Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Illustration Friday -- Shades

Hello again! I'm really excited to share this week's illustration with you. It is the first time I've really attempted digital painting and I feel that it went really well. To start, my Artist Inspiration is Walter Everett. In this piece I really liked the soft painterly style as well as the muted tones (or shades ;).

The next step was, once again, to generate thumbnails. My first instinct was to draw sunglasses and use a monochromatic colour scheme, but I figured that was too obvious and not enough of a challange. Instead I began thinking of other things that we use to produce shade. I decided to continue with the beach umbrella concept. The weather is warming up here in Southern Ontario; not at all common for March in Canada. Earlier this week I broke out the BBQ so summer is definitely in the air, and I was inspired to draw from that feeling. (I haven't had a chance to scan my thumbnails yet, but I promise they are coming :)

To begin, I set up my document in photoshop and painted in my ground colour. I used a soft-edge brush and lowered my 'opacity' and 'flow'.

Next I separated my image area into Foreground, Middle-ground, and Background by painting in various elements.

Then I began to focus on the sky. I added shadows to the clouds and sunlight filtering through from behind them. I really love the way this worked out; it's fun to play around using different layers and layer orders (I had the sunlight layer in front first, but it looks so much better behind!).

On to the water. I painted in some darker tones to show the different depths in the water as well as to create bases for waves that I would add detail to later.

Naturally the next step was to add the crests to the waves. I also added details to the water that was washing up on shore.

Next I added sunbeams that reflected off the water and the sand. I set this layer to 'soft-light' blending mode.

Then I added the umbrella. It was already slightly transparent because I had turned down my brush's opacity in the beginning, but I reduced the layer opacity just a tiny bit more.

I found that the umbrella was taking up more of the scene than I wanted so I scaled it down some.

Once the main image was complete I brought it into InDesign and added text. I also played with the scaling of this image to fit a portion of it on the CD.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Emotional Labour - A response to Seth Godin's Definition

Seth Godin defines emotional labour as "the act of connecting to another human being and making a change even if it’s not easy for you to do in that moment". Through the use of social media sites, connecting with people all over the world is easier than ever; so why don't more people do it? I think, or rather I used to think, that it was annoying or irritating because making these connections seemed to be one more thing to add to my ever growing 'To Do List'. I would make excuses like, "Do other people really want to hear what I have to say? I only know so much, I don't have a lot to offer." 

The fact of the matter is Yes, if you are interested in something chances are there is someone else out there who is interested too; it really is a small world when you think about it. Once you start a relationship with that person, they may mention you to a friend, who might pass your information to a friend, who tells their mother, who passes it to her barber, who tells... well I think you get it. Soon enough you've made this giant web of people all interested in the same thing, information gets thread though-out and the thing you started so as to teach/inform others has now become a source of learning for yourself. 
The best part about this is IT'S FREE! You loose nothing more than a small portion of your day and you gain attention form a business stand point, knowledge for personal growth, and relationships with people you may have never met any other way.Technology was created to make life easier, not to become a chore.

As I learn this way of thinking and perspective I know that I need to make a conscious effort to branch-out and find people with similar interests as me. Previously the only reason I used the internet was to check-up and family and friends on Facebook, Google Image search for reference material, hotmail for emails, etc. But the internet is so much more than that; it's a world to be discovered. I grew up with the internet and still I've only crossed the threshold of its vast realm of opportunity.

One site that I have become accustomed to using is This is a site that offers FREE stock photo images. The people who contribute to this site clearly don't do so for the fame or fortune, but rather because they love taking remarkable photos. Perhaps more than that, they love that other people appreciate their talent and want to use their photos. Seth Godin would describe this as being part of a "gift culture". The give and take of photos has made this site my go-to whenever I need quality reference material or stock-photos. It's because of this relationship that I pass fellow designers along to this site for their stock photo needs. Here is an example of that 'web of interest' being created again.

Another site I find I go to a lot is I love putting meaning into my art, occasionally I keep it to myself, but I usually let it be know. An easy way to get inspired is through the words of the great minds of the past. This sight has an enormous database of quotes from thousands of people throughout history and they cover a vast range of topics. Once again this sight is free! I sometimes think that 'I'm too tired to be creative, or to draw', but I don't think I'd ever have the energy or interest to search through decades upon centuries of quotes from people and put them in an online database, and certainly not for free. But someone did! Someone pulled there resources and their energies together, and did the intense labour that I didn't want to do but benefit from so much.

Still another site I go to for inspiration or simply personal interest, is AZ Lyrics. Music plays a huge role in my life, and in the lives of many people. I rarely am without my favourite iTunes playlists playing in the background of whatever I'm doing. Whether it's drawing, writing, cooking, whatever -- there's music. As a result meanings or themes of the music I listen too, perhaps the feelings generated by a song, often creep into my art and to focus these things I take a look at the lyrics using this fantastic, free database site.

To the creators and contributors of these sites, I thank you and applaud you!

