Richard Johnson's magical cover illustration for this year's TV Times Bumper Christmas issue is unveiled this week and should really get you in the festive mood!

TV Times Christmas cover by Richard Johnson

The TV Times editor, David Hollingsworth, took time out to interview Richard and ask about the process of designing a magazine cover.

Hi Richard! So, what was your reaction when you were asked to provide the illustration for the cover of this year’s TV Times Christmas double issue? 

"I was delighted to be asked to illustrate the TV Times Christmas front cover! I always love illustrating for Christmas-themed commissions, and this is a big one. It’s exciting to know that the magazine will be in the shops over Christmas, such a special time of year!"

What was your starting point? Was there anything you were keen to include in the design? 

"The initial brief asked for a Santa figure. After considering the design and playing around with some possibilities in my sketchbook, I decided that an ice-skating Santa might be fun and also it would be nice to see Santa enjoying the festive period, too, rather than working hard to deliver all those presents! So, we pursued that direction..."

Could you talk us through the process of how the cover came together from your initial ideas to the final image?

"I usually start with some very rough pencil quick thumbnails to get a sense of the composition. I then try to work my drawings around the titles and other graphic elements of the cover, just to see how all the objects might work together. After I have the characters and composition planned, I start to work up a more polished drawing, followed by a colour rough. All this preparation helps the client and I to know exactly what the finished artwork will look like."

How did you create the movement for Santa skating — it’s very unusual and looks very tricky to achieve? 

"I started to compose the figure by drawing a series of shapes. This approach helped me to simplify the form and capture a sense of movement through their arrangement. I then redrew this initial design several times, adding more detail on top of the shapes until the figure emerged. I also tried to overlap Santa in front of the title and copy, just so he looks like he’s coming out of the cover a little more!" 

The cover is packed with lots of wonderful little details. Is there anything you particularly love that readers should look out for?

"Yes, I wanted to bring in other elements to help decorate the scene. There’s a little Robin flying next to Santa, and dotted around the snowy hills in the background are some little snowboarders and skiers, too. I wanted to try to create a scene that is celebratory and that illustrates the fun of Christmas. Staging the scene at dusk, lit by all the colourful lights, hopefully helped bring the magic to life!"

Read more of Richard's interview over on the TV Times website. 

Don't forget to pick up a copy of the TV Times Christmas bumper issue from your local retailer and you can take a look at more of Richard's fabulous illustrations on his online portfolio and follow him on Instagram.

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