Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 13, 2021

Illustrator Saturday – Tommy Doyle

Tommy Doyle is an Illustrator and graphic designer based in Melbourne, Australia. Originally from Montreal, Qc Canada, he relocated down under in 2007.

He has been working in the industry for over 20 years. Illustration is a big passion of his and finds that, it is an effective and creative way to communicate a message or an emotion. His work is bold and rich in simplicity. Tommy loves playing with shapes and textures, mixing digital and traditional mediums.

Clients includes; Apple, Microsoft, Hallmark Cards, Cottage Door Press, Auzou, Milan, Mattel, Oreo, Target and more.

HERE IS TOMMY DISCUSSING HIS PROCESS of one of his recent illustrations:

This illustration is for a one meter long floor puzzle for kids. The theme here is transportation. The cool thing about this giant puzzle is that it contains 5 mini puzzles within the big puzzle itself.

You can see where the mini puzzles are on the sketch, picture 00-pencils. For every project I start by spending a couple of days playing around and getting some ideas down on my iPad pro. The iPad makes it easy to cut and paste and move things around. I also like to flip the image to refine the pencils. Once I’m happy with the sketch I send it to the client for approval. Then they come back to me with feedback. There’s usually one or two rounds of changes before I move onto the colour version.

I then start by colouring the background and play around with colours and lay down the first shapes (Picture 01-first-shapes).

I keep building on that by adding the middle ground elements (Picture 02-add-environment). At this stage you can start seeing the depth of the scene coming to life.

Follows the addition of all the characters and some background details (Picture 03-characters). This part is time consuming, I will usually spend a couple of days on this making sure everything is balanced. Here I also make sure the colours work well together.

In the next step (Picture  04-front-elements) I add front elements to help balance the whole image and create even more depth. The client was specific about having that sense of depth.

The final and most fun part for me is adding the effects and shading to each elements (Picture 05-shading). It’s also time consuming but this is really where everything comes to life. Once I’m done with that, I usually play around with adjustment layers to calibrate tones and colours. This version is sent to the client for approval. Again, they send feedback and revisions to make before it is approved to production.

This project was particularly fun because I had the freedom to create what I wanted in terms of scene as long as the choice of animals and transport was respected. The rest was all up tp me. I decided to go for some type of race around the coast with hills and a sense of a nice summer day. I wanted to make sure that kids could get lost in the picture and have fun looking at all the animals in action. Side note, the final file for this piece has over 4000 layers and I’m proud to say that they are all named. Clients will almost always ask for the layered files so that they can use some of the elements for the packaging or the layout of a book for example. I ended up spending 6 days in total to create this artwork.

If you’re curious about the bushes I use, you can find them all for free when you have a Photoshop subscription. Kyle T Webster is the genius behind all the best brushes a lot of people use in the industry.

INTERVIEW WITH TOMMY DOYLE:

How long have you been illustrating?

For as long as I can remember. My parents still have my first drawings from when I was five years old. I can’t think of a moment in my life where I wasn’t drawing. And I don’t think I’ll ever retire from it either. I just love that I can translate ideas from my brain into something I can share with others and make them feel something.

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

It was one of my Aunty. She was the sweetest and commissioned me to do an illustration for her bathroom. She gave me $20 for it. It meant a lot to me. I must I’ve been around 10 years old, it made me realize that I could create art and people could by it.

Did you go to school for art?

No

What types of classes did you take?

My parents enrolled me into an oil painting course for about six years when I was a teen. I use to love going to these every Sunday and paint animals.

What type of job did you do right after you graduated?

Graphic designer

Did you study graphic design in college?

I studied graphic design at University in Quebec city.

What caused you to move to Melbourne, Australia?

I got bored with where I was at in Montreal back in 2007. I had been living there for seven years and felt I needed a change to become a better version of myself. I knew that I had to become bilingual and that if I wanted to be successful as an illustrator, I had to find a bigger audience than just Quebec. I also don’t enjoy winter that much. So, I made the decision to get a visa and challenge myself. It’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made.

