Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 14, 2020

Illustrator Saturday – Francisco Fonseca

Francisco Fonseca is a talented freelance illustrator from Porto, Portugal. His rich palette causes his illustrations of his view of the Porto city streets and breathtaking views to burst from his canvas and gives his work a superbly poetic conceptual feel. These beautifully rendered illustration bring editorial stories to life, enticing and exiting readers to engage with the content. He received a master’s degree in Drawing and Printmaking from the Fine Arts University in Porto.

First I sketch all the drawing in a paper (the most fun part) Then after all the sketch is done I scan to the computer and I had over that drawing a layer of watercolor, I have a stock of abstract watercolors that o made so normally I just select one and use. I take of some opacity in the watercolor layer and then I put both layer together (drawing and watercolor) from them I just work with selection tool and color and light values till the end result. 🙂 See time-lapse video below:

Click right bottom to watch on Full Screen.

My Interview with Francisco:

How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been doing “illustrations” since I was a little boy, of course I was not doing it knowing exactly what illustration was… I can say that I start doing illustration and seeing myself as one around 2015, just 5 years ago… I’m still starting 🙂

What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

Hard question, I don’t really remember…

I started to sell my little drawings in middle school for 5 euros, I was around 12 or 13 years old, but the first big one was probably a portrait of someone…I used to do a lot of portraits, trying to get the drawing techniques on point eheh

Have you always lived in Porto?

Yes, I always lived in Porto, even that I just started living in the city center a couple of months ago… Before moving I was a “farm boy”, my parents house it’s in the rural side, so I grow up surrounded by nature and animais… I still go there every two days… 🙂

What made you choose to get a BA in Multimedia from the Fine Arts University in Porto?

Well, was not really the plan at the beginning, I try to make it in design and editorial, but unfortunately for some points I didn’t make it, then Multimedia was my second option and was the best that could happen… I had all the freedom to try everything, and to be honest was there that I really find my way to the illustration, then with the master in drawing I could just focus more in illustration fully. So I think that my academic career was really helpful.

When did you decide to get your master’s in Drawing and Printmaking at the Fine Arts University in Porto?

The master in Drawing was really a easy choice. Drawing was what made love art in the first place, so I decide to end my study focus in what I liked the most. Learning some printmaking techniques also helped me a lot as a illustrator.

What types of classes did you enjoy the most?

The drawing classes of course, and probably the project ones, because they were free, so we could just create whatever we want, and they felt a little like my life now 🙂

Do you feel school helped you develop you style?

I don’t know if helped a lot in techniques and style, I think helped more in knowing how to be an “artist” and helped me a lot discovering myself as a person… of course I learn some technical things, but I believe was not the main thing.

Did the school help you find work when you graduated?

8-well I guess I will find out one day maybe, for now I didn’t use my school career as support for any work, I just do illustration as a freelancer so I never needed to show of my qualifications, what is great!!

What type of work did you do before you could support yourself as a freelance illustrator?

I never really did anything else, during my master I was already making enough money to pay little bills and to live.

And I just ended my master one year and some months ago… so this last year was fully dedicated to create, making jobs and promote myself as a illustrator… for now it’s working really good, I can live fully from illustration, also pay a rent in a big city what it’s kinda hard nowadays 🙂

How did you and Good Illustration connect and how long have they been representing you?

They got in contact with me like half a year ago, I never really thought in having an agency representing me, but when I got that mail and I saw the illustrators in the “team” and all the things that a agent could bring I was really exited… so I accept right away. For now it’s been a great experience and also really helpful 🙏

Did you decide you wanted to illustrate children’s books before or after Good Illustration took you on?

My work it’s been slowly getting more towards the children illustration, but was already before the agency, I think it’s also a influence of the social media and all the illustrator that I follow. Still, I don’t really see myself so much as a children illustrator, I think I’m just a illustrator, for all kinds of ages almost, but maybe not so “children” yet, and maybe I never will.

Have you had any opportunity to show off your work focused on the children’s market?

For now not, but in illustration markets I had been in a lot 🙂

Would you be open to illustrating a picture book for a writer who would like to self-publish?

I don’t mind illustrate a book of someone, already did, but making my own it’s my goal!! Will see 🙂

Have you had a chance to illustrate a book or a cover?

Yes! I already did a few, one it’s coming out tomorrow (based on the day that I’m answering this questions),was my first full book, and it was a small book for my hometown city Penafiel. I also did a cover recently and some interior illustrations for some books… they all will come out this year 🙂 because it’s my first year it’s still not a big portfolio… but will be I believe 🙂

Are there any children’s book publishers in Portugal?

Yess! We have a lot! And good ones, Patológico it’s one of my favorites.

Is there any group of illustrators or artist in Portugal where you can interact and network with other artists?

We have a lot of illustrators in Portugal and we all kinda know eachother… we don’t really share all something as a group, but we all have our little groups and we support and help a lot each others in that way. I really think that Portugal is a super good country in terms of illustration and also design.

Do you exhibit your art?

Oh yes! I had a lot of exhibitions last year, collective and individual, some more focus on illustration, some in street-art (also something that I do a lot, it’s still “illustration”but the medium and the support changes so let’s just putting it like that 🙂 )

“Lugares” (“Places”) was probably my favorite, because I just had came from a vacation in the mountains and was kinda of a reflex of that little trip. Was really a good feeling putting that exhibition together…

Have you ever tried illustrating a wordless picture book?

