Archive for the ‘Process’ Category

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.






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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.

Tutorial-Recreating Doily Design in Photoshop CS4

March 23, 2017

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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

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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?

Process: Book Cover Design

December 4, 2016

In taking on this book cover project, I began by sketching a bunch of thumbnails. I was familiar with the contents of the book and when I had the opportunity I took a look through the contents. Usually, this read-through would probably be the first step.

After discussing the thumbnails with the author, we decided to go with the text of the title and subtitle along with graphic line drawings of various objects.

With a quick stop at the internet I procured examples of the objects I wanted to draw and headed off to Adobe Illustrator. After I drew the objects, I resized them so that they were the correct proportions relative to the other objects.

Next I scoured through my typeface collection and found two that had a hand-drawn, indie feel. Wanting the illustration lines to resemble the type lines, I created a custom brush and applied it to the objects using the Appearances palette.

I also knew that I wanted to have the colors of the objects offset so I drew rough approximations of the object contours shapes on a different layer using the pencil tool.

I imported the line work, text and color contours into Photoshop and began the layout, coloring and texturing process. More internet research let me see color options as well as locating paper and watercolored textures. I’ve always liked the combination of tight line work with loose watercolors and thought that aesthetic would work well for this project.

Initially, the orange concept got the most positive feedback in my focus group, but the author thought the calmer blue color scheme communicated the intent of the book. I added in additional texture elements and a light frame to add a bit more energy and to focus the viewer’s eye by connecting the various elements.

Typically, I create a new composited Photoshop file that has all of its layers cleaned up. In this case I extended the canvas on the new file to accommodate the single font/spine/back file required by the publisher.

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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.

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chicken1 initial sketch

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one of several rounds of digital correction and play

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scan of a hand drawn cleanup on a light printout

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

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