I turned an illustrated poster I made into an animated GIF for FB. Illustrations were made using Illustrator. Layers were imported into After Effects to create the animation. Then I used a plugin to export as an animated GIF. Tweaking the export options allowed me to turn a normally large file into just 2.2 MB—perfect for sharing. The downside to such a small file size on a moderately complex animated GIF like this is that the resolution is a little lower than ideal. The upside is that you can tell a little bit more of a story.
In the world of design there are the sexy projects—and the frumpy ones. Or at least that's what some say. There are the Nike print ads, and then there are Word Doc templates. But, I think all projects deserve design love. One of the things I like doing as a designer is getting a simple document (preferably one that's just a wall of text) that has no clear design direction and finding the best way to organize information and present it in a clean, and sometimes fun, way. It's the nerdy part of designery. You need your Word Doc research table branded, or a more engaging one-sheet? I'm your gal! You've got some boring charts and graphs to share, let me at 'em.
Organizing information takes many forms depending on the content and audience. Even the driest material can be turned into something enjoyable to experience, or at least pleasant to look at. The most important tools for this design process are understanding the content and developing a hierarchy with design elements, size and placement of headers and body text; using color as a branding tool; and utilizing image for storytelling when the opportunity presents itself.
I've been learning some more fun stuff at HOW Design University. I'm currently working on my Certificate in Animation. For the first assignment we were asked to do an animation about the weather. We were given some rain drops and an umbrella and told to use them, or make our own illustrations. So, I created all my own illustrations (landscape, people, rain, umbrella, etc.) and made my animation into a mini animated infographic (since that's one of my end goals in learning After Effects). I added informative copy, and some bouncy music. It could use a little more work on timing and face animation, but I feel like I'm headed in the right direction.
I just got my How University Infographic Certification. Now I'm ready to rock and roll on more projects that combine my artistic and information organization skills. Below is the infographic I designed with content provided by Jessica Mehta of MehtaFor. I also created an interactive PDF based on the infographic. You can email me if you'd like to take a look at that. Unfortunately, Squarespace doesn't support interactive PDFs.
I've been working on some more flat illustrations for my portfolio with a goal of building a strong collection of infographics. Here's a panel from an infographic I'm working on titled, Key Ingredients for a Healthy Life.
One of the new challenges for me working on this illustration was creating the coffee steam. I discovered a handy trick incorporating the mesh and warp tools. Possibilities within Illustrator are truly endless.
Decided to challenge myself to create a personalized vector avatar for use in social media. This was created in Illustrator with the pen and shape building tools.
A while ago I received a special request to create an illustration for a self publisher's children's book. The task was to create one illustration for the first story in her book, which was focused on a troll's birthday. But not just any birthday, a big centennial birthday. The party was to incorporate a selection of main characters from the story, including two humans. Aside from relatively detailed descriptions of some of the characters, I was given free reign—hee hee.
My goal was to bring the characters to life and make each one look like they have their own personality—like you would want to chat them up at the party—and to create a magical place for them to gather. I planned an outside party to accommodate one extremely large troll, and a floating one named Star. After creating a character sketch for Stamp, the birthday boy (see previous blog post), I proceeded to map out and complete the full party scene. I took the liberty of adding some fun touches like the snake and frog, whom I thought would also be really excited to join the festivities, as well as some other little surprises...
Below are some process photos.
I'm working on some children's book illustrations for a self publishing author. Below are a few different stages from the character sketch painting process of a troll named Stamp. I actually started creating the sketch in Illustrator, but switched to gouache because it was a lot easier for me to produce the line work and shading that I wanted.
As part of a maternity present I created a hand painted card. It was made using gouache on Bristol paper. The inspiration came from spring and a children's book a just got from the library called A Wizard in Love.
Even before a children's book is placed into the hands of a designer, there are many working pieces that have to be juggled by several different people. It can take several months to years for a writer/illustrator to develop a story for children. Often times, the writer and illustrator are separate people; paired together only after the manuscript is completed and taken on by a publisher. The writing alone, can take many passes by a variety of editors (developmental, copyeditors and proofreaders) to have it developed into a workable story.
THE DESIGN PROCESS
Below is list of several of the steps I went through to create the cover design of MotoMice, by Paul Owen Lewis. This book is being published by Beyond Words. Customarily, the author/illustrator doesn't have much say in the final design, but in this case I had to bend some of my conceptual input to his original vision. Also note that this whole process was done with several rounds of comps revised with copy and design edits from the author/illustrator and managing editor.
Step 1: I took professionally photographed artwork into Photoshop and removed the paper background, cleaned up any scruffy edges and deleted areas of the bikes that you would be able to see through. There's an art to this because at times you have to interpret the intention of the artist when erasing visual content.
Step 2: Colors of the cover artwork were adjusted in Photoshop to match the illustrations used in the interior, which were slightly more saturated. This artwork was then exported from Photoshop and used in Illustrator.
Step 3: The fonts for this cover had already been chosen by the author/illustrator, but I made changes. I did a basic adjustment to the tracking and kerning of the author name for a more balanced look. But, the biggest typographic change was turning the title into 3D art lettering. For this, I used Illustrator to create the 3D gradient shadow effect (with the blend tool) and to build the separate layers of color, texture and transparency for the orange front. Then I exported it as a high resolution JPEG and sucked it back into Illustrator so I could use the mesh tool to create a slight warping effect.
