Illustration Progress #2

For the past few months since my last update about my journey in bettering my illustrating skills, I’ve been incredibly busy. Because March was busy and April was spent focusing solely on reading in my spare time, my sketching every day streak I had going dwindled to a few times a week. And, I’m behind on doing a full color illustration a week—by like ten. But! That’s okay! During the month of May, I’m going to be focusing on hand-lettering (another one of my goals for the year, I’ll also have a full post about this after the month is over) and in June, I’ll be focusing more time on illustrating specifically. Instead of trying to do all of it all the time, I’m going to work on one more heavily than the other in certain months, which is why I have very few works in this post. But still, I’m very  happy with the progress I’ve made these last few months despite not being able to put the time I want into it.

I definitely have a tendency to draw exclusively people, so in June, my hope is to illustrate more animals and objects. And, all of the self-portraits of myself seem to have much larger heads than they should—I don’t know if I’m just bad at proportions or my brain just knows I have a large head and is making fun of me. I think that I’m starting to develop a style, at least somewhat of one, which is great. The floating heads all together with names are characters from one of my book, a little series of sketches that have been so fun to do! Anyway, my skills are improving, I’m still learning a lot, and most importantly, I’m enjoying the process!

Art + Design: Favorites

Since the last time I posted about my recent art and design favorites, I’ve stumbled upon more – as I often do thanks to Pinterest and Tumblr. There’s a mix of new album art of songs that I’ve bought, some art and design finds from scrolling through Pinterest, and some newly discovered books with incredible covers. Here they are:

Album + Single Art

Illustration + Miscellaneous Design

Book Cover Design

Note: the cover of A Conjuring of Light, the final book in one of my favorite trilogies by my favorite author VE Schwab, is A+ and matches perfectly with the others, which I love— they’re my favorite covers of all time.

Illustration Progress

Since late last year, I’ve been working on my illustration skills by trying to sketch everyday for about a half hour, as well as working on different projects more often, when I can. So far during the first month and a half of the year, I haven’t really been able to sketch every single day—but I’ve been sketching as often as possible—probably a few days of the week. Because I hadn’t done any art for a while during design school, it took a while to relearn how to do the basics. I can definitely see the difference and improvements since starting again, even if they are slight.

Right now, I’m just drawing, sketching, whatever I feel like to sort of feel a groove, find a style. I’m looking at a lot of other illustrators and work for inspiration, feeling things out. Here’s a few examples of sketches and illustrations I’ve been done over the last few months—some are just quick doodles, some took a little more time. Some more cartoonish, some more life-like and shaded (and obviously, some are better than others, especially from the start of all this to now). And apparently, I tend to draw girls almost exclusively.

I’m really excited to be doing art again, learning and growing. My goal has always been to get better at illustration in order to be able to incorporate it into my design work and be able to do more. And just being better at illustration in general, having another outlet and getting back to what I fell in love with as a kid.

2017: New Year, New Goals

2017

It’s a new year and the following are my new goals—some the same as last year, some tweaked to better suit my life. 2016 was definitely a year of realizing things (you were right, Kylie Jenner) and I realized I needed to stop aiming so high.

So here are my goals for 2017:

Design & Illustration

In the new year, I want to work on more design projects for future plans of mine, continue working on my illustration skills, and practice my hand-lettering skills more. Since I just finished with school, I’ll be hopefully doing some freelance work here soon (after I’m able to quit my current job and make all the necessary preparations to start) and I’ll continue to do all the design work for the small business I co-run.

Writing

My goal for this year is to continue revising the two projects I’ve been working on. Both books (and related series) still get me excited after years of writing and rewriting and outlining and planning whenever I could fit it in while being a student and working. (And now that school is finished, I may have more time? Fingers crossed.) Whichever book is the strongest when finished, I’m planning on using it to start the process of querying for a literary agent (which may be this year or next year—the hope would be this year). Another writing goal is to finish the book I won NaNoWriMo with in 2016—I still love that story and want to get back into it, just to finish the first draft. And the final writing goal of mine is to again participate in NaNoWriMo. Though the election sort of made it more difficult to concentrate, making it harder and less fun, I had a blast doing it in 2016 and I want to do it again!

Reading

After the disaster of a reading year 2016 was, I’m setting my goal much lower: 35 books. That’s it. I always set it for 50 on Goodreads, always mark it down several in July and again in December after I realize 50 is too much. Not this year. I’m starting low and being less rigid with my list and schedule, because it only made reading more stressful than fun. I think I’ll be able to reach my goal this year of 35, which will be more than 2016’s 24 books and 3 books more than any other year of reading for me. And who knows? Maybe because of being more relaxed about reading, I’ll hit 50? Probably not, but you never know. (I know, actually. I probably won’t.)

