We recently started a new series called Show Your Work over on our YouTube channel where we interview talented Designers and Illustrators about their work and favourite creative techniques!  

The first creative we invited in for a chat was George Tonks! He was a Fishmonger for 4 years before deciding to take the leap into full-time education. He is now a third year Illustration student from Arts University Bournemouth.

Watch the video below for the full interview between Martin & George or read on for an overview of their conversation!

Creative Work - Animal Illustrations

George works on his illustrations in ProCreate! His main passion so far has been drawing all types of animals as stylised characters. 

He exaggerates certain features or parts of the animal anatomy and overtime has really developed a distinctive way of drawing animals forms!

Creative Work behance george tonks
 george tonks elephant

The Process -  Sketching is Key

Georges inspiration for drawing animals and wildlife originates from watching Nature documentary from David Attenborugh Planet Earth to Blue Plant.

First of all, George spends a lot of time on sketching in small thumbnails size, he finds drawing in small scale gives him creative freedom to work out a composition, shape, proportions, silhouette and everything that comes into character illustration!  

Sketching out ideas is essential, George can spend up to 2 hours working on 20-30 thumbnail sketches! Here is an timelapse example of one of his illustration! 

Importance of Anatomy in Illustrations!  

Another important element of character illustration is understanding basic Anatomy. George mentions that he doesn't always draw anatomy as it should be, however understands that it is important to have some basic understanding of how bones and muscles operates. 

George learnt more on anatomy through observations of wildlife and also looking and learning how other illustrators draw!

Adding Details!

Lastly comes the best bit, adding the detail. One of his tips for colouring is to cover your entire document in one solid colour and delete all the excess so that you are left with only the silhouette, having a distinguishable silhouette is key in character illustrations! 

bear illustration george tonks

George advice that once you have the silhouette, play around with the colour balance and hues as it allows you to see the illustrations in different colours and discover which works the best! 

It is also essential to spend time on finer details and not rush the process, all the fur on the Bear illustration (above) for instance are actually individual brush lines! 

Popular Culture

Finally, investing time and energy on creating Illustration especially in areas you are not so confident in will in the long run only help you to develop and improve!

George also spends time challenging himself to draw characters other than Animals, drawing pop culture characters or taking part in instagram prompts such as #Drawthisinyourstyle,# Inktober or #mermaidmay! are all great ways to engage, attract interaction and grow your social media community!

Final Project

George biggest challenge to date was working on his Final Year Project.  All characters models, scenery and animation was done by George using the software Blender over the course of 5 months! 

We wish George all the best in his illustration career! To find out more on George check out George on his website, Behance and Instagram!


If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to listen to our Podcast with George as we chat about University learning Vs Online Learning!

If you have enjoyed reading this post  then you may enjoy reading this post on 10 Principles of Character Illustration


About the author 

Shumi Perhiniak

Shumi is a self-taught graphic designer and illustrator. In 2012, she took an entire year off to study Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. In just 6 months, she started freelancing and became a Certified Photoshop Expert. She has worked as an in-house graphic designer for brands such as Toni&Guy, Renaissance Learning and Baker Ross.

She also owned a physical stationery shop selling her art prints and now focuses on selling digital art prints online under the name HerDesignWorld

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