Saturday, June 27, 2015

MATS Bootcamp Recap

Another recap!  It's the end of the MATS Assignment Bootcamp unfortunately, and our last assignment was an editorial illustration.  We were given an article about digital nomad-ism and it felt pretty close to home.

I am definitely a digital nomad.  I spend lots of my time traveling back and forth from Germany to the U.S., but also to other parts of the European continent while still maintaining contact with clients and working on personal projects.  I related so much to the advice in the article... it's all about wi-fi and connectivity.

Traveling has been a constant in our lives, but now we're looking at repatriation as a reality.  We'll be moving back to the U.S. in the autumn and I simultaneously eagerly await the next chapter in our lives while mourning the separation from my long-time friends.  It's not our first goodbye to Munich (remember that Amsterdam 6 month dream sequence back in 2011?), and hopefully it won't be goodbye forever.

So where are we headed?  We're going to sunny California!  Don't worry, I'll be writing when I get there, but I'll first be stopping by my mom's place in Florida while we figure out where we'll be living in California.
- - -

Back to the MATS Bootcamp re-cap!

May brought us the crustacean sensation theme as I called it...
I was really pleased with the background pattern and came out with a stoneware plate or tray that I'd buy.


April was the Global Art Gathering poster.  I'm so glad I got to see Brighton in real life... I'd draw the dome differently now that I've seen it in person.  At the moment, it looks a bit like our American capitol buildings. I am still happy I did some painting, though.  The loose style came very naturally to me when used paint and collage.



March we worked on MATS Part A so Bootcamp was on  hiatus.

February we painted on wood.  We were riffing off of Lilla's plate collection and I had been drawn to a central character with foliage.  I'm loving the ladybug character, but I think I could push the whole thing a bit further in one painterly direction with more texture.  Something's missing and I don't know if it's just the mock-up or what.


I took February's assignment further and mocked up some plates too with some of my preliminary designs...


And January we worked on a journal cover. I feel like I've come a long way since our first assignment.  I was so nervous, and I clearly overworked the design now that I can see it with a fresh eye.  I enjoyed every minute of it, though!



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Global Art Gathering


Last Friday was the Global Art Gathering in Brighton, UK with Lilla Rogers, Margo Tantau, Rachael Taylor, and Kelly Rae Roberts!  Weeks before the event, we were asked to illustrate a tea-towel based on the theme "Englishness"... I brainstormed for weeks until stumbling upon the rich history and enormous variety of English breeds of sheep.  Here's my assignment...


Once I figured out a way into the assignment I was mega-inspired!  And so, I happily attended the event with no idea what would come.  The event was held at the Brighton Dome which is situated on the same beautiful grounds as the Brighton Pavilion and it's gorgeous gardens.  So many, many beautiful flowers to see...


pretty, pretty blooms everywhere...


Anyway, let me get my head out of the flowers and get straight to it...

- - - Recap of the Global Art Gathering, 2015 - - -

We started off in the morning with an interview-type chat between Lilla & Kelly Rae Roberts.  If you're not familiar with Kelly Rae Robert's work, she does a kind of smudgy, painterly, sweet collage work with rough text and positive affirmations.  I wasn't too familiar with her work or life before the event, but was so happy to learn about her and meet her in person.  She and Lilla said a lot of things that resonated with me:


  • Stay childlike, keep dreaming, and respect your passion.
  • What is it that you love? Have confidence in what you choose.
  • When you can, delegate tasks that are better done by others.
  • When you are fully "you" there is no competition.
  • Avoid burnout/overwhelm by taking it one task at a time and keep choosing the joyful thing each time.
  • In practical matters, try to make everyday tasks joyful.
  • When talking to yourself, use your kind voice.
  • Commit to making the work you want to get.

Kelly Rae also talked about selling original artwork and how it makes room for new things, ideas, and new opportunities!  The lingering question I had about this point was... how do you properly record an original or scan a slightly 3-D object before you sell it?  Is there a proper way to do it?  Also, when selling original artwork, be sure to stipulate that the new owner of the physical artwork is not the copyright holder, that the rights to the image are retained by the artist.

Next, came a lovely affirmation project directed by Lilla, where I learned to embrace my "sassy-ness".


Afterward, we learned about branding and embracing our individuality with a talk from Rachael Taylor, Margo Tantau, and Joanne Hus.  That was really informative, and I took lots of specific notes about improving my website.  So much to do!



