Ammiki

April 21, 2014

Make art That Sells – Week 3 Assignment – Children’s Book Illustration

fox-and-the-crow---illustration

Oh this week as I predicted was a hard one for me, due to the pressure I put on myself. The brief was to design either a book cover or a two page spread on Aesop’s Fable, “The Fox and The Crow”. I think I struggled because I wanted to get my sweet whimsical nomuu illustrations into the design, and was trying to force them into the initial design, but they just didn’t suit the fable in my opinion . The fable has the fox as quite a cunning little guy (or girl)… trying to steal the cheese from the crow, by encouraging  and flattering the birds singing, and in-turn the bird drops the cheese. That doesn’t translate too well in my mind into sweet characters. That’s not to say you can’t create cute characters, but I just didn’t have the understanding on how to translate sweet characters into a mischievous tone. One thing about me, is I really try to stick to the emotion and feel of a story with characters, I find it very hard to picture the theme and then draw something completely out of sync. I just can’t seem to let go of making sure the characters work well visually with the story. Whether they actually do, is another story :)

The other issue I had was conveying emotion, facial gestures. This has not been my strong point and this really hit home with this assignment, and with my nomuu illustrations  I get away with one look, which is sweet and innocent, but as soon as I add other features to my characters like a mouth, it just loses its character. So because I am used to doing characters very simply, with very little facial features, I found it hard to draw eyes and lips and get them to look normal. As soon as I drew eyes on a character I didn’t know what to do with them. I need to learn more about facial gestures in characters. I mean there are thousands of different types of eyes you can create, and just a simple change in the stroke and the way the eyeball sites can make or break the character. Even a simple stroke for a mouth, is not that simple. I am not a technically trained illustrator, and I wonder how much this will impact me. I wonder if you can make it as a book illustrator without having the ability to draw detail and perspective well?

I spent so much time trying to understand fox characters, I drew a ridiculous amount of characters, below is just a small section. I mean I would say I did hundreds, mainly because I was trying to find the right feel in the character. I spent a whole day sketching foxes (yes a whole day).  I was starting off with cutesy characters, but they just didn’t feel like they worked for me and then I tried foxes that looked more like foxes, and they looked nice, but they look so sweet. So eventually I decided on this character, which incidentally I sketched very early on in the piece, and ditched it. The next morning I went back over what I had done, and I saw something quirky in him. I wanted something quirky, that could have simple facial features like my nomuu characters, but still a bit more mischievous, but not too much that you would  necessarily know that. I still incorporated my nomuu character style through the body and clothing.  I also wanted the fox character to look at the crow side on. I didn’t want the fox and the crow looking directly in front. I envisaged the crow being in the tree to the left (in the final designs) and did have him there initially, but it felt better to bring him down closer to the fox.

fox-and-the-crow---concept-nomuu

I didn’t concentrate too much on the crow character, I could of spent a lot of time on him as well, but I was a bit exhausted by the end of it and by that time I sort of knew it needed to match the foxes feel, so I didn’t take me too long. Perhaps the crow could of had more “character” but I think it was ok. I knew the crow, and the lettering of the title wouldn’t be too hard for me to put together, so I left them for later. The lettering took me really about 30 minutes, I didn’t look at any inspiration, I just did a few different lettering styles and found what worked well together.

I am also really happy I tackled the background a bit more. I never knew how to do subtle silhouettes in the background to add depth to a scene. I think for the first time I did pretty well. I admit, I took the outlines from a sketch from a while back. I keep resources on hand for this very reason, so I can use them in projects.

Colours were interesting. I went for a very light coloured theme initially, having a winters forest theme. I tried brighter colours, in the design earlier on (like the green design below). That may have worked too. I think perhaps the final design with the circle and the bright colour in the background may have been a bit of mistake, but I just pushed the design as far as I could. I think this is one the designs that I could go back and work on a little further. Sometimes there are just so many options and none a wrong per say, but you just have to make a decision in which way you want to go.

fox-green

I jotted down some strengths and weaknesses I have learnt from this week.

Strengths:

I’m good at texturing, this is a big strength of mine

Pretty good with colour

Can do a wide variety of characters

Can do quirky characters

Have a good understanding of trends

Not too bad with lettering

Try to stay true to the story, take the story into consideration in my design

 

Weaknesses:

Easily confused with too many character ideas and can get obsessed

Not good with poses, eyes and facial gestures

Drawing perspective and shadows

Too rigid in my thinking, can’t let go of how I want things (which can be a strength at times)

Try to force things that don’t work together

Not very good at technical drawing

April 14, 2014

Make Art That Sells – Week 2 – Dinner Plates Assignment

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Bottom two images, some initial concepts.