I did some publications just with illustration before, but nothing serious so I don’t really know if that counts, I would say no for now eheh

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate a picture book?

Oh yes! Like I said before, makinf my own book will be the biggest accomplishment… I think I have so much ideas and things to say in my little world, for sure, but really for sure, I would create something soon… and then try to publish 🙂

Some of the textures in your painting look like they could have been painted, cut-out and added to the painting. Do you ever do that?

I always do that. I never really use the brushes in photoshop… I just use a random watercolor and I work cutting pieces and changing the color or the light, then the process it’s always like that… but I have a lot of different ways to do. My favorite is really just draw by hand all eheh

What do you think is your biggest success?

Till now? For sure being able to do this as a full time job, that’s for sure my biggest accomplishment for now :), if keeps like that I will be happy 😃

What is your favorite medium to use?

I really like pencil colors, for sure my favorite. It’s so simple, but you can do so much…

Has that changed over time?

Yes, in the beginning I use to draw just with graphite pencil, for some years, then I pass to black pen, and I was using that also for some years, then I pass to watercolor… and now I’m in a limbo between watercolor and pencil color 🙂

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet when illustrating?

Yes! I have a Wacom, don’t really know exactly witch one… but not so long ago I use to cut and make all my illustrations with the mouse eheh, I probably got the Wacom for 8 months now 🙂 it’s a lot easier now… at least in time, the results are the same…

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

I work everyday in a tradicional way, all my illustration start from a drawing or a collage, and I love to draw on my sketchbook, or making illustrations to put on the streets, I’m a lot more tradicional than digital I believe 🙂

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? Which ones?

For children magazines no, I did for some magazines in Portugal, but more cultural related, last year I made the cover of one called “Melancia” and another called “Gerador”, I really enjoy making both 🙂

Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?

I don’t really make pictures, I just go out, to my hometown, explore for a bit, and then I build up motivation to create, then it’s always kinda unpredictable, I always see people using reference images, but I prefer letting my illustrations create the way… then I just follow 🙂

Do illustrators in Portugal do school visits?

Yes, a lot!  We do a lot of workshops here, I think it’s the easiest way to share knowledge and also to be out there with the people…


Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

For sure, if was not the Internet I don’t think I ever could be able to make money enough to live from illustration, Internet just makes it all faster I think…more easy to find…

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I want to make my own books, tell my stories with my drawings, that’s my goal, of course explore a lot and see the world because it’s my biggest inspiration, if illustration can also provide me that, even better 🙂

What are you working on now?

For now I’m making all the image of a festival here in Portugal called “Ecos do Lima” it’s being really fun, some of the posters are already out there 🙂

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

Im not that picky with materials… I really like the combination of spray cans with acrilics, makes really nice contrasting textures, talking about acrylics I really like the posca pens, they are super easy to work with, fully recommend… In terms of pencil colors I like to have some good ones, I fully trust Caren d ache on that, for me they are really the best, even the less expensive boxes are great 🙂

For the rest all can be good for me eheh

Ohh, I like pillot pens too, the 0,25, it’s great for detailed drawings…

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

Just keep on doing !! Work work work, put yourself out there, try to learn good the techniques in the beginning… having the tools will help you a lot to decide then if you want to use them or not… and just try to make your own way…

that’s what I have to say, and wish all good luck and good illustrations!! 🙂

Thank you Francisco for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure to let us know your future successes. To see more of Francisco’s work, you can visit him at: 

Good Illustration Agency: 

Childrens Illustrators:



If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Francisco. I am sure he’d love to hear from you and I enjoy reading them, too. 

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Gorgeous! I especially love the mysterious night scenes, but I’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite.


  2. Breathtaking! So full of color, life and fantasy…right up my alley! 😀 ❤


  3. I love your work. It speaks to my ❤


  4. I love your work so much! Gorgeous! I want to fall inside each one.


  5. Beautiful


  6. Francisco, your work is so very good and I like how you use your imagination most. Do you know of Viarco* Tailor Shape Art Graf? They are in Portugal, but I can’t get them to answer my question as to if they would be able to put their colored graphite product in wood encased pencils, like a carpenter pencil. I love their products, and wonder if you have ever tried them? Please post if you do know of them. Thanks.


  7. Wow. That is some beautiful work. Thanks for the post.


  8. Stunningly beautiful work, Francisco! I will remember your name.


  9. I absolutely love his work. Love the colors.


  10. Wow! Mac Barnett has said something about how a children’s book, even one meant for bedtime, should give a child strange dreams. I think Francisco’s artwork would do just that! It’s brilliant! Love how rich they feel and surreal. Gorgeous!


  11. Wonderful, colorful illustrations! Love them! Gorgeous!


  12. Great work! Love the colors and the whimsical mood 🙂


  13. Hey there I love all of your works. I saw you in instagram for the first time and I was amazed by your works. So, I did check you out in google and found this interview, which I think is more impressive. Good to know you and thank you for some good advices for beginners like me.❤️ You are going great ☺️ keep it up 👍


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