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LMLL & LLS Illustration

I recently completed another fun project for a client. (Okay, it was really for my wife because I enjoy taking on projects like this.) She’s been meeting with colleagues outdoors (distanced, with a campfire) for the past few months and asked if I could do some sort of logo for the group.

The brief from the client said “Draw a hoe!” So I drew a garden hoe. Now, typically for these things I’ll find a few reference photos, load one into Illustrator (or Inkscape) and create a layer on top of it then do a lot of tracing and drawing to get the general outlines, then fill in some colors, then try to add some highlights and shadows.

Here’s the first hoe, which I was pretty happy with. The client saw it and said “Well, it needs to be a delicate hoe…” and described it a bit more, so we did some image searches until we found one she liked, and I modified things to match.

Here’s the first draft. Originally there was a plan to make these into patches or badges or something, so I kept things pretty simplified and blocky, but as we discussed things more we decided that laser-etched coasters might be better. That also meant the design could be more detailed.

Oh! The client said maybe it needed something else, a wine bottle perhaps? Back to the art board! I found an image with five different styles of wine bottles and asked her to choose a style, then I illustrated it and added it in, along with a nice scalloped ring that was more that just a plain circle.

I’ve made tons of laser-etched wooden coasters, but since we had a full-color illustration I first had to convert it to a one-color design, which I did.

Fun Fact: The text on the wine label is “Lake Mills Winery” translated from English to French, and the client (who does speak French) pointed out it would probably be “Vignoble Mills Lac” or something. I am not a French speaker. We left it as it was.

The request was for four coasters, but I ended up making eight of them, with the assumption that at least four would come out good, and I could ignore the lower-quality ones. In the end they were pretty equal. Sorry, no photos of the laser etching! I was in a rush to get this done. One thing I am not sure about is that I used water-based polycrylic instead of oil-based polyurethane, which… I don’t know. I’m a fan of the cleanup, but I’m not convinced polycrylic is as nice as polyurethane (especially when heat it applied.) Well, we’ll see how it goes.

This was a fun project, and I am mostly pleased with the outcome. (If I’m honest, I am never completely satisfied with how my projects come out, which is probably good because it means I keep striving to do better. Yes, let’s go with that.)

Oh, I did have fun doing this project and I managed to learn a few new things in the process, so that’s a win in my book!

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Hammer, Screwdriver, Illustrations, etc.

I use Illustrator a lot when I create guides at Brown Dog Gadgets, but most of my vector work in the past 10 years has been creating files for digital fabrication, so getting back into the “illustrate a thing to make it look nice” has been interesting. I’m about 6 months into almost daily use of Illustrator and I’m now working on making better illustrations.

Above is a hammer I recently illustrated, at home, on my own, for fun. I started with a photo of a hammer as a guide and got the basic outline and shapes by tracing on top of it, then I put it off to the side and used as a reference. There are things I really like about it, and some room for improvement, but overall I think it’s good progress.

Here’s another one, which is (obviously) a screwdriver. This one took about 90 minutes (the hammer was probably a little less) and I definitely could have done more, or come back to it, but part of this process is not to obsess over it, or go back to it again and again, but to sit down, do an illustration and call it done. (Probably 60 to 90 minutes and not more.)

Here’s a recent one I did for work. I needed a safety pin for a guide, so I very quickly made this one based on a photo I found. This is not perfect, but I think it’s good enough. Part of creating guides is just getting it done quickly, so being able to knock these out in a timely fashion is key.

Below is an example of a guide with a bunch of illustrations. This is one of the more complex guides. I usually do the three dimensional view part of it by taking a 2D version and using the shear tool. I don’t yet know if there’s a better way to do it. One of the guides I looked at basically said “Prepare for the shear tool to get away from you and screw everything up.” So, yeah… I’d love to find a better way to do it, especially since the proportions seem off.

I typically use Inkscape for my digital fabrication work, and I did get a license for Affinity Designer which I’ve used a bit, but overall I’d prefer to keep my skills separated and not tied to a specific application, which may mean I have two things to do: Get more familiar with Adobe Illustrator, and also start doing these sorts of illustrations in Inkscape and/or Affinity Designer.

Also, I am open to any critique or advice on my illustration work. (Thanks!)

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Analysis of Scoville illustration

I got invited to use the web site at goscoville.com, and while browsing the site trying to figure out what it was, and why I’d want to use it, I came across this illustration in the footer…

I’m still not convinced I want to use Scoville, but I was fascinated by the illustration, and thought I would offer a complete analysis of said illustration for your consideration.

Scoville

The scene itself is surreal, and appears to take place on a floating city. We’re not really sure where the city is floating… In deep space? Above a planet? Is it MagLev® Technology? We don’t know…

Scoville

What we do know, is that the city is under attack. We can clearly see a number of aliens descending upon the city in attack mode. Two of the creatures look like battle-hardened soldiers from the Space Invaders fleet, and the other looks like it may be related to the horrible beast most often found on the GitHub planet.

Scoville

There also appears to be discharges from a number of energy weapons, possibly from larger battle cruisers orbiting this floating city. You can clearly see disruptions in the time/space continuum in this close-up.

Scoville

Three of the individuals in the illustration are talking, or yelling, or perhaps telepathically communicating. Since we cannot see what they are saying, we will assume their communications are encrypted. I find it interesting that there are 3 attackers in the sky and 3 people on the ground engaged in communication. Are they somehow linked? Are they working together? I smell traitors!

Scoville

We see two objects of interest in the illustration, a large orb-like structure in the center, and a small pyramid on the right. We can only assume that the orb-like structure is what powers this city, and perhaps, is also the valuable object being sought out by the attackers… the “MacGuffin” if you will.

Now, the pyramid is also of great interest. If my studies have taught me anything, it’s that pyramids are used as teleportation devices. This begs the question, will the beings of this city use the teleporter to leave and save themselves, or will the teleporter allow the transport of ground troops to fight the impending battle? Either way, the pyramid cannot be ignored!

Scoville

On to the next question… Who is watching!? We see a number of cameras in the sky, as well as a communications transmitter atop one of the buildings. It’s clear that the event is being monitored by someone, and judging by the model of that transmitter, the signal is traveling quite a distance. Will help arrive in time? Are the enemies of this world watching and waiting to see it fall? Unknown.

Scoville

I know that the people look helpless, but all hope is not lost! You can clearly see that the city has established itself as a leader in the BDN (Balloon Defense Network) that was so popular in the last century. While it’s true that 99.5% of the balloons in the Balloon Defense Network are destroyed within 5 minutes of launching, and a Balloon has never actually fire a shot in battle, there is still that 0.5% chance that this time something different will happen.

Scoville

It’s been said that where there is music, there is life, and while we fear that life upon this floating city will come to a tragic end, the music goes on! You can see that music is being blasted into the sky, perhaps as a last testament to the bravery of these poor souls who will soon be destroyed as their city burns and their balloons burst. Sadly the song they are playing was rated with only one star in iTunes. Not good!

Scoville

It’s also been that it’s always darkest before the storm, and that appears to be true in this case, and while this great city, and all of the wisdom contained within it are on the verge of total destruction, we see one final glimmer of a spark of a chance that something may step in and prevent the inevitable.

I mean, this city has not only a palm tree growing out of a building, but it also has a heart… and that my friends are two of the most powerful weapons in the universe.

(Note: palm tree and heart may not guard against alien invaders or proton weapons.)