Illustrating a Recipe

Some of my favorite illustrations to make these days are recipes! The only problem with spending so much time illustrating a single recipe is that I find myself really craving whatever the recipe is of. I’m pretty sure eating the yumminess that I’m drawing would speed up the process *wink wink*

You might look at my illustrated recipes and say “Hey, those look pretty easy to do!” (or maybe you don’t say that, but let’s say you do…), and I thought the same thing – they’re not! Who knew eggs were so hard to draw? I mean, they’re oval, how hard could that be? Well, pretty freaking hard actually.

Problem is, if the shape is off just a bit they look like potatoes, you fix them and they look like a ball of lopsided dough, then they’re too round, too square, too oval…. sigh.

Eggs, stop being in recipes, mmk?


Both of these recipes I did as gifts for family members for Christmas. Both are special to the people I made them for. I made the Apple Pie for my mom, and the Milburn Cookies for my sister and her husband, the recipe was his grandma’s. Since they were Christmas gifts they were done with great speed! Not saying I procrastinate on Christmas art gifts at all…

Great Grandma’s Apple Pie

The apple pie recipe is one that my great grandma always used, taught my mom to make it, and now my mom has taught me to make it. It’s something that has always had a special place in my heart, its like love in a pie =) (if you haven’t seen the movie The Waitress, stop whatever you’re doing and go watch it right now. I’ll wait. Did you go? Good movie, huh?)


Materials used:
This illustration was created using watercolor paper, graphite, india black ink pens, watercolor, and black tea.

Favorite to draw:
My favorite thing to draw on this illustration was the cinnamon sticks! I love the little swirly ends.

Hardest to draw:
Eggs. They kick my butt every time.

I start off with making sketches and ideas for each ingredient. Sometimes this can take a while, as everything needs to fit and look right together. I also play around with developing a font to write the letters in. For this recipe I decided to create a font using my moms hand writing from the recipe she wrote for me.

Using her hand writing added a personal touch from my mother since I remember this recipe from her, while keeping my mom’s memory of her grandmother. The lettering “Apple Pie” and “enjoy” at the bottom are my momma’s hand writing.
She always had such a beautiful hand script, it should be used as lettering font!


Above are my practice sketches for the apple pie recipe, including the hand lettering I used.

Milburn Cookies – Raisin Spice Cookies

The second recipe I did was a raisin cookie recipe for my sister and her husband. My first illustrated recipe was for my mom on her birthday in 2012, when my sister and her husband saw it they had mentioned wanting me to illustrate his grandma’s cookie recipe. The raisin cookie recipe was something my sisters husband always remembered as a kid and had very fond memories of. My sister bakes the cookies now, although I haven’t had the honor of trying one, I hear they’re amazing!

My sister sent me the recipe at some point last year, and we had talked about them commissioning me to illustrate it. I made sure they forgot so that I could do it as a Christmas gift for them. Pretty clever, right?


Materials used:
This illustration was created using watercolor paper, graphite, india black ink pens, watercolor, and black tea.

Favorite to draw:
The “sift” word. I used dots, or “stippling” to make the word sift look like it was being sprinkled out.

Hardest to draw:
The raisins were hard to draw, they didn’t look… right, if you know what I mean. Raisins just look weird, let’s admit it.

Illustrating recipes is really fun for me, as well as a challenge. Fitting a whole recipes ingredients into little illustrations, then combining them with the instructions onto one piece of paper is almost like doing math (I cringe at such things!), and yet I still have fun creating them. I always use a grid while sketching my recipes to make sure everything has room to fit on one page, but I try to keep a sense of ease and a hand-written quality to add the element of imperfection.

Milburn Cookie Recipe - sketch

On this particular recipe, my biggest challenge was finding a way to put all of the spices in a creative way, while keeping them from looking too uniform. My sketch paper was nearly transparent from all the erasing, drawing, erasing, drawing (you get the point), that I did. I finally came up with a way to draw each spice and incorporate their name into their shape somehow.


After a sketch is complete and everything fits, I transfer it onto a piece of watercolor paper. I redraw it in ink this time around. After the ink is dry I brew some tea, drink some tea, and then I paint with some tea!

I usually add a few layers of tea, depending on the type, if it’s black tea it usually takes just a few coats to achieve the look I’m going for. It smells so good! I usually dry the tea between layers with a hair dryer to keep the paper from wrinkling too bad (I use 140lb. watercolor paper, but it still warps). After that I just add a few touches of color here and there, and then its done!

And that, my friends, is how I create my recipes!

What’s your favorite recipe to bake?

How about to eat?