Our #shillomel students were completely wowed by Dani Hunt of Neverland Studio. She inspired and impressed with hot tips about how to approach your creative work and take on the design industry. Long story short: hard work is key.

We especially loved Dani’s key elements of success: (1) a killer aesthetic, (2) an engaging story and (3) unwavering drive. How powerful is that?

Today, we’re elated to hand the reins to Dani herself for a case study on this gorgeous piece, “Urban Jungle”. Follow along as she walks us through the project step-by-step!

UrbanJungleProcess13Neverland_Dani 3This piece, Urban Jungle, was inspired by the energy of the urban environment, and the creative buzz that envelops our cities each Spring. As a digital artist and designer this dynamic energy really fuels my imagination, and inspires my work.

I love that as a designer, all you need is an active imagination and a laptop, (okay—and a whole lot of drive). You’ve got the freedom to work from anywhere and for anyone around the world. There are so many crazy, curious places out there to excite and inspire.

I’d describe my style as bright and energetic, slightly whimsy, symmetrical and handcrafted, and that all comes together in this piece.

It’s also a good example of my creative process, which is why I thought I’d share it with you today!

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I kick off most projects with a super quick sketch (or 10) just to put my ideas on paper. At this point I know I’d like the word ‘Urban’ written quite boldly across the centre and ‘Jungle’ interacting with it in a more fluid script. To give it that jungle vibe, I also want to incorporate some leaves and flowers, and maybe a few birds or butterflies. (Just ideas at this point!)

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As the illustrations will flow around the typography, I start with the lettering first. I begin to refine the letter shapes, consider the scale of both words and determine how they will interact.

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With the basic shapes defined, I begin to expand on the details—paying attention to the terminals and stroke weight of each letter.

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With the lettering complete, I start to consider the illustrative elements, and how these could interact in a balanced, fluid way. I will overlay a piece of tracing paper, and sketch ideas for the illustration on top.

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I’ve skipped a few steps here, but my final hand-drawn illustration looks a little something like this. This is the sketch I will scan and trace in Adobe Illustrator, so at this point, I want hard lines that have lost their sketchy-feel.

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With the sketch in a background layer, I will begin to trace the shapes with Illustrator’s pen tool.

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Piece by piece, the design comes together on-screen. I’m not too fussed about the colours at this point, but begin to play around to gain perspective.

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With the illustration complete, I’ll stand back and consider the final composition, and decide on any tweaks I’d like to make to the design & colour palette.

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In this case, I felt the open flowers attracted too much attention, so I replaced them with tighter buds. To establish a bolder feel, I also decided on a dark background. It’s almost there—but still needs a bit more oomph.

UrbanJungleProcess10The finished palette! I’m happy with the colour contrast & composition, but am keen to introduce a more textured feel.

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To make the textures, I use a mix of watercolour paints and indian ink, on watercolour paper. Once they’ve dried, I scan them in, and tweak the colours as needed. Often, I’ll make them black and white, with high contrast, and play around with the effects panel in Photoshop… so the texture only slightly influences the colour below.UrbanJungleProcess12

Back to the design. I’ll copy/paste each piece of the illustration until it bas been put back together in Photoshop. I’ll add the textures as clipping-masks to each layer, and gradually establish the depth I’m looking for.

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Huge thanks to Dani for walking us through this gorgeous project! Be sure to follow her on Instagram for daily inspiration and check out her full portfolio.