Tag Archives: Illustrator

A New Year of New Projects

Standard

My concept illustration of Mary Poppins from P. L. Travers’ description in the original story. [Chapter 2, “The Day Out”]

With  Snowmageddon raging outside of my window and the start of a new semester lingering overhead, I thought I better take advantage of the unexpected snow days to update my blog with my latest projects.

It has been an exciting couple of months without a doubt!  First and foremost, I spent an incredible weekend at the New England SCBWI conference in Springfield, MA last May!  I attended writing workshops with some amazing authors such as Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Melanie Hope Greenberg, and enjoyed insights and inspiration from keynote speakers, Grace Lin and Sharon Creech.  Next, I learned valuable tips on creating an illustration portfolio from Sarah Brennan, Teri WeidnerNicole Tadgell and for a grand finale, a two day storyboarding workshop with one of my all time favorite illustrators, Ruth Sanderson!  (Insert happy dance here.)  By the time we returned home, my head was spinning and my notebook bulging with notes and an action plan, motivating me through the summer and my upcoming semester.

Last Fall, I had the opportunity to enroll in an Illustration class.  Our first project was a children’s book illustration based on a character of our choice.  With Peter Pan and Robin Hood tied as runners up, Mary Poppins lead the way in first place.  A few weeks later, we were given the assignment to design a product label in my Digital Imaging class, that we would eventually wrap around a jar in Photoshop and finally insert this new product image into a magazine ad.  I used a hybrid of this illustration along with other images I was able to find along the way, to create Poppins Preserves… “Just a spoonful of sugar in every practically perfect jar!”  Too much fun – I just couldn’t resist!

Fitzurka_Michelle_Assignment 6_Magazine Ad

Alive & Kickin’

Standard

What a great couple of months this has been!  I have been caught up in a rush of school activities for my kids, and my classes have picked up speed as well.  I finished out the rest of my Drawing class last semester, just in time to prepare for family and friends visiting over Christmas.  Then, my Winter and Spring session courses added to my already frenzied days!  Currently I am enrolled in three courses:  Writing for Children, Designing and Illustrating Children’s Books and Graphic Design!  And I am LOVIN’ it!  From the outset, it seems highly unlikely that I could ever keep up this pace.  Yet in the midst of each project, I find this new reserve of energy and passion that drives me to finish line.  This is definitely what I was born to do!

GrphDsgn.Proj 1.Graphic Novel Self Portrait

A self portrait appropriation based on the amazing original artwork of Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuna (Marvel Comics, July 2010).

Last week, I put together the mock up of a Picture Book dummy which I am hoping to get critiqued by an editor at an upcoming conference in May.  I initially thought that I would have 3 months to work on this, however I learned during registration that a sample had to be postmarked within 3 days.  Needless to say, I was launched into high gear!  And just to keep things interesting, my first Graphic Design project due date was around the corner.  The assignment required that we submit an appropriation of a favorite character out of a graphic novel.  I chose the Black Widow character from Marvel Comics after recently watching Scarlett Johansson’s awesome portrayal of Natasha Romanoff in “Iron Man 2” and “The Avengers” – now THAT’s what I’m talking about ~ Excellent choreography in her fight scenes!  This style of illustration is not what I typically generate, and we were expected to re-invent ourselves as this character.  After multiple searches for an action packed illustration, I finally found the cover, “The Name of the Rose” (Issue #2) created by Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuna for Marvel Comics.  By using their fantastic work as a template, I was able to explore this style with my own pen and ink self portrait and ultimately render the finished product through Adobe Illustrator – it was a ton of fun!  I added my own facial features and hair, and my holster carries paintbrushes and pencils, ready to produce extreme graphics at a moment’s notice.  Now I have something to hang in my studio to keep me motivated… Speaking of which, it’s time to get back to work!  Glad to be back in the blogosphere!

Keri Smith’s Survival Kit

Standard

This is one of my most favorite findings on the web that I happened upon a few months ago… “The Artist’s Survival Kit” by Keri Smith.  Aside from working as a successful freelance illustrator, she has a great sense of humor that emanates through her whimsical work.  As artists, so many of us have our dreary, dark days where we pummel ourselves with doubt and self pity.  For those of you who don’t know what that is like… well…you’re my hero, and this may not be a source of relief.  But for the rest of us who live in the land of imperfection and creative experimentation, take a moment to visit her site ~ You won’t be sorry!                Click… print… then prosper! 

Glen Keane & the Disney Pixar Cast of Animators

Standard

What are these?!
“Little Mermaid” animation by Glen Keane.

Where do I even begin?… I am a devout Disney animation fan, and Glen Keane was one of the talented illustrators who worked at Disney Animation Studios for 38 years.  He brought characters to life in Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, PocahontasTarzan, and most recently in one our favorites, Tangled.  We have Keane (among others) to thank for his contribution to the evolution of animation over the last few decades.  He announced his departure from Disney in March 2012 in pursuit of further animated exploration, so I am eager to see where his talents may take us in days ahead.

Heading over to my “Web Candy” page will take you to the link for Disney Animation Studios where you can learn more about the amazing work going on in ground-breaking technological advances to animation.  This brings me to the next project that I am on the edge of my seat to see… BRAVE!  Pixar developed their own software to bring a whole new meaning to textures in the animation of hair, fur, clothing and water.  Just watching the trailers brings a lump to my throat!  A few months ago, while visiting Disney World on our familymoon, we spent a day at Hollywood Studios.  Much to my delight, the current exhibit included props and photographs that inspired some of the sketches of characters in the movie.  It was AWESOME!!!  Six days and counting!!!…

****** UPDATE ******

All thumbs up on the animation!  I was mesmerized, and that was just the 2-D version!!!  As a protective parent, I was somewhat disappointed by some of the graphic nature of scenes that were embarrassing with some bare bums to a few of our children, along with a few references that hopefully went over most of their heads.  We had 7 kids in tow that day, ranging in ages from 4 to 11.  Shame on me for not considering the PG rating…  However, if Shrek-type movies don’t bother you or your children, you should have no worries about this one… a delightful storyline nonetheless.

