Do you love to draw, but feel intimidated when it comes to filling a large area of white space? I can certainly relate. So, when I saw that Swedish illustrator Mattias Adolfsson was offering another online drawing course, I jumped at the opportunity to sign up. The course, Creative Sketching: Fill Your Illustrations with Life and Detail seemed tailor-made for me. As with Mattias’ first course, I found this one to be just as helpful and inspiring. And because it’s structured in a work-at-your-own-pace format, I was able to fit the assignments around my other illustration work. Creating a detailed drawing seemed daunting at the start; now, I’m fired up to create a lot more of these types of illustrations! Read on to learn about the challenges and triumphs as I progressed through the course.

Creating a Detailed Drawing

Usually starts with an idea for a setting. Once we’d picked ours, Mattias encouraged us to create a photographic mood board. Drawing my narrow Manhattan kitchen seemed like an interesting challenge partly because of the perspective; and, because cramming in tons of detail into a narrow space would take a lot of organizational skill on paper. Here’s the mood board for my project:

Mood board example for creating a detailed drawing - by Joana Miranda

My goal was to try and incorporate as many of the objects large and small that make the kitchen feel personal to me.

The Next Steps…

Were to create a thumbnail sketch followed by a “schematic” sketch. However, I was so fired up by the idea of my project that I didn’t read or listen to Mattias’ instructions. Instead, I skipped the thumbnail sketch step and jumped right to trying to create a “schematic” sketch. The result wasn’t good. Truth be told, at this moment I felt so defeated that I even thought, “This kind of illustration just isn’t for me!” (At least I still had Ziggy’s love and support…)

Back on track…

After taking the time to create a loose thumbnail sketch, I moved on to creating a more fleshed-out pencil sketch.

(You can see my rigid, ruler-drawn schematic sketch, above left. The rough thumbnail, center. The new pencil sketch/schematic is on the right.)

Deviating again from the instructions…

I did the shading with diluted black India ink instead of using the recommended grey ink. (Because sometimes you just have to do things WRONG first in order to learn. Or, maybe you’re just a wee bit tired because a little furry imp has been waking you up at 5:45 a.m. all summer!)

Creating a detailed drawing - shaded stage of my final project

As always…

Adding the touches of watercolor was fun. Drawing on my previous experience, l stuck to a limited color palette for cohesiveness.

In the Kitchen - Detailed ink and watercolor illustration by Joana Miranda

The Takeaway?

Facing your fears and pushing through discomforts almost always leads to growth. Even though my final illustration is nowhere as detailed as Mattias’s work, it feels right to me. And I look forward to bringing you more detailed compositions in the future!


    • Joana says:

      Thank you, my dear! It’s fun to be able to redesign and elevate my world through illustration. I just did another detailed composition which I’ll be posting hopefully later today. I guess I’m fired up to create new things after having finished Mattias’ second course.

      I hope all is well!
      A big hug,

  1. Helen Reich says:

    That looks great, and you even got your kitchen to be more spacious! Looking forward to more, even with directions followed properly…..

    • Joana says:

      Thanks, Helen! More is coming very soon (which is why I haven’t been responding to your recent emails. Aack!)

      xox – Joana

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