What can I say. Talk to me about faeries and you’ve got my attention. Add a few trolls into the mix and I’m really engaged. Top it off with a couple of elves and a side of mushrooms and I’m yours! So when something as delicious as “Shitake’s Adventures In the Lower Troll Forest” came along, I couldn’t resist.
I received the manuscript from Yael Shhachnay of Rimonim Publishing house and read it over night. The novel was humorous and full of magic. Just what I would have loved to read when I was a little girl. I enjoyed it no less as a grownup.
After the first sketch of the very first illustration the remark I got from the talented author Eshkar Erblich-Brifman was: “Can you please make them uglier”….
Well I have to say I have never enjoyed a client’s remarks more. I loved making noses longer and adding a few extra pounds here and there! It was so much more interesting.
First pencil draft: Press the “Ugly” button please.
Final Draft: Ready for coloring.
Not ugly. Just less Hollywood.
My inspirational wall for the next couple of months was full of fantasy art, but I was also inspired by classic artists such as Norman Rockwell, who’s work I absolutely adore. I admit the doctor in the following illustration was highly influenced by Norman’s “Optometrist”
But the most enjoyable drawings were of the lower troll forests.
Character descriptions: “Tall Troll female. Her name is Betty, with thin wispy hair, a swarm of flies hovers over her head. Her eyes are black and murky. Dark patches cover her entire skin .The male troll is busy courting his beloved Betty. He is shorter and wider than her. Belly flaps overflow in tire like fashion. His nose is leaking and strands of hair grows out of his ears.
The fun I was having is unimaginable. Seriously. I was dancing in my chair.
And then came the Goblins…
This particular scene had us in a conundrum. On the one hand the description in the scene clearly stated a male Goblins blowing up a rubber beetle vehicle using a chicken. On the other hand the Author Eshkar is a sworn vegetarian and we finally settled on a chicken which didn’t seem to be in pain but rather proficient and happy to do it’s duty as a professional air blower. I hope no one takes offence. No harm came to the chicken. I assure you.
All’s well that ends well.
If you are proficient in Hebrew and are aged 8-12. This book is available here.
May there be Faeries and elves around your corner.
London office. Well past eleven o’clock. And I was still at the studio.
It was no picnic. I was going through an emotional roller coaster. Angry, frustrated, annoyed. I was working on special effects for the film “Wanted” with Angelina Jolie. It was a scene with a train going down a cliff.
The smoke simulation was going slow. It was a technical challenge. I felt like I was behind schedule and to top it off the render times were extra long and all I could do was wait and doodled in my sketch book.
My only respite was the music in ears and the pencil in my hand.
I was plugged into my ipod. It was way way back in the olden days can you tell? Suddenly a tune came up. It was perfect. Upbeat and uplifting. In a matter of seconds a short animation film played it self out in my head. Inspiration!
The opening scene was a forest. Misty and wet. The main actors were a caterpillar and a looper. Competing. A race to the death.
All of a sudden I was juiced. I stayed at work later then usual that night and sketched fiercely between smoke simulations. The next weekend I visited regent park for some up close shots of my premise. I had a new Canon and it was so much fun playing with micro shots.
I resumed my sketching of the full storyboard. Two opponents, drama, competition, violence, misfortune and blood. All on the backdrop of a Japanese style game show.
I sketched and re-sketched the storyboard for days (the writing is in Hebrew by the way). After that I modeled and rigged the main Caterpillar in Houdini. On the weekends I textured and look developed the main hero. I stayed up late with determination to create a nifty little short.
This story doesn’t have a happy ending folks.
Alas the project proved to be bigger than my tiny five year old desktop could withstand. Who am I kidding. It wasn’t just that. I got over the initial inspiration lightning bolt.
Long long minutes of rendering an ambient occlusion pass sealed the fate of this passion project. One scene was rendered.
I never finished the animation.*sniff*
This is the only documented proof of my efforts. Funny but true. There was no final result worth celebrating, but I damn enjoyed the process!
The longer answer is this. An art piece’s completion is completely subjective. It could potentially be done when I cock my head to the right squint my eyes and dim the lights. It can be done, when I’m tired. It can be done when I’m hungry. It can be done if there is a deadline. But wait…What if there is no dead line? What if the piece is a personal project. Is there an inner deadline?
Yes there is.
It is when you die!
I’m sure dead artists wouldn’t agree.
