Sunday, December 12, 2010

Final Thoughts on Illustration

Well, it's over. I could never decide if I was looking forward to taking this class, or dreading it completely. But know I know that overall, I enjoyed it. Yes, there were times when I thought Rusty must surely hate us, but in the end, I learned a ton and feel much more capable in my illustrating capabilities.
I've never considered myself very good at drawing or painting (I've always hated painting, actually) which made me a little nervous about a class on traditional illustration. However, after this class I am much more confident in my ability to come up with a kick-butt illustration should the need ever arise.
I've definitely been able to find some strengths and weaknesses in the world of illustration, too. I will never, ever be an airbrush artist. That is a fact. And digital illustration doesn't seem to be my forte either. However, I've actually come to enjoy watercolor. And I think I'll enjoy continuing to experiment and get better at using gouache. Although line drawings are still a struggle sometimes, I am at least more confident now and willing to try and experiment after having learned some new tips and techniques.
And with that, goodbye Illustration.

Final Portfolio: Formal Projects

The term "formal projects" sounds so scary and daunting. But really, once I got down to work and planned out my illustrations with sketches and marker comps, they really weren't that bad! Each of them took several hours, and in the case of some, several re-do's. Despite all that they are finished and looking good! Here are my best 4 from the semester:

No. 1: Self Portrait, Watercolor. This is actually my millionth attempt at this self portrait, and not the one I turned it. That's right, I re-did it again. And I think this one turned out better than ever! I think this color palette is interesting as well. And yes, the glasses are supposed to be that big. They're happy birthday glasses! Happy birthday to me!!!

No. 2: Product Illustration, Watercolor. I was really pleased with the way my Rubik's Cube turned out! I really took my time with it and worked to get really good shading within each color, showing the light source coming straight from the front (from my camera flash). I worked for awhile, too, at getting each little cube in it to look separate but still connected.

No. 3: Book Cover, Watercolor/line. Pride and Prejudice is one of my all-time favorite books, so I was really excited to get to illustrate it. I wanted a more modern, but still feminine, feel. Again, I went for the architectural element of the gate with the swirl details on top to add a more feminine feel. I especially love that there are two swirls that make a heart on the top, hinting at the romantic theme of the book (as if people didn't already know that). I kept the background simple but I like that the swirls add some movement. I think the font for the title really adds to the gothic, contemporary feel and works well.

No. 4: Album cover, Watercolor. I absolutely love this CD, and I think this illustration works well too! I think I successfully accomplished my goal of having it seem Christmas-y without being stereotypically holiday. In other words, no blatant red and green. The ornament combined with the holiday-party-type food gives the perfect holiday feel, and spreading a JOYful feeling as well. It looks happy, which was also part of the point. I think this design reproduced pretty well at all three sizes: LP, CD, and iTunes cover art.

Final Portfolio: Best Marker Comp

Initially, I didn't understand the point of marker comps. I had the idea, I could visualize it in my head, it would be fine, right?? However, there might be a connection between my best marker comp and the resulting illustration being one of my best. Just a thought. I am pretty pleased with this marker comp though. Although I ended up changing the design a bit (and thus, doing another comp for this illustration), this one gave me a good idea of where I wanted to go with this and pointed to ideas for improvement.

Final Portfolio: Exercises

Although I hated doing these at the time, I almost miss doing them (gasp!). I spent a good portion of my day yesterday re-doing several, and I had a really good day! I think they were a lot easier now that I have a better grasp on the techniques and feel more confident. But more on that later. Here are my 10 best from the semester:

No. 1: Line drawing. I was really pleased with the way the bridge turned out in this one!

No. 2: Digital painting. I've recently discovered a love for architectural elements. Maybe that's why I liked this one so much. The close-up of details on the Eiffel Tower look really nice against a pretty blue sky. This was as good as any of my digital painting ever got.

No. 3: Watercolor/line. This exercise was more of an experiment as I was running out of ideas of things to illustrate! I think this more stylized effect works well though! It's fun.

No. 4: Watercolor/painted line. I think this was my breakthrough piece. My "ah-ha!" moment. That isn't to say that I had everything figured out at this point. That was not at all the case! But this was a definite confidence boost. The monochromatic color palette really helped out I think, as well as the bigger original size. That let me stress about details without getting overworked or messy. But they look good at a reduced size too!

No. 5: Watercolor/line. I figured that since my first illustration with shoes was successful, I would try again! This time at a smaller scale, though. I also used a micron for my line work this time, just to punch it up a bit more. I was less concerned with details as well.

