Hugging the Moon – From Sketch to Creating the final image Part 1


Hugging the Moon by Erin Applebee – see Extended Crop in Portfolio

If you saw my sketches post a few weeks ago you will know that I’ve been working on a project for my Digital Design course. I was tasked to created a few images based off a creative brief from

I started by creating various sketches for my different ideas that I had come up with based on the brief (you can see them and the original brief here,) from here I started gathering the images that I would need to piece together my final artwork.

I wanted to use my own images as a base and then use stock images to create the background and other elements.


In my creative brief that I created based on the original I wanted to explore using these images for a children’s book, so as part of my assignment I needed to create a prototype of how it might look if this is how they might be used. I knew due to my lack of time and resources I wouldn’t be able to create a physical prototype so I created a digital version that would act as if it were a real one. You can view it here.

In this post I will be taking you through how I created my first image for this series.


This is the image I took to use as a base for my first image, I used a clear sphere with some tissue paper and fairy lights in hope that it would give a nice glow, but also give me a pose that would look more natural when it comes to blending in my moon image later.

I wanted my image to look sleepy and whimsical, so I dressed myself in a white dress that would resemble a nightgown, left my wig messy so it seemed like she had just gotten out of bed and wore no make up because I wanted to keep this image as innocent looking as possible.

I started to piece my image together starting with the background, I found these images on NASA‘s website (license) they have a huge range of images for download from the hubble telescope. I was amazed by all the beauty out there in the universe and I wanted to show this as best as I could in my images.

For this piece I used two images layering them over one another and blending together with blending modes. I was really drawn to this image of a gas cloud but it didn’t have to many stars so I added another image over the top.

My next step was to start on my subject, I cut her out with layer mask and then placed my moon on top her hands and blended it in using another layer mask as I find this is the most effective way to blend images together.


My next step was to start on the hair, I used several different brushes to paint in and blend the hair. I added the lighting effects using adjustment layers and added my final effects with colour look up and gradients.

I used the Oil Paint filter to blend everything together and used layer masks to soften details on the skin, this a really awesome tool and I loved experimenting with it for this assignment. I really felt it helped keep the look cohesive through all the images and gave a kool illustrative look to the whole series, which is what I was aiming for.

I used my own textures for this image, you can find my textures here (more coming soon.)

This has been such an awesome assignment and I can’t wait to show you the other images, below you can see the mock-ups of how the final images would look if they were in a book. For full credits see the bottom of the post,




Credits –  Girl – Self-portrait

Moon – under license –

Background – NASA under license –

Mock-ups –,


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