This weeks assignment  for the course ‘Make Art That Sells’ was quite challenging for me. I think I put up some roadblocks before it even began. The brief was to design dinner plates with the theme of ‘succulents’ and before I even started I wasn’t really feeling it. Succulents are lovely, but I don’t know I just couldn’t get into it. Perhaps because I had a busy week and I had less time to really concentrate on it. It’s funny how the subject matter can affect your designer mojo.

I sat down and based on my little talk to myself last week I roughly knew what direction I wanted to go in. So I stuck to my idea of the scandinavian, textural feel. I also wanted a abstract, collagy feel. I didn’t want it to be a detailed illustration and I did get there in the end, and I am happy with the results but…I have no clue how I got there – lol!

The one thing I find frustrating is just ‘winging it’ and  I felt like I winged it. Seriously,  I got muddled up in the beginning and somehow wanted to incorporate cute little characters (basically because I wasn’t feeling the ‘theme’), and so mucked around with that for a while. I then stumbled across some textures that I blended together and started to feel something nice happening there, proceeded to switch  off and on layers in Photoshop, accidently moved layers around, and found something that resembled something rather interesting…yes apparently moving around layers by accident can help! That’s what worries me, that sometimes I create things just by experimenting, with no real clue how I achieved the end result!

The final design was not exactly what I was envisaging, I was envisaging very rough shapes of succulents and  I had imagined I would of had many succulents in the design, but ended up just having one or two. The colours, were all intuitive, I didn’t walk into the brief with particular colours in mind, I just sort of went with what felt right. Not sure if that’s a good thing. I wonder if I really should train myself to use specific colours? I find it very hard to do that though. I feel like I am having a constant battle with my mind. Me wanting to do one thing, and my little brain wanting to do something completely different and I confess I just end up giving-in in the end and let my mind do whatever it wants. Whenever I fight it, it seems to be even harder.

I think again there was a lot of mind chatter with this assignment, too many ideas and directions and not knowing which way to turn. I hope I can tone that down a bit in the future.

This weeks assignment is childrens picture books and we need to draw foxes…and well can you imagine how I feel. Excited, so excited! Although I am already anticipating I will be putting a lot of pressure on myself with this assignment, because it’s a theme very close to my heart. So I want to ‘nail it’. Ohhhh the pressure! 

Update: It was very cool to get selected in Lilla’s picks. She thought my work would go well at Crate and Barrel. I was hoping Anthropologie, but I know it was a bit too bold for that market. They have a lot of painterly, watercolour look going on there at the moment, with sort of turkish inspired patterns. Her suggestion was to work on my logo area, which she also mentioned last weeks review. That’s not too bad. I know it was kind of plonked on, but hey Rome wasn’t built in a day :) I did start creating some new signatures I just didn’t have time to work on it more. Something for this weeks assignment to get on top of. It was interesting to hear Lilla’s thoughts on the Land of Nod, and how even though it’s for the children’s market, they really are targeting adults with the artwork too, which makes sense as I am lucky enough to have my abstract work selling there at the moment. I then realised other people were buying my abstract work for bedroom nurseries too, which I would have never thought to do.

April 6, 2014

Make Art That Sells – Course A – Bolt Fabric – Assignment Review

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Well I decided at the last minute to sign up for the ‘Make Art That Sells – Courses A and B’, which is different from the bootcamp. It’s been a great journey so far. So worth the investment. Basically it is more in depth, but bootcamp is great too.

Sorry I am going to waffle on in this post, forgive me…but it’s a good way for me to document my processes. You skip down to “actual process…” heading if you don’t want to hear my pain and turmoil :)

Anyway, talking about pushing your creative muscle, boy did I do that this week! I went through quite a few emotions. I don’t know if this comes up for others when designing, but this course has made me confront a lot of issues about “me as an artist”. Questions like ‘”who am I as an artist, where do I want to go with it all, what direction do I want to go in, what is my style?” I have probably  been avoiding  these questions for a long time, but this course  and maybe my current headspace has allowed me to really confront some of those issues. There was a lot of mind chatter going on, and instead of ignoring it (like I usually do), I decided to really listen to what it was saying.

