Louisa Giffard

Month: December, 2015

Commercial sequel

Another illustration for another episode on Mad Men!

It would have been easy to do the same kind of style as the last illustration, but I wanted to do something different. I attempted to imitate the style of Brian Sanders , especially the sketches he did on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This was..surprisingly hard. I don’t naturally have such a casual style, and so I’m not entirely sure I managed to convey the same sort of sketchy 60s feel, but I’m pretty happy with what I got. Gouache, pencil and watercolour, and really rough (doing skin tones in gouache is just horrible, so I switched to watercolour.)

Mad Men - the lift

We’re all in the show’s infamous lift! Mad Men has several great lift scenes – one of which actually pays tribute to 2001, so…tangentially related I suppose.

And this is the last of my widescreen watercolour paper! I’ll have to find something else similar for my next title card – that pad was a great find, although for fine details it might be nice to have something with a smoother texture.



I’m currently doing two episodes on Mad Men, and the prospect terrified me. It’s a show rich in incredibly memorable and distinctive visuals – and how do you distil hundreds of hours of show into a single image?

I came up with a solution – paying homage to the world of commercial art at the time, and depicting myself as an illustrator at a creative agency. This particular episode focusses on Mad Men’s female characters, who are shown here as illustrations-within-the-illustration (I could have gone recursive with this! But that would have been far too much of a headache.) So here’s my attempt at mimicking the commercial styles at the time!

Mad Men: The Women

I hate gouache, but if you want something to look like a pre-digital commercial illustration, you pretty much have to use it. However, during the course of making this, I began to really appreciate gouache’s effects, once I adjusted to the fact that it dries darker, the reverse of watercolour, which dries lighter. You can get great uniform flat colours. It’s easy to lay down a swathe of colour very quickly. It dries quickly. It’s pretty consistent. I can see why it would have been used so frequently in commercial art.

All in all, doing this illustration was an absolutely delightful experience. It came together relatively quickly, and I was pretty happy with the effects I got and the general of-the-time mood that I was able to convey. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to effectively mimic some of the distinctive commercial art of the time, but using the right medium definitely helped.