Lee Family Graphic Illustration

Family illustration feature image.

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 graphic illustration and family portrait 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 graphic illustration.

Once I digitized the pencil drawing, 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 for the graphic illustration.

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 graphic illustration family portrait. 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
Graphic. From a photo of real-life me to my illustrated character.
Illustrated characters, the birds of the Lee family.

These aren’t my only illustrated birds! Check out my Case Studies for the SPC Turkey Trot and Open Heart Parrot Rescue avian logo designs.

Animation. Step-by-step, from drawing, texturizing, shading, to finishing a rose cluster.

Embedded Symbols

Embedded heart shape.

Embedded heart shape for love.

Yellow rose.

Yellow roses symbolize love and friendship.

Flying Soren.

Soren passed away at only 9 years old. He’s flying “in heaven.”

Finished Lee Family Graphic Illustration

Finished Lee family illustration.