Have A Merry Christmas & A Free Wallpaper

wallpaper_christmas2013_stripSeason’s greetings everyone! I hope you have a great Christmas and to celebrate I have created a Christmas wallpaper for your desktop’s pleasure. It’s actually an adaptation from my specialized Christmas cards going out to my clients.swirl It was inspired by an Illustrator Quick Tip: Create Decorative Swirls in Minutes Using the Width Tool. Never using the width tool before, I thought this would give me the chance to practice and create a pretty distinct Christmas tree. I opted against swirls though, adjusting curved lines of different line weights. I created one half of the tree then reflected it. Then I added a few more lines to break up the symmetry. I kept the lines on one layer, not really caring which line rested on top of each other. In the end this actually worked in my favor adding depth when I randomly changed the color of some of the lines.

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Thank you to moo.com for my beautifully printed cards.

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Printed Christmas Cards

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Printed Christmas Cards – Personalized Message per Client

This month I’ve been plagued with shipping issues. Some items arrive early (which is great), but most have arrived late or I’m still waiting on them. Now I’m just going with the flow. Lesson learned: start in November. This is another item I’m waiting on, to pair with my Christmas cards.
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Here is the actual wallpaper. Enjoy!
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Also here’s another Christmas treat for you. The folks at fotolia have made all their Ten Collection PSDs available to download for free for the next 24 hours starting 10am (in your time zone) December 24, 2013. Check out their Facebook page to learn more.
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Be Great.

wordsofwisdomWhat get’s you going in the morning? That’s the question this Threadless challenge asked. What words inspire you? What’s your personal motto? Originally, my answer was Be Positive. I try to look on the bright side, but that’s not always easy. I have an idea of where I want to be professionally and personally, but the path to get there isn’t always so clear, which can be frustrating. So sometimes I have to work a little harder at that happy face. 🙂 My original design idea was a beating heart with connecting blood vessels that spell B+ (Be positive).

So how did I end up with a snail?

As I’ve stated before, my mind works on overdrive. At any given point in time I have at least ten ideas/projects/techniques/concepts that I want to create floating around in my head. Not to mention inspiration is constantly flooding my inbox and life. One project I wanted to try was a Thanksgiving turkey illustration inspired by the artist Ben Yin-Pan Kwok aka BioWorkZ.

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Thanksgiving came. I had other pressing projects to complete. Thanksgiving went. No turkey (in my sketch pad). Yet I still wanted to make an illustration. I also really wanted to submit an entry to Threadless. Another goal of mine is to be a great designer which requires me to keep pushing myself. I must keep learning. Doing. Improving. Do my best. Have fun. Be great. Then get better.

How do I illustrate “great”? Enter in another project idea of mine: drawing elaborate numbers, particularly the number 8, and combine that with an animal illustration. Great probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when describing a snail (more like slow, tiny, gross), but that’s what makes it the perfect choice.

“A great man is always willing to be little.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Great men are not born great, they grow great.” – Mario Puzo, The Godfather

“Your greatness is revealed not by the lights that shine upon you, but by the light that shines within you.” – Ray Davis

So here is my design “Be Great” for Threadless which is up for voting over the next four days. First I sketched a rough outline, filled in more detail, and then I went over the sketch in ink. The drawing was brought into Illustrator and converted into vectors via live trace. Finally shading and lettering were added. If you like my design please vote.

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It’s A Recession

oddcouple_recessionfacebookcoverSo I’ve entered another competition on Threadless (open for voting now). It’s called Odd Couples and the challenge was to pick any two unrelated characters or figures and show how they’d interact. As you can see, I chose a zombie desperate for money presenting teeth he’s “collected” to the tooth fairy hoping to cash in. The idea was inspired by my cousin Cara. She’s a teenager, but she’s really responsible with her money and doesn’t like to spend it, at least not on herself. One of her favorite phrases/reasons is “It’s a recession.”
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I sketched the zombie and the tooth fairy separately. Then I scanned the sketches and took them into Illustrator for inking and color. It was the first time I had used a tablet. A fellow designer and friend of mine has been kind enough to let me borrow his Bamboo Wacom Tablet. It takes a while to get use to looking at the computer screen when your natural tendency is to look down as you draw, but if I didn’t have this tablet I don’t want to imagine how long it would have taken me otherwise. Here are some great tutorials that helped along the way:

Here’s the full design. Please don’t forget to vote for it on Threadless if you like it. Thanks!

