Sunday, 29 January 2012

Are we human or are we dancer?

I LOVE this illustration done by Thomas Vroman, 1964, for the book 'Alexander' by Harold Littledale. I definitely wanted to include this type of technique for my next t shirt design, based on the word 'twirl' from I love how he used a patterned background mixed with a black outline image. 

Immediately when I thought of the word twirl, I thought of a dancer. I figured that most people associate the word twirl with dance as well, so I began to sketch a few other ideas that came to mind. [To the right is a page from my sketchbook]

I ended up going with my initial thought, of a dancer. One of my favourite bands is The Killers, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to incorporate their lyrics into my t shirt design. Take a listen to the song 'Human' below:

I started designing some silhouettes of ballerinas I could use for my final t shirt. 

I then began working on the final. First I painted a pattern of stripes [in watercolour] for the background. Next, I drew the silhouette [in marker],  and cut and pasted it on top, to resemble Thomas Vromans' illustration. 

As I was creating this tee, I was reminded of an illustration by Tim Burton, Jimmy the Hideous Penguin Boy, so I thought I would share it. Check it out below: 

Once I finished my design, I scanned it into the computer, and touched it up in photoshop, and added the text as well. 
And finally, here is the finished t shirt design! Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Blue Skies

For Illustration Friday this week, the word was 'prepare'. I decided to draw inspiration from Tod Draz, and his illustration from American Artist magazine, 1956. I really enjoyed the way he used colour in this particular image, using a flat wash of a solid colour, accented by minimal use of another colour.

With my inspiration in mind, I began to think about the word 'prepare', and what type of images could be related to it. Some ideas I came up with were preparing food, preparing for a test, preparing for a date, preparing for the weather, etc. Below are my thumbnails. 

I decided to go with the last thumbnail, a girl dressed in a raincoat, rain boots, and carrying an umbrella, obviously a little too prepared for the beautiful sunny day outside. The text I wanted to include in this design came from Noah and the Whale's song, Blue Skies. 'Cause it's time to leave, Those feelings behind, Oh cause blue skies are coming, But I know that it's hard.' I feel like these lyrics worked really well with this image. To me, these lyrics mean that even though it's hard to move on and you don't feel prepared enough after a relationship ends, happiness can still be found. Take a listen to the song below.

I decided not to include the sun in my final copy, so I began drawing out a rough, and then a cleaned up version of it in black pen, which I scanned into the computer. I then brought it into illustrator, live traced it, and coloured it. My final step was to create a mock up of the t shirt, and add the lyrics, which I did in photoshop. This week's word on Illustration Friday is 'twirl', so come back next week to see the result!

Monday, 23 January 2012

IWD: Work in Progress

Time for a brief update on one of my projects, the International Women's Day poster. As you might have seen in an earlier post, I decided to feature J.K. Rowling. After finishing my thumbnails, I got to work on some quick colour compositions.

I decided I liked the bottom right colour scheme the best, using blues and greens for the background and yellow for the foreground. I thought it focused your first attention onto J.K Rowling, while Harry merged into the background, giving him less emphasis, since this poster is really about celebrating women after all. My next step was to do a more detailed rough, in full scale. 

After finishing the final rough, it was time to start on the final acrylic painting! I was really looking forward to work with acrylics for this project, as it is one of my favourite things to use when creating art. My first step was to transfer the pencil drawing onto a gessoed masonite board, and from there I began using black and white for highlights and shadows. I also roughly painted the letters in black, so they would be clearer to see than just pencil. I also wanted to add a collage element to this piece, so I printed off some of the transcript from Rowling's first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and glued it to the board as well. I then added some colour as a base coat, an ochre yellow and turquoise. Below are a few images of each of the steps I have taken so far. I will be updating this blog again soon, for more progress on my IWD poster! 

Monday, 16 January 2012

Curse of the Currents

Above are the three stages I took to get to the final t-shirt design. I started by creating my final image in black ink. I then defined the image area with a rounded rectangle. Finally I completed the design by colouring the background and foreground with marker.

And here is the finished product! I'm very pleased how it turned out, and I think it looks great as a t-shirt. Can't wait to get started on my design for this weeks word, 'prepared'!

IWD: Inspiration and Thumbnails

International Women's Day, celebrated on March 8 all around the world, is the motivation for another project I will be pursuing. It will be a promotional poster for IWD, and I will be posting artwork from thumbnails to finished acrylic painting.

To the left is an illustration by Al Parker. I was really inspired by his use of composition, as well as the way he uses hand drawn typography in his design. I also love the way he uses highlights and shadows in this particular painting.

As Harry Potter is one of my most favourite things, J.K. Rowling and her rags to riches success story is very inspirational to me. I think she is a woman many young and aspiring writers look up to, as she is an example of how with just one idea, and a lot of  hard work and determination, a successful career can be made.

To the right are my thumbnails. I tried to incorporate the composition Al Parkers' uses in his design [featured above] with Rowling in the foreground and Harry in the background. I am also hoping to illustrate my own text for this poster as well. My next step will be to design a colour scheme and large rough draft of my selected composition. Stay tuned! 

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Grounded: Inspiration and Thumbnails

The inspiration for my first t-shirt design came from the artist Harry Beckhoff. This illustration came from Cosmopolitan magazine, from Nov. 1956. I really enjoy his loose illustrative style, and the combination of pen and ink, with flat washes of colour, which I hope to emulate in my design for the word 'grounded'.

[left: A page from my sketchbook]

I started to explore different meanings of the word 'grounded' in my sketchbook, and drawing whatever came to my mind. It's a little messy and incoherent, but I guess that is what brainstorming is all about.

The image which is circled became my starting point. When I thought about the word 'grounded', I thought about a boat which has been stranded and tied up on a beach. Not being able to float on the water has made it 'grounded'.

With my concept created, I began illustrating some more in-depth thumbnails using the image of a boat tied to a post on the beach. Each of my designs are also going to be influenced by music, so I started playing with the use of lyrics in my design as well.
[Below is the song I was inspired by: 'The Curse of the Currents' by Said the Whale.]

'And here it's been 10 years to the day
And here I'll sit for 100 years and I'll wait
Til I see her smiling face
Come shining up through the waves' 

 I decided on the design I liked best from the thumbnails I drew. Originally I didn't have any text in this particular design, so I then added the text and began trying out different colour compositions. I tried to imitate the style of Harry Beckhoff, by not colouring my images perfectly, and keeping the style very free and loose. 

My next step is to continue with the final illustration, which will be up shortly. I'm very happy with my progress so far, come back to see the finished design!


An Introduction...

In this blog I will be posting weekly inspirations, sketches, and designs, based on the 'word of the week' which can be found at

Each of my designs will be specifically created as compositions for t-shirts, and will have the common theme of music in all of them. I will be posting my thumbnails, and my work in progress from start to finish.

Check back soon for my first design, based on the word 'grounded'.

Can't wait to get started!