I had a  few realisations, one is that I love experimenting and exploring different styles. The negatives side to that is that I can easily get lost and go off on tangents which from my observation in these last few days has meant that I get a bit overwhelmed, because I am overstimulated creatively.

For example earlier in the day I had seen a bright blue and coral colour in a pattern design and  I loved the colours so much I wanted to explore working with them (you can see where I started with images no 4 and 5). Yet even though, I loved that bright blue colour with the coral, I had to really ask myself was this really the path I wanted to go down?  It’s way off any colours I normally use, and sure I could have explored those colours, but in the long run I think using those colours would have affected not just the work I submitted, but also future work to. Sounds strange huh? But when I really broke it down, I realised that when I do go off on tangents  (left of field) I am actually confusing myself, even though I am ‘exploring’. Sure I am stretching my creative muscle, but I am also confusing it to, which defeats the purposes. When I get overly confused I get lost and anxiety creeps in, and that’s when I lose my creative flow.

You see there’s lot of unconscious mind chatter going on while I am designing and it goes something like this… “how will any of this go with any of my current work, will I be able to make the colour scheme work with my current designs, if I go down this path will this confuse people, can I just create this work and separate it from my current work, should I experiment with new mediums, should I go into Illustrator and try vector for this project?”. This list goes on and on.

So you’re probably saying to yourself ‘it’s just one piece of artwork, if you don’t like it lesson learnt’ which is true, but actually this one little piece can  have a roll on effect with all my other work, well for me anyway. I am not very good at switching off and a lot of my thoughts carry on to the next project (usually without me realising it).

So basically I sat down and had a good talk to myself and I asked myself what I wanted to do with my design style not just for this project but in general, and I decided I wanted to stick with my Nomuu theme and colours which has a some muted tones throughout it. I really love working on my Nomuu illustrations and so I want to try and concentrate on honing my skills in that. Now having said that, I am still happy to experiment with bold colour choices, but I don’t want to be doing royal blue. I also I decided I wanted to stick to a sort scandinavian feel, textural feel that I have going on. Because yes, I even toyed with the idea of creating cute vector characters in Illustrator with this assignment (all my work is hand drawn not vectorised), again had to reign in those thoughts in and ask myself was it really necessary or would it confuse me even more? The answer was, “Yes! It would confuse me”.  So after my epiphanies, it was much easier for me to concentrate on my design and focus on the direction and it made the process much more enjoyable. If you are an illustrator/artist and you have had similar struggles perhaps you can start observing your own mind chatter and start to dissect what is happening and how those thoughts are effecting your work. It’s hard to do, but cam be quite beneficial.

ACTUAL PROCESS IN FINAL PATTERN DESIGN

Now I am going to talk about my actual process in creating the pattern, so I spent a good 3 full days on this project, sounds like a lot but I spent a whole lot of time just playing, getting rather confused, coming to epiphanies and experimenting and trying to understand pattern repeats/ surface design. I admit I struggled and certainly don’t have it down packed, which is understandable (early days).

The theme by the way was exotic fruits and retro Pyrex bowls. I now realise I should of had more exoctic fruits and perhaps more of a retro feel, but that’s okay I will pay more attention to the brief next time.

So basically after I created my sketches and developed ‘icons/elements’ (tried a few things, pen, pencil and ink) I started off dragging in my ‘elements’ (image 4) into Photoshop and just started playing around with designs and  I started to get ideas based on colours I thought I might want to explore.

sketches

Once I had my icons. I wanted to avoid going it to a straight square pattern template. Instead I tried to get a rough pattern flowing by just placing objects on a page, which you can see in image 6. I really like the look and feel of that design, however translating that into a flowing pattern repeat was really hard. I would have love to somehow get that ‘flowing feel’ in the final pattern piece (image 2) but I just couldn’t seem to translate it into the final design. Note: what looks nice as a single design layout, can look completely horrible as a pattern repeat and I don’t have enough knowledge this stage to understand all the ‘ins and outs’ of pattern design. If we look at image 6 again, I thought “Oh ok, maybe I could make that whole piece into a pattern”, but then when I thought about it some more I thought it would have just looked like big clumps of patterns with big bits of negative space, which would have looked odd. So I have realised there is a ‘real art’ to pattern designs and I need to really need to research it some more. I want to be able to do complex patterns that  weave in and out of each other. That is going to need some research and lots of trial and error.