Rachael spoke a little about making sure your work is registered with A(c)ID or similar in case the need should arise as it did for her in her landmark case against M&S back in 2012.  I remember her case -- it seems to have been one of the first high-profile "artist-being-ripped-off-David vs. Goliath" type cases to use Twitter and social media to bring attention to the matter.  It was funny to hear her annoyance, more so in that M&S chose one of her simplest designs and it would've saved everyone the hassle had they just done their own version.  (Your positive attitude shined through, Rachael!) She was a joy to chat with and is as sweet as she sounds on paper.

At lunch, I chatted with Flora Waycott and Trina Dalziel who are much further along on their illustration journey and are a real inspiration to me.  Both work with lighter colors and softer palettes than I do, but I just love their style and composition!  So beautiful!

After lunch, Lilla went over a slew of color trends and textures... and then the review.  I was certain that on a regular day, my work wouldn't have been reviewed, but as luck would have it, Lilla Rogers reviewed all the tea-towel designs!  Yay!  She noted my anthropomorphic sheep in her comments.


The whole event was so personalized and special.  Each of us received these lovely totes made by Rachael Taylor and there was so much care put into everything.  Lilla signed a copy of her book "I Just Like to Make Things" and even hand-wrote our name tags...



I am so grateful to have had the chance to attend.  I'm not sure if I'd have been in the U.S. whether the opportunity would have afforded itself, but there it is.  I just happened to still be living here in Munich!

After the Global Art Gathering we all landed at the North Laine Pub
I feel like I could write 10 posts on the event, but I'll end it here.  I loved meeting my fellow artists with whom I've shared a digital classroom for the last six months. In fact, meeting everyone in person was the highlight of my trip.  It can be very isolating to work as a freelancer for so long.  I missed them the moment I had to leave the pub as it was nearing on 9pm which is bed-time for our boy.  I walked off abuzz with new ideas, new friends, and a positive outlook on my future career as an illustrator.

Hopefully see you all soon fellow illustrators and artists!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fancy joining a KAL?


Hello my fellow knitters,

I’m running a KAL for my pattern Wind & StormThe first 10 peeps who commit to the KAL will get a free copy of the pattern. All other participants will receive the pattern at a discounted rate. And for all participants that complete the pattern, I will do a raffle giveaway!

This KAL is to celebrate the re-release (this time self-published) of the Wind & Storm pattern which was originally published by Knit Now in Issue #30 in 2014.  I'm nearly done with the self-published version which will have its official release in the fall (mid-September) but I’ll have it up beforehand as a soft release and for the purposes of this KAL.

The KAL key dates are as follows: 
Start: June 15, 2015 
End: September 15, 2015
Yarn and knitting requirements can be found on the pattern page for Wind & Storm.
And, feel free to use the image above as your project image place-holder until we officially start the KAL! It's great to have people knitting the same thing as you and when you run into questions or issues, we all help each other!  It's a lovely experience if you've never done one before.




Monday, June 1, 2015

Feeling Crabby

Our little guy has been having lots of teething days.  On those days, he moans and groans and drools.  He is so sad and gloomy.  I suffer with him.  Teething sucks.   That inspired me to illustrate this one...



I learned tons about combining Illustrator's vector shapes with textures in Photoshop in this Skillshare class by Matt Kaufenberg.  I started out with a pencil and marker sketch.


Then, I found something that has been so freeing to me... sketching in Photoshop.  I know it's a weird hang-up for a traditional illustrator, but I hate wasting paper.  And, when you sketch a lot, you inevitably end up using loads and loads of paper.  And, no matter how cheap it is, you kind of feel the weight of how many trees you've decimated on your creative journey.  Okay, maybe it's just me.  In any case, it doesn't pain me to do sketches on layers in Photoshop.  Not. one. bit.  So, off I went!

I started off using traditional shapes for figure drawing (can't help my training!)...

 I knew I didn't want to go this route.  I have had a kind of artist's block when it comes to drawing babies.  Every time I attempted to draw my son, it came out so weird!  I wasn't happy with any of the results, so I just focused on expressions he makes when he's in a funk...

I had a breakthrough with that big head up top.  I then pushed the exaggeration of the size of the head even further.


After drawing the top one, I said out loud, "aww."  And that's when I knew I was onto something!  So, off I went using the techniques from the Skillshare class, and the end result is the first photo from this post.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Make Mine a Mini, Workflow

Previously, I posted this animated short featuring my illustrations.  In this post, I wanted to share my workflow in After Effects so that I could easily reference what I did, what I learned, and what I think could improve in my workflow moving forward.  This post is also to help my illustration friends who might want to try it, too!

