Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#030 How You See Your World

Well, I'm enjoying a short break for the winter before I start my spring semester the 1st of February. I had a great Christmas, and it was great to just relax, but I still feel like I could sleep for weeks.
This is my final project for Design Technology. In the 1st phase we created the logo, 2nd we rendered the eyewear using the difficult yet interesting gradient mesh tool in Illustrator. Then we created the final poster.
Can you believe this isn't a photograph of the sunglasses, but a gradient mesh tracing? I think that's amazing that you can achieve this level of realism just by color sampling from a photo and adding points on a mesh. It was tedious though, and it required many hours of clicking and listening to my iPod for hours on end. But I got a good grade, so I'm thrilled.
Coming Soon: One of the Best Things I Got for Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

#029 Away

My dad brought home these cards from the bookstore the other day, and they are cool. We all know I fall for the neo-vintage (what a ridiculous term).
It's a reissue of an old lithograph card featuring the Nativity. There is gold leaf around the border, and in the garland background. And that verse is one of my favorites.
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, especially those of you in the East who are definitely having a White Christmas this year. Stay warm!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

#028 These People Create: ISO50

This fantastic graphic design has been magically crafted by San Francisco's Scott Hansen. I could hardly catch my breath when looking through his electrifying portfolio and his amazingly gorgeous website (I might say here that too often portfolio sites are poorly managed, but here I was pleasantly surprised).

The ever-informative and inspiring GrainEdit featured an interview with Hansen on their blog, and I was struck by the effortless way his work shifts in to the vintage realm without seeming outdated. His use and love for 1970's era Swedish typography, the slightly distressed appearance of vintage photos and stunning linework make his posters, prints and design irresistible.

One of the most interesting things about this multi-faceted designer is that he creates music on vintage recording equipment. Using synthesizers, tape recorders, and acoustic guitars, he sculpts beautiful electronica music that has a welcoming warmth to it that many artists of the genre reject in favor of cold, harsh, computer noise. He then presses these recordings onto 45's, as well as MP3's, creates sumptuous cover art, and then sells them on his website under the name Tycho.
Will somebody please, please, please get me an introduction? I would scrub toilets for this guy for 50 cents a week if it meant I could spend time in his studio.
You can read the full interview at GrainEdit here, and you absolutely must see Scott Hansen's ISO50 website which is here. Sit back, and be amazed.

Monday, December 14, 2009

#027 Indie Rocker

Farris Filbert just made his debut on Capntrade Records. He is climbing the charts at an alarming rate. As Rolling Stone puts it:

"Farris Filbert sings with verve and emotion... his new record will drive you nuts."

And that's just what it does.
But his mustache makes the chicks swoon.
So: Just in time for Christmas, a great folk-rock record, Nuts to You from brand-new artist Farris Filbert. Grab your copy today!
A few random sketches on the back of an envelope.

#026 Special

You probably already know that I love these little powerhouses of creative British fun. And I now love them to the tenth power since the company introduced these 50th Anniversary editions that are simply splendid. So, when my graphic novel(s) sell their 1,000,000th copy, I will probably have to indulge in one.
When you see me cruising around the Swiss Alps as pictured (above) you can pretty much figure that I've made it to the New York Times Best Seller List, and stayed there for a week or two.
You can build your own here, and park it on your desktop like I did with the Mayfair.

P.S. : The Mini Cooper also makes a great stocking stuffer.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

#025 Typography from the Past

Over Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to visit the Roanoake Virginia Transportation Museum. Due to its proximity to a vital rail-yard, it featured a lot of locomotives and railway history exhibits. I've loved trains since I was a kid, but during my visit I was struck by the beautiful typography that so many of the rail lines of the early 1900's used in their logos and branding.

Progressive shots showing the lettering on the side of a coach.

One of the most amazing things I saw was this old streetcar.

The exterior reminded me of a VW Microbus, and its paint was old and powdery, like so many other vehicles in the yard. But walking inside, it was like walking into the past.

It looked as though nothing had changed for 35 years. And there were ads, original ads still hanging above the seats. I felt as though I had walked into a sanctuary. So many people had ridden this streetcar. Each one had their own ideas, problems, loves, hates, dreams, hopes. America was going through similar economic hardship just like we are today, and these ads were rallying the people: work together, and together we can make it better. Something truly American. For whatever reason, I was so struck by this streetcar. Even time cannot erase the voice of the people.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

#024 Board of Bored Executives

"They'll vote with Potter otherwise!"