After creating image 6 (last image), I did have some moments of wanting to go off and explore other colours . So somewhere along the line, I saw some of the ‘icons/objects’ I was using (in image 6) and sort of thought it would be good to layout some of the pieces not in a pattern but as an art print layout and then work backwards.  I also thought it might help me get inspired and so I started collating the objects in new documents and came up with numerous designs, designs that I actually thought in the end were rather cool as art prints.  I do that quite often, if I see an element I have created I will put it into a document and see if I can build upon it there and then or for a later date. Anyway as it turned out they didn’t work as patterns…I did try and put them into patterns, but they just looked odd. And yes, I guess they slightly went off tangent, but I still think they have a little bit of my ‘Nomuu’ illustration feel and are a bit more muted than that bright blue colour and so I am ok with that :)

After I had decided that I couldn’t take anything from the art print designs I went back to image 6 and did in fact build a square pattern template in Photoshop. Once I layed out icons in the pattern square I then  played around with “defining a pattern” option in Photoshop and then seeing what the outcome was. So it really was a little bit of trial and error and I am wondering if I am missing something in the process. Seeing something in a square and then seeing it repeated is like pulling a rabbit out of hat, you just don’t know what you are going to get. So anyway, I finally came up with my final pattern, with a lot of switching on and off of icons, moving icons around, looking and dissecting how the negative space worked in the design and also playing with colours. Again, I didn’t really have specific colours in mind, I would say I did decide early on that I wanted a dark blue background and I also wanted a coral colour, because it’s in trend at the moment and I like the colour. The mustard yellow, was selected to give the piece extra pop and make it stand out. Here’s tip, I also take a screengrab of where the artwork will be housed and in this example it’s going to be housed on “Flickr” alongside a whole lot of artists work. So I took a screengrab of that page with the other artists work and imposed my work over the top of it, to see what it would look like before it was uploaded. That gives me a good idea if the design works and if colours ‘pop’ enough.

In addition, through the whole process, I kept going back to this question ‘Would I be happy to buy and use the fabric design myself?’ I also imagined how the item would be used, would it look good as a skirt, a notebook, as a bag?

So there you go. Sorry for waffling on, but this is part blog and part me talking to myself – lol!

Giveaway winner announced 06/04/14

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Congrats to Jacinda Chisholm your number was picked! Please send me an email at hello@nomuu.com

Thanks again for all those that participated.

March 23, 2014

Make Art That Sells – March Assignment – Pattern Repeats

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Well I am totally excited. I had seen Lilla Rogers online bootcamp, ‘Make Art That Sells’ a few times in my Facebook feed and on a few blogs I had visited. Normally I wouldn’t take a second glance at such a thing, as the ‘internets’ is rife with every man and his dog pitching some sort of regurgitated automated bootcamp. But this one seemed a little different. I took note, because I had seen some pretty well known illustrators (who I admire a lot) doing this course. I also saw some bloggers write about their journey with the course and it just seemed like it was more a journey in growing as an artist more than anything else and it was refreshing. There was no hidden agenda, just improve your skills and get support from a whole lot of illustrators that are on board.

So I saw the feed once again and this time it said ‘got a day left to sign-up for this year’. So on a whim I thought why not? And boy I am so glad I did.

Lilla has a lovely way of approaching briefs, and helping you think of ways to get creative without putting too much pressure on yourself. I was amazed how ideas seem to be flowing and shapes that were meant to be one thing, all of a sudden became another (that rarely happens to me). I have come up with numerous new characters from this one exercise, some new techniques and skills…so anything else I learn is a total bonus.

It’s also been a great way for me to really sit down and explore pattern repeats, which I have only just touched on briefly in the past. I have never spent a good day on exploring how they worked and finding a technique that suits me. I still find it quite confusing to understand how the final pattern design will work,  once it has been repeated. My first designs seemed a bit too repetitive. I wanted to have more of an organic, scattered feel…if that makes sense? I couldn’t quite understand how the negative space works within a piece, until I did countless ‘pattern fills’ in Photoshop, which is basically seeing your pattern repeated on a large scale. I had at least 55 different alternatives in design. I feel like maybe there is a better way to see the whole picture of a pattern, but I haven’t figured that out yet. A lot of people use the ‘offset’ tool under the filters area of Photoshop, but I don’t really like that way. Instead I use the transform tool and offset values in the toolbar (image below). Just is easier for me.  I basically based it off an Illustrator tutorial I have, which I love and just mimicked it in Photoshop.

