Friday, April 25, 2014

this must be the place


Another week, another Make Art That Sells assignment! Every time I work on one of these I feel like I'm back at MCAD, making mac and cheese in my dorm room and then turning on my stupid lamp (you know the one) and hunkering down at my desk to get started. There are a lot of reasons I'm happy to be in the real world, but sometimes I miss college! 

Speaking of the real world, this week's assignment was to make a map of the place you live. Since we've been living in LA for a nanosecond I decided to focus on the little stretch of Sunset off of Santa Monica that we've been walking to on almost a weekly basis. There's plenty of cafes and fun shops to look at, and if you want there's a longer walk home so you can look at all the pretty houses.

Here are links to all the places on my map, for those curious:

Bryan was also inspired to make a little video documenting some of the neighborhoods and things we've seen out and about... starring this moi! That's right, I'm a famous. Please, respect celebrity privacy.

Video by Bryan Isaacs, who requests you select the HD option for optimal viewing.

Monday, April 14, 2014


original doodles / a good excuse to show off mah nails

I've been having quite a lot of fun with Part B of Make Art That Sells! Last week we started off with doing doodling a lot of pirates and then were assigned to create some artwork for baby products using the the pirate theme. Recently I've had a couple people asking what my process is, and I figured this would be a good time to do a little walkthrough!

I almost always start out my sketches outside the computer with pencil and paper. It's not that I don't like doodling in photoshop with my tablet, I just seem to get a looser and more interesting composition in the real world. This one was pretty simple, obviously! Then I scan it in (normally at 150 dpi or something low, as the sketch won't be in the final piece) and start thinking about color palettes. 

Once I nail down a color palette I turn my sketch layer to a low opacity multiply and set to making simple shapes using the my intended colors. You can see that I also use this opportunity to make edits to the sketch - I moved our little feline buccaneer's paw up in a friendly wave, it seemed to fit the composition better. Each shape has its own layer - this makes for a pretty big file but it's also the way that works for my process down the line. Name your layers guys! It's fun AND time saving.

So here's what my illustration looks like without the sketch. I used the lasso tool to make my shapes, so everything looks clean and super digital, which isn't what I want for my final product at all! My next step is to go over every shape and clean it up with a combination of brushes and erasing. 

Also I added white spots to the cat WAY to early, you'll see those disappear as I rework the piece.

Working with a variety of brushes and the Brush Preset palette is my favorite way to get rid of that digital look. I keep my eyes open for good natural photoshop brushes and add them to my palette whenever I find them. The one you see selected on the left (the ciruclar 13 px brush) is my favorite for cleaner linework, and the 30 px brush below it on the left is good for a more paint-y look. 

When you work with a tablet and you want a realistic line you HAVE to get used to playing around with the Brush Presets palette. A lot of this I learned through trial and error, so I don't have the perfect formula for you. However the one thing I ALWAYS do is turn the Minimum Diameter down. This is what makes the line weight change with the pressure of your pen - look at that nice sample line! I'm not a master at describing these steps so if this interests you I'd definitely google around for more tutorials on using this palette.

Here's an example of the difference between the lasso tool shapes (the cat's face & ears) and a shape I've fixed up with my brushes (the bandanna). It seems like a negligible difference but this is what gives everything the look that it's been hand painted rather than just filled in with the paint bucket.


After I clean up all my shapes it's time for texture. On the left you can see my layer set up - I select the layer I want to work on and click the Lock Pixels button, which you can see in the upper left. This little guy is a LIFESAVER and is also the main reason for my crazy layers set up! Essentially it makes it so that you can only make marks INSIDE the pixels already on that layer. If that doesn't make any sense go try it out! You'll totally get it, I promise. 

Once my pixels are locked I select one of my five million watercolor brushes, select a color slightly off of the one in my shape, turn the opacity down on the brush and it's off to the races! I use these brushes like stamps, one click and you're done. I like to use a variety of different shapes as I'm creating my texture so that it's not super obvious what I've done.

Here's the piece with all the textures. Sometimes I'll set my brush to multiply for a shadow effect, OR I'll pick a dark or light grey and set the brush to overlay for a dramatic effect (you can see it in the bottom left section of the flag)

Once I've created texture on a shape I go into my linework layer, which is above alll the other layers. I like to use a darker color and a lighter color for all my linework and use it for very basic details as opposed to outlining everything, but that's just my style!

After I've done my linework I sometimes will apply a scanned paper texture over the entire piece on overlay at a very low opacity. I didn't do it for this one but it can be effective - lightly textured paper or a watercolor wash work the best for me.

And here's the final piece! For some reason blogger saturated the colors a little bit when I uploaded it, which is mildly annoying. No matter though, you made it through this rambly process post. You deserve a cupcake, bring me one while you're at it too! If you have any questions just let me know, I'll do my best to answer them.

If you're looking for more process posts, here are some of my favorite artists:
Alyssa Nassner (bonus: repeat pattern how to!)

Monday, April 7, 2014

power up

HEART EYEBALLS! I have some new work today that I made for Pollen, a super awesome website and community for super awesome people who want to share ideas. If you can't tell, my assignment was to depict women in various workplace situations for a discussion female leadership. Minnesota folks: you can still sign up to check this amazing event out! Follow the link above for more details.

Also if you want to see even more great illustration work happening on Pollen you should definitely check out this article with work by my "illustration husband" Bill! Ahhh look at that little pint of beer! SO CUTE.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

unlisted #7

Another set of items occupying my mind grapes - from the edible to the legible! Previous versions: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

phone cases by julie kostreva | Ever since I got my shiny new 5c back in January I have been desperately hunting for a nice looking case. I don't know what possessed me when I decided to go with the hot pink over white for the actual phone - I mean, yes, it is a gorgeous color, but it looks CRAZYGONUTS underneath most conventional cases. Also nobody makes attractive 5C cases and sells them in store, because of reasons? Anyway, I finally admitted defeat and have been doing some online case shopping - and this simple one by Julie Kostreva might work perfectly with my neon iBaby! Julie also makes a faux marble case, which would look baller over a white phone.

true detective production design | Now that I've had plenty of time to mull over and mourn the end of True Detective I'm starting to think about the AMAZING production design. The devil's nests were my absolute favorite, and while I can't find an interview with Joshua Walsh (the artist that created them), this article in Vice  about the entire look of the show satisfied my needs.

firewatch | VIDEO GAME TALK ALERT. Oooh boy am I excited about Firewatch - it's got exploring elements like Skyrim and Minecraft, a weird narrative driven objective like Dear Esther, and artwork by Olly Moss!?!?!!? AHHH PLEASE BE EVERYTHING I WANT YOU TO BE.

gotta catch 'em all | SECOND AND FINAL VIDEO GAME TALK ALERT. I'm sure you've seen it, but today is April Fool's. My official favorite so far is the pokemons on mobile Google Maps, followed closely by LinkedIn's CMYK.

birch aquarium | Last weekend we took a day trip to San Diego to visit my brother - the Birch Aquarium was fully the highlight of the visit! They had a TON of creatures (jellies!!!) and a little tide pool petting zoo. So, you know, I touched an anemone.

blueberry lemon loaf | Latest baking conquest! We all know that all dessert can be eaten as breakfast, but this one really takes the cake. HAHAHAHAHAAHAHAA Trithart out *drops microphone and walks off the stage*