I was always drawing as a kid. I would get these ideas in my head. They’d just pop in, and I would think, “I have to draw it.”

Now as a professional designer, I find the designs I enjoy creating the most are the ones I draw with my hand first, and then bring into the computer. It stands out. If you take the time to get it right, it’s exciting and it’s eye-catching because it is unique. Plus, I love that it stretches my abilities to try out different styles to get the right feel that our clients’ brands need.

Custom Illustrations for a Homegrown Brand

For Grove Roots Brewing Company, CNP used custom illustration in posters we created for each of their flagship beers based on celebrating the historic citrus industry in Winter Haven. Lead Designer, Tiffany, and I found our style inspiration in vintage postcards.

Illustrations contrast with the digital world we’re surrounded by. They’re always going to be unique because they are a direct product of the person making them. That’s why projects that utilize custom illustration are so much fun. It’s an exploration of a new style. Or in Grove Roots’ case, a reminder of an old style. We thought the audience would be drawn to the familiar, nostalgic quality of the vintage postcard style.

Grove Roots Brewing Company was also doing something fresh – they’re the first brewery in Winter Haven – so custom illustration was a great fit.

Shannon sketches a truck

An early sketch of the vintage Ford inspires the label for the 6am Pickers beer.

In the beginning stage, I made sketches and gathered reference images. The truck in 6am Pickers was especially difficult because we had to wrangle the correct perspective of the road after I drew the truck from scratch without a road. We had to stretch our brain like, “Oh, I think it’s going this way. Yeah, that looks right.”

Shannon vectorizes a custom illustration

The final sketch becomes vectorized.

Next, I began tracing my references with the the pen tool in Illustrator and layering the pieces to build the scene. After tweaking the details and perspective to our satisfaction, we were on the road (see what I did there?) to a successful poster design.

An early comp of the 6am Pickers illustration.

Tiffany, who designed the Grove Roots branding, had the colors mostly picked out ahead of time. We added a few more once we got into final stages of the illustrations and realized they were in need of a little more depth.

The final result was a unique combination of fresh and nostalgic, just like Grove Roots Brewing Company.

For more great Grove Roots illustrations, check out our case study, Crafting an Identity for Winter Haven’s First Craft Brewery.