Have you taken any illustrating courses since school?

No, I’m too busy these days. It’s something I want to do because I love learning and discovering new approaches. When I have time, I’ll probably do a character design class online. I’ve always been fascinated by cartoons. I want to push myself further and get better at illustrating humans.

I notice you list Hallmark Cards as a client. Were they one of your first clients?

How did that come about? It was actually the first job I landed when I moved to Melbourne in 2008. I worked there for about five years as a graphic designer. It was fun.

Can you share with us a little bit about What the Wolf the company you founded?

Funny you ask about this. I decided to end it last week. It was a fun while it lasted. I created What The Wolf to offer a range of cool eco-friendly products for kids. It went for about three years, pre COVID, when it was possible to be a stall holder at the biggest markets here in Australia. Now I want to focus on more handmade things. My new thing is ceramic, I only had a few classes so far, but I’m loving it.

What you think helped you develop your style?

I’d say that watching cartoons on Saturday morning as a kid influenced me a lot. I always loved the old Looney tunes artwork with all the painted backgrounds. All the Hanna-Barbera cartoons as well. I remember watching the Flintstones on my high-school lunch breaks and be fascinated by all the colours and textures. Disney has been a big influence too, with all their old classics. I guess you could say animation influenced me more than anything. Even as a grown up I still enjoy watching cartoons and animated movies.

When did you decide to illustrate children’s books?

After Uni I knew that it was something I wanted to try and then a friend of mine ask me if I would be interested in illustrating her story. She knew a publisher in Montreal that wanted to publish it. I said yes!

Was Ma gardienne est sourde the first book you illustrated?

It was. Silly me painted the whole thing with acrylic. All I do now is digital. That first book opened the door for me in publishing. It kind of snowballed from there.


Was LEON THE RACCOON your first English language book?

No, Leon le Raton is a series of book I illustrated for AUZOU, a French publisher. They approach me to illustrate one, then later on decide they wanted to turn it into a series. I ended up working on seven titles.

I only ask this, since your website does not show any books in English. Why don’t you show them off too?

This reminds me I really need to updated my website. I just haven’t had the time to put them all up there. After a good day of work, I tend to stay away from the computer.

Is it hard to illustrate a book written in another language?

No, I’ve been living in Australia for thirteen years now. You can say I’ve achieved my goal of becoming bilingual. I hardly speak French anymore. Only with my family over our weekly video calls. So these days, I don’t have any difficulty working in both French and English. Maybe I’ll learn Spanish next.

How many languages have your books been published in?

Maybe 3 or 4 so far.

I noticed a few other Leon the Raccoon books. Did you sign a two book deal when you agreed to illustrate the first book?

No, they realized they wanted more after the first one.

Was LITTLE EWE your first book published by a United States publisher book?

No, my first English releases have been done through my agents over the years. I think it’s my first with an American author. It’s been a great experience. I’m really excited as it is coming out this month!

How did you connect with The Bright Agency?

I sent an email with my folio and told them I was seeking a new agent. The agent I was with at the time wasn’t focusing on kid’s stuff and that’s what I wanted to do. So, I approach Bright explaining the situation and they replied to me a couple of weeks later. I remember my heart beating so fast when I read the positive response. I feel at home with Bright.

Have you illustrated any book covers?

Not yet, do you have contacts? 😉

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own children’s book?

Yes of course, I just need to find time to dedicated to personal projects. I’ll get there.

Would you be open to illustrating a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

If the project felt right, yes. I’m craving stories that are clever and well thought out.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

No, but I’m open to any type of projects. I love having a good amount of variety. I’m now working on puzzles, song books and story books.

Have you tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

That would be interesting but I haven’t. My favorite is, The Arrival by Shaun Tan. That is next level masterpiece, go get it.

What is your favorite medium to use?

Digital. I love the flexibility and efficacity it has. I do all my sketching on the iPad Pro and the coloring in Photoshop on my Wacom Cintiq. I recently gave the Cintiq a try and I couldn’t work without it anymore. It’s better for my neck and back and I love how big it is.

