Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Time I Rescued a Fat Bird

One of our latest sketchbook prompts was to draw a life event in 10 panels. So I chose a memory I have of a particularly blustery fall day when I was walking back from class in undergrad, and I found an injured bird. Enjoy!

For more daily drawings, please check me out on Instagram at Miribirdillustrates :)
Or on Facebook!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Les Miserables Redesign

Recently I finished up a project for 3 interior illustrations and a cover dust jacket redesign of the classic novel, Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. Coming from a theatre major background (and having been in the show twice) this story (and the incredible score) is near and dear to my heart.

In particular, I wanted to share some process shots of the cover, which ended up being my favourite piece in the series. I truly enjoyed working in the format of a dust jacket - the unfolded, unwrapped piece gives a very wide composition, which is a fun challenge to design! I wanted something that would be cohesive when spread out as a whole image, but something that also worked as a powerful standalone image for the cover itself, if you were to see it sitting on a bookshelf.

In this piece, Jean Valjean is symbolically being lifted up from a position of slavery and servitude, to his high-status role of "Monsieur Mayor". Moreover, he undergoes a transformation of being a low-life to being an incredibly moral, grateful and kind man, which is really what the center of the story of Les Miserables is about.

1. Final sketch - the birds, rats and silhouettes of the figures were drawn separately and pieces together over the main sketch in Photoshop.
2. Background colour (usually involving comps and colour tests), and the main colour test for the Arc de Triomphe.
3. Laying in soft gradients and layers of clouds. I knew I wanted a feeling of airy translucency, so I created each cloud on a separate layer and played with the lightness of the colour and opacity.
4. Darkened the Arc for impact, filled the houses with flat colour, and added the ground texture (a stock photo).

5. Using more subtle gradients to create lighting and volume, as well as blocking in characters with flat colour.
6. Colourizing all lines, giving added interest and translucency in some areas.
7. Added in watercolour textures I had created and scanned into the clouds, also some ink textures into the houses, and flat darker details on the houses. I hand-drew the sculptures on the face of the Arc de Triomphe, scanned them in separately, and laid them in.
8. Finally, type is added, publisher's mark, spine, synopsis, and an ISBN barcode.

 And here's how it looks wrapped on the actual book!

Thanks for checking out my process - this was a really fun project to take on.

If you'd like to see a larger version of the finished image and more photos, please jump over to! I also have included some of the interior illustrations there. 

(And don't forgot that there is a 20% OFF sale going on in my shop until September 9th! Use coupon code HAPPYFALL. Pop on over here!)

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Un cafe?" -- "Oui, avec plaisir."

I heard a terrific quote yesterday: "There is a heavy distinction between mundane reality and ecstatic mind-journeying in which coffee plays at least a basic role."

While most of my "ecstatic mind-journeying" is actually comprised of me staring blearily at my monitor, clutching my mug for dear life, I confess that my addiction to the coffee bean combined with my intensifying desire to travel has led me towards the creation of a new illustration.

A lot of coffee drinkers will say that, as time goes on, coffee drinking really becomes more of a ritual, more of moment for oneself than just an impersonal cup of caffeine. I must agree. It symbolizes a slowness of the moment in a day that - for the life of a freelancer or entrepreneur - is typically filled with chaos and flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants.

Because this illustration is near and dear to my heart, I wanted to share some of my process work with you. These past few months, my work style has been evolving, and taking on new methods.

First I begin with a traditional pencil sketch. I look at several references, and keep my lines as clean as possible (and, of course, drink coffee while I work).


I have also been working on developing my skills in hand-drawn type. I have done a bunch of samples for a Style Guide I illustrated (forthcoming this Thanksgiving), and have since fallen in love. I will use my ruler to make sure I have even, straight lines, and then I will sketch out my type in pencil. 

After I am satisfied with my pencil lines, I will tape a piece of tracing paper over my sketch and VERY carefully start tracing the letterforms in pen. I typically use Staedtler Pigment Liners in "FineLiner". These pens are acid-free and archival and give a good, black mark.

