Chicken the Brave

October 1, 2016

I thought this would be a fun band name or kids illustrated book so I created a little hand drawn/digitally enhanced logotype. I had been looking at the fun, loose vector art of J. Otto Seibold and was enjoying his hand lettering style. After looking the letter forms over and doing a quick analysis, I jumped into sketching, followed by rounds of scanning and redrawing (both digitally in Photoshop and by hand) before vectorizing, doing some (slight) cleanup, and adding vector flourishes in Illustrator.


chicken1 initial sketch


one of several rounds of digital correction and play


scan of a hand drawn cleanup on a light printout

More Typography play

September 11, 2016

This is a lyric from a song called “Southpaw”. The song lends itself to an Art Deco feel and some Russian Constructivist design elements and colors.

In working through this piece I designed an ampersand symbol and cleaned up the “R” as well. Some of the letterforms reveal their weaknesses (the Ss look heavy and the various weights on the “Ws” are problematic. C’est la vie.


Personal Typography project

September 3, 2016

One of the things I enjoy most about designing is the ability to create something out of nothing by first creating or assembling the component parts and arranging them in a visually interesting way.

Recently I’ve been hand-drawing typefaces and I thought it would be fun to create a font and use it as the base for creating posters from phrases, song lyrics and story titles. The key concept is to utilize or modify a single, self-created typeface to create a wide range of stylistic applications.

From an initial idea I created the letterforms below. Conscious of the fact that there are many flaws (especially in the odd stroke weights in several of the letters), I nevertheless decided to push ahead, modifying and improving the letterforms as I went. The 3 designs that I’ve finished so far were a lot of fun to work on and help me “learn” the strengths and weaknesses of the letter forms and relationships.

Adobe Illustrator CS4 Tutorial : Creating Repeating Braid Brushes

July 28, 2016

Thanks to this video tutorial from CG Cookie Concept on YouTube I thought it would be helpful to recreate the braid design as a repeating PATTERN BRUSH in Illustrator CS4. Once created, the basic design can be modified and applied to individual strokes via the APPEARANCES PALETTE.

  1. To make the basic shape draw and clone a square. Draw a circle 4times the size of the squares. Align the circle so that one quarter segment passes through two opposing corners of the square. Select the circle and square and use the INTERSECT TOOL in the PATHFINDER PALETTE.
  2. Align the remaining square and quarter segment. I usually do this in OUTLINE VIEW (command/control + Y) so I am sure they are perfectly aligned.
  3. Join the two shapes using the UNITE TOOL in the PATHFINDER PALETTE.
  4. Rotate the basic shape 45º clockwise. Make a duplicate and use the REFLECT TOOL (O) to flip and rotate the duplicate 45º in the opposite direction, aligning the two as in the example.
  5. Duplicate the two shapes and align them exactly next to the original two shapes. The light blue rectangle indicates the position of the rectangle mask necessary for creating a seamless repeating pattern. The actual rectangle mask should have no fill and no stroke and be positioned behind the four shapes.
  6. Select and drag the four objects and rectangle mask into the BRUSH PALETTE (or with them selected, click the “New Brush” icon at the bottom of the palette. Chose the “Pattern Brush” option from the initial dialogue box. In the PATTERN BRUSH OPTIONS dialogue box, give the brush a name and enter “70%” in the Scale field, “0% ” in the Spacing field. Check the “Approximate path” radio button and “Tints and Shades”  in the COLORIZATION dropdown menu. These options can be changed once the brush is made by double clicking on the brush thumbnail.
  7. Duplicate and alter the original shapes and tweak the colors, strokes, and shapes to create a variety of brushes and repeat step #6 for each one.
  8. Test the brushes by applying them to straight/curved lines. If your brushes look odd, it’s probably because the rectangle mask in step #3 is not aligned properly or the shapes themselves are misaligned.
  9. Using the APPEARANCES PALETTE, a variety of brushes have been applied to a single circle path. The various diameters are achieved by selecting individual instances of the Stroke, applying a different brush to each Stroke instance and playing with the “Path–>Offset Path” option in the EFFECTS MENU at the top of the screen.

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Process- Retro Poster

July 19, 2016


All digital Illustration process: Jack-O

July 16, 2016

I appreciate the precision and clean line work that can be achieved using Illustrator’s pen tool and pathfinder palette. I also enjoy the more freeform options available with the pencil tool.

This illustration used a bit of both approaches and has a clean but organic feel which I like. I also like the color holds (changing the line work to something other than black, depending on the object’s fill color) as a way of softening the edges.

In my view the main drawback of the “all digital” method here is that I am removed from direct contact with the image. There is some nuance lost in translation from hand to tablet to screen. Additionally, The line overlap method which enables  clean line work and “joints” generates some extra work, especially if the places where the lines cross create multiple tiny shapes once the strokes are outlined and divided using the Pathfinder palette.

The upsides, however, are significant: no scanning, no erasing, flexibility, command-Z, speedy color flat stage with CS4’s Live Paint, resizing, perspective shifts, repurposing (I brought in the logo and “mode” symbols from a previous session), etc.

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Vector Einstein Doodle

July 16, 2016

It’s been awhile since I played in AI but I was inspired by some illustrations to noodle around.

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More Niji Waterbrush Mods

July 3, 2016

I have a small arsenal of Niji water brush pens. They’re my favorites because I can disassemble the tip easily for cleaning. This is necessary because I use ink instead of just water. Depending on the type of ink I use, the brush can get clogged pretty quickly.

In a previous post, I demonstrated how to disassemble and clean the water brush tip. 

The only thing about the Niji brush that I haven’t liked was that the handle is difficult to fill. It has a “flow gate” which traps The liquid stored in the handle when you unscrew the tip. This is handy if you want to have pre-mixed colors, inks, or extra pre-filled water for watercolors, but is not conducive to filling quickly if you are using A water or ink container with a narrow neck. 

The answer to this problem turns out to be quite simple.

By inserting a X-Acto or snap-off blade at the scene between the black “flow gate” and the handle, you can gently pry off this leaving a large circular hole. Why didn’t I tried this before? It’s probably a holdover from when I had only one water brush and I was afraid to damage the handle.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. A second mod proves this is true. I had lost the cap for one of my pens. That’s not good for many reasons, but especially if there is waterproof ink in the pen.

Here’s a way to make a pen cap from a Uni ball pen (no, I am not a monster. I used a cap from a defunct pen).

I determined the height of the replacement cape based on the height of an actual Niji cap, and marked the cut line using a Elmers paint pen. Then it’s just a matter of cutting very carefully and straw, keeping as straight as possible with a snap-off knife blade pulled out a bit farther than normal. The new Is actually a tighter fit in the original and the pocket “clip” is better by far.

Hand-lettering to Photoshop

June 21, 2016

Graphic for a visual presentation for elementary students. These are the main stages, although there were myriad intermediaries.

I began with a pencil sketched inked with sharpies. Once scanned I played around with the interaction of the letters. The slant created some dynamic interaction and minimized dead space. I printed the photoshopped sketch out, redrew the design using broad Prismacolor pens (chisel tip),  and rescanned. I realized that the “the” way out on the left forced an incorrect reading of the phrase. I threw the whole thing back into Photoshop and…voila!

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Sequential WIP

June 2, 2016

Adaptation of a popular tune.