Embedded heart shape for love.
Lee Family Illustration
Personal project, Lara Lee.
My work office lost Internet for a week during the DC summer brown-outs. Since my job relies on Internet access, I found myself with a lot of free time and wanted to use it productively. I spent 17 hours over the course of the week creating a family illustration of myself, my twin sister, and our fabulous cockatiels.
- Translate real-life forms into stylized characters
- Capture personalities
- Add interesting texture and color
It’s hard for me to open a new Illustrator document and starting drawing with a mouse. Instead, I start sketching to determine basic shapes and layout for my family illustration.
Once I digitized the sketch, I filled in details. Since I’m a twin, I copy-paste my sister to make me, then fill in different hair, smiles, and brows. The birds were more challenging. If I oversimplify the birds, viewers wouldn’t be identify species or that they are our birds. Capturing the avian personalities was vital. Ultimately, I started drawing over photos I took, stylizing them as I went.
Finally, once I finished the flat cel-shading, I added textures and shadows. To create the dusty, stippled texture, I first duplicated the shape, then filled it with a black-to-clear gradient, and applied Illustrator’s Graphic Pen Sketch filter set to Multiply at a low opacity. Then, I made the shadows regular, untextured back-to-clear gradients and slightly offset them from the textures to create additional depth.
Some grouping, some resizing, and some rotating later, I landed on a heart-shaped portrait for my family illustration. One last touch: a warm orange overlay to finish the tropical look.
Before & After
- 17 hours’ work for a double portrait + 3 birds family illustration
- 240+ hand-drawn vector shapes
Yellow roses symbolize love and friendship.
Soren passed away at only 9 years old. He’s flying “in heaven.”