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Toots design Lorna Gibson
Lorna Gibson, Toots Design

Lorna Gibson: Evolving from an illustrator to an author

How I bring my illustrations to life through words and animation

Written by Lorna Gibson

My heart sinks when people tell me that they’re just not creative because it never looks how they imagined it. I have absolutely been there and I understand how off-putting that part of the creative process feels. I have drawn plenty of questionable, unrecognisable, wobbly drawings. Much like learning handwriting, I see drawing as a skill, so frustration arises for me when people write themselves off as ‘not creative’ permanently based on a belief stemming from ‘bad’ drawings when it might be that they just haven’t yet found or developed a skill with which to transcribe their ideas.  

I believe that everyone has a creative mind which allows them to see or dream their own perception of beauty. Skills with which to translate a creative moment into something physical can be found in so many places and developed and refined endlessly. I think all that matters is that it captures your heart with curiosity and joy during the learning process (which in my experience can be filled with plenty of discomfort and self doubt). I would view the skill itself as being much like a camera is to a photographer. The photographer possesses the creative part, the camera simply the tool to bring it to life.

I started out mostly using a biro and paper because I would often feel inspired to draw when I was travelling and a pen and paper was easy to carry and cheap. Initially, I would draw from photos which inspired me and over time my confidence started to grow and I began to experiment with drawing from an imaginary scene in my mind. 

The joy of working with a biro was that the magic was found in emphasising light and dark. Enhancing the darker parts would feel quite meditative as I repeated biro marks in the shadows. Now that I often work with colour in my illustrations, the highlights and shadows are still my favourite part to work on. It took me a while to connect that the way something caught the light was a key source of inspiration for me. 

I feel really fortunate to have had time to explore multiple ways to bring my ideas to life – through words, illustrations and more recently, animations. When I feel inspired, the ideas tend to arrive already formed as one of the three, a set of words to be expanded or an image concept waiting to be sketched out, or a section of animation. I’m really grateful that the three main elements of what I create complement each other so well, that words can bolster images and vice versa. Turning my hand to character creation and animation allowed me to really bring to life a world that I’ve imagined. I can’t tell you how wonderful that feeling is. When these worlds start to turn out on paper or on screen closer to what you imagined, it truly feels worth every painstaking minute of figuring out how to do it, every wonky sketch, and every learning curve you overcame by following the nagging curiosity of where it might take you.

Toots Design

About the author

Lorna Gibson illustrator toots design

Lorna Gibson

Lorna Gibson, an author and illustrator founded her brand Toots Design. Through her words and illustrations, she has created many loveable characters and stories. The warmth and magic that are bred within each pice make them timeless, and she’s managed to evoke powerful emotions in people across the world.

Follow Lorna: IG @tootsdesign