Behind the Scenes: Lieutenant Promotion

One of the highlights of my job is that I get to help my customers create that one-of-a-kind gift for special occasions. I’ve done pieces for birthdays, Christmas, Father’s Day, and new houses, but now I can say I’ve done a piece for a promotion!

Almost a year ago, my friend Cheryl contacted me about doing a drawing for her husband who was expecting a promotion to lieutenant in the police force. We talked about various options for the drawing’s layout, and hoped to have it ready for Christmas as long as the promotion came through. The promotion ended up being delayed, so we aimed for his birthday in January. When that deadline came and went, we put the project on the backburner.

Fast forward to the end of August, and the promotion has gone through! It was time to get to work, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out:


Medium: Graphite and white ink on paper

Size: 5×7

Time to complete: Probably about 4 hours, mostly due to the tiny details in the shield

Thought process: Originally the drawing was going to have various pieces of his uniform, but his promotion ended up not needing all those uniform pieces. Cheryl decided on just using his shield, and thought having that overlap and outline of New York state would be a nice composition with his name and how long he’s been serving written out at the bottom. I fell in love, and we went with it.

While working on the piece, however, just a simple outline of the state wasn’t really working. It seemed like the state was an afterthought, and didn’t really help the shield stand out. Playing around with texture and layers of graphite filling in the state really helped the composition fill out and the shield really shine.


However, then the background looked plain. I ended up doing a really light textured background with the pencil. There was a lot of back and forth with getting it all to look cohesive with this piece!

Problems with this piece: New York state is such an oddly shaped state. It doesn’t seem too bad, but then when you try to draw it? Yeah, it’s weird.


Tiny details, although they’re my favorite part of any of my pieces, were really hard to get contrast with. Thankfully one of the online classes I just took recommended a white gel pen for adding highlights, so I bought a few of them. Oh man, it is such a lifesaver! It’s right up there as one of my favorite tools to use!


Favorite part: Seeing it framed! Cheryl got the most perfect frame for it; I can’t even imagine it in a black frame anymore!


Least favorite part: I struggle with getting text to always mesh well with the drawings. I think this is one of the better ones I’ve done, but I’m still not 100% satisfied with it. I’m not sure what would have made it better, though.

Fun tidbits: This is the third piece I’ve worked with Cheryl on, but first drawing. You can see the other pieces here.

I know I’ve said this before, but Cheryl is one of the most creative people I know. Once I can afford her talents, she’s getting hired as my CCC (Chief Creative Consultant)!


Thank you for your service, Lieutenant Hollands, and congratulations on your promotion!


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