Sunday, December 4, 2011

JBLM Recycling Program Logo

I had a great opportunity recently to design a logo for a new recycling program at JBLM. The customer had some ideas about the look, but was also very open to other concepts, so it was an exciting and fun challenge. I had a strong feeling for the leaf shape, from an environmental perspective, and to make it stand out from a standard and expected round or elliptical logo shape. Interestingly, the captain who had the final say did not appreciate the leaf logo at first, but ultimately returned to it after the next round of ideas. He also did not initially want the recycle logo combined with the sun image, but I felt it was the most effective way of incorporating it and persisted in including it as an option, and, as you see above, it was the winner! The top version will be used as a sticker; it was originally an alternate logo option, and they liked it enough to include it for other uses in their program.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Job Projects!

Yes, folks, I have found gainful employment! I've been working as a graphic artist for a military contractor (!) since August. Much of the work is routine signage, but these two are examples of having to re-create logos for a brigade or division. Often, all they have is a low-res jpg and they want to output a 2-foot logo to be mounted on foamcore and cut out so they can put it up for a wall display. That was the case for these, so I had to completely redraw both, and in Corel, no less! Challenging, but it definitely honed my drawing skills. Corel is actually very similar to Illustrator, at least in how the drawing tools work, and it does have a few nifty features. I was very glad for the Help feature, though! I had to "translate" several functions that Corel just processes differently.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Magazine Cover Mockup

My final assignment for Illustrator class--a mock magazine cover. I enjoyed doing this, because I like creating layouts and working with text; designing the logo was fun as well. Oftentimes it seems I do a lot of the work in my head, because I don't usually sketch out a lot of different ideas. I did use an image for the earth, and found some fantastic Photoshop brushes for the constellations (I wasn't really looking forward to drawing all of those by hand!) I drew the zodiac symbols and the center circles, then added a stroke of my star scatter brush at the bottom.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Depth and Blur

I rather like this little outer space scene, it was fun to put together the various layers and then add blurs and drop shadows where appropriate. I'm really liking the inner glow effect on the star and planet; I used that in the last assignment and decided to repeat it here. I also created a "moonboots" brush to add the footprints from the spaceship. I tried using the Width tool to widen them as they got closer, but I don't think it was working the way I imagined it. The astronauts took some time to create--it reminded me of building the puppet animation in Flash, piecing them together with shapes. I did the same thing with the alien. To me, it's a lot easier than drawing it all out!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Depth and Dynamics

So the object of this assignment was...depth and dynamics! I tried to create depth by using the Perspective tool and drawing primitive buildings along the planes, adding the road and sun/sky. Then I created some dynamics by drawing curved lines for the road dashes, using the Width tool to widen them out a bit at the bottom, and adding drop shadows so they kind of "snake" along the road. I don't really like the ovals; I guess they're supposed to be some kind of vehicle?'s abstract, right? Not one of my favorites!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Menu Board Assignment

I like doing menus and this was a fun concept: One Buck Cluck! This was really the first idea that popped into my mind and I decided it would work nicely. I found some chicken images (since I can't draw well without some kind of template for guidance) and used the parts I needed: head and wings. The chick was super easy; I just used shapes for the body and feet, then Unite in Pathfinder, drawing in the wing, eye and beak. I knew I wanted the chicken holding a frame, but it wasn't until I had the frame in place that I decided to make it a chalkboard, using, appropriately enough, Chalkduster font for the header. I decided to use regular Chalkboard for the menu items, as it is a bit more readable. Added my tagline on the bottom, and there you go!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Illustrator Smoke Brush

So this is my take on creating a "smoke" brush in Illustrator, spelling out (what else?) SMOKE! The process was fairly simple, although for some reason I had to redraw my original "plume", because when I tried to apply the Envelope Distort, it was not creating a smoky effect, just blended lines within the plume shape. Don't know what was going on there, but when I deleted and created a new shape, it worked fine. This could be fun within an illustration; I'd like to try making some shapes or drawings with it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ilustrator Flourishes

