main route through the old town.

Step in to a museum

Just up from the statue is the fashion and lace museum. This is well worth a visit if you’re at all interested in fashion. While we were there they had an exhibition on about the back of garments which was an interesting take on fashion that I hadn’t seen before. It was great that you could get up so close to the designer clothes and see the progression through history.

This exhibition is a temporary collection but the main lace exhibition is also fascinating. You would not believe how many different types of lace there are! Most of the exhibits have an English explanation if you’re French isn’t up to much and there are loads of examples to see.

Moving on from the museum, there’s so much to explore in the older part of town. Belgium has some amazing churches and cathedrals with stunning stained glass windows. The colours are so bold and bright.

Another place that I would recommend visiting is the museum of musical instruments. This is a fascinating place if you’re in to your music, or even if you only have a vague interest in music. The place is chockablock full of instruments from all over the world, going back years. Just resist the urge to play any of them!

If nothing else, it’s worth visiting for the view over Brussels. Even on a cloudy day it was great!

After two days of walking our feet off, it was on to Antwerp next. Stay tuned for the Antwerp blog post coming soon!

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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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Let’s go to the beach

Drawn by Rhiannon Cresswell beach Northumberland

It’s been a jam packed start to the year so today it was time for a little break. I’m very lucky to live near the beautiful Northumberland coast and as the sun was shining, it seemed the perfect place to go.

It was pretty cold, there was even snow on the beach!

There were some adorable coastal birds playing along the shoreline which inspired me to design to a print. They were skipping over the sand so I want to use a medium which will show quick movement.
By the way, does anyone know what type of birds these are? I really need to brush up on my bird breeds…