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Bespoke Birthday Cards: Dog and Lilies Illustration
17th Apr 2017

Bespoke Birthday Cards: Dog and Lilies Illustration

Of all the custom cards we've created, we’re particularly proud of this one! Combining both illustration and papercraft methods, it's certainly the most ambitious and detailed handmade card that we've ever made.

We were asked by a customer to create a really special card with which he could surprise his Girlfriend with on her 30th birthday. When he mentioned that he wanted the card to be 'perfect' we knew that this one had to be really good! He listed a few of his Girlfriend Jade's favourite things and suggested that they could perhaps feature within the design. These included: her dog Henry, flowers (namely lilies), butterflies, jewellery and fashion (namely Chanel). So when we were thinking of design ideas, we decided to incorporate as many of these as possible to try and make a card that Jade would hopefully love! Throughout the process, it was really great to have such good communication with the customer so as to be able to know exactly what he hoped for from the design. He asked that we keep him updated with photos of our progress which we were more than happy to do as it gave us the opportunity to get his feedback on how it was coming along.

Having had little experience with drawing dogs (or indeed any pet) we must admit that this design really challenged our artistic abilities. We were given a few photos of Henry for us to work from, and we wanted the illustration of him to look as realistic as we could achieve, rather than being cartoony, and we tried our best to capture Henry's cute characteristics so that Jade would be able to recognise that it was him.

Whenever we create a new design, it's always difficult to estimate how long the entire process will take. We were glad then to be given a few weeks notice of the Jade's birthday as it gave us plenty of time to design and make her card. This was especially good for us as we're not one for ever rushing when making a card, instead prefering to spend as long as is necessary to make it the best that we possibly can. All in all then, this custom card design took a few days to make - spending a few hours each day and working in various stages.


We thought it would be really cute to draw Henry holding onto a heart (as the customer mentioned that he would like a slight romance theme) and to create a lovely floral frame around him. And so for this intial stage of the design, we created outlines of Henry and of the flowers on separate pieces of tracing paper that could be overlaid to work out the final composition. We were asked if we could add in some multi-dimensional elements, so we suggested papercut butterfly wings and lily petals, and that we could mount some of the flowers onto the design. Placing these white paper flowers then onto the sketch gave us a good idea of what the final design would look like and whether these extra dimensional elements would be balanced across the design.


After copying the design onto the card in pencil, we set about drawing the outline in ink - working from the top to the bottom to avoid making any smudges.




The most challenging part of creating this bespoke card was definitely colouring in Henry! Working in pencil crayon and building up the colour in layers, we started with an overall light tone all over then added on darker shades to create variations in his fur and to accentuate his features. But Henry is just so furry! so this stage of the design took a long time to complete, and there were quite a few wobbly moments of concern about not being able to do it properly... We were relieved then when it started to look more like Henry, and with perseverance we got there in the end!


We used Jade's favourite colours when colouring in the flowers, creating a two-tone shaded effect on the lilies, going from blue to turquoise, purple to lilac and magenta to baby pink. And to create an overall harmony within the design, we used the same colour palette on the butterfly wings. 


Once the illustration was complete, we set to work on the papercraft elements to create extra dimension and to add a little realism into the design. We wanted to create the effect of Henry really being there among the flowers and as though the butterflies were about to take flight from the card. So we cut along the outline of the butterfly wings and some of the lily petals, gently bent the card inwards, before mounting onto the card individual flowers as planned in the initial sketches. 


One of our favourite parts of creating a design is adding on the embellishments. And so to create a luxurious finish to this  bespoke birthday card we embellished the flowers and butterflies with pretty crystals and pearls. And you may have noticed the flashy Chanel logo dog collar that Henry is wearing ...We thought it would be fun to give him a bit of designer bling!



And for the final finishing touch, we drew a little love heart onto Henry's eye - sweet no?!


We think this is certainly a unique card and we were really delighted to hear feedback from the customer that Jade loved it :)