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5 ways to make your Hillfolk custom portrait awesome!

5 ways to make your Hillfolk custom portrait awesome

Over the past few years I’ve created hundreds of custom portraits, including families large and small, best friends, furry friends, work colleagues and newlyweds.

But what is it that makes some illustrations extra special? I’ve pulled together a list that reveals the top five 5 things to include when you order a portrait, so keep reading to find out! By following these simple tips, it will help me create a unique illustration for you that soars head and shoulders above the rest!

1. Unique outfits

Now, I know a lot of folk do happen to wear jeans, a t-shirt and trainers (me included!) but the key to making my figures instantly identifiable is to choose a recognisable outfit. Perhaps they wear a uniform for their job, or have specific clothing for their hobby? Alternatively, fancy dress can be a really fun option too!

The following family came back for their second portrait, and this time chose me to capture them in their halloween outfits. As you can see by the comparison pics, I replicated each outfit as closely as possible, making this portrait a cute reminder of a special moment in this family’s life,

2. Patterns

Patterns really help to make an outfit recognisable. Do they have a favourite flowery dress, or checked shirt? By replicating exact patterns, it really helps the character look like their real-life counterpart.

The following portrait is probably one of my favourites from last year! The customer chose some really distinctive outfits and added lots of little personal details too…

3. Style

Again, the key to this is being specific. To sound like a very famous food ad – it’s not just any pair of jeans, it’s a skinny fit, high waisted indigo wash pair of jeans! Think about the cut, length and brand of clothing – do they always roll their sleeves up, leave their jacket unbuttoned, or their shirt tucked in? All these details really help!

4. Accessories

These are another great way to help identify each figure. Choose something that relates to their hobby, profession or personality. It could even be an item that links to a memorable story – “remember the time when…!” For children, it might be their favourite toy, blanket, food, game or hobby.

5. Backgrounds

This could be your home, a holiday location or business premises – they all add that extra element to a portrait and make it truly personal. The portrait below was one of two I created for this customer, with this one showing them as they are now in front of their family home, and another showing them 20 years ago as a couple on the beach.

Well that’s it! I hope you find these tips useful and look forward to hearing from some of you soon! If you are interested in having a Hillfolk custom portrait, click here.

5 ways to make your hillfolk custom portrait awesome
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Highlights of 2018

In the past 12 months my little business has really grown, and I have been lucky to have experienced some great things, so thought I’d pull some of my favourites together into this post.


In March I was contacted by one of the researchers from the BBC programme, to see if I would be interested in donating some of my work to a ‘Big Build’ show, which they were filming in my hometown.

I jumped at the chance and a few weeks later I was stood alongside a hundred or so other people to welcome the family back to their new and improved home.

The programme itself is still yet to be aired, but I will be sure to let you know when they have scheduled a date!

Artizan Summer Open

I submitted a couple of pieces for a local art exhibition – my first time exhibiting my work since uni! It was great to take my mum along to the launch event, and it felt very strange to see my work on the wall alongside other talented artists, but a wonderful experience nonetheless.

English Riviera Magazine

In October I was thrilled to see my Goodrington illustration featured as the cover image on the English Riviera magazine. It was such a great opportunity and really helped to introduce my work to the local community.

Cockington Apple Day

Later on that month I experienced my first craft stall – and what a baptism of fire it was! The morning was spent stood under my gazebo in torrential rain in the middle of a field, thinking “what have I let myself in for?!”

Luckily the weather cleared and I had a really successful day. I met lots of really lovely people and it was so wonderful to have such a positive response to my work.

Winterfest at Torre Abbey

I went to last year’s Winterfest as a customer and loved it so much that I made it my aim for the year to create enough illustrations to warrant having a stall this year.

12 months on, and there I stood – on the other side of the trestle table selling my wares. It was fab! I had such a fun weekend, and met some other wonderful craftspeople too – especially my stall neighbour Lyndsey from – thank you for keeping me company and all the advice, it was really appreciated.

So… on to 2019 – I wonder what it will have in store? I can’t wait to find out!