Half way there! (*deep breath*)

No. 6: Traditional watercolor/digital painting. This was was an interesting experiment. I started out with a traditional watercolor of a Christmas light display (I was in a festive mood). I painted all the lights first. But when I tried to add a glaze for a hint of darkness in the was a miserable failed attempt. So, I threw it into Photoshop, with the initial thought being to just get rid of the wash. That just made it look even worse. So I decided to go all out and create a night scene behind the lights and make the lights glow a little more with some Photoshop magic. Voila!
No. 7: Watercolor/line: Look familiar? Yep, I also used this candle in my gouache montage. This time it has a different color scheme and technique though. I think this one turned out a lot better, too. The washes and lines are a lot looser, making it more effective, I think.
No. 8: Watercolor: I started running out of ideas, and needed something else to illustrate, so I started looking around me...what did I see?? Paintbrushes of course! I really like the handle on the even looks shiny in the right places! And of course, paint splotches were necessary for added effect.

No. 9: Watercolor/line. I thought this carpet pattern was really pretty, so of course, I snapped a picture of it. And of course, then, illustrated it. I was tempted to get really concerned with the details in all the intricate designs, but I think I did a good job at refraining and capturing the essence of them instead. And I love these colors! I stopped worrying about matching the colors from my photo references to the colors in my illustrations, so I started having a lot more fun with it.

No. 10: Watercolor/line. My parents were both country farm kids, so I have this love for the countryside and the interesting elements I see at my grandparents' houses that I don't see at home in the big city. This water pump was inspired by one of the hundreds of pictures I have from the country. I think this turned out really well. Though I didn't use line a lot in this illustration, I think it really helped to kick it up and add a little extra definition. And the water droplets are just fun!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thoughts on Moving on to the FINAL PORTFOLIO

Since the final projects are now done, time to start thinking about the final portfolio (actually, in all honesty, I started doing that last night while waiting for a million things to print of the ridiculous HP printer). Requirements are:
  • 10 amazing exercises of line, wash, wash/line, etc.
  • 4 best final projects out of the 8 total
  • best marker comp
  • 1 absolutely fantastic, best illustration of the semester
I started going through my project from this semester and I have sad news. As of right now (Friday, December 10, 2010AD, at 8:54 AM Central Standard Time) I don't have that many amazing exercises and I really wouldn't call any 4 of my projects worthy of submission into the FINAL PORTFOLIO. But, fear not! I have a rework about 6 exercises and 1 final project. I've already found photo references and done some sketching. Yay for late nights printing in OP....or not. Anyway....looks like I get to pop in a few movies this weekend and start illustrating! (soooo much better than studying any day!) Also need to hunt down my best marker seems I never scanned it in. Hmm....

Final Projects are DONE!!!!

YAY!! Final projects are done!! Finally! I had to restart the book cover and cheesy and do LOTS of touch ups on the cd album. But they are, at last, done. Here they are:
We'll start with my favorite one, the album cover. I was feeling Christmas-y so I decided to redo the terrible cover for my favorite Christmas album, Avalon's "Joy". I wanted something that felt Christmas-y without being over-the-top, in-your-face red and green. Seeing as I didn't use green, I think this accomplished that. But seriously, I am pleased with the way it turned out. My favorite part is the candy looks pretty sweet (pun absolutely intended). I had problems with the pretzel for a loooong time but I think it finally came together! I think this design reproduced well at all three sizes: the LP record, CD case, and iTunes photo.
[side idea why this section of text is underlined, or how to fix that]

Oh the book cover....I went with a design that I thought would be pretty simple and elegant, but it turned out to be more of a pain. The background sky looks alright here, it gave me some trouble for awhile. I like that it adds some movement and color though. And the gate took FOREVER!!! I think I started to get a little too happy from all the sharpie looks so simple, but it took probably around 2 to 3 hours to get all the line work perfect. And that was before I went back and touched up some of the edges in Photoshop. Unfortunately, this one printed a little too dark for my liking, I wish it would have been a bit lighter when it was actually wrapped around the book. I do think extra points should be added for using an actual copy of Pride & Prejudice, though!

This section of the post should probably be subtitled "I hate airbrush: part 3". Still not a fan. And after overspraying and getting too much saturation on my first one, I started over only to have the same issue. This time I decided to just go with it though. I think it adds some interesting texture and kind of works though...especially in the tail and cheese. Isn't he adorable.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Cover - Marker Comp

I decided to go with the fancy gate idea. I thought this idea would look appealing, visually, but also have lots of deeper meaning. Thematically, the gate stands for the division of social classes, the wealth of some, the elegance of estates like Pemberley. I found a picture of one that had some elements I liked, too. All the swirls kept it a little feminine for the story and the top has two swirls around the main center post make a heart, suggesting the romance in the story. No one really picked up on the heart though, so I think I'll make that a little bolder. And I'm planning to find a really amazing typeface for the title and author. Can't wait!