It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times…

Standard

Project #2 Objective: Complete a set of drawn studies of a simplified object using traditional drawing tools followed by vector production tools. Create a final study of 3 abstracted views of your object on a single page or composition.

Project 2, Part B… okay, this is where it gets good!  This is what I came to do!  My first crack at Illustrator, or any vector graphics program for that matter.  My closest interaction with this type of software, was back in the day when I was singing with a band, and we decided to put out a CD. That was my first fun with logo design, and I got to be the backseat driver for the graphic designer we hired to ‘pretty up’ the insert and get it printer ready. I’m sure he loved it ~ “hmm, that’s a nice idea, but, um – no… okay, slide that over there… no, more purple and make it gradient… oOoh, and marbly!… hey, what does that do?”… yeah, good times…

I diligently watched the tutorials, getting more and more excited about the possibilities.  Ideas were flowing out of my head on how it could be incorporated as an invaluable, production multiplying, time saving tool!  I couldn’t wait to download the application!!!… All set up, I started with what seemed to be the easiest image to trace, placed it on the artboard, cut the opacity so I wouldn’t confuse the new black traced lines with the original image, locked the layer and opened a new layer to get started.  Hmmm… where do I start?  Elliptical tool, line tool, pen tool… *!@#!!!… CMD+Z, CMD+Z, CMD+Z… okay, we’ll go back to that later… fill… polygon tool… pen tool… anchor points… handle… Why isn’t this working???… This doesn’t make sense!!!  Maaaarrrrk (that’s my husband)… look at what this crazy thing is doing, have you ever seen anything so ridiculous? (rant, rant, rant)… I mean, you would think for the actual price of this software it would be functional!  (he sits down, click, click, click)  “Is that what you were trying to select?”  Okay, psh… well, YOU didn’t watch the tutorials, so they must have confused me somehow from the obvious common sensical approach you just mustered there, whatever… okay, fine, I can do this… I CAN’T DO THIS!!!  What was I thinking?… Going back to school… and don’t even get me started on how to make a living as an artist!… Suddenly, I imagine Tom Hanks in a baseball cap yelling, “There’s no crying in Illustrator!!!”  No time for tears, project is due tomorrow… push through the pain…  After, a few more hours & just past pumpkin time, I collapsed into bed feeling completely defeated from my first and most simplified image.

I did not get a lot of sleep.  In fact, I tossed and turned most of the night.  The next morning, and for some unexplained reason, the image of Richard Simmon’s face danced around in my mind, while he beamed, “Come on, Honey!!!  Hop out of bed and get this day started!!!”  I moaned.  Then something snapped and a determination swept over me to figure this out.  I got dressed, dropped the kids off at school, poured my coffee (THAT”S a given!), grabbed a CD of Celine Dion to have at the ready… yeah, the FRENCH Album…  Okay, let’s DO this!!!

It wasn’t pretty at first, but time was of the essence, and I needed to get creative to get the effects I wanted.  I’m not proud of it, but I became one with the blob brush and the warp tool.  I still manipulated the paths and formed a few compound shapes, but I focused on cleaning up the lines and maintaining the integrity of the original images.

Save… Attach… POST… done!

Project 2: Less is More, More or Less…

Standard

Project #2 Objective: Complete a set of drawn studies of a simplified object using traditional drawing tools followed by vector production tools. Create a final study of 3 abstracted views of your object on a single page or composition.

So I poured my coffee, pulled the cobwebs off my sketchbook, sharpened my pencil and got into the zone… ahhh yes, welcome home…

I love the details… finding all of the curves and grooves to convey through a drawing… thinking about how I will be able to eventually simplify shapes and forms… okay, remember, no grayscale.  No worries, that should be easy enough. Just need to show the blurry reflection on the rubber handle… but no grayscale… um, okay, stick to the shapes… no that’s not right, maybe try this… I’ll come back to that, let’s go back to my happy place of details. Wow, there is a LOT of detail in this nozzle, why did I choose this thing anyway???  (insert deep cleansing breaths here)

“Hey, Mom, why did you draw our hose?!”

“Because it’s visually interesting, and because I LOVE A CHALLENGE!…”

(Breathing… relaxing… sigh)  “No GRAYscale!  AHHHHHH!!!…                                                                                                                 Okay, I’m already committed here, let’s turn up the music and move on… simplify the details and everyone’s happy…

So then I thought the easy part would be outlining and blackening.  That took a lot more planning than I initially imagined… what an eye-opening process this turned out to be!  I had to re-think how to conceptualize this nozzle. I had to look at it in a totally different way than I would in my normal sketching mode, and then I would start seeing double when I was working in just the black and white.  Experimenting with swapping the positive and negative  elements in each image proved to be much more difficult than originally anticipated, as well.  I had to un-think my visual cues and focus on the simple shapes.

In between my work sessions, I began to notice every day objects in a new and simplified way.  What were the prominent and identifiable shapes embedded in each object?  Logos take on more meaning to me in this perspective… fascinating.

So here are my 6 snippets up for review… Next up, learning Illustrator for Part B!