Go Behind the Scenes with Illustrator Rhian Awni!

When I illustrate the cover of each book, I try to envision the scene and live in it with the characters.

My name is Rhian Awni and I am the illustrator behind the Love at the Chocolate shop and Taming of the Sheenans series. I hope this does not sound like a cliché story, but I have been drawing since I was a little kid. My mother, who loved doing fashion illustrations, encouraged me to develop my skills. She always gave me constructive feedback and taught me how to draw human figures proportionally. I owe a large part of the skills I honed in drawing as a kid to my mother. I did not study illustration in college, and actually have a Bachelor‘s Degree in computer science. Illustration was always my hobby and I developed it over the years. I went back to school to get a Masters Degree in graphic design, and I chose graphic design as I was too afraid to be a starving artist! That is what got me started in my business as a graphic designer in 2009, and later an illustrator when I started combining my illustrations with my designs based on demands from my clients. I was very self-conscious about the quality of my art, but my clients provided me with a major boost when they stated how much they liked the illustrations I created for them!

I work both with watercolors and Photoshop to create my illustrations. That way, they still have the texture of the traditional medium, yet look crisper and more refined when I digitally color over the original illustrations. I first start with a pencil sketch.

After I get my client’s approval, I redraw my illustration on watercolor paper and color it.


I then scan it and digitally modify it in Photoshop to add more colors and textures. It usually takes up to 8 hours to complete an illustration, but sometimes even longer than that! I always start my illustration projects with a bit of research and my favorite tool for that is Pinterest. I find inspiration for fashion, poses and hair styles there. Fashion is a major source of inspiration for me. But I also enjoy combining elements of classic art into my illustrations. I am influenced by Impressionism and Rococco movements in arts. What I like in these movements is the playful style of the artwork and the spontaneous nature of the subjects. I also tend to add a romantic or nostalgic touch to my illustrations.

I love warm and bright colors. Colors play a large part of my process too. After the sketch is approved by my client, I create a very quick color mockup for my own reference and I create it digitally in Photoshop. That way, I know where to put each color on the paper. I tend to limit my color schemes, and go with the subject of the book when I create the cover art. If the book story takes place in the summer, then I use bright and airy colors. If it takes place during the holidays, then warm and festive colors are used. That way, the colors make the first impact on the viewer, and then the subject comes next.

When I illustrate the cover of each book, I try to envision the scene and live in it with the characters. That way, I can bring it to life on paper! I very much enjoyed working on every book cover illustration from Tule Publishing but my absolute favorites are the following:

Connect with Rhian!




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