Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My 2nd Round Entry Process

I thought I would use my recent Global Talent Search entry "Naked Cake" & talk a little about my digital painting process and brainstorming.

Naked Cake Closeup
Ever since participating in the 100 Day Art Challenge, I have been painting more flowers digitally. Some coming from my imagination & some from reference to achieve a higher level of contrast and more descriptive form. When I set out to come up with my cover design I wanted to pick a dessert image that I could incorporate some flowers into the design. I researched desserts that were a bit more trendy and came across the "Naked Cake". (Below is an example of the beautiful way of decorating this layered cake). I was also drawn to the soft pinks and greens found in this image.

In looking at various examples, the cakes that had little to no icing were the ones that I was most attracted to. All naked cakes have an icing or fruit filling on top of each layer. I started sketching and came up with my cake composition. I was drawn more to the simple and elegant arrangements which is why I decided to only add a couple of flowers and leaves to the top of the cake and have the berries arranged on the bottom. 

I first brought my sketch into Adobe Illustrator and created most of the shapes in the composition including the cake and jar. The Illustrator file was exported as a Photoshop file(keeping all the layers) and I then began to paint using the shapes as guides. I have gathered a big variety of digital textured brushes and round brushes over the years, and they came in handy in trying to create the icing and cake. Below is an example of the texture of some of my favorite brushes and brushes I used for the icing.

Textured Brush Samples
The most fun was painting the flowers. For the Chrysanthemum, I started with a very simple vector shape, that I filled with a light pink and then in Photoshop started painting in color, building all the many petals shapes inside of this complicated flower. I mostly used my favorite Round Point Stiff Brush for most of the detail, along with the hard and soft round brushes. Once the color and shape was painted, I used the Smudge Tool to smooth out and blend the color. For crisper edges, I used the Pen Tool to create the highlight shape and then added the color inside the selected shape. After I finished the initial painting of the flower, I then duplicated it and used Photoshop Blend Modes to change the chroma and contrast of the painted marks. One of the last steps I took, was to use a textured eraser tip and subtlety erase pixels to make it look a bit worn and softer. Below shows an early detail of the flower during the process, original reference as well as the finished flower.

For the background, I kept it more simple and light, in an effort to add an overall elegance and sophistication. My vision of Sunny's Cafe is that of a hip, sophisticated cafe that might exist in busy cities like New York or Paris. The border I created was inspired by these trendy storefronts. It might be hard to pick up from the monitor but there is also subtle texture patterns in the background of the book cover, I like added textured nuances but in this case, did not want to detract too much from the main focus of the cake. I really enjoyed painting this cover image and taking my time with each stage to experiment more with what I can create with my digital brushes.

I would really appreciate your kind Vote!

Here is the artwork I entered for Round 2 of the 2016 Lilla Roger's Global Talent Search. We had to create illustrate the cover of the cookbook, Desserts from Sunny’s Café by Sunny Spindler. For round 1 and 2 we were provided with a fictional muse named Sunny Spindler who is a recent cafe owner. For the brief, Sunny has hired me to illustrate the cover of her first cookbook featuring desserts. We could have either created something that focused on the idea of a café scene or Illustrate the dessert aspect. I chose to focus on the desert aspect and after my research I settled on painting a Naked Cake on the cover because I thought it was fresh, arty and gave me a chance to use a softer & sweet palette and paint pretty flowers. I could use any medium and technique and chose to stay mostly digital using my soft, textural brushes in Photoshop to create a more natural and painterly depiction of the cake, stand and flowers.

I would really appreciate it if you could vote for my cover and share this link!! This is an amazing opportunity for me to get a major boost for my illustration career and potentially win 2 years of representation from Lilla Roger's Studio, truly a dream opportunity. Here is a link to the description of the prizes won by the Grand Prize winner,

Click here to vote:

Voting ends Monday 9/5. 
Thank you for your time and support. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

I made it to the 2nd round of the GTS 2016

I am taking part in the Global Talent Search 2016 by Lilla Rogers’ Studio again this year and recently found out recently found out that my entry was selected to move on to the 2nd round of the competition! This is the third year that I have been fortunate to make it into the top 50. I am so excited and honored to be amongst this group of amazingly talented artists and illustrators. Check out the entries that made it into the top 50 by clicking here. Below is mine.