Cheesy airbrush comp

Isn't he a cute little guy? I tried to make a cheesy little mouse guy with ginormous ears. To add to the cheese factor, I slipped a piece of hole-y cheese over his tail. The comp looks cute the airbrush....(cue ominous music)

I hate airbrush: part 2

Still hating airbrush. I thought a planet would be pretty simple. I cut my frisket, but as I was peeling it off the board (I really seem to be having trouble with this part), it wasn't cut all the way through on the bottom and it tore. Sad day. I wanted a made-up, blue, stripey planet. At first it looked like the AT&T logo, so I tried to add a crater/storm/spot thing. That was a trainwreck. To put it in space, I just scanned it in and photoshopped it. I tried to do all kinds of cool star field backgrounds, but even those failed miserably. It's a little speckly I guess. Of course, I completely forgot to fix that jagged edge too...

I hate airbrush: part 1

I don't understand it. I obviously can't do it. This is ridiculous. I will never be able to even work at a carnival as an airbrush artist. This orange started out well...I was being super careful to not add too much saturation and get the wet, glossy look. At least I was successful at that! But the little green stem thing looks very much like it was masked off. And when I pulled off the frisket, some of the board came off too, leaving blaring white marks. I tried to go back with the light brown that I was using and cover those up a bit, but that was pretty unsuccessful. It's better than my cubes and spheres at least...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Classic Book Cover - initial sketches

Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favorite books, so I was super excited to see it on the list. It's also a book that has had new covers many, many times...most of them are SUPER boring though...I looked. I came up with several loose ideas/concepts that I think have some potential. The first one is pretty simple, I wanted to illustrate a pretty peacock feather that would wrap around the cover to the back. My sketch is terrible, but it's a pretty straight-forward idea. Second idea: several scenes involve walking, being outdoors, seeing pretty landscapes, so I have a tree with a stone bench under it, suggesting socialization here. The bench would probably have an open letter (Darcy's letter to Elizabeth explaining his actions) or an open book (Elizabeth loved reading) on it. Third idea: Pemberly. Pretty simple. Fourth idea: an illustration of a dancing/dress shoe from the period with music floating out from the back and spine, symbolizing the dancing, social aspects of the book. Fifth idea: comparison of Longbourn (Bennets' home) with Pemberley (Darcy's estate). I added a little sheep friend in there too. Sixth idea: Something a little different, pretty contemporary. It involved several illustrations, all collaged together in photoshop. Images include: Pemberley, coin purse with coins falling out, young woman walking, cloud raining. I also want to include lots of textures and unexpected colors in that one. Seventh (final) idea: back to the simplicity, just a fancy iron gate, symbolizing class, status, the barriers between upper and lower classes, as described by the brilliant Miss Austen.
I'm not really sure which I want to develop further. I think the collage idea would be interesting, but possibly harder to pull off successfully.

Album cover- marker comps

When I woke up thinking about Christmas music this morning, I decided it must be a sign that my LP/CD/iTunes album cover art should be for a Christmas album. Naturally, the first one I thought of is my favorite (and the one I listened to first on November 1)....Avalon's "Joy". If you haven't listened to it, you should. It's fantastic. While listening to it and sipping my morning coffee, I sketched out three different concepts/ideas. Not being able to choose one from my sketches, I decided to do marker comps of all three. Maybe seeing it bigger and in color would help me decide.
For this one, I wanted to create the idea of a pretty desolate, cold-looking, winter landscape with a few evergreen trees. One stands out with the star though, symbolizing Christmas, and the star would stand in for the "o" in "joy". Eh...I think it looked better in my head that it does with markers on paper. It might be easier to create the scene so it would look better in watercolor or gouache, but I'm thinking this isn't my favorite.
This idea also didn't come out as well in marker, but I'm pretty sure it would be successful in either watercolor or gouache (I haven't decided which of these two media I want to use yet). The idea is that in the mug of hot chocolate/coffee/dark, warm beverage of choice, the cream would spell out "joy" in kind of loopy letters. The mug is held in mittened hands and the light blue/gray background would represent cold, winter, etc. Although the "joy" in the mug isn't super legible in this sketch, I think it would work out well in the actual illustration.
Last idea. It's pretty simple really, a red, ball Christmas tree ornament for the "O". Gold letters to keep it holiday-y but not the typical red-and-green-Christmas-color blah. A simple background of lighter and darker tints of the same color. Something a little more contemporary. The "Avalon" would probably be at the top, I'm thinking a little off-centered...aligned right maybe? This one is my favorite comp, but I'm worried it might be too simple and boring as an actual illustration. Or it could look awesome. Not sure yet.