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Tomb Raider Reborn

tr_contestOn March 5, 2013 the latest Tomb Raider game was released, but it didn’t feature the seasoned explorer we’re used to. It’s focuses on the young Lara Croft. It’s about survival and the loss of innocence as she’s thrown into intense situations and pushed beyond physical limits. I was intrigued by the release, but I’m not the type to rush out and buy a game as soon as it comes out, especially with a $60 price tag and not having tried it. Well, I got an opportunity to test it out when I received a free Redbox game code and quite frankly, it rocked! It has all the things I love in a game: powerful storyline, stunning extensive worlds, action, adventure, problem solving and it kept me on the edge of my chair. There was never a dull moment, see for yourself in the trailer below. I didn’t complete Tomb Raider, but it’s now on my buy it list.

What drove me to discuss Tomb Raider was that I stumbled across a design competition held by Square Enix and DeviantART. They challenged artists to develop original artwork depicting Lara Croft’s latest transformation (her rebirth so to speak). The winners received some pretty hefty prizes and the competition was fierce. I was astounded by the amount of entries and the quality of the work submitted. I did not envy the judges, but I did enjoy scrolling through the entries. I’ve included my favorites below. Having played Tomb Raider, I was drawn towards the darker and grittier submissions which I think captured the game’s feel.

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Battle by *tincek-marincek

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Tomb Raider Reborn Contest by *Keevanski

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Tomb by ~Msweeneyart

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TombRaiderFinalNoLogo by ~ArchLimit

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TombRider Reborn by ~Tinosukae

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Tomb Raider Lara – The Rescue by ~frankiewCG

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Tomb Raider reborn contest by ~chuyDeleon

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Lara Tomb Raider Contestby ~Dedyone

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Lara Reborn by ~Griever6260

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Lara Croft Entry by ~benjamindeutscher

Pinterest, Beato, and that Silly Beast

pinterest-logoSo my best friend held a bat to my head and said you better join Pinterest or else! Actually it was more along the lines of “Have you heard of Pinterest? It’s a great way to visually collect things you find around the web. Check mine out.” I did and joined shortly thereafter. I’ll be honest, somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind I hoped that this wasn’t yet another social media site that ended up being more annoying than useful. However it came highly recommended by someone I trust, so it was worth a shot. Now, ten months later, Pinterest is an integral part of my life.

For those of you that don’t know, Pinterest is an online tool for visually collecting and organizing the things you love using boards. The “Pin It” button is installed in your browser and when you wander across something you like (recipes, clothing, or that fabulous 5 star hotel suite) you simply hit the button and save the image to one of your categorized boards. It’s so easy and many sites now have their own integrated “Pin It” button.

Now, Pinterest seems like a no-brainer. I learn better visually, especially by studying other artists’ work.  So many spectacular pieces flood my inbox and now when I want to refer back to a particular image I simply go to my Pinterest board, rather than sift through hundreds of emails. It’s also a great way to coordinate with clients. I appreciate any examples they can provide which helps me understand what they like and what they are looking for. When they can present you with an entire board things really start rolling. Don’t worry, boards can be marked private if you’re not ready to share with the world. That’s another aspect of Pinterest that I love, the ability to share what you’ve found and repin from others. It often leads me on a whole new journey of discovery like finding the two artists mentioned below.

On Monday Pinterest announced some enhancements like bigger images, an even cleaner design, and finding other things pinned from the same website. I think they’ll be around for a while so, it’s not too late to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon. Join today or else! Just kidding, but now I’m going to ask you to check out my boards and follow if you like. Here’s a peak:
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Now to the artists
André Beato is a London based artist with kick-butt typographic skills. He works in print and editorial with many published  pieces in his repertoire.
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Silly Beast Illustration is the work of Therese Larsson, a freelance illustrator based in Sweden. She specializes in character design and does storyboarding, sketching, and concept art. Her client list includes: Adidas, Google, McDonalds, Disney, Electrolux,  Toyota,  Digital Artist Magazine, Volkswagen, Coca Cola Zero, Cheetos, Sony Ericsson,  Siemens, Tropicana,  IKEA…

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