Tag Archives: fashion illustration

A Demurely Dotty Departure (My Latest Illustration Takes Shape)

Today’s illustration was a departure of sorts for me.  Inspired by Donna Mehalko’s wonderful illustrations in this book (currently on my Amazon wish-list), I decided to start from a style board and then imagine a character and pose for the clothes.

This was the style board I chose.

blue polka dot dress board


Because I’ve been feeling like I need a drawing refresher of sorts, I went back to this wonderful illustration tutorial by Alfredo Cabrera.  Following his step-by-step instructions, I first created a “skeleton” outline for the figure made up of mostly geometric shapes.

(Pardon the faint image!)

skeleton sketch for illustration


And after fleshing out the details, this is what emerged!

polka dotted dress and chihuaha for blog




Filed under art, illustration, marker and ink illustration, materials, motivation, New work

Time Warp, or Maybe Just Beginner’s Luck?

I’ve always been envious of artists whose work is so free, yet assured, that they can create their originals in pen.

Take for example, the work of famed illustrator Rene Gruau:

Rene Gruau illustration

Being a risk-adverse type of person (not to mention that my initial attempts 3 years ago drawing with pen were beyond embarrassing – hello, Close Encounters of the Third Kind?), that kind of freedom has certainly eluded me.  In fact, I wrote in yesterday’s post that I expected to get good at drawing with pen in maybe…

40 years

But the seed was planted again in my brain.  Last night, just for fun, I took out my nice heavy-weight Borden & Riley Bristol Art papers (I have pads in 3 different weights) and doodled with my markers to see which weight was the best fit.   And, perhaps just to prove to myself that I shouldn’t even try to draw in pen, I doodled this “fashionista”…

doodle fashionista

Yes, it looks like her right foot is on backwards and that she has a dust bunny for a pet, but the whole exercise was oddly encouraging.  And today when I decided to continue the experiment, here’s what emerged…

Speechless for blog


Overnight success?  Beginner’s luck?  No.  (And certainly not when you consider that I’ve been creating fashion-based illustrations for the past 3 years!)

Proof that hard work and goal-setting works?

I’ll let you be the judge on that one….



Filed under art, illustration, marker and ink illustration, motivation, techniques

Can You Spot the Differences…(and Give Me Your Opinion?)

Lately, I’ve been working towards more freedom in my illustrations…with the secret hope that someday (in another 40 years?) I’ll be able to create the illustrations from the get-go in pen.

Yesterday when I was working on my “illustration du jour” I was just putting in the finishing touches when I went a little heavy-handed with one of my pens and – in my eyes – ruined the illustration.  So I started again. The result is that I now have two illustrations that appear very similar, but are still quite different.  Funny what the flick of a pen can do!

My husband surprised me with his preference; however, since I’m still on the fence over which one I prefer, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Do you prefer….


The Happy Gardener for Blog2


or, B.
The Happy Gardener for Blog


Filed under art, illustration, Influences, marker and ink illustration, materials, New work

Fun with Ruffles…A New Illustration Takes Shape!

What was supposed to be a lighter work load this week has turned into anything but since I’m playing all seven performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with New York City Ballet.  It’s a glorious score, and the audience loves the staging and the dancing, so no complaints here.  All the same, finding time to work on my illustrations has been a challenge.

But, I did make progress today on this sketch.

prelim sketch for glam bday card


Here is the transferred pen version…

transferred pen drawing

And the illustration after I had rendered the skin and was adding the first layer of red marker.

red marker added

Here is the illustration with a second layer of darker red low-lights added…

second layer of red low lights added

And, the finished dress with yet another darker layer of red added and some blending over the highlights!

couture dress rendered

The balloons weren’t finished when I took the photo above, and I might still redo them for the card version.  But for tonight…

that’s all folks!



Filed under art, illustration, marker and ink illustration, materials, New work

Jo’s Journey (A Somewhat Irreverent Guide to Doing Anything Better): Learning from the Masters

Today it’s hat’s off to these artists who inspire me:

Chelsey McLaren – for her whimsical trés chic, haute cute illustrations

Izak Zenou – for his seemingly tossed off, yet ever-so-stylish city girl illustrations

Arturo Elena – in my book, the master of the marker illustration

Donna Mehalko – for her bold lines and bright contrasting colors

hats off tilted cropped blog

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

(Pablo Picasso)


Filed under art, drawing, education, Influences, Jo's Journey, marker and ink illustration, motivation, New work, wisdom

My Favorite Things – Having the Time to “Play” at My Drafting Table

Although I went back to teaching today (I’m fortunate to be blessed with great students!), I still had the better part of the day to play work on my illustrations.  My goal was to experiment with India ink and my nib pen for the illustration outline.  I was also going for more freedom in my coloring approach.  In the pencil sketch (which I worked on yesterday) I focused on elongating the figure even more than I usually do since I wanted to emphasize her grace and bring out the overall glamour in the composition.

What a luxury to be able to experiment and even REDO an illustration – in this case, the version below is my 2nd attempt…

Valentine Rose final

I’m fired up to do more illustrations using the techniques above, but first I’ll be turning my attention to finishing a 5-illustration custom project.

See you back here soon!