Monday, November 8, 2010

3 Image gouache montage- DONE!

My three image gouache montage is finally done! Overall it went better than expected. I had the most trouble with the parrot...I kept trying to fade out the edges of the different shades on his belly, but they would start picking out instead. Erg. I think my favorite parts are the candle and the parrot's forehead. The wings were rather troublesome too. It's not the most interesting composition...but I think it works.

Monday, November 1, 2010

3 image gouache montage- Marker Comp

This is actually my second marker comp for the 3 image gouache montage. I pretty much just changed the background (this one looks WAY better) and some of the shading and colors on the candle. I'm excited to start working on this! I think the colors work to pull the three items together. I think it's a fun, random collection of objects too! One frustration I had with the markers, though, is that they don't blend very well. This background looks better than my first, but I'm planning on the real illustration to have a smoother background that blends together more than this.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Product Illustration

For my product illustration, I illustrated a former favorite toy: a Rubik's Cube. I think it turned out pretty well! I think shading in the colored squares shows where the light is coming from. The hardest part was shading the black so that it looked like the individual cubes were there. But I think it turned out pretty well!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Midterm Blog

While searching through my illustrations from earlier this semester, I was shocked at how different the older illustrations look from the more recent ones. These sensations made me feel a little better about the watercolors from the past few weeks that in my mind I’ve deemed terrible. Here are a couple examples of the beginning work compared to where I am now technically.

This is an example of one of my first line and watercolor illustrations. Dreadful, I know. The line is incredibly too thick on most of it. I also used it just to outline, not to add depth. The use of color also resembles more of a coloring book than modeling and shading and washes. Despite the abundance of negative comments I have on this, I do like the edge of the shadow of the flower sitting on the windowsill.

On the upside, these shoes look much better! I think using a monochrome palette helped with a lot of the issues I was having. I was able to achieve a better range of values, creating the folds in the fabric. The painted line was also pretty successful in this one. It added the right amount of structure without looking like a coloring page.

I know that I still have a long way to go, technically speaking. And as frustrating as this process can be sometimes, it is encouraging to see the progress I’ve undergone already.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Final Red Barn Illustrations

They're done! Yay! I'm pretty satisfied with the way my illustrations for the Red Barn brochure turned out. For the inside illustration, I simplified the metal framework, letting some other colors show through the gray. I also blurred the "Antiques" sign and put a light wash over it. For the outside cover, I tried to make the booths a little more fall colored and darkened the sidewalk. I also tried to add some more depth and detail to the hand. I feel like it was pretty successful. On the front, I used some very light line work to add a little structure and differentiate the foreground from the background.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ryle Mural Comp

It's done!!! ...hopefully. I made the puzzle pieces a little bigger and a little more square and even than they were in my last sketch. The process still took about 3 hours longer than I had anticipated. I think it looks pretty good's hard to read some of the organization names right now, but I think that if it was done up for real, then there would be much more space to work with and the names would fit in the pieces much better. I'm just so glad it's done!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Red Barn...again

Alrighty. Red Barn comps. For some reason, I had serious trouble getting the right skin tone for the hand. It's still a little too light. So I'll probably up the intensity on that a little for the real deal. I think more saturated color will make the painted line look not so obvious as well. For the background this time, I wanted to give a better feel of the festival, which was a major complaint last time. I think the sidewalks need to be a little gray-er though...looks a little beach-y. People still aren't feeling the the cool pipe. Oh well...2 options at this point: go with it anyway, or change the pipe to a wood post with the antique sign instead. Not sure which one I'll go with at this point.

Ryle Mural sketch-in proportion

I decided to go with my puzzle idea for the Ryle mural. I think it is an easier concept to understand quickly, and although it has lots of little parts that have the potential to be a serious pain, it should be pretty easy to execute. Hours and hours of drawing tiny little puzzle pieces and of course I didn't think to make them bigger and simpler. Duh. DEFINITELY will be doing that for the marker comp! I think I'm going to separate the letters more too. In this, I was trying to link them all together by not really having a border between them. But I think it gets a little to blocky and confusing in the "UM" area. So I think I'll separate them and have a thicker outline of each letter.

