You are currently viewing Angel: Nativity illustration

Angel: Nativity illustration

picture book school nativity illustration
bored and tired angels in the Christmas nativity

At primary school I was an angel in the Christmas Nativity. Mrs Galvin (playing the piano, stage right) said I couldn’t have a speaking part as I’d read a poem in church at harvest festival. It wouldn’t be fair on the others. Had I known that was the deal a few months earlier then I might have let someone else read the poem. But okay, it seemed like a logical reason. Except… there were two angels in the play, me and my friend Toni. We looked very similar, both with pale skin, freckles, and long blonde hair. Our entire job was to sit at either side of the stage, staring forwards with our arms up. For the whole of the play.

I have a strong suspicion that the harvest festival poem was just an excuse so that she could have symmetrical angels

Halfway through we had to stand up, walk slowly to the front of the stage, strum our tinsel and cardboard harps, then walk slowly back and sit down again. That little interlude was such a relief for my arms! It was agony keeping them up like that the whole play! I repeatedly felt my elbows slowly sinking and then had to jerk them back up.

My dad got me to go back on stage after it had all ended and pretend to use the spinning wheel for a more interesting photo than my actual part.

photo of me (Nicola Schofield), as a child, dressed as an angel with a tinsel halo, sat at a spinning wheel.
For some reason, our Nativity also included the story of Rumpelstiltskin

Nativity Illustration Process

I started with a quick sketch in Procreate (though lots of back and forth changing the characters / expressions until I was happy there was enough going on)

initial sketch

Then I switched to Affinity Photo on the Cintiq for the tidy line drawing. Added a few more details and tweaks. Put another parent watching in the bottom left as that corner felt a bit empty. added another sheep.

line drawing

I’d just been talking about value studies with my illo crit group (saying I never really do them) so I decided to do one.

value study

I then took the line drawing and switched back to the iPad, just because I wasn’t going to have time to work in my studio over the next few days. I decided to try out Affinity Photo on the iPad. It was a steep learning curve. Mostly just getting used to the interface but also I didn’t have my normal brushes on there and I really need to look into the settings to figure out how to turn off being able to draw with fingers. SO many times I’d notice my hand resting had make unwanted marks that weren’t always easy to remove.

work in progress
Work In Progress
work in progress
A bit further along. Sooo ugly and most of the lovely linework hidden.

It’s a good job I was happy with it at this point because, after I exported the jpeg, the layered Affinity file vanished and I haven’t been able to find it. This is one major reason I prefer to use my PC with a Cintiq when possible – Apple try to be too clever and the file structure, how files are saved, stored, etc. is quite opaque and you don’t have as much control as I’d like. Anyway! I got there in the end and here is the finished Nativity illustration. A childhood memory recorded in picture book illustration form.

picture book style school Nativity illustration. Two angels are spotlighted on stage. one of them yawns.
Final Illustration after much fiddling

Enter your email below to get future posts like this in your inbox:

Leave a Comment