The process of creating a watecolour illustration: Italian meats

For the past few weeks I have been busy working on a new series of illustrations inspired by Italian food. Everybody knows that food from Italy is the best, right? Well, there is an Italian cafe in Cambridge which serves the most delicious pizzas, gelato and other authentic gems of Sicilian cuisine. It is called Aromi and I have been a regular since they opened.

I decided to capture the lively atmosphere of that place through a series of illustrations. And I can proudly say that the first artwork is now complete – Yey! And here is how it came into being.

I started with a very rough pencil sketch which I did from a photograph I took in Aromi earlier. Usually I tend to use a random mix of colours, so this time I challenged myself to create some sort of “colour chart”. Well, this was an attempt to map out the main colours.



So, here we have a bunch of garlic, chillies, cured meats and something else in the middle which I am not 100% sure about. Possibly – cheese!

Next, the fun and slightly scary bit – actual painting. I am getting used to just sitting down and painting whatever I need to paint, and I almost always get slightly nervous sense of excitement in the beginning. I used flat brushes and worked with a mix of wet and dry watercolour paints and a little bit of white gouache.



I really love making texture with dry brush.

After that, I thought that I needed to add some background. In Aromi they have those beautiful Italian tiles with Mediterranean patterns. So I definitely had to paint those. I deliberately made the paint strokes”loose” rather than precise and rigid, as I think it creates a warmer, friendlier feeling, which works so perfectly for food illustration.



Even though I loved doing tiles, and I ambitiously planned to do the whole lot, I resigned after just two rows. Because, well, Photoshop exists! I love that stage in the project when all the actual painting is over, and with it all the exciting nervousness, and then comes the time to scan the drawings and delve into the comfortable and mistake-prone land of Photoshop!!! Then I can just relax and casually sip my tea.



So, I have put the two painting together and … Ecco! (according to Google that’s what the Italians would say). I was pretty happy with my picture at first. The more I looked at it, however, the more I realised that the flatness of it started really bothering me. I knew what it was: I had to add the shadow. So next morning I created this somewhat fancy shadow using two layers, masks and blending settings. It didn’t need to be that complicated, but I like to try new things. And here is the result…Aromi’s Italian meats! Enjoy. And if you live in Cambridge make sure you go and try their food – it’s delicious.




I will be posting the remaining illustrations next week. If you have any friendly criticism or positive feedback, do leave me a comment! I’ve never received a comment on my blog yet, so I will be jumping up and down happily if (when) I get one.


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