This is the 2nd poster in the Interbank series created this week. In case you don't get the joke, no one in the photo is happy with their insurance agent or their rates. Yeah. Now you get it. But unfortunately I cannot resist using vintage photographs and spending a whole hour poring over these archives.

Monday, November 30, 2009

#023 Low-Tech & Lovin' It

Golly! This thing really works!

I hope that my ad works and that the message is loud and clear. I really want this one to work out because I used archived photos (not stock photos mind you) in this assignment, and even though it wasn't specified not to use them, I am a little skittish about the whole thing. But with 3 days of Thanksgiving travel, I was pressed for time, and this one served the purpose.

You can get cool old pictures just like me. Just go here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

#021 Vintage Paperbacks

Here are a couple of vintage paperbacks from the '70's that adorn my little brown bookshelf. I have read them both and they are funny, scary, and cool all at the same time. I can't get over the cover of the first one - what a work of art with its hot pink type and that cool wood engraving. This is part of the inspiration for the Bane of the Seas that I posted last week. I'm still not sure why the covers are yellow, but they are rated VG: Very Groovy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

#020 Hello Analog...

This friendly little droid has mastered the art of fine penmanship. In fact, his little mechanical brain has learned to write just like Jane Austen. He uses his 2B Ticonderoga pencil with great skill and style.

This week in class we have been learning about the 3D capabilities of Adobe Illustrator. The assignment was to come up with a character that uses these techniques. It was hard to get in the swing of it (Illustrator is not close to a full-scale 3D application) but I managed to figure out the basics.

The droid shown here is based on a character from a little comic series (never released to the public) that I did a while back featuring Dot Bots (above) and the Düm Bots (not shown). Perhaps they will make it to the blog someday...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

#019 The Bane of the Seas

Flee from the wicked wrath of the Bane of the Seas: The dreaded purple Squid!!
In vain bearded seamen have tried to drive the harpoon home. This vile creature who lurks the foaming deep in search of treasure-laden vessels will stop at nothing to satisfy his lust for gold and human flesh!

I created the waves using custom brushes in Illustrator. Good friend Squid was also created with the same technique, and all was submitted for last weeks assignment. I can now sleep with the peace of mind that my assignment is completed, and you cannot sleep for fear of groping tentacles in the murky abyss.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

#018 Champignon

A beautiful specimen pushing up through the black dirt and pine needles. And no, it probably is not edible, however lawn gnomes have been known to frequent them. Ink washes & splatters in Illustrator.

One of my experiments for this week's assignment in WNM 105. I may be able to come up with something better, but so far this is the best I've got. I thought it was very pretty.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

#017 King Ottokar's Sceptre

This is my beloved copy of King Ottokar's Scepter by Hergé in his Adventures of Tintin series. It is the first Tintin book that I had ever seen. My mom bought it for me when I was about seven or eight, and I loved it. I devoured the story, and of course the pictures. As a kid, I never really read comic books (and still don't as a general rule). But the Tintin albums were different than just comics, they were realistic, and far more adventurous than superhero stories. The vehicles, clothes and places were drawn from real life.
These days my Tintin collection has grown to include about eight or nine different albums, and a pane of commemorative stamps from Belgium. I hope to someday create graphic novels that draw from that same vein of realism and drama. Sequential art is definitely an acquired skill. In its finest form it's more like watching a movie on paper. And Hergé certainly mastered that.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

#016 Tintin Inked Panels

These are uncolored ink panels from King Ottokar's Sceptre one of the Tintin books by Belgian artist Hergé. I love his artwork, but this is the first time I have seen the bare inkwork. His lines are so precise and fine. What great stories! I found the link to these over at Agent44. Check out the brand-new Inktober book while you're there! I have got to get a copy...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

#015 New Yorker Magazine

One of my dreams as a professional Illustrator/Designer is to do a New Yorker cover. The New Yorker is mostly a literature magazine that (I guess) is supposed to cover life in New York City and feature witty (and sometimes liberal) literature and articles. But they are probably best known for their black & white cartoons nestled between the words of each issue.

The covers stand alone as great works of art. They always use the most powerful illustrations that are just on the border of being cartoony - without becoming cartoons. The covers can be an insane mix of subtle humor, seriousness, joy, grief, pain, and vibrant life in one simple understated image.

This week's cover (which I was alerted to on the great Lines & Colors) is no exception. We see trick or treaters with their masks, while their parents wait for them with ghostly masks of their own on - the glow of their cell phones. It really portrays life as it is - we are attached to our gadgets, and they have become a part of us. In a way it is beautiful though - for that brief moment when we take in the cover we can laugh at ourselves. We see how silly we are, we are all just trying to be something we aren't in digital worlds where we only exist in binary code, wearing our masks. For a brief moment, we want to be free from those cold LCDs. But we go on back to our broadband lives - and we miss the good stuff.