From there I will scan in the inked type, adjust the levels and colourize the lines. This print was instantly a hit at one of the boutiques my work is in here in Atlanta!

Recently I have been taking more and more opportunities to grow my illustration business, and in time for the holidays will be offering a new line of greeting cards! These have been an idea in my head for quite some time. Using my illustrations and giving them some fresh new colours and type, I transformed them into new Thank You Cards.

The type has all been hand-drawn and colourized in Photoshop, and the cards are printed on my Epson R1800 on 60lb creamy, gorgeous photo supreme matte paper. I have cut and folded them by hand. More seasonal cards will be coming :)

I am so happy to admit that this summer I have felt my business getting the excited rumblings of an expected jump to the next level, and now we are climbing upward for sure :) 

Good things are happening!

As always, thank you for reading. In the moments between keeping the plates of my projects spinning, I am striving more and more to keep accountable and share my progress with you on this blog.

If you'd like daily visual updates, please feel free to follow me on Instagram :)

* Please note, all illustrations, photos and type on this blog are copyrighted and not for use without permission on other blogs or websites. Please feel free to pin with proper credit, though!

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Hello dearest followers, I hope everyone has been well! It's been awhile since I've been able to devote time to my sweet blog, but I am hoping to change that and get back in a blogging routine. The weeks have been full: full of art, full of time spent with my love, and full of business. Lots of business. Busy is good. Amen? Amen.

This summer has certainly been a time of change for me. I moved into a new apartment (which is painted in various shades of mint and sea green all over), started planning my thesis for my Master's Degree, and starting working for a wonderful photography company doing post-production work. And freelance has kept me busier than ever, and kept me learning more than ever.
I have also been putting up new work! Check out the new pieces :)

I am hoping to start blogging again at least once a week :) And as this blog layout feels a little too wintery - look out for a new blog design!

For now, this week is a busy one, working on finishing up a fashion illustration style guide project, continuing on some interior book illustrations, and finalizing some pieces for an upcoming gallery show.

Yep, busy is good.
Hoping all is well for you out in the blogging world!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

500 Strong on Instagram!

I wanted to give a very, very warm thank you to my Instagram followers - we reached 500 tonight!!! 
* Are you on Instagram? 
Hit me up at Miribirdillustrates :)
(Also I made Pumpkin Crisp for my boyfriend. Winning Thursday.)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Blog Facelift & An Extra-Special Process Post

(Or, "Hey! The blog is blue! What the-- !")

Yep. The blog is blue! Like my mom plopping a bowl on my head when I was 7 and taking the scissors to my locks, my sweet little blog was in desperate need of a new style (though hopefully more appealing than my childhood bowl-cut: true story! My sister and I refer to this period as the "Dutch-Boy Haircut Phase" and shudder.)

I hope you like the new look! My new header is one of my most recent and well-received illustrations, and the buttons and sidebar have followed suit in a cool, gauzy palette. And I've even added in an Instagram button! Are you as addicted as me?

And in honour of the new look,
we're sporting a special process post! 
Recently, I've moved more away from concept art, and into the realm of fashion illustration. It's already familiar territory, but now I am focusing my efforts on a very feminine, delicate style, with washes of watercolour and ink, and thought-provoking imagery. And of course pretty clothes.

In this process post, I will share shots of my work in progress of another of my most recent illustrations, "The Birds". This piece was created on 22x30" Arches 300lb Hotpress Watercolour paper, using graphite, watercolour, and india ink. And would you like to see it in full colour? Scroll on!

This was truly a labor of love for me. I love the images that grow on you and excite you as you're working on them. Even if you're bone-tired, you're still ready to put the hours in to see it develop. (And birds are sweet things to draw.)

And if you'd like to see the digitally-coloured version,

I hope you liked seeing some of my process, and I am planning to update the blog much more now! 
Thank you so much for reading, and Happy Spring!
Today my boyfriend and and I finally got to relax, go to an amazing bakery for lunch, and then take a long, leisurely walk through some really adorable parts of Atlanta. And my sweet Southern Gentleman held my hand the whole way :) We saw giant koi fish, pond turtles, and lots of furry buddies. Who needs a zoo?!

