"If you watched me drawing these characters, you would see my face pulling the animals' expressions! I like to imagine them as real beings and as I draw, the choices I make for them start to build the character in my mind."
Jane Newland has filled her RB portfolio with tons quirky and funny characters. After researching carefully the background and movements of her characters, she hand-draws their silly-selves to create delightful animals and humans doin’ their thing. Based in the United Kingdom, Jane has a genuine affection for the characters she creates. When we chatted, it was obvious she enjoyed taking time off from her professional freelancing work to make her own artworks. I recently had the chance to talk to her about how she makes these illustrations and what she loves about character development.
Beth Caird: I love your “Sport” series, where did you get this wonderful idea? Please tell me this series is based on someone you know.
Jane Newland: My Sport series began with me wanting to create some tasteful sports cards. The available sports cards (in my opinion)are usually either photographic, or cartoon drawings, so I thought there might be a need for something a little bit more sophisticated. I’d love to say this series is based on someone I know, (and he does look a bit like my dad) but no …completely made up. I started these designs by thoroughly researching the vintage clothing and kit for cricket, golf and football, drawing visual notes. I then started sketching simple characters in typical poses for each sport, again researched thoroughly. My favourites were then worked up in pencil, combining the two elements. Once happy with that, into the scanner and completed in photoshop.
BC: Do you think you’ve always employed humor and giggle-inducing cuteness in your work, or was this something that evolved and you came to find after a while?
JN: Good to know I’m not the only one who finds them funny! Thank you. I think I just like to amuse myself really, and I think I always have … I can’t seem to help it … I’ll start a piece of work with more serious intentions and then find myself adding a pair of googly eyes and liking it more. Working as a freelance illustrator, you usually have no say in the subject matter, and often the style of the work too, so my work on Redbubble I do for fun in my spare time.
BC: I think your pastel palette and backgrounds are fabulous, can you please tell us about how you make your illustrations? Do you hand draw your subjects first and add color later?
JN: As I mentioned previously, I always research my subject matter thoroughly, either from life or from photographs before I start drawing. I hand draw in pencil, sketch first, then more detailed. This is then scanned, and worked up in photoshop, the pencil lines re-worked first, then colour added. I play around with colours ‘til I get the right balance, then add depth, texture or pattern if needed. I’m a bit obsessed with detail, so I work zoomed in on the image, so that when viewed at normal size, the finish is as polished as I can get it.
BC: Can you tell us how you developed the characters for your animals? They all seem to have such a strong personality. How do you recommend growing or fostering personality in characters?
JN: If you watched me drawing these characters, you would see my face pulling the animal’s expressions! I like to imagine them as real beings and as I draw, the choices I make for them start to build the character in my mind.
BC: You’ve been exiled to Alcatraz Prison for life and can only take three art supplies and one pet animal with you, what do you take?
JN: A self-sharpening pencil, a decent rubber and a sketch book please, and I’d have to take our whippet Lola as my real life pet, and probably the bulldog as my imaginary pet – I think he’d look after me in Alcatraz!