Filed under art, drawing, marker and ink illustration, materials, motivation, My Favorite Things, New work, techniques, Tool Box

Stretching My Limits…The Fashion Illustration Goes to New Lengths

After a week away from home and from my art supplies, I’m itching to get back to work.  The enforced vacation from creating has been good…in fact, I feel like it’s forced me to look with fresh eyes at my work to-date and see where I want to grow.  The Holy Grail for me is capturing that je ne sais quois element that is embodied in the work of fashion illustrators like Reneé Gruau:

Rene Gruau illustration

and Arturo Elena:

Curly Haired Woman with Perfume Bottle by Arturo Elena

If I had to put my finger on it, I’d say that beyond vibrancy, movement and  life, these illustrations exude GLAMOUR!

With that in mind, I’ve tweaked some proportions and lines in my latest illustration – still in the pencil draft stage.  Here is a sneak peak of a portion of that sketch:

Head shot from Valentine with Rose by Joana Miranda

Curious to see more?  Then come back tomorrow!

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The Long and Winding Road to (Almost) Completion for My Latest Illustration

The process of completing an illustration takes me quite a few steps sometimes.

In this case, the first sketch was done about a month ago in a hotel room in Saratoga, NY…

in the mirror prelim pencil sketch

Then a few days ago, I redid the sketch so that “Josephine” would look more playful and flirty…

in the mirror sketch

I thought she looked really good, so I proceeded to the inked outline stage…

in the mirror pen outline

But when I finished coloring her in, I was dismayed.  Not only had I overworked areas (the hand gave me a great deal of trouble), but I realized the eyes weren’t right, and I needed a better solution for the window frame…

In the mirror old final

I felt like I was getting somewhere with this version, but I hadn’t resolved the background issue yet…

in the mirror prelim ps resized

And here’s what I came up with.

In the mirror final resized

But wait, there’s more!  You can look forward to seeing this illustration on a new product very soon.  Stay tuned…


Filed under art, drawing, Josephine, marker and ink illustration

Jo’s Journey (A Somewhat Irreverent Guide to Doing Anything Better) – A Tribute to Some of My Guides

Most people on a journey benefit from having some sort of a guide.  I’m definitely in the most people category so I’d like to devote this post to some of the guides who’ve helped me along my journey illustrating Josephine.

First and foremost, of course, is my artist friend Tom Cathey.  He gave me my first real critiques; he also introduced me to a host of other designers and illustrators.  While these introductions have been mainly via illustrations in books and on the web, they’ve led me to other discoveries.  These days in particular, I find myself turning to and being inspired by these 5 artists:

Izak Zenou

Whimsical Illustration by Izak Zenou

What’s not to love about the freedom of line and the wonderful variety of expressions on the faces of Izak’s girls?  French illustrator Izak Zenou’s whimsical work can be found across the globe in stores, magazines, and books, and on products from T-shirts and watches to stationery and makeup collections.  Most recently, I’ve seen his “girls” on makeup bags and compacts at Sephora.

Ruben Toledo

Whimsical illustration for Nordstrom by Ruben Toledo

I love Cuban-born Ruben Toledo’s illustrations for their wit, whimsy and artfulness.  However, his illustrations are just one facet of his many talents which include sculpture and surrealist art.   Even just with paper, Mr. Toledo seems to be a master of a huge variety of mediums.  Take a look here.

Alfredo Cabrera

4 Whimsical Girls - Illustration by Alfredo Cabrera

I recently posted a link to a great online tutorial done by Mr. Cabrera.  I keep referring back to it as I illustrate, so for those of you who missed it the first time around, take a look here.  I’m aiming to capture some of the “every woman appeal” and carefree nature I see in Cabrera’s illustrations in my own work!

Arturo Elena

Girl in black and white mini dress by Arturo Elena

Although my initial reaction to seeing self-taught fashion illustrator Arturo Elena’s work was surprise and doubt at the alien proportions of his figures, the more I see his work, the more I think it all makes sense.  I’m also in awe of his masterful use and command of markers!

Donna Mehalko

Woman in yellow and red - illustration by Donna Mehalko

Last, but not least, I am inspired by Donna Mehalko’s vibrant use of color along with her flowing lines.  There is something very feminine and natural in her figures.  I also love how they often seem to be moving right off the page!

I would love some day to meet these artists.  For now, I am grateful that I can look to them as guides in my own endeavors.

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Illustration Inspired by the Work of Alfredo Cabrera

I stumbled across a wonderful online tutorial by fashion designer Alfredo Cabrera tonight.  I found the proportions of his whimsical girls fascinating, and closely followed his method of color blocking, highlighting, and final drawing.   While I wish I could say that my illustration flowed from start to finish without any stumbles, I’ll admit that I had to do a few tweaks in my photo editing program.  Next to Cabrera’s proportions, my original came out looking less fabulous than I wanted.   However, after performing a little leg surgery on Josephine in my Corel Paint Shop X2 photo-editing program – she’s brave and didn’t even need anesthetic – Josephine gained a few inches in height, and the illustration instantly got some needed sass.

Whimsical fashionista illustration "Champagne Giggles" by Joana Miranda


Filed under art, drawing, education, gouache, illustration, Influences, Josephine, motivation, resources, watercolor and colored pencil illustration