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  • Madeleine Allcock

Art Showdown – Illustrator Vs Procreate

Updated: Jul 15


Illustration of a woman with green hair and lungs that look like trees
Breathe

My latest piece, Breathe, was based on an earlier experiment. Read on to see how it came to life.


At the end of April I created a personal project exploring the idea of nature as a grounding, nurturing and inspiring force. The project was challenging, and since then I've felt it stuck out a little – the colours, face, or whatever it was, didn't fit with my portfolio or style. I had it printed for a local exhibition, and afterwards put it to one side and forgot about it.

Until one day, I decided to tidy my studio. The print caught my eye, and something clicked – the cherry blossom trees in the background reminded me of lungs. Suddenly, I had an idea for reworking the piece and creating a stronger concept.

Excited, I sketched out the artwork again, having the character's body face straight on to include lungs. The path still wasn't straightforward though, and I wrestled with the artwork, trying to keep the colours and elements of the original.


Perhaps it needs more, I thought, and added flowers to the body. That didn't work. There was now too much going on, and my lung-as-tree concept wasn't clear. Next, I tried making the hair pink, and the body a bright green. It was starting to take shape, but it still didn't have the effect I was looking for. I tried it all in pink, or with brown hair, or using the background of the original piece



Frustrated, I took a coffee break to recharge and tackle it again with fresh eyes and more patience. Slowly, I began to let go of preconceived ideas to get to the heart of the piece. I thought back to what I wanted to express through the character – a sense of calm and wonder. I opened her eyes so that she might connect with the viewer more. I changed her lungs to green to clarify and simplify the concept. Next, I narrowed the colours down even further, matching her hair to the same shade and removing the skin colour altogether, making her more ethereal and symbolic, like a woodland nymph.


Finally, I added a watercolour paper texture background and a white border to add a sense of a handcrafted painting, and the final result is one I'm happy to add to my portfolio.


Illustration of a woman with green hair and lungs that look like trees
Breathe

Time-lapse of the full process on Vimeo


It surprised me how different it was from the original artwork. I still like the idea of the rainbow hair, and a woman tattooed in flowers, but I don't have to include all my ideas in one piece – they deserve paintings in their own right.


I hope you realise now that just because a creative project isn't working out, it doesn't mean it's not going to, or that it's a bad idea, or that you can't create art. Especially if it's a self-directed piece, with limited outside feedback. If you like it, keep working on it, show it to others, and you'll get there in the end.


– Madeleine

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