I created these Chinese spices illustrations for an article I wrote to introduce people to spices that are commonly used in Chinese cooking for both my food blog and about.com who I have been writing for. These Chinese spice illustrations are also used for chapter pages in my upcoming cookbook “Home-Style Chinese Cooking“.
Some of the most common questions I’m asked by people are about how to make five-spices powder. How do Chinese people use spices in Chinese cooking? That’s where I got the idea to write this article about different spices and to show what they look like. Instead of taking photographs of these spices I decided it would be more fun to make illustrations of each spice.
At first I was only planning to illustrate just dried spices but after sketching them out I found there were kind of boring to look at. So I looked for references for the dried spices in plant form and illustrated both the plant and dried forms together. So you can see the raw form and the version you see in your kitchen.
I really liked working on this project as I like drawing subjects like this. Flowers, trees, plants, anything food related, I like drawing it. If you’re curious about how to use these Chinese spices, you can have a look at my article “14 Essential Chinese Spices” on my food blog “Egg Wan’s Food Odyssey” . I didn’t included my About.com site as from January 2017, I will no longer to work for about.com as their Chinese food expert. This is a great relief for me as I’m so busy with my illustration business I have had no time to focus on any personal projects and I’ve had even less time to update my food blog.
I will put this “14 Essential Chinese Spices” poster on my shop soon so if you have any interest in purchasing this really fascinating poster you can purchase it from my etsy shop.
At the beginning of May of this year I was contacted by Roisin McGroarty, who is the editorial executive from “Connect Publication” in Paisley. She told me she saw the illustrations I completed last year for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and said she liked them a lot and thought my illustration style would suit her client’s project. Her client is RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and this is how I started this exciting project.
The brief for this project was to create a simple, clean but visually interesting illustration for the next edition of the Zoo’s member magazine “LifeLinks”. The topic of this article is about an garden at Edinburgh Zoo that serves multi purposes in the zoo.
So the “brief meeting” took place in Edinburgh Zoo itself. We got a chance to look at this beautiful garden and have a chat with the head gardener who is in charge of looking after this magnificent garden. I have been to Edinburgh Zoo many times but I have never noticed this garden before. I loved the warm, humid and fogged green houses (reminded me of Taiwan where I’m from) and all the trees and flowers around the garden. I made sure I listened to the conversation between the gardener and Richard, the writer, as I was afraid to miss important information about the garden that could help me to come up with any ideas for illustrating this project. I was to only get access to this garden once so I made sure I took as many photos as I could for my own visual references.
Back in my home studio, I looked through the photos I took in the garden at the zoo and I started to sketch out some ideas. In the first sketch, I was going to illustrate a garden truck in front of the garden shed but I decided it would make the sketch too cute and possibly too video gamey. So I decided to get rid of this and I placed the entire focus on the plants, trees, flowers and garden.
I must emphasise I’m not the kind of illustrator who will spend a lot of time and energy on sketches. I do sketches but for me a sketch is just a way to communicate my design ideas, art direction and composition. Sometimes this can cause confusion and sometimes I have to provide my clients with some kind of presentation to show them my work process from start to finish. This process shows everything from initial sketches to line work in illustrator to final work before and after adding textures (which I create myself). I use Adobe Illustrator for the vast majority of my work and this eliminates any wonky lines and allows me to produce a highly polished piece of work but unless you see this presentation you won’t realise what goes into my illustrations. So nowadays I often make a “sketch presentation” for my new clients. However once clients have worked with me then they will learn how I work and will really trust me and my work style.
This is one of my personal projects from 2013. The idea was to illustrate one of my favourite local pubs and make three double spreads to introduce the history, atmosphere, food and drink of this pub. I choose the Beehive Inn for several reasons with the first being the location. So I created this Edinburgh Beehive Inn illustrated Review.
Beehive Inn is located in Grassmarket in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town. I also chose this pub as Chris had been here before for a client meeting and he said it had a real country pub feeling, something he really loves (he’s a country boy at heart). The other was for the food. Chris said the food looked excellent and the food really was excellent. I had fish and chips and Chris had a steak pie and both were absolutely delicious. Importantly also the Beehive Inn has a large beer garden, something which every pub should have.
I also did some research about this pub and found out Prince Charles had eaten here before. Finally the pub has regular comedy shows and the staff were all really friendly to me (trust me, a lot of places in Edinburgh aren’t friendly to me at least).
It was great fun illustrating the Beehive Inn and it’s making me think maybe in the future I can expand on this project to introduce more locations in Edinburgh and make a full illustrated travel guide of Edinburgh.
For this project I was tasked with creating an illustrated travel guide for any location that I fancied.
This was a really fun project as I could literally choose any city I’ve been to. I thought about doing an illustrated guide of Edinburgh, where I live now, but I decided to do an illustrated guide of my home city Taipei. This might seem bit of a cop out for some but there were a few reasons I wanted to illustrate Taipei. Firstly most people know nothing about Taipei/Taiwan or at least people think of “Made in Taiwan” (good old stereotypes) but what people don’t realise about Taiwan and even Taipei is that my country is quite industrial but it’s also extremely beautiful.