The brief this year was to design a teacup & saucer and paper napkin in my own style for our fictional muse Sunny. Sunny has just opened a new cafe and is interested in purchasing a tea service that fits her style and vibe of the cafe. 

We were able to  approach the assignment anyway we wanted to,to showcase our illustration style and concept. I chose to spotlight a single cup and saucer and set it up as if the cup was waiting to be sipped. Since it was a cafe with an emphasis on desserts I thought I would add a bit of chocolate and a used tea bag to set the scene.

I first started with as sketch that I scanned into Photoshop and then using my trusty PS brushes I began to paint my little tea cup to bring it to life. My current style (when dealing with subject matter that is not kid oriented) has evolved into a combination of some realistic elements, like the painting of the song bird featured on the left side of the cup with more stylistic elements, like the flowers and background. I enjoy developing subtle texture to weave throughout the image.

I have been trying to add more hand drawn type and was pretty happy with that addition on the base of the tea cup. The color palette was a bit of a departure for me but lately I have real been drawn to hotter pinks and blues. I still paint exculisely using my computer mouse, but I trying to wean myself of ruling on the mouse so much and use my Wacom tablet more so I can use all the wonderful brushes I purchased from Kyle Webster at the recent ICON 9. I really enjoyed this project and so honored to move through to the next round.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

100 Day Challenge

I recently signed up to participate in #The 100 Day Challenge with Elle Luna & The Great Discontent. The 100 Day website defines the challenge as a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. 

A few days before the challenge began, I noticed on Facebook that a few artist friends had posted that they were planning on participating in the challenge and that was the only spark I needed to sign up myself. Before making this decision, I did not think through my schedule  for the 100 days of the challenge or the actual scope of the project in which participants post a new work everyday for 100 consecutive days. I am glad that I did not because I most likely would not have signed up, missing out on one of the truly enriching art projects I have had.

I posted on both Facebook and Instagram each day and was truly humbled by the kind support of friends and followers that commented and liked my daily posts. That energy gave my the drive and confidence to continue to post each day, even when my day was crazy busy or I had a dreaded creative block. Considering the nature of this challenge, it felt great to still post even though at the time I wanted to cringe at what I posted, but ultimately, it was so liberating to just let it go--subjective "flaws" and all.

Every participant could chose their own project objective and I chose the hash-tag "LittleArtThe100DayProject". For my challenge I decided to create a postcard size, digital painting using Adobe Photoshop. For Facebook, I posted a 4x6 image and created a separate image to post on Instagram that fit in the standard square format, which sometimes required an extensive reworking of the image. To help me come up with my daily content I decided to let the alphabet guide my imagery. I averaged between 4 to 3 images for each letter, starting with the letter A and ending with Z. This also gave friends and followers a fun dialogue to help with ideas that spurred me on with every new post.

I would basically start out the same way with every new painting, I would brainstorm ideas at night before falling asleep, do a bit of research in the morning and start sketching. After sketching I would take a photo of my sketch, post it to the CLOUD and finally bring it into Photoshop to paint away with custom brushes and textures that I had previously made. There were days that I was so swamped with other obligations that I could only rework some of my older work to make it new and fit with the challenge objectives. Although, for the most part, I could finish each piece within my allotted time frame each day, there were some pieces that I worked on for a bit longer and would post the next day.

Here are the 100 paintings that I posted on Instagram starting on April 20, 2016-July 27, 2016. What a great experience!  

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Bootcamp is Back!

MATS Bootcamp is back and our first MINI - sketching time before the main assignment, is all about hair, specifically hairstyles of the 1920's. Below is my sketches from the MINI. In looking at them all, I think I was just as excited to draw the exaggerated eyes and eyeliner as I was to draw the hair. Fun to be drawing faces again. Can you guess what the main assignment is?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

MATS Spring Home Decor Course

It is finally thawing out here in Wisconsin but during the cold winter I was busy taking the Make Art That Sells Home Decor Course for a second time. I loved it so much the first time that I had to take it again. The course is team taught by top art agent Lilla Rogers & Margo Tantau the Creative Director @ Midwest-CBK.

