Las Alondras talk with Victoria from Ruffles and Restraints (Updated)

In March of this year (2016) we published the following interview that  Victoria from Ruffles and Restraints cordially granted us. We are sharing now relevant information regarding an illo she published after this publication. The illo is a scene in chapter 22 of The Raven and she shared it on her blog titled in Raven in a Gilded Cage.

October 19, 2016:
Victoria chose this scene because it is the first time that William and Raven meets face to face and she is able to see him. She also liked the way the scene slowly developed.

We heard recently that she had commented that this had been one of the most challenging illustration to draw. According to Victoria, capturing the candlelight was the most challenging part.

Without a doubt, the scene turned out spectacular! She managed to capture the mood, the mystery, sensuality and tension perfectly. Hopefully this is not her last illustration of Florentine Series. We are pleased to report that Victoria hopes to draw a scene from The Shadow next.

Original Post (March 18, 2016):
We admire her work! We know her simply by Victoria, or perhaps as the artist behind the spectacular illustrations (illos) of our favorite stories, like Fifty Shades Grey by EL James and The Gabriel Trilogy by Sylvain Reynard among others. But what else do we know about Victoria from Ruffles and Restraints? What inspires her creative process? Find out about this and many more details in this interview she recently gave us.

NeFFP: 1) When did you start drawing and what was the first thing you drew?

Victoria: I have been drawing ever since I can remember! Around age 8 or 9 I started keeping sketchpads and sketchbooks, which I drew in constantly. I don’t really remember my first drawing, but even when I was very young, I always seemed to draw people.

But did you mean–when did I start doing the digitally painted illos? That was in Spring 2012 when I began using a Wacom tablet. The first thing I created on it was a birthday illo for one of my close friends.

NeFFP: 2) Did you start drawing illos as a hobby?

Victoria: I have always loved to sketch and do ink drawings. But I also wanted to start digital painting in order to add it as a skill set both personally and professionally. I’m a graphic designer, and for a couple of projects I was able to do some illustrations. This got me back into drawing more regularly again, which lead to deciding to finally get a graphics tablet. I started doing the illos to practice digital painting, since book scenes give me an endless supply of ideas to draw and paint!

NeFFP: 3) How do you choose the scene you want to represent in a book?

Victoria: That’s a tough question to answer. It’s different every time. But for all of them, I will only attempt a scene if I have a clear picture of the layout in my head. Some scenes or moments will present themselves quite vividly to me, even though they may be very brief or quite obscure parts of a book. While other scenes may be iconic and memorable, but it will take me a while to figure out how I’d lay it out in an illustration. Usually I will begin working on an idea that comes to me the quickest. I don’t ever choose a part of a book first, then try to come up with an illo idea.

NeFFP: 4) Can you describe us the drawing process of an illo? How different or alike it is from a traditional drawing method?

Victoria: When I decide on an idea for an illo, first I’ll go back to the book and make notes of all the details; such as environment, character’s clothing and any other objects that will appear. Sometimes this requires a lot of backtracking through the book to collect all of the information. I like to be as accurate as possible, so occasionally research is needed in order to see how something looks. An example of this would be a corridor corner in the Uffizi Gallery that I used in

The Same...but Different Gabriel and Julia in the orchard.
The Same…but Different
Gabriel and Julia in the orchard.

‘clandestine kiss,’ or the Magdalen College scarf Julia wears in “the same…but different.” I’ll also collect photo reference for figure poses. Sometimes I can have up to ten different photos collected for one figure, but not even refer to it once I start sketching! In a strange way they give me confidence to get started, I think. But sometimes seeing photos will trigger ideas on how best to convey an element in a drawing.

After collecting photo reference, I do a rough sketch. Once I’m happy with the layout, I clean up the sketch and add flat base color to the drawing. From there I begin the painting process by adding shading and highlighting to the base colors, to give everything in the illo depth and a sense of volume.

Some people never get used to drawing and painting on a graphics tablet, and prefer sticking to the traditional pencil and paper, or paint and canvas. I never did much traditional painting, so maybe that’s why I never had any difficulties using a digital graphics tablet. Being able to undo changes and saving endless layers is also a huge plus to painting digitally! It allows a lot of freedom to experiment and the ability to easily repair mistakes! 😉

NeFFP: 5) For what stories and authors have you made illos?

Victoria: So far I have completed illos inspired by The Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy by E L James, The Gabriel’s Inferno Trilogy by Sylvain Reynard, Work of Art Book 1 by Ruth Clampett, Bared to You by Sylvia Day, and The Raven by Sylvain Reynard.

NeFFP: 6) Do authors reach to you asking for illos for their stories?

Victoria: Yes, there have been a few that have contacted me since I started sharing the illos online.

NeFFP: 7) When you draw characters, are they based on real people (actors, models, perhaps someone you know) or you just let your imagination flow and draw them according to the description in the book?

Victoria: Usually a book will give a fairly detailed description of the main characters, so I try to follow that as closely as I can. I also tend to make their faces a bit vague so that they don’t resemble anyone in particular.

NeFFP: 8) Can you share with us about your experience on how was to work for EL James and Sylvain Reynard for their special contribution “A Conversation in Florence”? How did all started? Who reached you? How exciting was for you to participate in this project?

Victoria: After I had completed a couple of illos based on Sylvain

The Prince in the Prologue of The Raven El Príncipe en en prólogo de La Alondra
The Prince in the Prologue of The Raven
El Príncipe en en prólogo de La Alondra

Reynard’s books, Nina Bocci (who does PR for SR, and also has her first book coming out soon!) contacted me to let me know that SR had enjoyed the pieces. Soon after, SR asked if I would be interested in creating an illo based on the main character of The Raven. It was months before the book was to be released, so I was lucky enough to receive the Prologue as inspiration. I asked a few questions to clarify more about the character, sent Nina and SR a rough sketch, then created the illo.

Later I learned that the illo would accompany a collaboration piece that Reynard and James would be creating together. Not only that, but E L James would also be presenting it all on her website! That was wonderful enough, but while they were working on the project, I was excited to find out that I would be mentioned during their conversation! That was extremely kind and generous of them both to include me in the piece!

NeFFP: 9) Do you have a favorite illo from all you have done of SR’s books? Which one?

Victoria: Usually when I look back at things I’ve done, all I see are

Clandestine Kiss (El beso clandestino)
Clandestine Kiss (El beso clandestino)

mistakes I want to fix! But if I had to choose one piece, I think I’d choose ‘Clandestine Kiss’ because I tried to show a lot of depth of field and movement of the characters. Even though it’s a brief moment that is described, there is a lot going on between the two characters. I also had a lot of fun creating Julia’s dress!



NeFFP: 10) We love all your illos and we have to know! Are there any illos coming for soon for The Florentine Series?

Victoria: I’m happy to hear that you have liked what you’ve seen so far! Thank you! 🙂

Oh yes! In fact, my next illo based on a book will be attempting a scene from The Raven. I’ve been really looking forward to sampling moments from The Florentine Series. It’s been lots of fun reading the books so far, and am anxious to learn what happens next for Raven and William!

Product Collage

NeFFP: 11) Can you please tell our readers how they can buy your wonderful illos? You have a lot of fans of your work.

Victoria: I’m quite flattered that my illos are being enjoyed! I really want to thank everyone for their support, and for all of the very kind tweets, comments and messages! 🙂

If anyone is interested in owning any of my illos, they are currently being sold in three locations:

The first is Society6, which is the only shop where you can find every illo I have created. This shop is located at:

My other two shops have a selection of stationery items; such as notecards, journals, notebooks and notepads. They are located at:

La Alondras