Yogurt 1 Yogurt 3 Yogurt 4 Yogurt 2

Chai & Nectarine in ProgressMy illustrations adorn at least thirty labels of yogurt for Tillamook Dairy Company.

To share my work process, I’m going to go through my steps creating an illustration for one of those labels. I’ve chosen Chai Latte Greek Yogurt (which is delicious, by the way).

I share my “photo shoot” at my dining room table.

This is my “photo shoot” done at my dining room table.

Here were my instructions:

  1. Use a clear mug
  2. Foamy milk, with light sprinkles of cinnamon, should rest on top of the tea.
  3. Cardamom, star anise and cinnamon sticks should surround the mug.

When I send layouts to my clients, I label each batch with the title of “Round 1, 2, 3″ etc. An illustration usually requires at least four rounds before it becomes finalized. A complicated illustration can take even more rounds than that. If changes are drastic after I’ve done a lot of layouts, I ask for an additional fee.

Usually subsequent rounds involve very minor changes as a chosen layout is developed.

For Round 1 of Chai Latte Greek Yogurt, I gave the art director 10 choices of compositions. I didn’t bother to isolate elements on my photos yet; since I wasn’t sure which direction the illustration would go in.

The art director chose two of my photos. I share feedback from the art director with the images that were chosen.

Cup C refCup H refCup C feedback

Cup H feedback

I ended up brewing more chai and taking more pictures because the tea didn’t fill the cup high enough. Although I could have tweaked my reference, my illustrations are always better when my reference is natural and accurate. My photos came out much better because now I was an expert at swirling the whipped topping I used. I was much more careful sprinkling the cinnamon, too!

I created a new layout for Round 2 and the feedback follows that layout below:

Chai Label R2 More Feedback Round 2 Chai

Feedback Round 2 ChaiOnce I made the changes requested, the final layout was approved. I was ready to move on to finalizing my illustration.

At this stage, I am ready to create a print that I work over with pencils and watercolor.

Chai in ProgressThe process of working with colored pencils and paint over my art print serves a purpose – it makes the final illustration more like art and less like a photo. I can admit that there are times when I prefer my layout to the final version. If that happens, I might digitally copy the areas that I prefer and use them for the final art instead.

This is so ironic because for most of my career I worked very hard to make my watercolor paintings look like photos. They were all done without a computer. I began with a white piece of paper and  transferred a sketch using graphite paper.

Now it was the reverse – I utilize my own photos and turn them into something that looks more like an illustration.

Chai Final Art

Below are close-ups of the final art.

Chai Latte close up 1

I used a crow quill to create tiny lines on the cinnamon stick.

Chai Latte close up

Many of the other yogurt flavors that I illustrated were simpler than Chai Latte because I was able to modify older artwork. But I’d say that the toughest flavor was Marion Berry.

I had many varieties of reference, but none that really matched what my client wanted. Below were some of the many layouts of berries that I sent:Marion Berry LayoutsI wished I had actual berries to look at. Eventually, the art director sent reference to guide me. It was very important that the berries were accurately depicted. Now I was on a better track to pleasing my client!

Untitled Marion BerryWhen Tillamook added a line of Greek Yogurt Parfaits, I received a huge box with the many different varieties of granola. It was hard not to snack on it while working – another diet diversion, unfortunately.

I received directions with rough sketches and went to work using digital photos and existing art for the berries.

Yogurt Granola direction Yogurt Granola direction 1Each flavor of granola had specific characteristics. It was very important for me to indicate the variation of color and textures between flavors. For example, Honey Oat granola was clumped. And the Vanilla Coconut granola had delicate curls of coconut, which had to be very visible.

This time, it was easy to create a version that included Marion berries. Below is an example of one of my layouts.

TLMK_Illustration_TemplateBelow are the final illustrations:
4 Yogurt granola flavorsCherries Almond Final Art

One of the great things about illustrating a line of labels – is that I receive consistent projects later on as new flavors are added. Two recent yogurt labels that I did were Pear and Plum.

Pear Final Art Plum Final Art

My pear layouts show how the chosen “C” layout” had more consistent shadows on the final illustration. The leaf on the bottom left was also eliminated.

My pear layouts show how the chosen “C” layout” had more consistent shadows on the final illustration. The leaf on the bottom left was also eliminated.

All of these illustrations are tempting me now to go eat lunch. However, there is no comparing that temptation to when I was illustrating Tillamook’s scrumptious ice cream treats!

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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  1. jmgoyder says:

    This is absolutely fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

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