Class was just as intensive this time around with one assignment per week using a different substrate to create a comprehensive home decor collection. For each assignment we were asked to create pieces featuring products made from metal, fabric, glass, ceramics and wood/MDF. 

Below are the 5 collections that I created.

There were three mood boards that we could choose from to use as inspiration for the five assignments. The mood board I chose this time was called Farm Fresh. We could use the board for inspiration in any way that we wanted. Although influenced by the theme, I used the mood board mainly to help develop my color palette for my collections. 

Once again the iconography from the previous weeks overlapped so that by the final week we had a varied yet cohesive collection.

The subject matter was similar to the first class and that presented an exciting challenge for me to come up with icons and designs that were new but also worked with my collections from the first class. My ultimate goal is to put together a couple of portfolio pages using pieces from all ten assignments. 

Just like the first time, the 5 weeks of class really flew by and I was very sad when it ended. This class is a pure joy, I have learned so much about this market and how to present my work and ideas. Thanks again to both Lilla and Margo! And a big shout out to the Facebook community of amazing and talented artists that make the class fun and dynamic and great place to share and learn!  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Round 2 of the GTS

I entered the Lilla Roger’s Global Talent Search again this year and was lucky to make it through to the second round. This is my second year of making it in to the semi-finals. Pinch me. It is such a wonderful opportunity for illustrators to win 2 years’ representation from the amazing Lilla Rogers Studio. It is an unbelievable opportunity. Below is my round 2 submission! If you would like to cast a vote, please click here! Thanks in advance for taking a look!

For the second round assignment we were asked to create a metal tin or multiple tins that would represent a style or look that "Our Muse Antoinette" might purchase for her small boutique.

I was very excited about the parameters of the assignment and had an idea right away about what I wanted to create. I knew that I wanted to do a set of nesting tins and it would be based on a theme that had it’s origins in a phrase or saying. I have recently been working with flowers and birds in my art so with that being fresh on the brain, I started thinking about a phrase that related to nature. The feeling you get when you are deep inside the forest surrounded by the lush canopy that muffles the sounds of the city, feeling small in its splendor. The phrase kinda wrote it self- "Find enchantment deep inside the forest." I did tweaked it somewhat, until I could break it into three sections that would  make sense on their own, Find Enchantment, Deep Inside, The Forest. Once I had the phrase the overall sketch for the design came rather quickly. 

Although, I do some work using traditional media, my work is primarily digital, My typical process progression would be to first sketch out the overall design just to visualize the space and then take it into the computer. Theses sketches are usually very rough and at times unreadable even for me. Once I have a pretty good idea of how the composition should be laid out, I then start sketching the individual elements. These are also pretty rough but detailed enough to bring into Adobe Illustrator to redraw digitally, before taking them into Adobe Photoshop to paint. Here are a couple of examples of the sketch, the vector shapes and the final digital painting of both the peacock and fawn I used for my tins. 

I love texture and have cultivated and developed a series of brushes in Photoshop to paint in the texture with. I'm also layer crazy and tend to get a little carried away using the blend modes that optically change objects on the layers below. Blend modes help to do things like make the color more luminous or change the hue or saturation of the objects below. At times, I get so caught up in using blend modes, that even a small shadow ends up taking 3 times longer than it should. I don’t mind though, I get so lost in the process that I never really think of it as being work.

Although I do use Adobe Illustrator to redraw and create the shapes that I bring into Photoshop to paint, there are times that I need a texture or a delicate line, like in the case of the bird’s nest below, that is more difficult to achieve using the software, so I will sketch or paint these elements using traditional media first. These sketches or little paintings are more developed then my typical sketches and I scan them in at a higher resolution to use directly in my digital painting. For the nest, I removed the white background of the page using the Channels palette in Photoshop. The Channels palette allows you to select the white of the page and delete it so that the background becomes transparent without losing any of the detail of the sketch. Once the background is removed I can then change the color of the line work and paint over it with my texture and airbrush brushes to get the final effect.

Lately, I have been working on my overall presentation and it made sense to me to stack the tins and keep the neutral background more simple since my designs are fairly detailed. 

The public voting round lasts through Monday 9/21/2015 and the 6 finalists will be announced on Wednesday 9/23/2015. This is such an exciting opportunity. I so appreciate your support. Thanks again! Diane