I don’t think I ever really complete a drawing. Sometimes it just clicks with that final line. Sometimes it’s missing something edgy and then I go to sleep and wake up with an idea, like adding a creepy insect. At times I begin a drawing and put my wacom pen down knowing I need to give it some final touches the day after. Sometimes it feels like I worked on it for too long. I sucked most of the juice out of it. I ate it up and enjoyed it like a fresh luscious apple and now I want to take the final bite and relax.
I may come back to it after a few days and realize to my surprise that the apple had a few more bites to it after all. But by then, like an old apple. It just needs to be left alone. There are plenty of new apples waiting for me.
All I wanted to do on a lazy autumn Saturday was to draw like old times . It’s been awhile and my sketch book had a few last pages. My daughter was kind enough to play on her own for a few minutes at a time. Between a batch of minutes here and there I sketched Eve. A character on my work in progress novel.
Last night I painted her in Photoshop and became so engaged in the process, I ended up staying up until 2 AM.
Putting her on paper in color or rather in monochrome was so helpful. Imagine getting a description of what someone ate for dinner. Then imagine being served that dinner. Two different experiences. That’s how it felt for me. Describing vs illustrating. I know her better now.
I’ll write her better now, which means I must draw all the characters in my book as soon as possible. There are a few more and more coming.
I want to illustrate all the creatures for that matter.
I’m apprenticing at the studio of an amazing teacher. I’ve taken on this course without really knowing what I was getting myself into. I just signed up thinking it’ll be pretty cool to be in that school. Maybe it was a resume thing. I wanted to buff it up. So it worked for a while, I was a superficial student for the first couple of years.
My junior years.
After the third year, like in Academia . It was time to specialize and then it got pretty serious. The teacher was pretty ruthless. I got no slack. Even when I wanted to relax and give my self a break, she never let me off the hook. There was no cheating, faking, or playing games in her classes. That was when she gave me the very best lessons.
I came into that course thinking I knew a thing or two about the material, but I learned that I knew nothing at all.
I learned to be present.
I learned about humility.
I learned about being patient.
I learned to put my ego aside.
I learned I can change my mind as much as I want.
I learned that I have a lot to learn.
I learned to suck at things and own it.
I learned that it’s OK to make mistakes.
I learned to think before I speak.
I learned that I have a happy place.
I learned that it’s fun to dance and sing in public.
I learned that being a mom is a spiritual practice.
Around 21:30 the house fell silent. Nothing is more pleasing to me lately than those quiet hours. I used to be so tired in the past. I guess I slept enough for a while. these days I’m vibrant as a vampire when the city rests.
It was time for some fun, but not in the bloody sense. Just geeky stuff.
Beginnings are so exciting. Aren’t they?. The middle is a bit muddled. So this post is refreshing for me in the sense that I found it so pleasing to quickly illustrate this character. To enjoy the beginning of the creative process which depicts the actual contrast of what it represents.
I’m in the midpoint of a novel I’m working on. half done and half more to go. The main character is Aora. She is a work in progress. It’s so fun to describe a character in words, when I’m so used to describing in color and form.
This girl is inspired by the looks of the beautiful Marina Nery. I sketched her in pencil first, just to get the feel of her. Color was done in Photoshop. The process began in a speed painting in my standards. by 23:30, 2 hours later I was happy to put my Wacom pen down and complete a “wip” version of my main character’s face. A few weeks later I came back and sat down to give her more attention and more detail.
This is a little sneak preview of my inner world. I love books. I love getting wrapped in a good story. I love science fiction. I love fantasy. I love dystopia. I love evolving with new ideas. I love a good journey. i’m on a journey here, venturing into a whole new realm.
There will be more work in progress art of this yet to be completed book as it comes along.
Designing character Mascots is a long winding process. The race to the finish line is full of sketching and going back and forth.
The brief can be an endless list of character traits , style, properties or what ever the client has a vision for. The end result is symbolizing the brand successfully. The process is the incubation period and the result is a cute little baby mascot. All shiny and new, ready to represent and reflect what it’s company stands for.
Sketching the first shapes and colors, the inspiration was from water creatures and balloons.
And then after a bit more exploring and doodling. It looks like we found her.
And then we get more specific and add variations, expressions and poses.
After the emotions are approved, comes the time to bring in the big guns. Maya and Photoshop combined. There you have it. A new Mascot is born!