Workflow #1
for the first half of the short
the "overwhelm" sequence

1. Complete final sketch for placement of all items

2. I used a light table to illustrate various elements of the final image in pen & ink individually (so they're not touching or overlapping).


Inked text and brain for final animation.
3- Scan and make a vector composition (placement of all assets/icons) use sketch for reference.

NOTE: Everything that you want to animate individually, needs to be on its own layer (head vs. top of head in my case) and use an artboard that is the size of your final screen to help with proportion.  You don't wanna draw in After Effects.  It's clumsy, and on my computer it's so huge it time-lags to do anything.

4- Bring illustrated assets into project panel of After Effects (file> Import, x-retain layer size> Import)
5- Make a new composition (ctrl+n) at the desired length and specs.
6- Drag your file from the project panel to the timeline area.
7- Convert your file from vector to shape layer (right-click layer in timeline> convert to shape layer)

NOTE: This will explode into 200+ layers in After Effects if you're a rough-line illustrator like me. It's okay.  We will get through this.  If you're a super-clean vector illustrator it's even easier-- also maybe look at Flash as a simpler solution than AE.

8- Carefully separate layers into groups (took a long time with such tiny pieces in my artwork).
9- Then form groups into Pre-Comps (mini animation canvases).  Assign the anchor point to the right part of each element (Y).  Make sure all elements are where you want them to be at the end.
10- ANIMATE!



Tips on Animation
  • Let your storyboard be your guide.
  • Work backward from your storyboard key images.
  • I think about the biggest movements and mark where I want those actions to hit on the timeline using the markers.
  • It's easier if you already have music to match the movement.
  • Then, I work between the markers.  I go through each pre-comp to animate each item individually, then as a group, and lastly, each section until satisfied.
  • To export hit Ctrl+m to render queue and click"render".
  • Lastly, I put the rendered clips together in MovieMaker... You do not want to do any real editing in MovieMaker so be sure your clip is the approximate right length, your transition in and out is the way you want it to look, and that your text is the correct size. Windows Movie Maker is really easy to use, but you cannot control details very well.



Workflow #2
for the second half of the short
the "ibis hideaway" sequence (as shown above)

1- Used my final pattern "Ibis Hideaway" as layout for my final composition
2- separated each layer (30+) into .png files with transparency exported from Illustrator

Note: I preserved the artboard size for each item.  I thought this would help with placement in AE and it did, but it makes anchor points really critical and you can't use the shotcut "ctrl+alt+home" to automatically center the anchor point for each object b/c it's the size of the artboard. Plus it's annoying to select items when you do this.  But, I did like that it created a more manageable series of layers and pre-comps.

See what I mean about preserving the artboard?

3- In AE, import files into the Project Panel and make a new composition.
4- Drag your files from the project panel to the timeline area.

5- Form layers into groups (took a long time with such tiny pieces in my artwork).
6- Then form groups into Pre-Comps (mini animation canvases).  Assign the anchor point to the right part of each element (Y).  Make sure all elements are where you want them to be at the end.
7- ANIMATE!

- - - -
I asked Jake Bartlett of the "Animating With Ease" Skillshare Class about his workflow after he's done animating, and here's what he had to say:
...I use Adobe Premiere for all of my editing needs. It works wonderfully with all of the other Adobe products and is extremely robust. For still titles, I use the built in title maker, and for anything animated or more designed, I'll use AE or Illustrator. The workflow depends on the project, but if I'm animating to music or a VO track I typically will edit the audio first in Premiere, and then copy and paste the audio clips directly from my Premiere sequence into a composition in After Effects. That way I have the audio reference inside AE while I'm animating. Hope that helps!
Thoughts, Questions, etc.

Moving forward, I liked the simplicity of the second workflow.  Pre-grouping the elements that I knew were not going to need individual animation saved me a lot of time.  It sacrificed control, and in some cases visual quality - one of the butterflies came in pixelated and I don't know why. I must not have used the same settings as with the other .png files.

If I do a character or puppet animation I would need to export each element of the figure as a transparent .png illustrated in either PS or AI.  I think it could work, and then I'd use the anchor points like the hinges we made in paper animation!  So excited.

If you know of a better way to get raster or complex vector images into AE, or if I glaringly forgot or missed something, please do not hesitate to e-mail or comment and let me know.  I'm just getting into AE and would love to use my time as efficiently as possible so any advice is welcomed!