Step 4: The final design was then exported and placed into InDesign where I completed the full dust jacket. The dust jacket had additional artwork that required the same type of cleaning up and color adjustment. Then all copy was placed and typeset. Typesetting requires the same sort of love and care as dealing with artwork. Some considerations are the right fonts, paragraph formatting, colors. Then there are the details like replacing hyphens with En dashes in between numbers, controlling the use of hyphenation—fun stuff like that.
Step 5: For press, the InDesign file will be exported as a print quality PDF with printer marks in place, and fold marks placed in the slug.
All of that for a simple children's book cover? Yes. And it's important not to miss a step because you have to make the 4–8 year-old kiddos happy and inspired to sit down and learn about the importance of motorcycles and family through the use of kick-ass mouse illustrations.
Coming up: a post about the interior design process for MotoMice.
To see more book offerings by Paul Owen Lewis you can visit his website: www.paulowenlewis.com
Thanksgiving is almost here. The leaves are busily falling from the trees, the rain has paid us more visits, and all the little neighborhood critters are busily foraging for winter foods and house bedding. Inspired by the speedy and often unseen squirrels that dart impulsively across our streets, I decided to create a poster—a royal squirrel crossing awareness poster. Hope this helps, my little friends! :)
Designing happens in many stages. I often start with a design brief to acquire all necessary info, create moodboards to explore look/feel options, create two or more comps to give layout choices, then make several revisions of the final client choice before pushing the end product out the door. During that process some concepts are left behind never to see an audience, often never to even see outside the computer where they were conceived. I call these lost concepts "outtakes." I believe there is value even in these project remnants. Just because they weren't right for the client or ideal for one particular project, doesn't mean there isn't potential in them for future design work. In the spirit of showing more process, here are some of my outtakes from the past couple of years.
These days it's easy for me to become artistically complacent—not keeping up my practice with using traditional materials since most design work required of me is digital. I actually have to assign myself projects that require me to pick up my pencil and paint brush. As a designer and illustrator there are so many techniques I'd like to try as well as skills I want to work to improve. So, I force myself to do hand lettering, create animations, illustrate animals in a cartoon style, etc.. Because the more you work these creative muscles the stronger they get. And, when you leave certain tools behind, they get rusty.
Because I love to see other people's process, here are the steps I took to complete a "thank you" card I made—with traditional media: pencil, gouache, watercolor, and pen on watercolor paper.
It's relatively easy to build a website these days with all the available templates, but it can be tough to give the final site personality beyond the pre-designed offerings. One way to help personalize web templates or add creativity to custom websites is to incorporate custom icons and illustrations.
Sometimes it can be a challenge to find the exact icon you need to represent a specific action. While working on the Trackers Earth I needed some unique icons for buttons, but I also needed them to all match. So, purchasing someone else's pre-made buttons was not an option. What I ended up doing was creating a custom set of icons for specific buttons—helping customers navigate the site in an artful way.
As with many brands, the use of story was very important to Trackers. There use of photography worked well for giving the viewer an idea about the adventures to come with class taking. But, the creation of stylized illustrations helped to forward the messaging.
Sometimes all it takes to personalize a website is just a couple of repeated unique elements. That's where a creative illustrator/designer can step in and step up the branding game!
See the complete project here.
Today I challenged myself to create my first double-exposure image in Photoshop. I don't think it's bad for my first one, but I can see how important it is to get the right face/landscape pairing for blending.
For this portrait I combined a photo I took of my son, and an image I downloaded of Mt. Fuji from Shutterstock. This was pretty fun to do. It was also very rewarding, because you can come up with a finished portrait in a couple of hours. There are lots of possibilities with this technique, and I'm looking forward to some more exploration.
I thought I would share a couple process photos for an illustration I just finished. This illustration was a personal project. I chose items from my son's room that I felt best represented him at this moment in time, and made an illustrated snapshot.
I've been wanting to do some lettering with objects for a while now. It's good to step away from the screen every once in a while.
The most important meal of the day:
Thought it would be fun to do some illustrations. Here's a cartoon style illustration of a raccoon.
I just made my first animation using Photoshop and After Effects. I have some learning to do about creating the right size/resolution for the intended media host, but I think I'm off to a good start. And, I really like making these little stories. It reminds me of when I took video classes at Cornish College of the Arts. One of my favorite parts was adding the music and sound effects. Super fun!
Logos are the visual distillation of a company. They help guide viewers by showing them what industry you are in, and what they can expect from you in terms of quality and relevancy. There are many factors involved in developing a logo for a brand including company history, competition, where the company is vs. where they want to go, etc. Filling in these blanks can require research on the part of the designer, as well as the company, and is collected in a comprehensive creative brief. All of the research needs to be taken into consideration by the designer. Depending on company size, research and development can take months to over a year. And often, where logo concepting starts isn’t always where the design ends up.
I really enjoy doing logo work for small businesses. Below is one of the concepting transformations I went through when designing a logo for a new counseling business.
These are concepts from the first round of comps presented to the client. The artwork and type has all been re-done using Illustrator.