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Art Project 2016 Review

Children’s Book Illustrations

In the beginning of 2016 I dabbled with children’s illustrations. I was pregnant and wanted to see if that was a route I wanted to take with my art. Though it was fun experimenting with different styles, I definitely don’t see myself sticking with children’s illustrations. My dark heart can’t take that much fluffyness. In the end, I had 6 illustrations that I used to decorate my daughter’s room (the wanderer and cat series) and a few gifts for friends. I’d say that though this experiment didn’t go as planned it was well worth my time to try something new. I can see using these techniques for custom greeting cards in the future.


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Drawing Environments

I’ve always hated perspective drawing and drawing backgrounds. I hate it more than I hate drawing hair and that’s saying something. Near the middle of the year, I decided that it was time to buckle down, improve my weaknesses, and focus on drawing environments for my characters. I’d gotten use to having simple white backgrounds be enough of a stage for them but I realized that the projects I wanted to take on would require a bit more effort. While the first few attempts were awkward, I can already see an improvement in this aspect. I’ve learned that some backgrounds should be more simple to fit the subject while others should be flushed out and filled with details. Through this process, I’ve also gotten a better understanding of my process and how best I like to work (pencil base drawing with digital color washes over the top). I still have a long way to go but its a start.

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Month of Fear Entries

After my Turtle Baby was born I took a break from art for about two and a half months. I doodled here and there but didn’t work on any large projects. Mostly during that time I was looking at other illustration work and seeing where I wanted to grow and develop with my own craft. When October rolled around and I discovered the Month of Fear art challenge I decided to jump right in. I decided to relax a bit and try to bring a bit more spontaneity back into my art and, hopefully, some life and emotion that I felt had been missing while I focused on the technical aspects of my work. Since I had my process more fully hammered out I was able to finish the first two prompts on time but then we bought a house, packed, and moved. I started falling behind. In November we were busy unpacking, working on fixing our schedules (especially Turtle Baby’s nap schedule),  dealing with a grumpy teether, family colds, etc. Needless to say, I’m still working on the prompts in December.

Despite the setbacks and delays, I’ve found that all the studying I did during my hiatus has paid off. These projects are finally getting to where I’ve been trying to go, stylistically, for the last few years. I’m finally getting comfortable with my process and letting go a bit more in my work.

Looking ahead to 2017

I have some projects that I’ve already got lined up for 2017 and I’m really looking forward to them. On top of those, I plan on finishing the Month of Fear prompts and start the Month of Love prompts in February if I have the time. After that, I’ll start back practicing my perspective drawings again. I’m hoping to be a lot more productive this year now that I’ve found the direction that I feel comfortable and genuine in.

Weekend Card Designing

This weekend I ended up creating 5 cards of various forms. 4 of them were hand made cards (you can see the cover of one here and its inside here) that centered around simple inked designs with watercolor accents. One was digitally designed and later printed.  I hadn’t expected to work on any cards at all so doing 5 was completely surprising but it turned out to be a needed break from my normal illustration work.

Below I’ve posted steps of the process of digitally creating one of my cards and the thought processes I went through as I put it together. All in all this card took about 2 hours to complete from collecting the patterns to the final card edits. It was a lot of fun and relaxing project to work on. Honestly, after this weekend, I think I’ll start creating all my cards either digitally or by hand in the future.

 

I initially started with a color scheme. I knew I wanted it to be extremely limited and center around warm blue-green tones. I collected a few patterned backgrounds and tested out the over all design and look of the card. card-Lauren-Crest-Illustration I decided that I didn’t like the starry sky background as much as I initially thought I would so I toned down the background with another pattern and lightened the color of the whale. I also created waves in the ocean and changed the colors of the water a bit by adding another pattern on top of the original one.
Card3-Lauren-Crest-IllustrationWith the overall design decided upon I started working on the details. I cleaned up the line art, added details to the water coming out of the whale’s blowhole, and added a gradient shade to the water to give the piece more depth.
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The whale seemed a bit stiff so I then added some blushing cheeks and changed the outline from black to a warm orange to give the whale some life and personality. I also started experimenting with creating more depth to the ocean by adding more waves, though those turned out rather difficult to see.Card5-Lauren-Crest-Illustration I added gradients behind each wave layer to help the waves stand out and I also choose to add more green to the waves to help them match the sky layer a bit more. After that I increased the saturation for parts of the original patterns and called the card done. 🙂

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Unicorns and Penguins and Ponies, Oh my!

