Border alternatives/ Critiques welcome.

  • Need some help on this WIP. I’m looking for possible alternatives to the double border I’ve added here. I like adding borders because it gives me a way to break the 3rd wall to a degree. But I’m having trouble finding different examples of these, is there a name for this kind of border? All my searches bring up unrelated results like picture frames and matte board 🙁. Maybe a simple border would be better given the amount of detail I’ve added here, but I’d like to find some alternatives or at least some thoughts as to weather this works or not.


  • Pro

    @Adrian-K Try googling "frame clipart" in Google image for inspiration 🙂

  • SVS OG

    @Adrian-K I love your style of breaking borders but in this case the double border makes it look like the mouse is looking at a framed painting of the owl. Maybe some part of the owl or tree could also break the frame?

    Are you doing a story with the owl and mouse? I loved your painting for the April contest and these characters are so appealing.

  • @demotlj thank you very much. I’m currently doing a series of these. As for a story, just visual for right now though that may change. I do agree with your statement of the mouse looking in. Currently I’m not happy with that mouse, I’ll be making him younger as well as him having a friend going to meet the owl, thus bringing the action from the outside into the picture. At least that was the plan.

  • SVS OG

    @Adrian-K This is a really nice drawing! For feedback i would say you could really minimize the line weight of the interior frame - maybe even just render up to that outline without having a line at all? The mouse will still break the plane but the frame itself will not grab the eye so strongly - could be wrong though - either way ..great image 🙂

  • I agree with @Kevin- eliminate the interior frame and just imply it. When thinking of an illustrator who successfully uses borders and frames in illustrations I can think of no better example than Jan Brett. Her borders are usually very decorative but she is worth taking a look at. Jan Thornhill has a similar approach.

    An illustrator who I think successfully breaks the plane of the page - AND does it with a mouse - is Monique Felix.

  • So here’s an update with the direction I’m going. I still have a bit more on this one in adding colors/characters, and playing with warm and cool tones.
    @Kevin-Longueil thanks for the suggestion, it actually reminded me of one of my favorite artists Alan Lee, I had forgotten he does a lot of framing in his images. @Amber-Lynn-Benton thanks for the direction in Illustrators for me to follow, it’s helped.


  • @Adrian-K Have you looked at Alfons Mucha's Art Nouveau work? His framing is electric!


    Also look at the eccentric Aubrey Beardsley - the magic of the framing takes you into the world the illustrations are set.


  • @Adrian-K I like where this is going much much better than before!

  • @sigross yess love these 2

    the golden age of illustration had so many artists that used similar framing techniques

    My favorite is ivan bilibin

  • There’s also the etheringtonbrothers account I follow on instagram they give good art tutorials. Heres one they did on framing with cities:

  • I think I may have concluded this (design/color wise), a little more blending to do. I decided to go for a coffee or tea stained look, while dark, I kinda like for the mood. Also decided not to include any secondary characters as they all seemed to feel a bit shoehorned. All thoughts, opinions, critiques welcome.


    Edit - lighter version

  • Wow. This is beautiful. cool. I love your textures and style. When you first posted this I thought the frame looked artificial because the line style was too clean but when you made it looked like a hand-drawn line it totally works. I think the mouse would work in this context too. I too love breaking the frame. I did quite a bit of animal art during Inktober and used breaking the frame as a stylistic choice and I was really pleased by the effect. I would love to watch a video of your process digitally or better yet sit down and watch you work. I love your style and feel like your realism style is more what I need to develop if I pursue illustration. I can make this style traditionally but alas, when I put my hands to the computer I struggle with recreating what I can do with a brush, pen, or a color pencil.

  • Thank you very much @chrisaakins , I appreciate your thoughts on this piece. One of the reasons I avoided digital until about a year ago now was because all I saw was so obviously digital, that there was literally no appeal in it for me. I love the look of traditional media, and trying to enjoy the benefits of digital while retaining a traditional look has been one of my main goals/struggles. All in all, my approach to working has been one of simplicity or a traditional mind set. There are a lot of cool tricks that can be used for digital, but for me, I have to limit those features. When I deviate from that I run into issues like you mentioned with the original border being too clean - (fake).

    I may come back to this later to add the secondary character to break the border, but for now it needs to breathe.

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