Island House: Process

Entire Process Summary
Entire Process Summary

This was one project I was really excited to make for Paper Pirate. After finishing Not What It Seems I just had to make another one to practice rendering with, thus came the idea of making a little makeshift cabin on a deserted island in the middle of the sea.

My process for creating illustrations like this usually starts off with a Stretch Sketch, as I like to call it, where in I just doodle a bunch of ideas and make notes on what I would want to include in my final output. As far as it can go, I usually change it up a long the way, some don’t even make it in the first draft; but the idea of this process is to create a somewhat mind map of the details and the little bits of easter-eggs I can place around the work.

Drafting and Layout
Drafting and Layout

I wanna share how the thought process went with all the details, if you would notice some are very different (and missing) from the final. Basically I wanted to include, first off, was the front of the ship and the sail pole (that’s missing an actual sail) and a front dock where the Designer could stand on.  Second priority was all the nautical details I could add like seaweeds, nets, chains, a small boat parked by the dock, a surfboard, and also the bridge that connected to the supposed lighthouse. The main idea was “What would be essential to have on a house built in an island out in sea.” And my points go: a place to sit and relax, a place to look around, something to entertain, and something to leave the island. And the third priority, was that it would look like a levelled up playground.

Form and Rendering
Form and Rendering

For this particular design, I wanted different parts for the whole structure, and to be able to distinguish them I divided them head on with its desired colors which I will later render and apply light and texture to. This pretty much just helps me understand the form and where the light is, kind of like a reminder; the details come after.

Detailing and Light
Detailing and Light

My personal favorite part of the entire process: the detailing and light. This is where I start putting my first batches of Easter Eggs and all that stuff. I guess I like doing this ’cause it gives it more to look at. I love placing the highlights, it gives it a more realistic feel, more depth; though I’m still learning how to do that, I had a lot of fun experimenting on it with this one. This is also the part where I decide what to keep, what to change, and what to add. If you’d notice a lot has changed from the first draft.

The Designe
The Designer

BONUS: The Designer
The “Designer” character is actually inspired by my 7 month old niece. She has these chubby calves and balled up baby feet.. The paper in front of her was added after fully rendering her.


Adding Notes
A few phases before the final design I’d put little notes in red. Just like drafts, these are things that aren’t too permanent for me, some I do push through with and some I don’t; but again this helps me with knowing what to do next and what else I could add to it. Another benefit of noting things down is that even if you leave your workstation for a bit or decide to continue some other day, you’d still have them to remind you of your plans.

Final Design of Island House
Final Design of Island House

Finishing Up
After rendering the sky and adding just a few more details (highlights, splashes, shadows, barnacles etc.) I add in the rays behind and over the main subject to create lights peeking through the clouds. For me, this is what completes the illustration, as subtle as it is it gives it its own ambiance I can enhance at the last minute.

Closing Thoughts
I really enjoyed making this one as it was a learning experience for me more than anything else. I’m excited to create another one, gonna try my hands on a bigger scale or something. I’m open for suggestions on what to do next!

Thanks for reading! I’ll keep ’em coming!

TIP JAR: Send Some Love!

As simple as a tip of $1 you, my dear reader, would be supporting me, Paper Pirate, in making more art, writing more content, and creating more learning materials for everyone! This would mean so much to me, and I will be forever grateful for your kindness and generosity.


Paper Pirate

Paper Pirate (Mary Cruz) is a teacher by day, artist by night, and an entrepreneur in between. Inspiring others to keep making art and taking on adventures. The is the official site and blog of Paper Pirate, showcasing the art and illustration of Mary Cruz.

One thought on “Island House: Process

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s