From Sketch to Shelf: The Design Process of My Animal Greeting Cards


I've been asked a lot (at least twice 👀) about my design process so I thought I’d try and explain it in a blog post. I found a couple of sketches that will hopefully shed a bit more light onto how I get to my final designs. From Sketch to Shelf: The Design Process of My Animal Greeting Cards

I do find it hard to explain it as most of the ideas happen in my head and then go straight to the final design, with little to show for the development stage. This was always something I struggled with at school and university as you needed to show your research and development for coursework, so I’d often work backwards from my final design to have enough work. After university, when I started working for a fashion brand, it worked in my favour as everything was so fast-paced we needed to get to the final design quickly. But I will try my best to explain my process for you on a few designs I found with sketches!

 

Greeting Card Design


For greeting cards, I have quite a signature style of coloured text paired with a dotty animal drawing. I stuck to this style quite early on with one of my first card designs - my ‘Jurassic Party’ card. I liked the simplicity of the design and it worked for me so I’ve stuck with that since. Because I have this one style, I don’t really research other greeting cards to see what's trending, the comparison starts to kick in or I'm nervous that I’d subconsciously copy something without meaning to or become overwhelmed at how great everyone else is. My main source of research is looking at animal photos - not a bad thing to have to do for work... 


If I’m designing for a specific occasion, I’ll start by scrolling through animal photos on free photo sites, google images, social media or I’ll watch an animal documentary. This usually triggers an idea after I see an animal in a certain position or doing something funny. I have a lot of saved images that I’m yet to use because I can’t think of an idea for text or an occasion they’d suit. 


Other times, I’ll just randomly think of an idea for text or composition and work backwards to find an animal to suit it. I’ll grab any piece of paper I have and jot ideas down, most of the time only I can make sense of them 😅
 



 
An example of a page I scribbled on at a market when I had a sudden rush of ideas. Some of these have come to life and others haven’t, so I need to make sure I don’t lose this page!

 

 


This sketch was for a Christmas idea where I knew I wanted a giraffe design to add to my ‘Safari Christmas animal range’. As you can see I have excellent drawing skills for quick sketches… 👀 a good example of how I need a reference photo as this is what comes out of my brain to draw a giraffe (left image) 😂🙈 This initial idea came from seeing a photo of a giraffe bending down and I thought it’d be funny for it to be looking at something that would seem strange to animals. It started as a Christmas cracker but then I changed it to a Christmas pudding as the drawing worked better. I might go back to the Christmas cracker though as I think it’s funnier. 

 

 


Now this design went on a journey! I saw a photo of an Emperor penguin with its baby (left drawing) and thought it would make a great Father’s Day card (as it's the male Emperor Penguins who look after the baby whilst the females go out to hunt for food 💪). I had the drawing for months but I couldn’t come up with anything funny to say to explain why the father looked almost confused at what he was looking at. Then one day, I had a stroke of genius (quite a rare thing), where I thought what if both parents were looking down at the baby (middle sketch) and voila! As soon as I had that idea the text came easily and without knowing it, I had created my new best-selling card 🐧.


I wish I had more examples, but as I said, a lot of the time this whole process happens in my head so I don’t have a lot to show for it. I’ll try and keep more of my random sketches for another post in future if you enjoyed this one. Let me know!
 

You can browse these and the rest of my greeting cards here.

 

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Thanks for reading!

 

Catherine

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