I hope you like the process of my bubble girl. I sure had a blast.
Do you know that feeling. When your tummy twists in painful excitement. When your tongue is dry and it’s a nuisance to swallow…I’m talking about the torments of trying something new.
Now imagine being a designer and working a certain way for ages. Imagine having a comforting professional routine. Then imagine turning your world upside down and working differently. Different hours. Different design projects. Different deadlines and most importantly different clients. Some of you may have a boss. So now imagine having loads of different bosses, and now the catch! You may or may not get payed for your hard work.
No, I’m not talking about freelancing with bad contracts and cheeky clients, although it may sound the same. That’s a post i’ll write some other day.
I’m talking about 99d – 99 designs. Yes I have been testing this thing. love it and hate it. What is 99 designs? I like to think of it an international design bidding platform.
I first heard of it when I was still employed full time and daydreaming about freelancing. I thought to my self. “Here’s a seductive concept. I just log in. Look for a cool project and submit my design/ illustration/ sketch and get payed”
There may be over 300,000 happy customers. But there are even more designers and the playground is a jungle of hungry predictors circling a juicy brief.
Why do they do it? Why do I do it?
It’s not the pay. The money is not guaranteed and you may find your self working hours and hours and the client tosses your beloved piece of art out the window.
What?! You put your heart and soul into your creation and someone has the nerve to say they don’t like it and won’t pay for it?!
Yes. And it’s Horrible. But it is also awesome. It’s all about accountability. How many times have you vowed to yourself to start a personal project. How many times do you have an itch to boost a certain aspect of your portfolio. I think most of us have the “want it” part but not the “work it” part. Not all of us are type A people who put our mind to a project and just give it our all even though it’s off hours and totally unpaid for. It’s hard to work for yourself when you don’t have accountability. You lack the motivation. You suffer from procrastination. “Shall I design a cool retro poster?…oh..look…Back to the future trilogy”
As a designer & an illustrator I log on to 99d to look for cool briefs to enhance my portfolio and shake the dust off my wacom. I essentially go into a deadline and critique simulation of the real world. Iv’e been submitting projects on and off for about two months. Iv’e been a finalist a few times. Which means the client likes what I did but wants to choose between me and a few other designers after eliminating tens of others. The first time I was chosen as a finalist I felt great, I did a little victory dance in my office/ bedroom. The joy was short lived. I pulled an all nighter . I remember sitting red eyed from fatigue and looking at the clock closing in on the deadline for all finalists. Submitted my final final final design at the last minute only to be informed in the morning that the client went with another designer. “Thanks for all the hard work, but no thanks.”
It was discouraging, I admit. But the sooner I tried again the pain got a bit more bearable with the second rejection. The pain of failing and getting a bad critique is hard on any designer. It is also a school of life. It taught me something I forgot. The real world has many opinions and many tastes. I might not be the right taste for those clients. It also taught me not to get too attached to my baby. Yes I gave birth to it. But as soon as I put it out there, it’s on it’s own. Elizabeth Gillbert said it and I concur.
And as soon as it’s out there, In the words of the very wise Seth Godin “it might not work”.
Up until this very moment I have been trying and designing and working against the clock. Each attempt makes me stronger in some ways and discourages in others. I feel like a student again. I have a few years of experience behind me and yet I feel like i’m at square one. To be perfectly frank. The internet is a much more vicious arena than the university. No one is nice and they don’t always give a hoot about the right critique etiquette. Even in my fully employed days I have been given softer sugar coated comments and remarks about my work. People on the internet don’t see me. They don’t see my gender, my religion or my country if I choose not to show it. They see my stuff. They are less sensitive to my efforts and in some ways I’m sure they feel the same. They are the client and they are not seen. All they are to me is a message. I don’t try to please them with my personality, but rather with my ideas | designs | illustration. It’s a whole new way of working.
They might be in the US or somewhere in Dubai. I don’t care who they are. I just care about the project. I don’t even care that much about the price they’re offering. I see designers working just as hard on low paying projects.
There are other ways of finding good briefs, sure. Pro Bono projects, charity, Online challenges. But 99d is another way. It may not work for most, it may be a bloodsucking creativity monster. But for now…it brought something alive in me. I was reminded why I love the field. I have yet to see the fruits, but I’ll keep harvesting just a little tiny bit longer. Winter is coming.
What about you? Have you tried it yet? I dare you. I double dare you!