This last week was an exciting week. I got to create some art for three friends/loved ones for their birthday/unbirthdays. It is the first time that my schedule hasn’t been INSANE in months so I took this extra time to have fun and enjoy creating. I enjoyed casually playing around with my style and experimenting with colors to come up with these cuties. (Note, I didn’t take a photo of my brother’s card before I sent it off. I just got so excited that I shipped it without thinking about capturing the epic, ridiculous birthday request that he gave me. *Facepalm*)

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My favorite part about creating these pieces was putting them in their frames. I loved painting them but I loved choosing the right color for the mattes to complete each image and make them pop. I will add that there is nothing nearly as satisfying as seeing the final package come together.

 

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If you are interested in a small piece similar to these (5” x 7”) for yourself or for a loved one, message me. 🙂

Thumbnails for the Win

This week’s post is a follow up from last week about focusing on improving my style. I originally had wanted to work on a bunch of pieces and see where they took me but ultimately I decided to place my focus on one piece. I pushed myself with this piece by adding in a detailed background, something I’ve never been comfortable with nor have I focused on improving on in the past. I’ve also gone back to work on my love of details and the human anatomy with this latest piece.

Below is a step by step guide to how this piece progressed:

As usual, when I’m searching for an idea I’ll take to pinterest for inspiration. When I found the image below I instantly fell in love with it. I could see this image turning into some sea squid woman and I couldn’t wait to start working on the piece. I loved the movement and lighting in the original photograph so I knew this fit within my goals for this week’s piece.IMG_3952

 

I started off by sketching some thumbnails. I typically skip this step but I’ve been pushing to start working with the fundamentals of art and have been attempting to do thumbnails now before starting a new piece. I wanted to get the proportions and composition perfectly prepared for my final image so doing a thumbnail sketch would definitely save me a lot of time and effot. Below is the first sketch that I did. I wasn’t pleased with the composition, the figure didn’t have room to breathe and was pretty squished within the page, so I decided to try again.

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Below is my second sketch. I made the figure smaller and fixed the composition of the piece. I felt that the image was still a bit boring with it just containing the figure so I added a jar around the figure, as if she were a pet fish, and an idea sprang to mind. IMG_8565

 

Seeing this mersquid in a jar reminded me of specimen jars and how much I’ve always loved them. I decided to try a new composition with a bunch of fantasy hybrids stuck in variously sized jars all placed on a shelf. The thumbnail below is what I eventually came up with. This is one reason that thumbnails are so important. Without sketching out the piece a few times I would have ended up with a poorly composed piece that was a lot less creative than this one. My idea was allowed to grow because I took the time to figure it out and I was saved the time of correcting the piece over and over again because I had already done that in a smaller, less detailed piece.

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As you can see by my sketchbook page below, I only did three thumbnails. Technically I should have done a bunch more before moving on but I was too excited to get started so I jumped right in. This would end up causing some problems so I definitely learned my lesson on this one. The-Collector-Series-blogLauren-Crest-IMG_8560

 

Getting the jars and figures on the paper was harder than expected since the format of my thumbnails above tended to be a bit wider than my final paper format. This is one reason why having multiple thumbnails of a final piece is super important. With some maneuvering, and taking more time that I should have, I got the basic line art down. The composition could be better but that’s what I get for only drawing three thumbnails.

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My next step was to decide whether to use powdered graphite or to hand shade this piece. I decided against the powdered graphite for this one and get back to my roots of hand shading. I didn’t have enough references for the powdered graphite to really work well and I don’t have the experience that I’d like with it to start such a detailed piece. So jumped in head first with a 3h, 2h, hb, 2b, and 5b pencil. After a few hours we can see progress.

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This is where this piece is at thus far. More details to the figures and shading have been added and the creatures in the remaining jars have been decided upon.

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I should have the final drawn image finished by Wednesday at the latest. After that I’ll be deciding on a color scheme and will be starting the digital coloring. 🙂 I’m super excited about this piece thus far and am super pumped to see where it goes from here!

Let me know what you think!

Doubt and Drive

Earlier in April an artist that I follow posted a message about the creative process, dealing with feelings of doubt, and the overwhelming drive to create art on his Facebook profile. I was surprised to read through it and realize that every word of his post mirrored my own thoughts and experiences.

 In hindsight, I realize that I shouldn’t have been so shocked. Read more

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