Graphic Design and Illustration.

Icons


 

Grids, grids and more grids. Designers are always going on about grids. Well, most of the time. I trained in being a designer early to mid nineties when grunge was in full swing. We were rebelling against grids. At the very least we were all using very untraditional grid structures. So grids sometimes still seem a little alien to me. So this summer I decided to try and fix that.

I picked up a grid notebook from Walmart of all places (the price was right and it had a grid and was pretty huge) and I went to town. Just playing around with some icons, pictograms and lettering. Even some 8-bit art. Anything that really lent itself to a very strict grid structure.



You will have to excuse the very random strokes in the notebook. It’s pretty hard to convince little ones not to play in Dad’s stuff. They have sketchbooks, crayons, pencils and markers. And it makes no sense that all of Dad’s notebooks, pencils and makers are off limits. And it’s hard to get mad at them when you are trying to encourage their own creativity. Not to mention Dad always leaving his stuff around within reach. Luckily, the damage done is minor and easily filtered out or ignored for final production.

The final piece at the top shows some cleaned up final images. Some things there will be pretty recognizable. I think I’m the only person of my generation that never had a Gameboy, though I did spend a summer hanging out with a cousin of mine who had one. He let me play Kirby and Castlevania on it. I thought the Playdate hand-held announced this year was pretty cool as well. EOD is short for Eye Opening Design (this blog), and 44 is my current age. Enjoy!

 

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Tales From The Darkside Week Two


The Tale of the Logo Meltdown

Once upon a time there was a small chain of locally owned restaurants. They basically ripped off a logo from a large restaurant chain in the US, and they got some rather angry letters from their lawyers to change their logo ASAP.

The problem was of course, this unnamed restaurant didn’t want to change their logo. It was distinct, and they had it for years. And it was good. It was just a teensy-weensy bit unethical. And it was felt was in violation of someone else’s IP. There was a lot of back and forth between these two groups of lawyers as they were fighting over pretty meaningless changes while ignoring the fact that the logo had to be pretty much redesigned from scratch. It makes sense where you think about it. Lawyers are all about the details, the fine print. Arguing over letter spacing the the size of characters doesn’t really make sense when you can take printouts of the two logos and have them line up perfectly. Other than a couple of different letters that made up the difference in their names, they were identical. Yes, even the names were very similar. I found out much later even the decor of the two chains were pretty close. Eventually the logo was pretty much redesigned from the ground up.

The company I worked for at the time managed to yank the account away from another agency (or in this case a printer) mid stream. So some prior work had already been done. After a lot of back and forth (and I mean A LOT) we finally settled on something. It was, of course, the weakest option we gave them. We fell prey to what is commonly called the “law of logos” or “the client will choose the worst one.” This goes for just about everything in design. When given the choice, your client will always choose the weakest option. I think it just boils down to designers having bolder tastes than most of their clientele. It is just an occupational hazard that your clients will often leave you feeling a little disappointed in them. You just have to cherish the times when that isn’t true. Where your clients push you creatively instead of the other way around. And never show your client something you aren’t prepared to do. That will save you a lot of personal pain down the road.

Bu that wasn’t really the worst of it. Remember that printer we yanked the account from? They printed all the initial material with the new logo. And for some reason they managed to screw up everything we gave them. Each piece was mangled in bold and creative new ways. Can’t imagine why.

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Western Martian

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This was a weird idea. Think of Mars as a giant dessert (not hard). Now imagine colonists living on Mars. Ignore the developmental problems of humans living in a much lighter gravity environment. How would we adapt culturally to this alien world? I thought maybe a resurgence of western style garb. With some future tech enhancements. Instead of Steampunk think Westernpunk. Just a nice quick, rough traditional pen and ink sketch, with some very loose digital colour.

I wanted everything to be fairly loose. My day job as a designer demands my work always be very precise and meet the demands of a never ending list of specs. It’s nice to just play around with huff and see what happens.

I think I’ve also taken some liberties with Mars’ two moons. I don’t think they would be that large and visible in the sky. Enjoy!

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Antelope Girls


This is a new one.

Over the summer, I took a sketchbook with me on our first family road trip. I tried to sketch a little bit every day. Or maybe every other day. Or every other, other day. Anyways, I did manage to get some stuff on the page. This theme of little girls as antelopes (we were travelling through Saskatchewan and Alberta so it makes sense) came out of that.

This drawing was NOT the result of that sketching. My day job gets pretty technical. Lots of numbers and math. I tend to keep a scrap sheet of paper around to keep track of stuff. It also seems to be the place where I do my best sketching (and daydreaming!) This final image came from one of those sketches.



The original sketch. Like the notes I take for myself?


So All I did was take a quick snapshot with my phone (it was a pretty basic sketch, and I wasn’t out to impress anyone with my preliminary drawing) and dropped it into Photoshop and started painting away. A couple hours later, and all was finished.

I have plans for this one. Enjoy.

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Tales from the Dark Side 2019 Week One


So here goes!