Red Barn Sketches for client approval

Here are the quick little watercolor sketches to show the "client" for the Red Barn pamphlets. Markers and watercolor seem like very different media to to get a more realistic feel for what the final illustrations will look like, I did these preliminaries in watercolor as well. I got a lot of mixed reviews. Some people thought the hand gave the impression of saying "STOP". Others like it. I went with it...I like it. And I don't get the feeling of "STOP" out of it. The look I was going for was someone having RED BARN written on his hand. Something a little more youthful and contemporary to give the festival a little "cooler" vibe. The trees in the background are a trainwreck....I was running out of time and ideas, so I just threw something on there. Those will definitely be changed. I thought the rusty old pipe was cool and antique-y looking while still being kind of modern. I've seen lots of older, vintage-y things out lately. Most people weren't really feeling it, but liked that it would frame the copy on the inside. Maybe if I work to improve the illustration of it....

Running out of ideas....

Two more watercolors??? I'm running out of subject matter!! I've been through the pictures on my computer about a hundred times now. They're boring. Searching for inspiration....Roommates playing with makeup! Lipstick!

This one turned out pretty fun, I think. I had fun doing it at least. I wish the color of the actual lipstick was a little flatter...I was going for a more graphic feel. But this works too.

Ok...more tired...can't!!
This is pretty disappointing. Should have drunk some of that coffee first I guess. The left side got pretty muddy and the shadow could be miles better. The logo is starting to look ok, but some of the outside line work could have a little more weight to it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ryle Mural Sketches

Community. Campus. Global Diversity. Bleh. This is what we had to work with for this mural for the Ryle cafeteria though. I came up with a couple ideas. The first one showed nested rectangles, gradually increasing in size. The smallest rectangle represents Truman campus then growing out geographically. The second idea is just a graphic design, featuring some of those "key words". The last idea shows bold letters spelling out TRUMAN that are made up of puzzle pieces. Each puzzle piece then would have the name of a different student organization, showing the diversity on campus that relates to global diversity.

Oh baby...

I knew I was bad at illustrating people. So I thought I would challenge myself and do my next two 8x10 watercolors of people. Turns out, I'm still bad at illustrating people. Terrible actually. I tried different techniques on each. The one of my sister is mostly monochromatic. I thought since that worked for me before with the shoes, maybe it would work again. Eehh. The line work definitely helped with it, but still not great.

I really didn't want baby Evie to look like an alien, so I decided more realistic tones would be better. I think maybe I just did it from a weird angle, because her features still look funny. She was sucking on her lips, so she really doesn't have a mouth. And I had a hard time with her fine baby was there, but super light, so didn't really know how to go about that. I think her arm on the left side of the image looks pretty successful....but that's it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Finally! I got an illustration that I like! I think making it all monochromatic helped a lot. The shoes were purple, so I thought it would be interesting to use only purple, even in the white areas where I used a light wash. The well-known saying "There's color in a white goat" stuck with me, so I decided there should be a little color in the white toe of my shoe as well. Doing the illustration at a large format helped too, as I could incorporate some more details without getting overworked or muddy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Poi poster

The background of my first attempt at this illustration was a total disaster. So I started all over. I forgot about trying to make the background look like stage curtains and just gave it a dark blue-black color instead. It's kind of boring, but I think it was much more successful than the first attempt. The fire-y rings still look cool too. Other than nearly going crazy trying to find a working USB port in the computer with the larger scanner, scanning it in and patching the pieces together went smoothly and pretty quickly. The viscommie in me isn't in love with the layout of this poster, but overall, I think the illustration came out well. If I had had some more time, I would have played around with the type more.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Poster Illustration: marker comp

I've seen Truman's Poi dance group perform several times and their art has always intrigued me. So I got excited when I saw that SUEDE was sponsoring the Poi dance class this semester and that classes are starting soon. Is there a better event to create an illustration for?? I think not. Swirling fire? Yes!! So here's a marker comp I did for a 13x19 poster. The text will be in a light color on the stage area with the illustration being the dominant element of the poster.

New profile pic!

Finally got it done and approved! I had trouble with the background at first, but I think it looks more believable this time. I was hoping it would be a little looser still, but this works.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Watercolor structures

Ok, going back in time a bit. 10 watercolors. Structure instead of fluffy clouds this time. This was a little difficult, I had trouble getting edges to look defined. Here are the highlights:
The tree looks pretty good on this one. Don't worry, the trunk and branches are supposed to be out of the picture. Seriously. The windows look pretty good here. The lines and proportions are a little off. Oops.

This one is pretty flat. Boring. No perspective.

So I ran out of watercolor paper. So I used some of my skyscapes from before and added structures. Saved me from making the background at least! Kind of disappointed that it showed through so much though.

I was experimenting with leaving some of the lines of the windows out. Apparently I haven't gotten a good handle on that yet. Every time I try, it doesn't seem to work out very well.