Swedish artist Linn Olofsdotter explored many mediums before her career in the illustration field. After getting her education in both advertising and graphic design in Europe and the US, she moved to Brazil to start up a motion-graphics studio along with her husband and creative partner. Now Linn works independently creating artwork for a number of clients in fashion, advertising and editorial fields.


“The piece was commissioned by Samsung and was used in print ads as well as online and in stores to promote its LCD televisions in Scandinavia,” says Linn. “This particular series of TVs featured really rich and deep black tone, therefore the client wanted my illustration to showcase how vibrant colours became in contrast with the black.”


“I was given a free hand by the client, so I tried to create something emotional without really saying too much,” says Linn. “For some reason, the image of a woman holding a baby in a typical classical pose came to my mind. It reminded me of iconic religious images and Renaissance paintings. That was the impact I needed to create through the image, not just in terms of composition, but emotionally as well. I didn’t want to use a baby so I thought it would be more relevant if she held a big bouquet of magical flowers. This would give me the advantage of abstracting the flowers and exploring as many colours as I wanted.”


“When I know I’m going to need a female figure I start by getting help from my husband who takes lots of pictures of me in different poses,” says Linn. “This way I can get what I want right away without having to spend hours looking for references online. I usually choose a few poses that I like, then I mask and play around with it until I find the right composition.”


“There wasn’t much time for brainstorming because I had a really tight deadline,” says Linn. “So my process was simply to begin drawing flowers and creatures of different shapes and forms and combining them digitally as I normally do.”


“Apart from capturing some custom photography as a base for the pose, drawing over the selected shot and drawing the very large majority of the graphic shapes by hand, there really aren’t many surprises to my process,” says Linn. “I simply just begin with a really rough version of my image and continuously polish the illustration until I reach the final product. I guess it’s just like a traditional artist rendering a pencil drawing or painting an oil picture, but I use the computer as my finishing tool.”

“I spent a couple of days just drawing elements using Micron pens of sizes ranging from sizes 0.05 to 0.8 and ended up with ten pages of different flowers, birds, diamonds and other shapes,” says Linn. “I like keeping many of the shapes separate so I can have more control later on, such as options on how they can be placed in the composition. “The elements themselves aren’t complicated to create, but what is normally challenging and time-consuming is deciding exactly where to place them, what colour to use and what scale they should be in. There’s also a lot of masking and retouching involved, placing elements in front or behind each other, adding and subtracting details. By working this way, I end up with hundreds of layers and this particular image was a really great example of how extremely complex my files can be.”

“I had photos taken of myself, which I then masked,” says Linn. “After making my final selection, I separated all of the limbs from the body so I could slightly reposition them. I later masked the rest of the body in order to adjust it to the shape I needed it to be. “As the image progressed, I began flattening the layers so that I could create selections of more complex shapes within the body and fill them to create a layered effect, as a painter would. For all of the outlines, including the finer details such as the hair, I used my Wacom tablet for greater control and editability. At the end, I added the shadows in two different colours. When the body was complete, I drew the outlines of the dress and then filled it in with a fabric texture I had previously collected for my personal image library.”

“These were probably the least time-consuming elements of the entire illustration,” says Linn. “I just drew them straight into the document using my Wacom tablet and a semi-transparent brush. I wanted a little more drama added to the cloud, so I used a cloud and bead cluster I had in my sketchbook that I turned white by using channels.”

4. Textures, pattern and lighting
“I constantly scan different textures such as fabrics, beads, flowers, leaves, paper and anything else that seemed right for the image and that I could fit in my scanner,” reveals Linn. “Something I like to do is to constantly take photographs of textures I like for later use. After doing that for a couple of years, I have ended up with a rather large texture library, which I use for all of my projects. “For this illustration, I used a coarse linen texture, numerous ribbons as well as a photo of flowers I had taken. I played around quite a lot with the textures, trying them out in different modes so that they would seamlessly blend with the background. All the lights and other textures were created directly in Photoshop with custom brushes I’ve created for myself"



Graphic designer and illustrator Maciej Hajnrich – aka Valp – says that for him, graphic design was always something more than just a profession. A former video-games magazine editor, Maciej is based in Poland and works as a freelancer. He has numerous clients including Warner Music Poland, Photron, and Reprise Records. He was a judge for iStockphoto’s Battle Royale, and his work has been widely published.


“This piece is about sensuality and luxurious emotions, desires, hopes and dreams,” says Maciej. “No bad emotions are allowed, curiosity only. It says that extremes are all around us and we want to find them out, so there’s a bit of a story behind this image. From a graphic point of view: soft shapes meets shattered pieces, a beautiful woman meets winter cold, and the artwork is covered in details that you can see during your own investigation.”


“I was looking for some stylish, beautiful and sensual illustration with positive emotions,” says Maciej. “I wanted to play with the photographers imagination and push her photography to the limits by adding ‘myself’ into image. I did this piece for self promotion, and my goal was to use graphics gently and not overdo the effects. I want to be creative in isolation, and so didn’t hunt down inspiration on the Web or in magazines.”


Photographs were crucial for a piece of artwork, according to Maciej. “In this case, I used model and photographer Katja de Bruijn- Govorushchenko (, and I couldn’t have achieved this final effect without such great photo resources. I used photos from one session, and the Lasso and Brush tools, as well as some free brushes to add the snow effect. Besides that, I also used photos for texturing and detailing.”


“I set the model’s face as the focal point to lead the viewer’s attention diagonally. I covered the blank parts around the girl and corners, then started to shatter the image and layer it with shadows. I manipulated the light, shadows and details, and I kept an eye on the colours and tweaked them few times.”

“When creating the piece, I knew that the background had to blend with, and supplement, the main image perfectly,” says Maciej. “I did some tweaks to the fox and fur elements of the main image. In Photoshop, I used cutting, rotating, and masking, as well as adding light and shadows and finally layering all of these elements over the course of a couple of hours, which was challenging. What’s more important was that I needed to show many graphic details, without them being either too hidden or too visible.”

2. Glass shards
“I needed the attention of the viewer to be focused on the girl’s eyes, and then organically move to the edges, almost detail-by-detail,” says Maciej. “To achieve this, first of all you see a girl immersed in an environment of unknown ‘things’ that you recognize after a second; then focusing on details, you see triangles as shattered glass. I cut every piece by myself, with no Photoshop scripts, or Actions. I want to avoid overused ‘manners’ but also use the shards as a confident part of the artwork.”

“The snow effect is also an important, but subtle, addition to all the elements of the artwork,” says Maciej. “This is mainly because of model’s snowy make-up from the photoshoot, and the overall winter mood that the photo conveys. The snow particles were created using free Photoshop brushes that I found on the Internet. I spent a lot of time manipulating brush presets, because I don’t like repeating brush patterns on artwork – it never looks good, and you can have fun creatively by experimenting.”

4. Light and shade
“My intention was to be subtle with textures and light,” says Maciej. “Working with light and shadow requires attention, so I spent time getting a good balance between both. A consideration in this process was how to achieve a flat effect, where every part of the image is sharp and there is no division between foreground and background. I was manipulating this almost all the time to get well-balanced final effect – especially in the fox and fur area. I also want to add some eye-catching colour spots in opposite corners.”