Sunday, 27 October 2013

Chinese Phoenix snapback

Following my excursion painting designs onto canvas shoes I bought a blank snapback from Ebay with the intention of drawing something on this too. I never got round to it and left the hat on my bookshelf for ages until a chance conversation with one of my customers gave me the inspiration to draw a phoenix on the hat.

The phoenix was a good idea mainly because in my head, I imagined the wing and tail feathers would conveniently wrap around the surface of the hat without looking too odd. I began the project by sketching some very rough phoenix drawings into my notebook.

But nothing can substitute the feeling of drawing directly onto a curving three dimensional object, so in many ways, I just had to draw the design freehand without much prior reference or pre-sketching work.

Again, the advantage of drawing a mythical creature is that the boundaries between what is right or wrong can be much looser. So what if the bird cranes her neck a little too unrealistically? Or the wings bend in a weird way? It's a phoenix!

The next step was a departure from my canvas shoe projects. In previous work I inked over the pencil lines with black. But for the Phoenix, I thought I would fill in the colour first.

Filling in with colour first meant I didn't risk smudging the black ink as I applied the colour. The downside of course is that I lost the original pencil lines, so when I applied the final black lines, I would have to make it up as I went along.

I quickly Googled how other artists had coloured their Chinese phoenix work but it seems there is no fixed convention for colouring phoenixes. Most tend towards the firey yellows and oranges but I saw some that included really nice greens and blues. So I based my phoenix on all of them!

My POSCA (purchased through the excellent Cult Pens website) and Kurecolor (purchased from Hobbycraft) pen marks seemed to come alive on the snapback. The larger working area meant I was not to cramped with my individual pen strokes, hence, I guess, why there was less smudging and indistinct areas where one pen mark merged with another - a problem I found when colouring in the canvas shoes. I also really prefer the end result of colouring first and then adding black lines afterwards. It definitely pops a lot more this way.

I hope my client likes the hat. I'll post a photo of her wearing it when it arrives.


  1. That's awesome! :) The colours are really beautiful. Did you need to treat it after? Like a fastening spray or something for the colours/ink?

  2. No post treatment needed. I used Poscas on canvas shoes for my wife and she wore the shoes in mud, rain, dirt etc with no ill effects. So I'm fairly happy the paint will remain intact on this hat.

    1. Sweet! Thanks for that, I'll definitely have to try my hands at this one day. :)

  3. What great art and great ideas, thanks for sharing. Have you ever tried washing them?