Finishing touches on Happy Birthday

Finishing touches on Happy Birthday

The final stage of drawing a new piece tends to follow the Pareto Principle: that last 20%, to take it from "almost finished" to "ready to paint" seems to take 80% of the effort...

Mind you, that's mostly because I often don't tailor the elements for the piece until I've committed to the design as a whole. (The biggest challenge is making sure I don't miss anything! ) Anyway here are several examples of the alterations and additions I made in the final stage of the Happy Birthday card.

We moved from Dunedin, New Zealand to Brisbane, Australia while working on this design, so I created some new aussie elements in recognition of our enlarged customer base. One of these I call Loganberry. It's based on the logo for Logan City, the part of Brisbane where we live. In the design phase, I popped a couple of generic loganberries into an available space. In the finishing stage I tweaked them so they're tied into the design, like so:

before Generic Loganberries Loganberries tweaked after

Not huge changes, and quick to complete, but necessary.

As well as tailoring the elements to fit closely into the piece, there are odd gaps that need to be filled. Here I've sketched green lines in to show the placement and shapes needed to complete the area above the "Happy".

2 spaces that need filling

Bill originally drew a twig with four kowhai flowers as one of our stock kiwi symbols, and they've appeared in many of our pieces since. I'd already doubled them them up to make them more of a feature in this card, so it was an easy choice to extend them down into the space on the left. The other space was more of a challenge until I realised that a wild Tree of Life could be drawn to fit the space, so this flexible favourite was created.

kowhai flowers and a wild Tree of Life

Sometimes the finishing tweaks are really hard to spot, like in the illuminated B, where I was mostly focussed on cleaning the curves and improving the clearance between lines.

before Very minor improvements to the illuminated B The changes to the B after


By far the longest time was spent on developing the Lotus knot. I drew this knot in August 18 as part of an exercise in doubling a simple knot. It's not immediately obvious, but the Lotus is built from my initials, nested four times.

Lotus mostly generic

The basic Lotus was one of the first elements I laid in to the piece. I curved the bottom corners to nestle it around the top of the B, and then for several months it simply sat in the top left corner waiting for the rest of the card to be complete. In the final stage I had to knuckle down and see how far I could bend it without breaking. Yes, backups were made, and reverted to more than once! It took nearly a week, but I think I like it.

Lotus re-worked

The completed Happy Birthday card? Bill's just started painting it, so you'll have to wait until it's complete!

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