Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Here's where I'm at with one of my pattern designs that's the most developed:

Amargasaurus Pattern

Amargasaurus Pattern (detail)

Amargasaurus Pattern Repeat

I consider the single design to be finished (first photo above). I'm not completely confident yet about the placement of the repeats and how they link together (last photo above). The colors are exactly how I want them on my screen, but my test prints on paper aren't quite right. I'm still waiting to receive a color guide from Spoonflower in the mail and I'll probably end up color matching everything to make sure it translates as predictably as possible to the fabric. My intention is to make this pattern very large on the fabric. The width will be 42 inches, which will fit maybe two repeats across.

I'm not sure how appealing this kind of design is to most people, but I finally feel like I'm getting somewhere in developing my illustrative style digitally. I really have to admit that this is the most fun I've ever had with my work in the almost three years I've been in the graphic design program - as satisfying as painting with traditional mediums has been for me in the past. Countless times I've tried unsuccessfully to bring my experience in painting over to the way I work in Illustrator. In theory it sounds easy: working with lots of layering, linework over and under solid areas of color, playful figure-ground stuff going on, etc. In reality it's been tough as hell, especially with how tight the deadlines are for class projects.

I freehanded everything in this illustration directly into Illustrator with my Wacom tablet. It was a different process than what I'm used to. In the past when I've wanted a more hand-drawn feel, I draw it out with pencil and paper first, scan it in, then trace my drawing in Illustrator. It took longer for me to do it this way, but with more practice I think it will eventually end up being faster.

Amargasaurus cazaui II.
Photo by KadarB
As for the subject matter itself: one of the first designs I was working with included a Dimetrodon and I enjoyed playing around with the look of the sail so much that I decided to work with some dinosaurs that may have had sails. Amargasaurus is so intriguing to me...it doesn't matter how many times I see photos of the skeleton of this creature, I'm always amazed. I haven't done extensive research about it, but it seems like the general consensus now is that there were probably no sails on the neck, just the separate spines. I chose to depict them with partial sails anyhow for their visual appeal. I looked at about every Amargasaurus restoration I could find, but especially this Wikimedia Commons image and a Raul Martin piece. Clearly my main concern is not detailed scientific accuracy, but I also don't want my dinosaurs to look completely uninformed or clueless.

The plants are kind of a general decorative interpretation of cycads. I'm definitely fascinated by prehistoric plant life, but know next to nothing about it. So I've been using a lot of artistic license with the flora in these pieces, which I think works better to keep the overall feel of the designs more playful anyhow.

I'll be sharing more of my progress from this project as I work through it!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Elmo the Cockatiel

Poor Elmo came down with a respiratory infection and has been on an antibiotic for about ten days, and still has at least two days of it left. He finally perked up now and is doing great (investigating one of our terrariums, below). The vet said we caught the infection really early, but after a couple days of treatment he was in tough shape and didn't even want to eat on his own.

Elmo + Terrarium

This is the first time he's ever been sick during the four years we've had him (he had two previous homes before we adopted him). I'm hoping he doesn't ever have to suffer through an infection like this again!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Work in Progress: Fabric Design

It's been a little crazy around here! Lots of blizzardy weather has made driving a nightmare, our cockatiel came down with a respiratory infection, and now I'm trying to fight off some kind of earache/stuffy head thing. So, focusing on homework has been a real struggle for the past week. But the weekend is looking great for catching up and I'm feeling optimistic.

"Pteranodots" preview

Above is a little peek at one project I'm working on: pattern design. I've been wanting to do something with repeating pattern forever, so I came up with a project to design a fabric line. I've also been itching to do something paleo-themed for some time, and I've noticed that nearly every fabric with prehistoric creatures is very clearly for children. My goal is to work out paleo patterns with a more sophisticated feel. Why should kids have all the fun?

All the patterns are still in rough stages of development and my color scheme is still unclear. But I'm really enjoying it! I'm calling the one above "Pteranodots" or "Pteranodotted." I tried to come up with cheesy plays on words for the concept of each design, but not all are turning out successfully so I might have to scrap some and have a few boring names. The herringbone pattern I'm trying to work out of a Herrerasaurus skeleton is proving pretty problematic. We'll see how it goes!