WEEK ONE

Quite a few years ago, at the dawn of time, I was enrolled in a local community college taking something called Advertising Art (I believe these days it’s called just Graphic Design). There, the instructors took great pains to make our lives miserable. Even though the computer revolution was well under way, we were still doing quite a bit the old-fashioned way. That meant lots of fun assignments like this one: constructing and painting our own colour wheel. Fun stuff!

To keep things fair, we all had to use the same colours, mediums, and manufacturer of paint. Windsor & Newton Gouache Bengal Rose, Cadmium Yellow and Cobalt Blue. We had to mix all the secondary colours ourselves. Gouache seems to have a bit of a resurgence these days, but back then, it was getting pretty hard to find. Graphic Designers had stopped using the stuff, and water colourists weren’t using that much of it. Not to mention, you have to sacrifice to the right gods to get a nice flat coverage (which we were being graded upon), dark colours dry lighter, and light colours dry darker. Always and adventure to find out what you might be getting! Especially at 3 am after the umpteenth dozen failures.

So you go through the paint like there’s no tomorrow, and it is pretty hard to find. The 2 local art supply stores had stopped carrying the colours (and the brand, and pretty much Gouache entirely). And the instrutors weren’t cooperating with the local vendors on alternatives.

Basically, we were all screwed. Especially me. I was a drawer, not a painter. This was all very new and very scary to me. Someone in the class had found a supplier out East that would help us out, but it was looking more and more like the shipment wouldn’t arrive even close to on time.

Enter, my maternal grandparents. They were wintering on the West Coast. My Grandfather, a retired furniture designer, painted as a hobby. He checked out a place called Opus Art supplies in Vancouver. They had it in stock. Did I want some? YES! How much? ALL OF IT!!!

So I got my little box full of paint tubes. The other shipment from the supplier out East did come through last minute for everyone else. Those tubes lasted me a long, long time.

Every time I’m in Vancouver, I make a pilgrimage to Opus to pick something up. I’ve only been to Van-City twice in 25 years, so it’s not that exciting. But it is a fun story to tell.

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October Fun


Hello! October can be a real fun (and super busy) time of the year for artists! On and off, I have participated in the monthly art challenge of Inktober. I regret I won’t be able to participate this year as I decided to do something similar for later on in the year. I just couldn’t justify doing both.

Instead, I have decided to resurrect (see what I did there?) something from my very early start as a designer: Tales from the Darkside.

It used to be a tradition among local designers to get together once a year and “celebrate” jobs that didn’t go so well, and retell them close to halloween.

So I’m going to put on my storyteller hat and try to do the same here about once a week until the end of the month. The good news is, I’m not naming names and even if I do, they will be changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty. I will also be digging things up from early on in my career (and maybe even school) so people and companies have pretty much moved on. So there should be very little fallout if word gets around that I’ve been telling tales out of class.

So stay tuned and we shall see what I can come up with this Friday! Enjoy!

Winken, Blinken and Nod


Inspired by an old children’s poem. This one at first glance seems like quite a departure from my normal children’s illustration style, but all I am doing is using a more opaque colour palette and removing much of my line work. Sometimes small things can have a profound change on your illustration style.

Playing around with the textures was fun too. Enjoy!

Christmas Cards


Fall is fast approaching and that means figuring out what to do with the annual Christmas Cards will soon be upon us!

Here is a collection of the various cards I’ve helped put together over the past few years. My wife comes up with the ideas for these as she is the pro photographer in the family, and then leaves the bulk of the actual design to me. She even trusts me to retouch them as well! Rare praise from a photographer (they generally don’t like the somewhat hamfisted way we designers often abuse our Photoshop privileges). My only input into the photos is to act as kid herder, be a voice-controlled light stand, and keep my big feet out of the shots. You think the first two are hard, try that last one. Big feets!

Enjoy!

Northern Lights


So a long time ago now, I created this super hero character with the emphasis on a somewhat realistic and less sexualized costume. While I never did what was intended with the character, I liked it and developed her a bit further, trying out different styles and slightly adjusting the costume a bit. This is the most cartoony style I have tried so far (and am willing to share).

This would be early in her career as a crime fighter. Before she had a real handle on her powers. All derived from the gauntlets she wears. The inks were done traditionally, with the colour dropped in on my iPad and a little tweaking to the background and overall colour in Photoshop. Enjoy!

Space Pirate


Women of my age are usually out with the kids (or even grandkids). or are out for an evening date night at the coffee shop with their significant other. Maybe even a book club.

Me, I’m in deep space orbiting a red giant star system, relieving a rival band of privateers of their iridium ore. Brandishing my vibro-sword rather than a cup of herbal tea, or ethically sourced java. And swearing… like a pirate… instead of polite, urbane discussion about the weather, or local politics.

With choices like that, I’ll take the pirates any day!


Another attempt at the sci-fi and fantasy covers I enjoyed in my youth. This was a fun take on space pirates. Learned a lot on this one. Especially patience. Enjoy!

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