Did you do anything fun this weekend? Any Spring plans?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baltimore Love Project

Hey ya'll! Happy Wednesday! While I'm continuing my full-conversion over into a Southern Belle,  some of you may know that my roots are more Northern. A diehard Ravens fan, lover of seafood and Old Bay, and not-so-professional apprentice crabber (to my dad) right off of the Chesapeake Bay -- yep, you guessed it, I'm from Maryland.

Recently I was honoured with the opportunity to partner with the Baltimore Love Project as a finalist to design the newest t-shirt for my hometown. Their Lead Artist, Michael Owen, has set out on the path to bring more love into our city by giving its walls awesome graphic murals, and I get to join in on the fun!

Here's where you come in, and I need your help :)
Currently, Baltimore Love Project is running a contest for the newest t-shirt in town, and we are only 10 votes away from first place! I would be so honoured if you would take a moment to vote for my design.

Awesome. So how do I vote? (So glad you asked!)

Please follow THIS LINK to vote. I would be honoured if you'd select #2, my design, featured here in this post. All of the designs can be seen here, but please cast your vote in the poll.

What will winning mean for me?
Especially after winning the Superbowl and feeling connected as a town, winning the competition will give me the incredible opportunity to share my work with a lot of wacky, fun-loving, awesome Baltimoreans and people from everywhere. Not to mention it's a paying gig ;) This is also an initiative that is extremely close to my heart, as I search for ways to utilize my art skills and work to affect positive change in the world.

D'awww. Let's all hug. And vote! ;) Spread the love.
Voting will continue until approximately 11:59pm EST on Sunday, Feb. 24th.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wine. And Art. And more Wine.

Hey ya'll! It's been about a month since my last update - my apologies! Life has certainly picked up for me. My freelance projects are taking off, and I've been working really hard on my projects for school. My inner Hermione Granger is having a jam session ;)

Since I'm sure you'd rather look at pretty pictures than read my ramble, here is a selection of some of my daily art posts from my Instagram (Mirilittlebird). Once I am able to speak about my freelance projects, I'll be sure to post them up!

Thank you so much for reading (or looking!)

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Hi dear friends, Happy 2013 :) I hope it has already been a magnificent year for each and every one of you. As for me, it has been truly wonderful. It's been awhile since I have been able to update my blog between working at the ad agency, traveling home for the holidays, and spending quality time with my loved ones. Over the break, I think I only opened my computer a handful of times - how refreshing!

Tomorrow is back to the grind - time for work and to go back into grad school. And how lovely! My little body decided to fall ill the weekend right before. Blergh. Here's to going in to work at 9am with a head full of yuck and a zombie brain. But! The show must go on, eh? So it shall.

Here are a few fun posts to show some of the highlights
of this past month :) 
If you are so inclined, please do follow me on Instagram at Mirilittlebird for daily art posts. 

1. I have been creating postcard (4x6") sized original illustrations just for fun, after great success with a few over at Mint Gallery in Atlanta for their postcard pin-up show. These will be up in my Etsy Shop, MiribirdIllustrates, this week!

2. Here I am at Emily Amy Gallery, at which I had the pleasure of showing two of my Artist Books in late November (books pictured above). So many people came to support me, and I was truly touched. And someone special showed up ;)

3. Another postcard illustration that is already up and looking for a new home in my shop!

4. Some fun with watercolours, a sample illustration for a potential project - shh!

5. Little monogram frames I've been working on intermittently with watercolour and acrylic - also will be up in the shop this week!

6. Sketchbook airplane time from one of my many holiday trips.

I just wanted to say something small about my personal life. I have met someone truly wonderful, the special someone I mentioned above, quite a charming bloke, a man who lights me up. 2013 is off to the best start I think I've ever had, and I am incredibly happy in all facets of my life. I am truly blessed, and I just had to share. Love you all ~
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