I wasn't too enthusiastic about this assignment at first; why build a flourish when there are so many already out there? It ended up being a lot of fun to experiment with. For this first flourish, I used the Spiral tool (awesome!) and applied an arrow brush to the stroke. I quite liked the curled, spiky effect it gave me, and reflected it horizontally with Effect>Transform. After I expanded that, I reflected it again, vertically, to create what seemed to be a frame. French movie ending credit just popped into my head, so that's what I created!
Spiral flourishes were just too easy, so for my second one, I decided to draw it. I used my new Bamboo tablet and just started playing around with drawing a classic curly flourish. I found that when Effect>Transform has been used, it is still in effect when you start painting with the Brush tool. So as I was creating the stroke, it was reflecting! I created something I liked relatively quickly, then refined the shapes by adjusting individual points and applying an artistic brush to it. Since it was kind of rustic looking, I found a woodcut style dingbat that I liked, and based on that, added the "moonlight" text off the top of my head. The final touch was applying a parchment-looking graphic style to a background rectangle, then matching the color in the text and flourish stroke.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Web Banner Ads in Illustrator

This was a pretty easy assignment: create two specifically-sized web ads, one horizontal, one vertical. Horizontal was super easy; the only tricky part was repurposing elements for the vertical. I didn't want to just  rotate the horizontal elements, as that can be difficult for people to read. I simply placed the text and logo a little differently and pulled out one of the "cat eyes" to add a little visual interest at the top. (This is a real business, if you have need of some quality posts for your little furry friends! I desperately need to redesign the website, though...)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Under the Sea

This assignment was to incorporate SOMEthing using the Variable Width tool. I used it to create the basic shapes of each seaweed, made those basic shapes into Art brushes, then built the seaweed with the new brushes. The fish are Symbols, with a little Bubble scatter brush thrown in for fun!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Blob Brush character painting

This image was created mainly by using the "Blob" brush in Illustrator. I hadn't used it before; what it does is create a fill when you're done painting with one color. As opposed to the Brush tool, which creates individual strokes. What's nice about the Blob brush is that if you're adding to an area with the same color, it automatically joins with the previous strokes to create one filled area. You can apply gradients or gradient meshes to your filled areas. I added some trees and clouds using the Symbol sprayer.  Fun!!!

Bristle Brush in Advert

This assignment was to create a coffee ad, using the Bristle brush tool in the ad somewhere. I chose to use it only on the cup itself. I really need a lot more practice using a graphics tablet! I sprung for a basic Bamboo tablet, and it is fun to use, but feels awkward, since I'm not used to it. The shading on the cup is not great, but not too terrible, either? (Especially if you don't look too close!) I like the rest of the ad; I searched forever to find a "retro" patterns I liked for the background. I then used that red color for the logo and figured a nice coffee brown would coordinate well. I'm not entirely happy with the curve coming off the capital C, but I had to finish up. For some reason, I really spent a lot of time overthinking the ad part!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Masking in Illustrator

Here's my mock ad for "Tsunami", using masking in Illustrator to create the "reflection" of the can. I had some issues with the process at first; it's those little details that get you! Like using the Transform under EFFECTS menu, not Object>Transform. I kept thinking that maybe the can with 3D Revolve on it was too complex to reflect, and had started a whole new ad with a simpler object, when I realized my error after watching that part of the tutorial yet again. I also had to realize that you double-click NEXT to the thumbnail in the Transparency palette (not on it) to create the mask, and click back on the thumbnail to return to normal editing mode. Yeah, the devil's in the details. I like learning all these little tips and tricks, though I have to make sure I take good notes, so I remember how to do it in the future!

Friday, April 22, 2011

3D Can Label

I have to say I had way more fun designing the can label than playing around with 3D. The first issue I had was that if I didn't rasterize the label art BEFORE applying the 3D Revolve, it was dropping out the bottom gradient and the colors in the Bubble scatter brush (??). So I have lines thru my final art, but I can't try rasterizing to get rid of 'em, because it's already rasterized! The other issue was that I wanted to apply an image of a pop top to the top of the can, but for some reason, it was distorting really badly, squishing in on one side. I tried a 2nd image, same thing. Maybe I needed to redraw or dink with the can shape, but by that point, I just didn't want to. So here is my advert for the wave of refreshment that is...Tsunami!

