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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Story of Bobby Bunny & My Illustrating so Far.....

Morning! I haven't had much of a chance to blog for the last week or so, but today I thought I would share a few of my past Bobby drawings with you, and a little about how my illustrating has developed to this point.

The image below is the first ever that I did of Bobby. He was born in 2007 the first year of my HND Illustration course, and was originally created as a cute character for a sideline greetings card project. I wanted to make a cute character that reflected both me, and the direction that I wanted to go in with my Illustration career and Bobby is what I came up with. It took many sketches of different poses and expressions to get him to this point but once he was there he stuck as my defining image.

Bobby Bunny Charater Original Black & White Sleepy Bunny Illustration - Copyright Bobby Bunny & Friends By Jennifer Keelan 2007

Throughout my course I continued to sketch away ideas and designs for Bobby, alongside my other projects. Then in 2008 I reworked my original image into colour so I could use it for my business cards, and so he would stand out more at our final HND show the New Designers Exhibition Islington.

Bobby Bunny Character Illustration, Original Colour - Copyright Bobby Bunny & Friends By Jennifer Keelan Illustration 2007
The exhibition went really well and I got allot of good feedback about my work, and some interest from a few agents which never really came to anything, but it was still nice to have people like my work. After this I took up more hours in my retail job to keep the money coming in, whilst still illustrating on the side. I did a few Christmas card designs which I sold to family and friends that year which went down well and helped me to keep my hand in and my focus.

Then in 2009 nearly a year after I graduated I got an e-mail from a greetings company who had kept my business card on file from my end of year show. They were looking to expand into doing cute cards and wanted perspective illustrators to help. I worked with a lovely woman named Paula and did about 70 odd rough sketches of all kinds of animals for her to find a potential character. At this point I didn't put Bobby forwards as I didn't feel he was ready for the world to see, plus he was a project that I wanted to pursue myself. In the end we got it down to a shortlist from my sketches of mouse, teddy and duck character. I then made the characters a little tighter and developed for her putting them into a number of different poses, as seen below.

In the end she chose the duck character with the balloon, who I named Dotty Duck. I continued working with Paula to develop both the pose and character, and after lots of e-mailing back and forth we finally ended up with the image below.

Dotty Duck Character Birthday Illustration - Copyright Bobby Bunny & Friends - By Jennife Keelan Illustration 2009
She then informed me that it was going to be put forward with a number of designs from other illustrators to the creative director. Unfortunately it didn't get chosen, but it was lovely to have the experience of working in a real situation and to have someone like my work, and think it was potentially good enough for publication. I feel that my work has progressed since then and that I could now do better, but as I say it was lovely to have the experience.

At this time I was also still continuing on working on developing Bobby and mocking him up into greetings cards. One of my first was the images seen below which I did in November 2009, a few months after I got engaged. It was an Anniversary/Valentines design, and I have always pictured these two as Bobby's Mummy and Daddy.

The next card design I did was for Christmas 2009, and it's the first design I did that featured Bobby's best friends Bella. She was originally going to be a sister, as I do picture Bobby having brothers and sisters. Maybe two or three, but I preferred the idea of her being a friend. I also did the image in black and white to so that it could be used within the card as a smaller image.

Bobby & Bella Bunny Character Black & White Christmas Illustration - Copyright Bobby Bunny & Friends By Jennifer Keelan 2009
Coming into 2010 Cupcake bunnies was my next design, again featuring Bella as well as Bobby. It was originally meant to be a card design, but turned out looking much more like a picture book image. I was still pretty pleased with it at the time; even though the expressions, face shapes, and fur finish still weren't right in my mind.

Bobby & Bella Bunny Character Illustration with Cupcakes - Copyright Bobby Bunny & Friends - By Jennifer Keelan Illustration 2010
To try and help get Bobby to be the character that I saw him as in my mind, I began to start looking in depth at allot more greeting card designs and designers that I liked, and seeing why I liked them. I also started going around the card shops and looking at all of the different brands and publishers, writing them down and getting a feel for what was in the market and what sold.

