Back in March I did a small paper/zine fair and I had a few people ask me how I did the postcards so I thought I’d make a post to show you my creative process!

I got the idea many years ago when I saw someone on the internet digitally putting their drawings over a photograph. It’s not a new or original idea, many people have done it before but I think it always looks really fresh and interesting.

My husband is a photographer by night and I had been wanting to collaborate with him for a long time. I had him choose some photos that might be suitable as an interesting background to my illustrations and then I picked the final three.

I have this fantasy of our cat Panko being like a human and wearing cute clothes and going on on little errands so he was the perfect subject for this project! Normally I do a lot of sketches if I don’t have an exact idea in my head but this time I could see exactly what I wanted so I did the final illustration from the beginning.

postcard sketch

I used to use pencil to draw my sketch, and then ink on top and erase the pencil but I found that unless I used a waterproof drawing ink with a nib the ink would fade from the eraser. Using a nib pen can be a fit fiddely so now instead of a normal lead pencil I use a blue Prismacolor Col-erase pencil. This way when I scan in the illustration, it won’t pick up the blue and I don’t have to manually erase anything!

When working digitally I use Photoshop or Illustrator. Since this time I wasn’t doing vector art I painted my illustrations on Photoshop. I’m not very good at it, I really wish I was! I really like the flat colour style of painting so I don’t do a lot of shadows and highlights (if at all) but this time I did add some shadow and highlights (not entirely sure I like it that much though!).

process screenshot

So once I was finished I got it print ready and sent it off to be printed! But silly me, I made a mistake. Because I was doing these postcards in a bit of a rush I didn’t do a test print at home to see whether the colours were ok like I’d normally do. So when I got the finished postcards I realised they printed a little bit too dark but it still looks pretty good. I think I’m just being picky!


I’d love to do some more illustrations like this using photographs as the background (because I really hate drawing backgrounds!). I want to see Panko go on many more adventures!

Posted by:Niina Aoki

2 thoughts on “My Process

  1. I actually love the darkness to the photo… similar to Rembrandt.. gives a beautiful feel.. and panko makes everything good😻


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