Gradient Mesh Tool

So here is my line art (that I downloaded from, because drawing with a mouse in NOT my forte); used Live Trace to get fill areas, then applied the Gradient Mesh tool after coloring to add highlights and shadows. I really like the final effect, sort of glowy and stained glass looking, but I did have to do a lot of work adjusting/deleting points on many of the shapes, because I was getting a lot of "artifacts" after applying the GM tool. I can see where it would work a lot better on smoother shapes. The effect is very cool, though, and definitely something I will use again in the future.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Seamless Pattern Textures

This is my lovely landscape, featuring a seamless pattern I created, used in different sizes and opacities. This was an interesting assignment, and I can see where it would be useful (although time-consuming!) in creating exactly the type of pattern needed for a project. First, you create your squiggles in a rough square, using the Pencil or Brush tool (I used a simple brush stroke with a bit of a "tail" for interest). After Rasterizing, set options for Live Trace, previewing the effects until it looks the way you want. There are a couple of other steps, but the really time-consuming part comes after cropping with Pathfinder. The block of pattern is duplicated and shifted to the left, then the direct selection tool is used to line up points (lines) with the original pattern block. This process is then repeated after shifting the duplicate to the bottom, and then, you should have a seamless pattern when it is used as a fill! Using the "interesting" brush stroke made lining up some areas a bit of a challenge, but overall, I think it turned out pretty well.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bubbles, #$%*ing Bubbles!

So BMar decided to torture us with this tutorial on creating bubbles in Illustrator. I was really hating it at first, because it is so involved--many, MANY shapes, fills, blends and opacity adjustments. (I guess that's the point, though, isn't it?) I was stymied at first, because the tutorial specified using a black to white gradient on some of the reflective shapes, which when changed to Screen blend mode simply turned white (no gradient!) Through experimentation, I finally figured out that using the black to FADE gradient yielded the white to transparent effect shown. Once the main bubble was finally complete, it was actually kind of fun to create the rest of the illustration simply by copying, pasting, and scaling; then creating and adding the star glares, a couple of psuedo-iridescent color areas on the main bubble and the background color effects using the Gradient Mesh tool. (Also used on some areas of the bubble). I'm really happy with how it turned out, although it is pretty much an exact copy of the tutorial, so not too creative on my part!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Illustrator shapes picture

Here's my happy little beach scene, done in Illustrator using only solid colors and the shape tools, utilizing Pathfinder to unite/subtract shapes. The hardest part of this assignment was coming up with an idea; I think I picked the beach because I feel so sun-deprived right now! The waves turned out really interesting; I started with a triangle, puckered it a little, then duplicated and distorted size until I had a full row across. When I selected all and used Pathfinder>Unite, the shapes REALLY tweaked! That's why they are in small groups of 2-4 triangles; I still got the distortion, but it was not so extreme and I kind of like it, very wave-like. I then used the Direct Selection tool to select and expand the bottom edges. Where's my mai tai?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Interactive Flash Slider

This assignment was to take our themed text and create an interactive slider in Flash that moves with the mouse. It was really easy; the unaltered and altered text just needed to be saved for the web out of Photoshop (and sized the same); then imported into Flash and placed on separate layers in the same position. The mask is simply a rectangle twice as tall as the stage area, and a little wider. The themed text and the mask are converted to Movie Clips to allow for movement, and a little actionscript code added so that the mask tracks with the mouse movement, and voila, insta-mask!