This gave me the inspiration and fresh eyes on things that I needed and my Bobby designs started to change. I remembered that when I worked with Paula she always wanted me to make the characters cuter, fluffier and softer, so I felt that this was exactly what Bobby needed. I started using pastel pencils along with the colouring pencils and watercolours I normally used, and still keeping true to my original Bobby character I came up with the image below:

Fairy Bun Bella Character - Copyright Bobby Bunny & Friends - By Jennifer Keelan Illustration 2010
This was fairy bun Bella who I designed to be used for thank you letters as well as cards. I was pretty pleased with how she turned out, feeling that I was getting closer to the finish that I wanted with the styling, colours and poses. The only thing that still wasn't quite right was the face shape and expression.

After getting closer to the character's that I wanted in the fairy Bella image I continued to work in this direction until I finally cracked the character that I wanted with my Christmas 2010 design, expression, face shape and all. It was the turning point for me and the first time since I had done my original Bobby Bunny image, that I had got the characters exactly as I saw them in my mind.

Bobby Bunny Presents & Snow Christams Illustration - Copyright Bobby Bunny & Friends - By Jennifer Keelan Illustration 2010

 After this image the illustration got put on hold for pretty much the whole of the following year, as I needed to work as many hours as possible in order to save together for my impending wedding in Nov 2011. I also spent all of my spare time making everything for the wedding from the invites, table plans and menus to the favours.

We had an amazing wedding and amazing weather considering it was November, a lovely sunny perfect day which flew by followed by Christmas and the New Year. By this time we had begun to settle into married life with me moving in properly with all my stuff, not just myself which it had been up until this point. I also got the chance to set up my new studio space in our spare room.

Then finally in May of this year we were settled enough that I could cut back down to part time hours and get stuck into my Illustration once and for all. It was nice to finally get back into doing a proper project, and working on Bobby. I started off with a logo design which I worked on with a friend for her new Twins club. For this I used a few Bobby like characters, but just made them a bit cleaner looking as it was a logo. It was nice to do something a little different from usual, and it had also been a long time since I had done illustrated typography, which I used for the title and promo leaflets that I also produced for her. I was pretty pleased with the way the finished design turned out and so was she.

After this in June 2012 I decided to make a card for my friends up and coming wedding. They were having a country style wedding with Indian type Tipi's, in the grounds of a local castle. So I decided to make a card to reflect this, and this is what I came out with:

Bobby Bunny Wedding Image - Copyright Bobby Bunny & Friends - By Jennifer Keelan 2012

I was pretty pleased with the outcome in terms of the composition, characters and general colours. The only bit that didn't come out quite as well as I hoped was the background, as I think it ended up making it look more like a picture book image than that of a greetings card. Looking back I should have made it simpler and less detailed. I was going for a dusky sunset feeling but it ended up looking a little muddy. I may rework it sometime in the future, but this is how it is for now.

So that pretty much takes you fully up to date with the goings on of Bobby and my Illustration over the past few years. The only other image I have done recently is the Bobby image that I have used for my banner at the top of this blog, which you have probably noticed is another re-work from my first ever bobby image. I did it this time because I still love the image as a trademark of my illustrations but I just felt he needed updating to be more in line with my present style. I am really happy with the colours and finish of how he has turned out.

Reworked Bobby Bunny Sleepy Bun Image - Copyright Bobby Bunny & Friends - By Jennifer Keelan Illustration 2012

So onto gathering ideas for my next project! Now my blog is all set up I am going to start putting together some new ideas for bobby bunny, and working towards a Christmas design too. Thanks for reading sorry it was a bit of a long winded post, but please come back soon x


  1. hi i have just stumbled on your blog (as you do)! :)
    your illustrations are so cute, like you i'm a big bunny fan!
    i love bobby bunny. :)..........vivienne x

  2. Thankyou Vivienne i'm glad that you like bobby, & thanks for following me x