Zebra character sketch

This is also an assignment, in a different class, but I’m posting it just because I want to. (Hey, maybe I’m starting to like doing this sketchblog thing! But I better not consider that too much, or it’ll run away.)

This is part of an ongoing project that will ultimately result in making a custom die-cut hangtag for a plushy, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund. (NB: I’m unclear if the WWF is actually part of this assignment in any real way. I don’t imagine so. But it’d be pretty cool if they are.) I chose Grevy’s zebra as my animal to base a character on, mostly because zebras have been my favorite animal forever.

In a previous life (read: high school), I drew TONS of characters with my friends. We were into really nerdy things and loved to draw, so it happened. But for some reason, I was anxious about doing this. I felt like I suddenly knew nothing about creating an anthropomorphic character (which is patently untrue) and have second-guessed myself every step of the way. Maybe that’s because this one is for a grade. Or maybe my brain just hates me that much. Who knows.

Anyway, here is the process so far: the original sketch, the first WIP, and the second WIP. The differences between the two WIPs are mostly shading and making the smile and eyes bigger for a cuter effect.

She’s cute. I now have this idea to build a story around her and do some spreads that would be fit for a children’s book. I’m sure I can get that done in my copious spare time.

Project 4 – GSM, pt 1

This project involves creating something I didn’t even know existed until I started on it: a graphic standards manual. Sometimes also called an identity manual or identity guidelines. I started by looking around for some that I really liked and that I might draw inspiration from in creating this one for a client called Crucible–a design competition organization that closed up shop a few years ago but is reopening. We were given the organization’s logo treatments, and that’s it! They have no web presence at the moment, so there’s no checking them out to get a better read on them.

So after much looking around and absorbing ideas, I came up with the below 40-odd thumbnails. Most are iterations of the same spread, but toward the back end I tried to get at least one idea down per spread, so far as I’d worked out what the spreads would be. The last section of the booklet I’m planning to be a kind of gallery of examples of the logo and colors in use, probably image-heavy with mockups, but I didn’t end up doing any thumbnails for those pages yet.

Based on the logo provided, and especially its colors, my sense at this stage of the organization’s ethos involves the words competitive, bold, creative. Going off my thumbnails, I created a couple of roughs for the cover and for a section head kind of spread.

It’s immediately clear I’m not just using red, black, and white in my color scheme, (although those are the primary colors). I chose to add two secondary colors, a royal violet blue (shown above) and a gold. If the names don’t recommend them clearly enough, the royal violet blue suggests, well, royalty, an upper tier. And gold suggests victory and quality. Both, I think, bolster the organization’s ethos and purpose.

Both secondary colors will be used, with the red from the logo, around the booklet in full spreads like this one, and in smaller applications to highlight information or just add visual interest to a page. The black and white will also be prominent, as white will be the most common background, and black the most common text color.

Finally, I want to mention the two manuals I used as inspiration: the identity guidelines for the Barbican, and the manual for Fogg, a “borderless internet” company. I really love the big, bold typography and negative space use in the Barbican’s, and the creative use of color in both is inspiring. Plus, they both have a minimalist focus I like and want to aim for in mine.

Project 3 – Empty Book, pt 2

For the empty book project, I chose to develop one of the cat book concepts: Cats Who Approve of You. I have several cats (I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before), all of whom are snide and snooty and very disapproving of me and my husband, or any human. So the idea of an empty book purporting to be about cats who do approve of you struck me as quite funny, since really, there are none to be found anywhere.

I wanted the design to communicate the snobbery of cats. The idea of a cat in a pose of walking away from you was there from the first. And the cat’s rear had to be on the front cover, because that is the ultimate in cat flippancy. Continuing with that, I landed on the idea of an antique, florid background pattern complete with (dancing?) crowns to really make the point that cats know they are better than you.

The book was recently printed by Lulu, so I’m going to share the pictures of the cover from the real thing. There’s even a picture of the spine (and a bit of my fingers holding the book)! If you want to see that sort of thing.

To find out about the process and whatnot, read on.

Here’s how things looked at a point in the process where I’d created the pattern, mostly, and the cat, also mostly. I’d also spent quite a while fiddling with the title text, getting every letter placed, but no other text had been done yet.


