The Nutcracker

20 December 09

I drew this for a Christmas wallpaper for the NEET blog (which you can nab for yourself if you follow that link). Any excuse to draw a bit of The Nutcracker, it's my favourite ballet and my parents and I usually see it at Christmas. This year we saw Les Patineurs / Tales of Beatrix Potter though, which was totally amazing (It snowed on stage! All the little mice! Massive dolls house! How do they see through the animal heads!) but I did miss all that Tchaikovsky.

The Sugar Plum Fairy

The Mouse King



And here are the original sketches. I sketched with a red mechanical pencil, inked with a Pentel pocket brush pen, scanned them in and got rid of all the red lines and background, then coloured in and added last little details in Photoshop.

I also did a little rough colour plan this time, which I don't usually do due to laziness and impatience, because I wanted the four characters to work together nicely.

The inspiration:





(Haags Uitburo)

(Julian Broad and Rachel Papo)


It’s great seeing you work routine. and I love the wallpaper.

Sandra replied over 13 years ago.

Nice to see your sketches, I always like seeing people’s work in progress.

Kim replied over 13 years ago.

This whole post is so so perfect!

Eline replied over 13 years ago.

Oh my! These are delightful! Going to see the Nutcracker ballet is one my favourite holiday traditions. :)

Krissy replied over 13 years ago.

I am so glad you’ve posted some new drawings! These are beautiful and I was missing seeing your talent!

Amanda replied over 13 years ago.

the final image look great, and so do the sketches :))

Flora replied over 13 years ago.

Love the wallpaper, but the link doesn’t work :<

V. replied over 13 years ago.

which one, they all work for me!? the NEET blog has weird formatting for my browser though, not sure if that’s a problem for everyone or not. :( it’s there, you just have to scroll to bottom right corner.
let me know if it still doesn’t work! x

kris atomic replied over 13 years ago.

These are fantastic! If you don’t mind me asking, how do you colour them in Photoshop? Do you use a Wacom? I have tried colouring illustrations with a mouse and it just doesn’t seem to work for me!

angie replied over 13 years ago.

Thank you!
I don’t mind at all :) I do use a Wacom tablet, I found using a mouse totally impossible and love the tablet so I would recommend it highly!
Once I’ve scanned a drawing in, I basically do curves on it to get the blacks black and the whites white, then take out the red lines via the saturation thingy. Then I select the white areas and delete them, so it’s just the black lines on top of transparent background. I colour in under that, separating things out over layers so it’s easy to change colours later.
I think there are tons of different ways of doing digital colouring (probably much quicker and easier ones!) but that’s what works for me! x

kris atomic replied over 13 years ago.

Thanks so much for your reply, that was really helpful! I think I’ll definitely look at investing in a Wacom tablet in the future, it sounds a lot easier. Keep up the great work, can’t wait to see more stuff in the future. :)

angie replied over 13 years ago.

These are wonderful! I’m downloading it right now.

I went to see The Nutcracker this weekend, it was set in the 1920’s which I’m still not sure about. I think I’d rather have seen a traditional version. You’re illustrations have made me feel so much better about it!

Merry Christmas x

cait replied over 13 years ago.

This is really great. Do you use a tablet? If so, what kind?

Anna replied over 13 years ago.

Thank you so much for sharing your process! I love learning about others’ work processes – and the wallpaper is beeeautiful!

Ann replied over 13 years ago.

I’m speachless. AMAZING!

Sofia replied over 13 years ago.

i absolutely love the nutcracker! and is so inspiring to see your process and the images that inspired you

ana patricia replied over 13 years ago.


Crysti replied over 13 years ago.

These drawing are beautiful,. I always get excited when you post something new :) x

Akay replied over 13 years ago.

That’s funny, I have just arrive from seeing “The Nutcracker”, and it was wonderful, it was the best christmas present ever!

javier replied over 13 years ago.

lovely photos as always! i love the nutcracker :)

lauren replied over 13 years ago.

The drawings are infintely adorable.

Alla replied over 13 years ago.

Hello, what a wonderful post! I have to ask, where is your annual christmas day post!? I really look forward to that every year!! :-)

Andrina replied over 13 years ago.

it’s up now ;)

kris atomic replied over 13 years ago.

Love the colours!!

Matilda replied over 13 years ago.

the nutcracker was a massive childhood obsession of mine, these illustrations capture it beautifully!

pierrot le fou replied over 13 years ago.

I was in the Louisville Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker for 5 years, so as a true Nutcracker fanatic, I can honestly say your illustrations are perfect :)

(and as for seeing out of the animal heads, you don’t. You basically run around with a grid in front of your eyes and bump into stuff a lot)

Goldy replied over 13 years ago.

Thanks for the insight to the way you work, very interesting!
Love your illustrations!

FashionSaboteur replied over 13 years ago.

these drawings are sooo amazing. thanks for sharing, and the process too. my daughter didn’t seem to love the nutcracker too much (too girly for her) but she completely adored the mouse king so that image is just perfection.


Laura replied over 13 years ago.

les patineurs wow, would love to see that, but I don’t think it is in the repertoire of any companies over here. i remember the characters in one of my favourite childhood books (saddler’s wells series if anyone else remembers those) went to see it, and the whole thing seemed so romantic and beautiful.

Bee replied over 13 years ago.

Like everyone else, I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at your illustration. Fascinating!

Michelle replied over 13 years ago.

[…] can I say? Britain’s talents obviously extend beyond tea drinking and cricket. Kris’ Nutcracker illustrations were inspired by family trips to the theatre each year. There’s something quite magical about […]

[…] The nutcracker images from Krisatomic. I’m not usually into holiday-themed craft, but using these as embroidery patterns would be pretty adorable. […]

10 cool embroidered things &laquo; thrifted. replied almost 13 years ago.

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Hi, I'm Kris. This is an archive of my blog as it was from 2007 to 2014. It's no longer updated but feel free to browse through the past.


You can find my recent work at, or drop me an email and say hello. 

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