Themed Text

This was a fun assignment: choose a word to decorate with a theme. I was going to use PAINT, but I couldn't find any good paint splatters that I wanted to use, so I went back to CAT. Each letter is placed on a separate layer; then I covered the letter with various patches of texture. I thought it would be fun to create a patchwork effect, using fur from all of our cats. (I didn't have a good tail picture, so that is from some anonymous web cat.) After a letter is covered, the texture layers are merged into one, then a mask is created of the letter and added as a Layer mask to the texture layer. This creates a nice, neat cutout of the letter, and this is where the fun really begins: I used a "fur" brush to paint on the layer mask and make nice furry letters. On the pieces that had a hard cutout edge (tail, paws, ears), I placed a new layer under the mask and painted the fur on there. I also did some blending between patches with the same fur brush. I think it's pretty funny, although I don't know how successful my "T" is, with the yawning kitty. Might have looked better to have just one head to go with the tail, but I wasn't going to do all that fur all over again!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Javascript Gallery

I enjoyed creating the Javascript gallery. It was really easy to set up; I already had some Photoshop images optimized and ready for use, so it was simply a matter of replacing them in the code, adding Alt tags, and playing with the size and transition. It wasn't so easy to place the gallery into a website. I didn't combine it with the previous assignment, since I wanted to place it into my website for the 230 class. A bit more involved than the little bit of instruction at the end of the online lesson (thanks, Martin!) I managed to get it figured out, though, and that's probably the best way to learn things. It turned out well, professional looking, and easy to navigate (or just let it play...)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Editing a CSS Template

This assignment would have come in handy a couple of weeks ago for the 230 class! Find a CSS template and alter/adjust text, images, and divs. Of course, I went for the pets design. I replaced the images with pics of my katz, changed some of the text, deleted one of the links at top and adjusted that div, and removed some sections. I wanted to do more with changing the size (width) of the divs, but this template has built-in box segments for the rounded corners, so I couldn't really alter that. I had enough trouble with the top left image, because it was also built into the rounded box. I ended up opening it in Photoshop, placing my image in a new layer (I already had sized him to fit), then using a vector mask with a rounded rectangle to match the size of the previous photo. The only thing that's wierd is that then it doesn't really work with the backgound on the right top (kinda...?) Interestingly, this page previewed in Safari without ANY of the formatting/styling, but it looks fine in Firefox? The thing I find helpful working with templates is seeing how they're built; helps me to understand better how to create my own.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Photoshop Tutorial

I like working in Photoshop (and want to keep expanding my skill set), so I found this tutorial on creating a fiery sky with a comet coming in over the city. Here's the URL:
I'm not completely happy with how it turned out. The overall effect is pretty good, if you don't look too closely. This tutorial was a bit vague on the explanations, just presenting the steps and settings for the various adjustment layers, and not always specifying which layer they were working with. I would have liked it to explain more WHY; that would be helpful when using different images, as I was. I especially had issues when it came to adding the fiery clouds. There are supposed to be exploding particles around some of the buildings, but even though I downloaded the brush set they were using, I couldn't seem to get the same effect. So I did learn some effects, but I feel like I didn't get the whole picture. Maybe I bit off more than I could chew, with this one!

3D Coat paint and render

This assignment uses a program called 3D Coat to paint a 3D model. Since I am not great at creating models, I used a toy plane from Lightwave Classic Content. You can choose from various brushes and textures to paint with in this program; I tried out a texture, but that didn't look right for this particular model, so I stuck with (boring) flat paint. The thing I found most challenging was getting paint on every surface; I felt like I was rotating my model round and round and round and...well, you get the picture. I find 3D work to be a bit frustrating, maybe my mind just does not work that way? The hardest part was the junction of the body to the nose cone, I had to keep going over and over it, because the yellow would get onto the red part, then the red onto the yellow. I was wishing that this object was made of layers, so that I could turn them off/on while painting, but it wasn't. Overall, I didn't enjoy this assignment very much, and I don't like the end result. Maybe if I was able to spend more time with it, experimenting with the different textures and materials, but I felt like I just had to get it done quickly.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

After Effects Morph with Radio Waves

This was interesting, if somewhat complicated to set up: creating a morph "radio waves" effect on a series of words. I typed the words in Illustrator, converted to outlines, prepped them by making sure all the letters touched, released Compound Paths to delete the interiors of any letters, then used Pathfinder>Unite to create a single object. Copied each word and pasted into After Effects composition as a mask, then created keyframes for placement on the timeline and copied keyframes to combine into a Morph layer. I did that for each word, and created a star shape/keyframe to place between the words. Then added the Radio Waves effect, and placed a Photoshop gradient background. THEN place into PremierePro to add music (plus searching for a sound loop that wasn't awful!) I'm not sure I like the final product, the words seem hard to read; maybe I should have used a different color combo, or lower case letters? Can you read it? It takes SO long to render, I didn't feel like doing it again!