Film | Part One: Import

Last year, I had a goal to see at least 12 films in the theater (as I realized I hadn’t seen a single one in 2015) and only saw two films in the theater; better than nothing, but disappointing. My goal for this year is similar, but on a smaller scale: I want to see 5 films in the theater, as well as watching 20 films via other sources (DVD, Netflix, TV, etc.) bringing the total of 25 new films in the year of 2017. A goal, I think, I can do—at least I will with the 20 outside of the theater, as I see most new (to me) films that way (and I’ve already watched 3).

Film | Part Two: Export

I want to do more film projects, but on a small scale. I first want to write a short film (should this have been up in the “writing” goals? oh, well)—I have ideas and ideas scribbled in notebooks and on files on my computer and on notes in my phone, but I’ve never sat down and finished a screenplay (though I’ve started a few). Second, I want to do more experimenting with the camera, making smaller videos like I used to do. It’s a muscle I haven’t stretched in a while.

Exercise

Hahahahahaha—No, wait. I’m serious this time. I started 2016 off really well with walking/running almost every day for a while and I lost ten pounds. I’ve since gained it back and slowed down on walking to a full stop, only to slowly start up again at the end of the year. But when I was doing it, I loved it. Now that I have a Fitbit Alta, I’m really getting back into it. My goal is to just try to exercise more. I don’t want to have a rigid schedule, I don’t want to set too high of expectations—especially in the winter when it’s more difficult to get up to drive to use the treadmill. I do have a recumbent bike at home that I can use and the treadmill once in a while, and I have an app on my phone for a 7 minute workout (which should be called 7 Minutes in Hell because omg working out like that instead of just walking is so awful how do people enjoy it???) So I’m going to start slow and really get going for when spring arrives and I can walk/run outside again—I really, really enjoyed it when doing it outside in the fresh air. It truly makes a big difference.

Instagram

I’ve been wanting to post more on Instagram and decided to post one a day for the entire year. Some will be from planned photo sessions, spread out over a few days, some will be just random and whatever I’m doing that day. I’ve already done it for 14 days in a row and I’m really enjoying it.

Those are my goals for 2017!

Art & Design: New Favorites

I’ve posted design favorites before in different categories (book covers, film posters, motion graphics, patterns, etc.) and I made some “update” posts with recent finds, but I decided to expand from just design and share illustrations and other forms of art in my favorites. So here are recent favorites that I’ve found and became obsessed over:

BOOK COVERS

FILM POSTERS

ILLUSTRATIONS

Design: Favorites – Updated Album Covers

Like I posted in March, my series of posts about my favorite designs (cover art, title sequences, prints, etc.) need to be updated from time to time to reflect recent favorites that I’ve discovered or forgot about. For this post, I’ll be adding to the original post here about my favorite album covers.

Here are the covers of Birdy’s Beautiful Lies with art-deco-like typography with an image of her, standing in a field, draped in red against a darkening blue sky; Halsey’s Badlands, showing the blue-haired singer among the rocky desert, bold type covering her face with a vintage, textured layer over the image; the band Lucius with Good Grief, the sort of childish cursive type under an image of a woman holding an invisible person, a blip of color in a sea of black; and SOHN’s Tremors, an photograph of a man walking down a dirt road with snow on either side, white smoke climbing out of frame ahead with the large, simple type at the center.

All great album covers, all some of my favorite designs.

Design: Process – Mamacita’s Recipe Post

Last year, on the first of the July, I started up a new business with my mother, packaging and selling her famous salsa that she’s been making for years for different events and parties. Because we’re still small and working locally, the two of us do everything. We split the tasks of owning and running a business equally, and since I’m a design student and fairly handy with social media, I take on the tasks of all design work (which I’ve posted about before, doing the logo, label, branding, website for Mamacita’s.

Our Salsa Fresca isn’t just for snacking with chips, but can be used to add a flavor boost in different recipes. We test and write up blog posts with different recipes to share and get the people who love our salsa to try them out, too. We make the food together, perfecting the recipe, then photograph it for the post. I’ve designed all the featured images (the original few are slowly being redesigned when I have the time to do so) and write up the blog posts, sharing them on our social medias.

In this post, I thought I’d give a little insight into the process of what I do to get the recipe posts ready to go. This past Tuesday, we posted a new recipe for deviled eggs for Easter with our Salsa Fresca—which are amazing—and this is what went into it:

After perfecting the recipe and tasting them, we style the food and I photograph them. I take as many photos in as many angles as possible to get variety to choose from later.

Once uploaded, I choose the right photo that will work the best, then edit it: contrast, brightness, exposure, and bumping up the saturation. I always want the food to look beautiful and vibrant. Because I started designing these in Photoshop, that’s what I’ve been working in for these, but I typically would work in Illustrator. I place a grid over the image and align a solid rectangle in a light tan at 50-70% opacity, depending on the photo and what’s needed. I try to align everything, centered at a third of the image and centered horizontally.

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After I add the logo and the titles, I adjust everything to be in the right position. Often times, I move everything within the rectangle over to where it looks best, not always at a third of the image. I then save the image and start the blog post.

