Storytelling Thumbnails and creative process flexibility

June 14, 2017

As in other occupations, creative arts professionals or hobbyists benefit from developing systems in order to formalize the creative process, generate ideas, and simplify production. However, it’s a mistake to think that steps in a process are one- size- fits- all; that a creative process is a static rather than the dynamic list of action steps. 

In general, there are phases of design that will be taken; research, brainstorm, sketch, edit, refine yes are the basics I learned in school. I would say that these work fantastically overall. But we can get stuck when we overly formalize what research means, or what thumbnails are, for example.

I remember the revelation that was part irritation when I considered that at certain times, I would need to change my preferences in Adobe Illustrator, sometimes from stroke for stroke. The temptation to overly mechanize our process  can make creative types become lazy. Perhaps one step two add at the very beginning of the process of is to evaluate whether the process you intend to use is a good fit for the project you are beginning.

 In the thumbnails below, I chose to thumbnail one page of the comic in the middle of a half sheet of paper. This left room around the sketch to write notes and make comments. Having one set of panels on the page surrounded by a lot of white space helps me focus on that page and think very freely. I know sometimes having multiple smaller thumbnails on a single page is helpful to see the flow of pages and panels, but doing them this way shifted my thinking. I don’t know if it’s better or not, but I felt very free in thinking about the story; designing the shots, dialogue, and storytelling simultaneously.

New Jack O page

June 5, 2017

I’ve been retooling Jack’s design to make it easier to draw. This is just a fan page I came up with to play around with a new design in an action scene. I also have tried to develop a uniform style for towns people. Try to keep mostly rounded shapes and using dots for eyes to simplify them. The idea is that by focusing less on details, I can capture more story and action. We’ll see.

Creature Collaboration

May 27, 2017

Turbo Turtle

May 7, 2017

Goonies Landscape

May 2, 2017

Radial Pattern Doodling

May 2, 2017

Tutorial-Recreating Doily Design in Photoshop CS4

March 23, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 8.29.11 PM

Browsing the internet, I found this digital doily design by Hansje van Halem that incorporated a digital typeface with hand-drawn doily circles in Photoshop. After watching the short process video included in the post, I thought through how I might try something similar but without having to draw each circle by hand. Solution? Create a repeating pattern in Photoshop and apply some filters.

One caveat: were I to use this technique for an actual illustration piece, I would probably create several pattern swatches using different sized brushes. In this way I could scale the patterns to create the illusion of varied sizes around the edges.

Step 1: Create the pattern swatch. Create a new Photoshop file (800 pixels x 800 pixels)and fill it with black ‘crochet’ circles of different sizes. Under the FILTER menu, select OTHER –> OFFSET. Make sure the Undefined Areas are set to WRAP AROUND, then offset both vertical and horizontal settings by 400 pixels. Clean up the pattern and fill in any gaps before setting the OFFSET filter to -4000 pixels to return the swatch to its previous setup. Inspect the swatch then create the swatch using  EDIT–> DEFINE PATTERN. Repeat this step if you want a variety of swatches to choose from in order to mask the non-random nature of this method.

Step 2: Apply Pattern. Create a new Photoshop document. On a new layer, select EDIT–>FILL and select the pattern you just created. It may be useful to fill a large canvas, larger than your intended size. In the SELECT menu, choose COLOR RANGE and use the Eyedropper tool to select the white pixels then hit the DELETE key. This layer can then be copied into a third file with your final canvas size. In this way you can resize and rotate the artwork to further reduce the tiled pattern artifacting.

Step 3: Apply layer FX.  In the layer effects menu, give your artwork a COLOR OVERLAY (this is why we deleted the white pixels) and apply the BEVEL/EMBOSS effect to make the artwork appear to be embroidery thread. Play around with the settings. I chose the “emboss” setting and kept the depth fairly shallow, lowering the shading transparency. Duplicate this layer, changing the COLOR OVERLAY to a complementary color.

STEP 4: Create Embroidered Letter. On the duplicated embroidery layer, create a mask by either hand drawing a letter or making a selection from a type object. Clean up the edges where the two colors meet by adding and subtracting from the mask with the Pen tool.

These basic steps can be manipulated to create a whole range of styles and illustrations. Play around and adapt them to your ideas and creative projects.


Office Memo

March 5, 2017



Floral acrylic chaos

March 4, 2017

What do you do when you have inherited tiny tubes of fabric paint that are drying out and cluttering up your desk? 

Hostile Takeover

March 3, 2017

I don’t know what possessed me, but I came up with this idea of having an office themed team of super villains. I’ve been working on developing a new style for drawing characters in Jack-O’s universe so I applied it to these goons.

Teams are always fun: creating a set of diverse but complementary power sets and personalities. The real question is, what’s  their motivation? I find the ever popular “total world domination” to be overdramatic. That sounds like a lot of work to me. What else could these guys want?