What I'm trying to say, in this long winded post, is that you should do the work you love -- even if you don't feel like doing it today. Share it! Someone, somewhere will appreciate that you did, and I truly believe that what goes around comes around. This small attempt at making a change because of something you love will result in good 99.9% of the time.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Illustration Friday - Yield

After a break I'm back to Illustration Friday; this week's word is Yield. On that note, I'll be taking my artistic inspiration form Lynd Ward this week. I this first image I love the dark intensity to it, but I don't like the amount of solid blocks of black. That is where the second image comes in. This image uses simple textures and colour washes, but has an energetic, childlike air to it. I'll take the deep emotion in the first image and generate it using the technique of the second. If this doesn't make sense, it will as we go along!

My initial definition of 'yield' was in the context of yielding fruit or other crops (second row, left-most image). Though I liked the idea of doing an illustration to pay homage to my rural roots I figured this meaning of the word was too common and didn't evoke a very deep emotion for me. As I researched and thumbnailed ideas in my head I took the context of yielding to something -- surrendering.

I think everyone has or will have to surrender something in their lives and this act of sacrifice is always one of great difficulty, but it can either be freeing or painful to our core (first images).

Okay, lets get started -- step 1, print off my template and create a sketch. I know it's a little tough to see, but bear with me!

Now I started applying ink to the CD cover using a rough hatching technique. 

Here's how it looked when I was almost done adding the ink to the cover.

Once that element was done I moved on to the CD portion. I applied similar, but varied hatching to the CD.

Wa La, the ink is down and I've scanned my image onto my computer.

 From here I added small washes of colour in photoshop.

In InDesign I clean up my edges and add text. 
And there you have it! Until next week; cheers!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Wine Label Proposal Project - Part 2 - "Sexy" Label

To re-cap my previous post (Wine Label Proposal Project ),  over the course of the next few weeks I will be working on 2 wine label concepts for 5th Road Estate Wines. The owners of this company will be choosing the labels they will print from a variety of artist and I hope that my pieces will be among those selected.

For the first label the clients have asked for a 'traditional' composition. I
The second concept needs to be 'sexy'. The clients have a secondary line of wines that is mostly shipped to Las Vegas. These labels will incorporate a word representing 'sexy', and are to be
classy not trashy!

So to start, as always, it began with ideas -- here are my thumbnails. 
For the 'sexy' label I'm going to use the grape-stomp concept (2nd row, far right) and incorporate the word 'Strut..."
My first step was to delineate my image area on to watercolour paper. I made the dimensions double the size I will need for the final output of the label so that it will scale properly and let me work with a high-resolution image. Once that was finished I sketch my concept using blue non-reproduce able pencil so that when I scan the final painting my lines will be harder to see. (Sorry that it's already hard to see; I took this image with Photobooth :s)

Next, I began painting in my background colour using a wet wash. I also painted a base colour on the woman's legs.

Then on to the dress. I applied a couple layers of red to the dress, each time letting the paint dry some, to increase the colour's saturation.
For the barrel I added little detail to detract attention from it. It's an element to enhance the composition but it isn't the focus. I repeated the wet wash technique and made some brown bleed into the background.
Subtle details were added simply to increase understanding of the object.
It was brought to my attention that this concept might look better if the woman was at a different angle. So I repeated the above steps and created this:
After scanning this I retouched the colours in Photoshop.
Next I brought that image into InDesign to add my text. There you have it. The blank grey area on the right will allow the client to incorporate their wine information into the design.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Wine Label Proposal Project

A new project has come up, and it's going to be a good one! Over the course of the next few weeks I will be working on 2 wine label concepts for 5th Road Estate Wines. The owners of this company will be choosing the labels they will print from a variety of artist and I hope that my pieces will be among those selected.

For the first label the clients have asked for a 'traditional' composition. In the past this meant classic vineyard scenes painted in traditional mediums, but the clients also expressed that isn't exactly what they want. With my concept I believe I've captured 'traditional' without being usual or common.
The second concept needs to be 'sexy'. The clients have a secondary line of wines that is mostly shipped to Las Vegas. These labels will incorporate a word representing 'sexy', and are to be
classy not trashy!

So to start, as always, it began with ideas -- here are my thumbnails. I wanted an image or images that related to wine, but stayed away from any form of landscape scene. For the 'traditional' label I went with the Wine Barrel concept shown here in the middle of the top row.

For the 'sexy' label I'm going to use the grape-stomp concept (2nd row, far right) and incorporate the word 'Strut..."

I also wanted to incorporate wine itself so I used it as my medium. I painted with a watercolour style, but used a Merlot wine.

I deliniated my image area onto watercolour paper then started by scattering wine drops on the page. I used a large brush and over-saturated it with the wine so that I could let it naturally drop onto the page without any help from me.

Next, I didn't like the contrast of the spots against the white of the paper so I began to lightly lay a wash of wine on top of the entire area.

Now I switched to a thinner brush and painted in the detail of the barrel. I started with the wood grain then moved to shadows and the spout.

I let this dry over night the scanned it into
my computer.

As per usual, I then colour corrected my scanned image. I balanced my levels, added an S-Curve, added more contrast using a 'hard-light' blending mode on a Duplicate Merge layer, and finally applied a Reduce Noise Filter and an Unsharp Mask filter.

On to the Final Touches. I created a new Photoshop document and specified the dimensions I would need for the final printed label. I then placed my retouched image into this document.

And here is how it looks in it's current state!