offset

So what steps did I go through to get to the final piece? Well based on Lilla’s brief which was to sketch out Jelly. I spent a few hours spread out over a few days, sketching ‘icons’ of jelly and each icon wasn’t necessarily connected, I just drew shapes based on jelly/jello. To be honest I didn’t like jello that much and soon my little mind was like, ‘well what else has the same shape as jello and what else can that shape be?’ And based on my style, little animal characters soon crept in and then umbrellas, which actually are jelly shapes and also clouds if you think about it. At this point I was pretty excited, because this is the first time in a long time that shapes evolved into something else. Usually the way my brain works, it thinks too rigidly and when someone tells me to do something, I will try and stick to it and then I get stuck because I am not connecting with the topic. So it was nice that my mind was happy wander and stick too much to the briefs subject matter.

I definitely don’t sketch for hours on end though, it’s usually short little increments, maybe 10-15 min max before I go off and do something else and come back to a few hours or a day later.  My concentration span is bad. I wish I could just sit for hours on end sketching, but I get bored and probably a bit anxious if I am being truthful.

Once I had  enough icons/designs I scanned them in. I scan in all my ‘sketches’ (unless they are really bad) even if I don’t use them at 1200 dpi. I do actually go back and use elements on other projects later down the track (including this one). This time I drew the icons in pencil, and didn’t go over them in ink.

The next step was figuring out the best approach and mucking around a bit. The problem is I do all my colouring and texturing in Photoshop, but I have never mastered pattern repeats in Photoshop, only Illustrator. You can open Photoshop files in Illustrator, but it’s a little bit of a pain. So with a bit of logic (aka mucking about) I managed to figure out a way to do pattern repeats my own way in Photoshop.  Then it was just a matter of playing with the elements positioning, colour and scale.

Colour is another hard one for me. I am envious of those that pick colour swatches at the beginning of the project and stick to the colour scheme. I try, but the colours I select never work the way I think they will and I end up just totally mucking around and tweaking colours. I do countless colour variations on each design until I get something that feels right. Moodboards are pretty pointless for me, because I just never stick to the colours, all my colours are on intuition with a rough understanding what colours are in trend.

It took me a good whole day to put the actual designs together in Photoshop, that’s colouring in icons (some I did not use in the final design), 55 different design layouts, some are just small tweaks of each design, including colour changes. I think that’s pretty good.  When I am on to a design that feels good, then it usually takes me anywhere from a few hours to two days to put together. Usually a good day.

So there you go, there’s a little info about my process and now I am quite excited to start exploring using patterns in my work! I think it’s going to add another dimension to my work! Exciting.

Below are some of the earlier concepts.

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March 15, 2014

Giveaway Winner 15/03/14

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Congrats to Cori Mostyn you have been selected as the winner for this giveaway

Please get in touch with me via email at hello@nomuu.com

Thanks again to everyone for participating, I enjoyed this one because I got to see your boards, which I hadn’t even thought about when I decided to do this type of giveaway.

Now I am off to drink wine, and watch the rest of Independance day. There’s nothing like watching a late 90′s movie on a Saturday night ;)

 

March 10, 2014

Giveaway winner 10/03/14

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Congrats to Christy Hynd, you were selected as entrant number 33.

Please send me your postal details to hello@nomuu.com

March 3, 2014

giveaway winner 03/03/14

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Congrats to Vicky Miller. You were number 42 and you were selected :)

If you can email me at hello@nomuu.com with your postal details that would be great.

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February 7, 2014

Giveaway Winner – Bear – I Love You 07/02/2014

Congrats to Stacey Pierce you have one the 8×10″ art print. Just to reiterate it does have  a few flaws, which you can see below. If you can email me at hello@nomuu.com that would be great. I will try to message you as well.

Thanks so much to everyone who contributed, I think I should hire some of you as ‘copywriters’ ;) You all put a great spin on the prints imperfection. I am also blown away on how many of you entered!

PS – The previous winner hasn’t come forward yet!

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February 5, 2014

Winner of Nomuu Art Print Giveaway 05/02/14

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Congrats to Bec Morris, your number was selected, there were 71 people who liked and commented (including Instagram) . I will try and contact you via facebook message….otherwise you can email me at hello@nomuu.com

Thanks to all of those that participated. There will be more giveaways coming up! A boy print next.

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