And here’s the final(ish) version–the version to turn in for the assignment, anyway. All the text is in, some of the text colors have changed, AND there are now cheeky little crowns in the pattern.


That space on the back is set aside for the barcode and the Lulu identification number. According to the Lulu’s FAQ database, you’re not expected to upload your cover art with a barcode already there–or it won’t print–which makes sense. But looking at it, it looks a little empty as is.

There are still tweaks to be made to the design before getting it printed, but overall I’m happy with the character of this. I hope I’m not just incredibly biased toward my own awesome self. But book cover design is something I really want to get into professionally. So I know I’m going to be poring over the teensiest details of this before printing.

UPDATE: The tweaks were made, as you can see in the actual book cover images above. Also, you might notice that this book printed without a barcode. Why? I don’t know, but since I followed Lulu’s directions about the cover, I would like to find out. But that’s going to take some emailing back and forth, most likely, so for now it stands as is.

Project 3 – Empty Book, pt 1

For this project, we’re creating an empty or blank book built around the concept of something that doesn’t exist. You know the kind, you’ve probably seen them in the novelty racks in Target or in friends’ bathrooms. Something like “Ugly Bunnies” or “Dragons on Public Transport.” (Heck, that last one is pretty good–almost wish I’d gone with that.) And sometime before the end of the term, we’re to get it printed via Lulu.com.

Anyway, here are the thumbnails I came up with for the book cover. Very many silly ideas. The last four are specific to certain fandoms, Game of Thrones and Supernatural. In a perfect world, I would have done one of those because they were my very favorite ideas. But I didn’t feel comfortable creating (and printing!) something derived from copyrighted work. And the cat and dinosaur concepts were both in close second, so it wasn’t hard to make a decision.

What idea did I ultimately choose to develop? Find out next time…

Project 2 – Vodka Label, pt 2

Feedback on the thumbs and roughs was mixed, as I expected. There was no clear consensus from other classmates on the direction I should go in. But a couple people pointed out that the ideas with the cloud and the pie/piece of pie looking “heavenly” might not send the right message to the target audience. And someone pointed out that the idea from the 3rd rough, the cutout “A” in the words “pecan” and “dream” forming the slice of pie, might not translate well to the curved shape of the bottle.

So I went with the 2nd rough idea, which seemed like it had the most potential given those considerations. I designed it to wrap around the bottle, and chose just one color from the original color “palette” to base the other colors around.

Here’s a look at the work in progress. At this stage, I’d placed the pie and pecan elements and added texture to them, and I’d placed the text where I felt it would look best. But I wasn’t too in love with the text colors. And I felt like adding some flat shadows to the pie and pecans would add to the overall composition and make things look more elegant.


After much tooling with shadows, textures, and spot (!) colors in the text, this is where I ended up.


I also included a mockup of the label on an actual bottle. Though I don’t think that part turned out super great, despite several attempts to make the label look less wonky, I’m showing it here just to be thorough.


What you can’t see in the digital image is that all of the text on the label (except the government warning) would be printed in shimmery spot colors, adding to the “dreamlike” effect.

Insert for Apartment Info Folder

The past couple of weeks, we worked on a project designing a half-page, double-sided insert that would go in a standard pocket folder and be accompanied by information sheets on the apartment complex. The insert is supposed to showcase the available floorplans and show a property map on the back.

I started by doing rough versions of the property map and the floorplans in Illustrator, which you can see here. The floorplans PDF also includes some typeface ideas. I’ve put up the PDFs of these instead of inline images since they are, in fact, rough.



Next stage was getting a preliminary design of the front and back of the insert, which you can see below. This part was done in InDesign. I always feel like my in-progress pieces are very much in-progress-looking. I tried out some “designy” things in this stage that didn’t work really (the dotted lines and circles) and was trying to pull the colors from the company logo, because I had a really hard time coming up with something else good at first.

And finally, the final stage for this project. Lots of things are readily different. I still had a hard time finding a satisfying layout for the back page with the map, but settled on what’s here because it fits the front side and isn’t the worst ever.

The colors this time are much closer to what I had in mind from the beginning: bright, springy greens and blues inspired by lush gardens. And this way, the pink of the hummingbird in the logo stands out more. I am still not 100% on the map, but after trying out some texturing in Illustrator and being thoroughly convinced that just didn’t look very good, I left it clean.