We have industrial parts of Taipei but if you jump on the metro or a bus and travel 20 minutes you can reach a national park or scenic area which are really beautiful. Also people often confuse Taiwan and Thailand. Ok, they might sound (barely) similar and they are within a thousand miles of each other but they are very different countries. I love Thailand btw, it’s still my favourite country that I have travelled to.
So here I am with this project. I created this short illustrated travel guide of Taipei to try to let people know “Hey, there is a country named Taiwan and Taipei is it’s capital”. All of the characters in the travel guide look very happy and enjoy their lives. The food in Taiwan is also absolutely delicious, just ask my husband and his ever growing waistline. Taiwan and Taipei are really cool places.
I would have liked to create more locations but in the time given I depicted four locations in Taipei. The first one is Maokong. Maokong is really close to my family home in Taipei and many people like to visit Maokong to enjoy a cup of tea and spend some relaxing time with friends and family. Maokong is famous for it’s tea farms and restaurants so I created a tea house scene for this location.
The second scene and also my first illustration for this project was to create a “main map of Taipei” to introduce some general information about Taipei city, such as the weather, transport, language, food and celebrations, to give people reading this book a general idea about Taipei. I created the header below to originally be on it’s own but I decided to integrate it with the map and I really like the way it turned out.
The second map is of the Taipei 101 tower.
The Taipei 101 tower was opened in 2004 and until 2010 was the tallest building in the world. If you’re struggling to comprehend the height of this building, google search Scottish mountains and you’ll have a general feel of the height. Every New Year (31st December, not Chinese New Year) a huge fireworks display is held on the Taipei 101 tower which is really spectacular. The Taipei 101 is located in the “Xinyi District” which is the new high end shopping area of Taipei. Apart from the shopping there are cinemas, 24 hour book stores and all kinds of fancy restaurants with delicacies from all over the world.
The third guide depicts one of the most popular night markets in Taipei in the Shilin district.
Taiwan is really famous for it’s street food. A lot of tourists from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Singapore travel all the way to Taiwan just to try the night market street food. Night market food is extremely diverse but it’s also really cheap. The night markets in Taiwan are extremely competitive and this brings down the cost of food but also raises the quality of food. I once told my husband we would probably need to spend a whole month to try one dish from every food stall in Shilin night market and remember there are dozens of night markets in Taipei alone.
I believe I must have put a lot of weight on while working on this project as all I could think about was how delicious the food is so I kept making that food at home and eating it.
Yangmingshan (shan means mountain in Chinese) is a national park on the north side of Taipei and is a national park with a mountain that rises to 1120 metres. Yangming mountain also provides natural hot springs and a lot of hot spring restaurants and hotels also provide really delicious food made from local produce. Also Yangming mountain has a lot of Calla Lilly and for a small amount of money you can harvest a load of Calla Lillies and bring them home to decorate your home.
The last time I went back to Taipei, my parents took myself and Chris to Yangming mountain to drink tea and eat a lot of tasty food. Incidentally our table was situated right next to a big field of Calla Lilly. So Yangmingshan is a great place for tourists to visit and you will have a lot of fun there. Also as a note, Chris is really into his cars and the last time we went over Yangmingshan there must have been a Ferrari club day out as we were overtaken by about a dozen Ferraris ranging from old to new. Very nice!
So that’s it for this illustrated guide. It was great fun to work on and it brought back a lot of good memories but it also made me really homesick. It’s been well over two years since I last visited Taiwan and my father has yet to meet our daughter Amelia so depending on workloads we may try to visit later this year. Hope you like the images above.
It was my birthday on Sunday and the morning right after my birthday I checked my emails as usual and discovered I had received an email from Illustration Served curatorial team. Illustration Served is a website that features top work in the editorial illustration category. The Served curation team chooses projects that move creativity forward in their respective industries, among a host of other top-secret but not-that-difficult-to-guess selection criteria. All the content they choose is from “Behance” the world’s leading platform for the creative professionals across all industries.
Come back to talk about that email now. They emailed me to congratulate me on choosing my “Video Camera Illustrations” as one of their featured content and it will appear on the homepage of Illustration Served. The one image in this blogpost is a screenshot of my illustration on their website.
I haven’t blogged my video camera illustrations yet as this series of video camera illustrations was created for an advertising company “The Gate” for their Edinburgh office new client meeting room. I created six illustrations and in the end they chose three of them to decorate their meeting room and my illustrations will be hang on the wall in A1 size to decorated their board room. Next week I’ll blog about the video camera illustrations and explain what happened with them.
It was a great honour can be featured on a Behance website and seeing this after a particularly lousy birthday really cheered me up.
Recently I was asked to do four book covers for one of Roald Dahl’s short story collections called “Kiss Kiss“. I chose three of my favourite stories as my book cover inspiration.
These were “The Way Up To Heaven“, “Royal Jelly” and “Pig“. Roald Dahl isn’t really popular in Taiwan so this was my first time reading one of his stories and they were really easy to read and nicely written. Of course I watched films based on his stories but I really enjoyed reading his stories and can see why is so famous.
Here are four book covers I’ve created for this book. Based on the illustrations you can tell the stories are a little “dark” in theme but the endings for each, if you read them, will surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed this project and can’t recommend enough to read this book.