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deviled_eggs

We use Squarespace for our website and the blog service that it comes with for our posts. I write up the recipe, add the featured image, and post it to our site, then share on our Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s the post for this recipe.

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That’s the entire process of creating our recipes, or at least my side of the design and social media aspect to getting it up online. It’s definitely not perfect, and eventually, I think I’ll do another redesign or tweak what’s already there—even just creating this post, now looking at it critically, I see things I want to change and fix. Which is good! That’s part of the reason I wanted to start posting more about my own process and my own design, to look at things more critically instead of having that “good enough” attitude. Talking about the process makes me see things I know aren’t perfect and will push me to make it better and better.

That’s all for now!

Design: Favorites – Updated Finds

Since starting this blog, I’ve been posting about my favorite designs in different categories: book covers, prints, web, etc. and have since found more recent work that I’d like to add to those lists, so periodically I’ll be doing updates in one post for all of those categories if I’ve found a recent favorite, starting with this one. A few recent new favorites I’ve discovered:

Web Design

I posted about my favorite sites recently and since then, the Apartment has relaunched with a new design and since I love it just as much as the original design, I thought I’d share that in the update as well.

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Title Sequences

The show Fear the Walking Dead, the spin-off of one of my favorite shows The Walking Dead, has a title sequence much different to the parent show, shorter and much more chilling. This title sequence jumps out at you after the cold open with the blood-stained and cracked title flashing on a black background, more horror and fright than The Walking Dead’s dramatic pace of decaying images. The tones of the two shows are slightly different and it’s reflected here in the title sequences. Two great shows, two great title sequences.

Book Cover

Here are a few book covered that I’ve recently discovered that I really love: the Eternal Sky trilogy by Elizabeth Bear have beautiful covers with incredible illustrations and use of subtle typography allows the art to truly shine—I put them on my TBR list because of these covers alone; I’ve known about The Martian by Andy Weir for a while but haven’t read it or seen the film, but ever since seeing the cover, I fell in love with the composition of the image and the bold type, reminding me a lot of the poster for the film Gravity, which is another favorite; the cover for The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan (UK version) has a beautiful style of illustration; and the sequel to one of my favorite new series by my favorite author, Victoria (VE) Schwab, A Gathering of Shadows perfectly matches the first book with the same style of illustration and incredible bold graphical elements in black and red that really pop.

Over time, I’m sure I’ll be updating even more every few months. That’s all for now!

Design: Favorites – Web Design

I’ve always had an appreciation for good web design and I enjoy designing for web on occasion. Since high school, I’ve taken four web design classes (two in high school, for the basics, and two in college) and I enjoyed them, though coding melts my brain a bit—thank you, web developers.

Here are a few of my favorite web designs:

Victoria Ying is an illustrator and artist who has worked with Disney on a lot of concept art for animated films like Frozen. Her portfolio site is has a minimal design, highlighting her work in a beautiful way.

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I listen to the great podcast Design Life, all about design and side projects, and one of the hosts, Femke, is the designer at The Apartment, an Amsterdam based digital design studio that does web design and development. So obviously, the website is fantastic.

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Jackson Pearce is an author of mostly YA—her book Sweetly is my favorite that she’s written as well as Tsarina (as J Nelle Patrick). Her site has a great flow to it and the design elements, the colors all work well together and fit her style well.

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Poco People is a design studio in Australia, and I stumbled across their website one day and really loved the design and use of full-screen images taking up most of the design. It’s a really interesting design that I’ve used as inspiration for student web design projects in the past.

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There are so many more websites that I like the design of and these are just a handful of them.

Design: Favorites – Motion Graphics

Motion graphics is a medium I learned about and started to enjoy the same semester I started this blog. During my motion graphics class, I learned a ton about how to create graphics and design with the thought process of movement, pre-planning how the graphic would move in a space and in relation to other elements. Not only movement but color, size, other effects. It’s a really great medium that I sort of became obsessed with during the time of the class

Recently I’ve fallen in love with two YouTube channels that use motion graphics often within their intros and throughout their videos. The first is Ana Marta’s channel, a design student from Portugal who just moved to London for a year to study. Her style is incredible and the graphics she creates for her videos are minimal and cute. They really make her videos unique.

Here are two of her videos. One where she packs up all her stuff to move to London:

And another showing her traveling to and arriving there:

On a similar note, the New Age Creators channel has become my new source of inspiration and, as I said in my monthly selections post, it’s become one of my new favorite channels. Ana Marta happens to be one of the weekly contributors to the channel, and I suspect designed the logo and motion graphics for this channel—but who knows, they’re all immensely talented.

Both are incredible channels and I advise you to check them out—seriously great content. I’m sure there’s a ton more that I could give, but I’ve only recently dived into motion graphics, noticing it more and taking an interest in it. These two are just a my favorite at the moment.

That’s all for now!