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.
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 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…
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.
With all the lighthouses chosen it’s time to get drawing. Stay tuned for my next blog post to see how they turn out.
I get inspiration from all over the place but for this particular print design it was this sassy sheep that started it all off.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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)
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
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
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.
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)
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!
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.
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
Once the items are sewn and pressed, it’s time to photograph them.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Seeing as I’ve started this new blog and some of you are new to Drawn by Rhiannon, I thought I would make a post of a quick introduction so you know who’s talking to you.
This is me! I’m not a fan of having my photo taken so you won’t see my face much around here (but if you ever want to talk to me face-to-face, come and visit me at a market! Find a list of events here). I studied Fashion Graphics at Southampton Solent University and graduated with a First Class Honours. I’m going to do a whole different blog post about how I got into print design and my process, but for now, here’s some random facts about me to get a sneak peek into the designer behind Drawn by Rhiannon.
Just in case you weren’t sure, my name is Rhiannon and I like to draw.
I live in Newcastle Upon Tyne by the sea and I love it here! The beach is my absolute happy place and gives me so much inspiration.
I’m not originally from here so don’t be surprised when I don’t talk with a Geordie accent. I’ve moved all over but grew up in Derbyshire.
I have a ridiculously cute pet rabbit called Cucumber. If you follow Drawn by Rhiannon on social media you’ll see snaps of her now and again on there.
I am most definitely a sweet person rather than savoury. I can’t get through the day without chocolate and biscuits!
I love travelling. I’m always saving up for the next adventure to experience new cultures, food and print inspiration.
I’m big into music, especially rock and jazz. I used to play the flute but now my main instrument is the ukulele. In total I have two ukuleles, two guitars, a flute, a keyboard, bongos and maracas.
If you hadn’t noticed from my print designs, I’m a fan of bright colours. My house is literally a rainbow.
I really enjoy cooking and baking so you might see some foodie posts on here sometimes – would people be in to that?
Finally, I love my job! Every day it amazes me that I’m lucky enough to do what I love for a living and I’m so thankful to all you lovely lot for making it possible by supporting me!
So that’s a little insight in to me, why not comment below with some random facts about you?