Let's close the gadgets, let's turn off the computer, let's turn off the iPod. Let's get the pencils to the paper, let's talk to real friends. Let's shuffle through the autumn leaves and get lost in the fog of November and the magic of being real.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

#014 The Lepidopter

Last night I discovered a very beautiful painting by James Gurney of Dinotopia fame. It is an amazing painting blending imagination & realism so well that you can feel this Lepidopter taking off into the night sky. With you in it!
As anyone who knows me well can attest, I have been a big fan of Mr. Gurney's work since I was very young. I was thrilled when he left me with the kind encouragement that follows on his blog:

Thank you very much Mr. Gurney. I'll certainly try. (Spectrum is an annual album of imaginative art that features artists' work from all around the world).
Go to to see more great art like this, and to get a peppy dose of artistic instruction and inspiration.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

#013 Tea Anyone?

Trying out some logotype ideas for some organic tea packaging. Any favorites out there?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

#012 New Blog Banner

Just changed my Blog Banner, hope everyone likes it. The design features a drawing of a Pappenheimer Rapier (whatever that is) that I drew here a while back. Hope to post more drawings soon. Have a great week!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

#011 Magazine Cover (Part 3)

VECTOR LIFE Magazine - on Newsstands now!

This afternoon I completed my Midterm project for CANM 105 Design Technology. After completing my vector tracing (see posts #008 & 009) I proceeded to design the type layouts and background, using only a subtle gradient.

I had more progress pics, but I'm having trouble uploading them. Anyway, that's about it. I think my favorite thing about the design is the type treatment. I really felt like it was dynamic. Now that I think about it, the colors are sort of fall-ish. I guess that's good for an October issue!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

#010 Rock Harder

Rock Harder by Eleanor Aarts.
Rock harder. Everybody needs to.

More from my midterm project soon, meanwhile I'm hard at work.
Have a good weekend!

Friday, October 9, 2009

#009 Magazine Cover (Part 2)

Okay, now that I've got my shirt done, here's what it looks like. The Headless Horseman, right? Notice how I've carefully traced the stripes on the shirt, and how this makes the outlines very defined without tracing the rumples in it.

Now I've began to work on my head. One bad thing about this project is that I have to carefully scrutinize every detail of my face. Let me tell you, it's humbling.

I've kind of got a rough outline here, and basically I'm trying to capture the defining details of the image without getting bogged down with minutia. Also, I want to start to define the highlights & shadows on my face by making them into vector shapes as well. This is hard because the come out looking solid, and not very transparent like real shadows and highlights.


In this image, you can see the highlights on my nose & forehead. I'm trying to get just a basic outline of where the light is hitting it. I used a flash photograph in broad daylight to kind of really get some strong light. This helped me separate the headshot from the background, and capture the light and shadow better.

At this point I'm kind of looking like Michael Jackson, but I'll eventually get the light like I want it, and substitute some better colors. All the colors are kind of placeholders until the end, when I'll fine-tune the colors a little more.

Next: Magazine Cover (Part 3)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

#008 Magazine Cover (Part 1)

On Tuesday I officially entered Module 5 of Design Technology. Upon entering it, I discovered that our assignment would also be our midterm project. We have two weeks to complete this, whereas usually we have until the next Monday. En lieu of our regular assignments, we will be working on this.
The assignment is to design a magazine cover for the fictional magazine Vector Life. I've been given industry-standard specs to work by as I complete the assignment.

So, the professor wants us to use a vector graphic of ourselves (self-portrait). We're supposed to use this as the main image in the cover. When I got home this afternoon, I did a little photo shoot. In this screenshot, I've got the JPEG in Photoshop, and I've resized it to 50 pixels per inch.

Here you can see my workspace in Adobe Illustrator, and as you can see, I'm already hard at work using the Pen Tool to create outlines of the stripes on my shirt. This is done by clicking wherever you want a point, and then clicking again to get another point. Then you use something called "Bezier Handles to make curves in the line that accurately form into just about any curve you can imagine. It's time consuming, but the results are really nice. Also, I've applied a clipping mask around the outline of myself. I think I'll turn that off right now for expedience' sake.

In this image, I've got my tie outlined (I like my tie!) and we've got sort of a placeholder color going here so I can see where I've worked. I think you can also see some points and Bezier handles there in the lower right fold in the tie in red. 

Coming up Next: Magazine Cover (Part 2)