Sketching Is Everywhere

Over the last two weeks, I’ve come to appreciate more and more my dalliance of taking a sketching class this fall. While the art class has been fun and certainly challenging, it has found its way into all three of my other classes this term. Sketching as it turns out is important in every avenue of design. Doing a cursory mock-up for any project in any medium really requires you to lay out what your intentions are, whether it is for yourself or a client it is critical.

In my Illustrator and Photoshop classes, being able to do a 5-minute sketch on placement and concept really does make the vision come to life. It also helps you see how things might actually fit in with one another on the page – foreground versus background etc. Despite being shown time and time again that the benefit of sketching for design is ingenious I hadn’t really thought about pencil or paper and ink’s role in web design. After all who uses paper for anything these days?! Turns out though it helps avoid the same plight that anyone who ever wrote a term paper has faced – the blinking cursor on a white page. There’s something calming about having a sketch tablet and pencil in your hands, away from the computer to just lightly doodle until it starts to take shape. Next thing you know you’ve got 6 pages of wireframes that actually look like something! Translating it then from paper to the computer becomes a simpler process. This was my first time building a wireframe, so I will admit that there could be some better lessons to be shared that the tidbit of sketching.


With no further adieu here is the result of my first wireframe design, do share feedback as later in class I will have to actually build real site mock-ups based on these. Eek!


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Spooky Composites

Well classes have started up again (hooray)! Last week’s first assignment in my advanced photoshop was lots of fun. As you’ve seen from previous posts we’ve been learning how to make composites, where you build a picture from multiple images. It felt fantastic to get back into graphic design projects. Learning some tricks to make images look more natural and realistic has bolstered some of my confidence and also the artistic side of photoshop.

Given it’s nearly Halloween the theme of the assignment was spooky scenes! Check out the image below and see if you can sort out all of the pieces used to pull together this fun thematic project!

Spooky scene

Happy early Halloween all!


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Love and Travel

Yesterday, I presented my final project in my first graphic design class. We were given the opportunity to design a book, magazine, or CD cover with specific requirements. It needed to contain at least 5 images (preferably your own), use all the techniques learned in the class, and realistic elements like bar codes, pricing, etc. We each had to give an artistic statement and walk through the many layers and design choices.

It was the first time in several months I had to stand in front of a group of people and give a presentation. Normally, I’m very confident and comfortable public speaking. In my job I had to do it frequently and I knew the material inside and out, so there was no need to be nervous. Presenting your own work for possible critique and feedback is a whole different ball game! It was a refreshing feeling to get up and present on something that made me feel a little uncomfortable and outside my scope of knowledge. It was also great to hear and see everyone else’s assignments – public speaking it always nice when no one is exempt from the hot seat.

Below I will share my final project with you all, but first I want to share some of my design choices and experiences.

First, this was the third iteration of design. I started two previous magazine covers, but found myself struggling to integrate all the project requirements and keep it clean. I found it difficult to come up with a theme and then find the photos and composite design. After setting the project aside for a few days, I decided to go through my photo files and grab whatever inspired me. Once I started to work backwards it all fell into place, I found the right background images and it seemed like the rest of the piece just started to fit together.

Overall, I’m pleased with the final outcome. Given that I haven’t done any magazine covers or composite work I struggled with getting the additional elements to blend with the background to make it look realistic. With more practice and my next graphic class this fall I’m hoping I will learn some more tricks to get things to come together better.

In total I used six different images to create this look. I hand drew the shadows and the bar code to get the look I wanted. After many adjustment and filter layers plus some tricks with masking this is the final result!

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Copyright All Rights Reserved

An interesting thing I learned was the importance of occasionally printing out comps of your progress to see how it looks in the printed version. For example, the font for two of the article tag lines were in a blue similar to the title on the screen it looked great, but once I printed it I noticed it was a little harder to read.

This was a wonderful project and a great experience, while I spent the better part of a week working on it I loved it and can’t believe people get to do this for a living. The class has concluded, now I wait for grades to post and a long six week wait for the next term to start has me both sad and worried about losing the skills I’ve learned. I’m thinking of coming up with some assignments and projects to give myself to work on just to keep things fresh.

The experience of going back to school and starting a new chapter hasn’t been disappointing yet, onward and upward!

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Making the Effort

Finding closure and continuing to start new chapters.

This week I had the opportunity to visit a number of my former colleagues that weren’t in town when I left this past summer. After nearly eight years with one company, you inevitably form bonds with those you work with, travel with, and happy hour with. I wasn’t sure how I would feel going back after almost two months, but I’m glad I did. It felt like closure, something I wasn’t sure I needed until I was there experiencing it. The opportunity to say or at least show “you mattered” felt good, because they did.

We all spend so much time at work, often more than with our families and friends. It’s important to find some comfort in those work relationships because they matter. I met some wonderful people during my time there and I’m glad that we had the opportunity to touch base, I’m not going to say it was to say goodbye because I do hope to stay in touch and see them again in the future. I know we all say that, “this isn’t goodbye, it’s until next time,” but I think it’s something to work towards if the relationship matters. A good friend and I have known each other since high school, while we haven’t seen each other in a few years because she lives out-of-state I’m going to her wedding next week. If they matter, you’ll find a way to make the effort.

On the new chapters front, I’ve registered for my Fall quarter classes to continue my design media program! As a fun bonus, I’ve also signed up for a sketching class to bone up on my perception and lighting skills. I’ve felt happier in the last two months than I have in a long time. I feel relaxed, healthy, and calm for the first time in a few years. It seems strange to say that when you’re not working, and not applying to find work. I suppose when you’re chasing dreams and finding life exciting again other worries don’t seem so frightening. It also helps having a great support network. My friends and family have all been supportive of this new adventure. My partner, of nine years, has my back and you can’t ask for more than that.

Be happy, chase dreams.

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Colorizing the Past

I’m very excited and proud to share the following images from this week’s projects. The assignment was simply to take a black and white photograph, grayscale, and turn it into a 4-color image. I had a few photos that I could have converted to b/w that would have worked fine. I also had a few black and white photos of my own I could have worked with, but I wanted to work with something older, something that might make a bigger difference.

I took two family photos from my partner, photos from the early 1900’s. They were stained and dirty from age, but nonetheless striking. Before I could do anything with them I had to use the skills recently learned in repair to have a clean photo to work with. I used my partner’s coloring and other family photos to guess on hair and eye color. For the clothes I looked at some period clothing to guess tones. Below are the results:

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Copyright All Rights Reserved

Copyright All Rights Reserved

Copyright All Rights Reserved

The photos in their original state are striking, especially cleaned up, but something seems to happen when you add color. It seems easier to relate, see yourself or other members of your family in the photos. They seem more “real” as odd of a concept as that is. When I look in the grandfather’s eyes now I see a sweet, gentile soul. This is a great way to remember the past and keep family close.

If you don’t have any old photos of your family, ask your parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles if they do and make copies. Check out and see if you can find older pictures of long lost relatives you never knew you had – you may just find their stories are just as relevant today as they were back then.

I’m thrilled with the outcome of this project, and I’m glad I went the extra step to use something personal and from the past – color really brought it to life!

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