Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you became an artist.
My name is Heather, and I’m a self-taught artist living in Shenzhen, China. I’ve been in love with art since I was a little kid. I especially enjoyed looking at paintings and photographs and admired some great artists, but I never planned to become an artist myself until one day about six years ago. That day I saw a beautiful illustration by a young artist, and at that moment, I realised I wanted to be a creator, not just a viewer. So I started to learn art skills by myself and study the creative process. I’ve practised illustration almost every day since then, and now art is an essential part of my life.
What inspires you to create?
The fantasy stories I read and visual images (picture books, movies, arts, etc.) I saw during my childhood and early adolescence have influenced me a lot. I go back to these themes every once in a while.
How did you find your style? Has it changed much since you started illustrating?
With my current style, I’m trying to create a feeling of joy and freedom with bright colours and characters. Looking back, my style has changed a lot in technique. My early drawings look more complicated. Now I try to simplify all the visual elements.
“I’m currently developing new signature colour palettes for myself.”
Colour seems to have a special place in your work. How do you approach choosing palettes?
I’m currently developing new signature colour palettes for myself. Earlier this year, I looked through the illustrations I made in the past and easily noticed that I use some particular colours and colour combinations every once in a while. So I picked out my 10 most used colours to make new palettes in Affinity Designer. Since then, I’ve stuck to these palettes and added a few more colours gradually.
When you start a new illustration, what is your usual process?
I start with a concept. I think of the theme, the composition and the main colours. I also think a little bit about the details, like how to deal with lights and shadows and edges of the objects. I try to see a clear picture in my head before picking up the pencil.
The next step is to sketch. I give up sometimes during this process if the idea isn’t working.
If I’m happy with the sketch, I create some vector line layers in Affinity. Currently, I only create vector illustrations.
Last is colouring and adjusting details. This part takes the most time.
How did you hear about Affinity Designer, and what made you want to use it?
When I started to draw on the iPad (before that, I used a pen tablet), I downloaded some top drawing apps, including Affinity Designer, from App Store and compared their functions and user experience.
Affinity Designer is really user-friendly and powerful at the same time; I picked it up very quickly. I love the vector design tools. I also love that I can create both vector and pixel layers within one app, and I can use the app both on iPad and computer. All of these increase my productivity. Now Affinity Designer is my most used app for drawing.
“I love the vector design tools. I also love that I can create both vector and pixel layers within one app, and I can use the app both on iPad and computer. All of these increase my productivity. Now Affinity Designer is my most used app for drawing.”
Do you have any favourite features?
My most used features are the Pen Tool, Vector Brushes, Transform and Swatches. I like to change parameters in the Transform panel to adjust the scale and position of the shapes and objects.
Of all the illustrations you’ve created, which is your personal favourite and why?
My recent favourite is this flower illustration I created last month. I think it expresses some positive vibes and reveals how I’m feeling this year. Honestly, I always notice something not right in my earlier works very quickly, which makes me eager to create something new. But for now, I’m still happy with this illustration.
“Being an illustrator is an area in my life where I have complete freedom. ”
What do you like most about being an illustrator?
Being an illustrator is an area in my life where I have complete freedom. I tested my own method to study art skills and the related knowledge. I explored my feelings, thoughts and memories to find a drive to keep creating. I learned to focus better in order to generate original ideas and get the work done. Now I can still take my time to develop a style and pursue mastery.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not creating?
Watching movies and dramas, reading, and skateboarding!
What goals do you have for the future?
I’m working on a new series of illustrations and learning story writing, so hopefully I can finish a picture book someday.
To see more of Heather’s colourful and uplifting illustrations, visit her website or follow her Instagram account.