Has that changed over time?

Yes, I used to paint a lot with acrylic. I just find it much quicker to work with digital. Especially when you’re dealing with multiple projects at the same time. If needed, I take my paint and brushes out to create my own digital brushes and textures. Mixing both is a lot of fun too.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

Yes, I spent most of my time in there. I find it easier to switch on to work mode if I have a room dedicated for it.

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

I have a pretty tight schedule working on freelance work where I have deadlines for each step of the process. My time is based around that. And when I’m not working on a project I tried to switch off from illustration, otherwise I would get sick of it and I don’t want that to happen. In general, I aim to have a regular 9 to 5 day. Sometimes I work longer hours or on the weekend. Then have a few days to rest. It’s very important to have a good work life balance.

Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?

I do a lot of research for each project. I use subjects most of the time. I go on image banks, take pictures of myself or nature, get on Pinterest, etc. It helps me elevate what I’m working on. The only time I don’t’ use references is when I’m playing on the iPad just to have a fun sketching session, there I let my mind loose since I don’t have a specific brief or deadline.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Yes, absolutely. It’s a necessity really, for so many reasons. The illustration community is amazing, I’ve learned tricks and tips from illustrators I follow.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

Photoshop

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

As far as equipment goes, I have a Wacom Intuos, Wacom Cintiq, iPad Pro, iMac that I use on a daily basis. And I use the app Procreate on a daily basis too. It’s such an amazing app and the developers are awesome. They understand the community and it shows.

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

Write my own books is probably on top pf the list. I gave up on the dream of working for Pixar.

What are you working on now?

I have three puzzles on, two books about becoming an older sibling, a board book about Leprechauns and a song book is on the way. It feels good to be that busy. I feel like all the hard work and persevering throughout the years is finally paying off. I’d say I feel lucky, but it isn’t luck. It’s always been hard work and really keeping believing in myself.

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.

If you’re looking for brushes, get Kyle T Webster’s brushes and have fun with them. You can now import them in Procreate. If you’re using the most recent version of Photoshop, using the ~ key on your keyboard will let you use your current brush as an eraser. That key is under the esc key on my mac keyboard.

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

Keep believing in yourself, stay curious and try new things. If you keep working hard and regularly, good things will happen. Look at what others do but avoid comparing your work with theirs, only compare with yourself. It’s ok to have bad days, just don’t let them take too much space. Draw what makes you feel happy and it will transcend in you work. When being approach by a client, don’t be afraid to say no if you feel it’s not good for you.

Tommy, thank you for taking the time to answer the interview questions and showing us your process. I really enjoyed viewing your illustrations. Please let me know your future successes so I can share them with everyone.

To see more of Tommy’s work, you can visit him at:

WEBSITE: https://www.tommydoyle.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tommydoyle/?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tommydoyleillustration/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/doyletommy?lang=en

Agency: https://thebrightagency.com/us/publishing/artists/tommy-doyle

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Laura Sassi Tales and commented:
    PASSING ALONG A GREAT INTERVIEW! I really enjoyed learning more about Tommy Doyle, the talented illustrator Beaming Books selected to illustrate LITTLE EWE, in the interview he did with Kathy Temean on her blog today. What an interesting journey he has had. And I’m over the moon with how he illustrated LITTLE EWE. For all both of these reasons, I thought you might enjoy this insider’s interview with the illustrator, himself!

    Like

  2. Wonderful. I especially like the ice-cream ladies. Thanks for the post.

    Like

  3. These illustrations are fantastic! Nice work, Tommy!

    Like

  4. Great interview and I love Tommy’s work! Thanks for the photoshop tip. I didn’t note that hack!!

    Like

  5. Love all of the color and animal characters, Tommy! Thanks for sharing, Kathy. 🙂

    Like

  6. Great interview. I really enjoy Tommy’s artwork, it is so engaging.

    Like


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