Vinyl Sign

This was a fun assignment, creating a design for a vinyl sticker. Obviously, it had to be simple shapes and solid colors. This idea just came to me, almost complete from the first. I drew the purple shape with the star tool, experimenting with  the number of points and angles, then stretching it to be more oval, and converting the corner points so they were rounded. The orange segments started with the oval shape tool, converting the bottom point to a corner, then adjusting the shape to fit, copying, flipping and rotating as needed. I always copy my text several (many!) times to apply and compare different typestyles before I find the one that seems right. Importing my shapes into the cutting software was a little frustrating; even though I followed the directions exactly, it seems that some stray guidelines were causing problems. (Thanks, Brian, for helping me figure that out!) My first cut for the text was pulling up some of the edges, so Brian adjusted the depth of the blade (something else I never would have thought of), then it worked fine. One thing I noticed with this text, even though I made sure there were no gaps between the letters, and it is converted to outlines, the cutter still made the small cuts between each letter. I need to finish by applying the sticky backing to each, and apply them to a single layer, but that shouldn't be too difficult (I hope!) I've worked with vinyl application before at the Museum of Glass, so I'm familiar with the process; applying it is easier than creating it!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Flash Cards

This assignment required creating "flash cards" for DSHS use. The images needed to be simple and easy to understand, as they may be using them with people who can't read or don't speak English. Each of us was given 4 phrases to illustrate. I got lucky with 3 of them referring to "time," so I reused my clock image for each of those. I imported photos or drawings I found on the web into Illustrator to use as templates; then used the brush tool to draw the image. Since I wanted a simple, clean look, I used an ink brush, adjusting the width profile as needed. The thing I really like about drawing on the computer is the ability to adjust the line afterwards, definitely a plus for me! In some cases, I needed to create a second shape for the color fill, as the brush tool does not always create closed paths that you can fill. The drawings turned out pretty much the way I wanted them, very basic with a hand-drawn look.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

SLAM covers

For the SLAM covers, I wanted to do two really different treatments and I think I succeeded. I started in Illustrator with the plainer logo treatment on the left, but of course I had to bring it into Photoshop to jazz it up. I got the idea to do a pattern of the "SLAM" type as a background, and then by working my way through some of the PS patterns to add to it and use on the large SLAM, it eventually took shape. I guess I want it to look kind of like an engraved sculpture against grass.  I think it turned out pretty interesting and different from what I have seen on previous covers.
The one on the right is my favorite, though. I had the idea of the doorway that's actually a book, spilling out light. I went on a photo shoot for some interesting doors and found this one. I spent a lot of time on this design, as I had to "open" the door by selecting it, copying to a new layer, and distorting so it looks like it's opening. I then added the pages image on a separate layer and created the light by using the polygonal lasso tool to draw the shapes, filling them with yellow, and adding and adjusting the glow. I darkened the image with a black fill, adjusted for opacity, and use a layer mask to knock out the glowing areas. I continued the glow theme on the text, so it would really stand out on the darkened image. Overall, I'm very happy with the final image, but it did take a lot of time!

Creating Brush Sets

The goal of this assignment was to create and use two brushes in both Illustrator and Photoshop. For the top left example (Illustrator), I used an existing paintbrush style, made an interlocking "wavy" pattern with it, and used that for my art brush. The border is a series of painted straight lines joined together, and the flower pattern is a series of curved lines. For the brush on the right, I drew a lightning bolt shape and made that into a scatter brush. The art brush was definitely easier to use; the flower pattern came about by accident, while I was experimenting with shapes and I really liked the distortion. What I found frustrating with the scatter brush was the adjustments; I can see you have to do a lot of fine-tuning to get the look you want!
For the Photoshop brushes, I used an image of moss growing on a wall, selected an area of the moss that I liked and defined that as my brush. Again, a lot of tweaking the various settings for scatter and color, but I think it turned out pretty well. I didn't have a lot of inspiration for my 2nd brush, so I used an interesting font, and just made a cartoon "swear". (That's kind of how I was feeling at that point!) I don't like it as well as the organic shape.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Font Set - Lower Case, Numbers and Symbols

The object here was to create a set of lower case letters, numbers, and symbols in the style of the previously created upper case font set. The technical aspect is the same; use of Illustrator brushes, and saving certain brush strokes to use for multiple letters, so they would be consistent in form. I really liked creating my own font; it took a lot of time, but I'm happy with the result and I definitely want to get on a PC to use FontCreator and produce a workable TrueType font that I can actually use!

3D Popup Photo Gallery

For this assignment, I wanted to create a nice, flowing, relaxing photo gallery, and since I had a lot of flower photos, that's what I decided to use. I first resized all the images (except the background) in Photoshop and resaved them at the smaller size. Then in AfterEffects, I imported all the images and placed the background, sized to allow for a camera truck movement from left to right, with the 3D option enabled to set the angle at 45 degrees. Each image was then placed, sized, angled to match the background, then animated to "pop up". The final touch was adding and adjusting lighting for each image. I always enjoy working in AE and learning more about how to use the program. This was pretty easy, although I ended up moving all the images further to the right to allow for the camera movement, and switching a couple of images around for aesthetics, so I kinda had to do all the setup twice! The lighting was a little tricky; I adjusted the intensity down on all of them, and I had some trouble with the light on the purple irises in the center; no matter what I did with moving the light and adjusting it, the picture still looks WAY too bright on that one...grrr!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Font Set - Capitals

I wanted to create a font that was simple and clean, yet with an interesting twist. Using Illustrator brushes, I created the letterforms, adjusting paths and curves as needed. I found that it was helpful to create a "working shapes" file, where I stored some of the frequently used paths; this helped my letterforms to stay consistent. I got a little frustrated with TypeTool, as it was not exactly the same as the online lesson; it was pretty close, though, and I downloaded the manual so I could figure out what was needed. I've never worked with a font creation program before, so this was pretty interesting and I can see it would be fun to create custom fonts. I'm happy with my final font; some of the shapes were definitely more challenging than others, either in the shape itself, or deciding how to maintain a consistent overall look.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tablet Drawing

This was my first encounter with a Wacom drawing tablet. I figured a landscape would be fairly easy, and since I'm not much of an artist, I used an image as template. I chose to create this in Illustrator, and found that there is a LOT I need to learn about the brushes and how they work! It was interesting to use the stylus and tablet; kind of fun, but somewhat awkward and frustrating at the same time. I don't think the end result is too terrible, but I found that using these tools definitely takes some practice.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mad Science

For this assignment, the lamps in the image made me think of Tesla coils and old Frankenstein movies, so I wanted to create a creepy atmosphere and tell a mini-story. To do that, I made the image black and white using an adjustment layer, cropped it, and then used various brushes and layer Blend modes in Photoshop to paint in "energy rays" activating the lightning and causing lovely green goo to cascade from the fountain. The final image was then imported into Flash, animated using layer masks, and exported as the Quicktime movie you see here. I accomplished what I set out to do, and I like that the image is not just decorated, but tells a story. I wanted the green goo to flow a little better, but overall, I'm pleased with the final result.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Short and Sweet Bio

I was born in Illinois and moved to Washington when I was 17; I always say that the flatlands were a great place to grow up, but I wanted to move west since I was nine years old and got my first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains. I love it here, despite the rain!
I trained for the printing world and spent a lot of years there, learning about graphics programs on the job. I'm now upgrading those skills for the digital world, trying to cram as much as I can into my brain. I love working with color and fonts, and playing with images in Photoshop. There's so much to learn, I know I'll never be done! I'm excited to get back into the working world where I can apply my creative skills.
That's all for now...