Design Process

Ratatat Poster

It's always a good time participating in the TBD Fest Poster Series. I'm always glad to be a part of a group that represents so much Sacramento design talent. This year I got to do a poster for Ratatat. I've been doing a ton of digital work lately so I stepped away from the computer for this one. I don't want to get too much into the boring details, but some of my process is below, plus the finished poster. Click the Soundcloud link to hear the song that inspired the concept. If you're interested in reading more, there is an interview page featuring yours truly here.

Girl Talk Process

A lot of work and late nights went into this to get it where I wanted it, but in the end it was all worth it! The process was somewhat lengthy and strenuous, especially initial research for inspiration and image collection. However, other aspects that usually take me longer (such as the custom lettering) happened a lot faster and smoother than I expected. The type itself only went through minor revisions from the original sketch, as you can see below. The only other part of the process that was difficult was color choice. I didn't document the color selection process here, but this poster went through somewhere around 25 color revisions. The darker palette in the final version really seemed to reinforce what I was trying to do with the collage imagery without being too "girly" (I really felt the lettering was girly enough, so I veered away from pinks, reds, and purples). Highlights were applied last, which I think really pulled everything together, remixing the vintage hand drawn illustration with a digital element. Juxtaposition folks!

Final Poster design, illustration + custom lettering

 Initial lettering sketch

Initial lettering sketch

 I composed the collage in Illustrator with found vintage art and then re-drew the entire poster with a Tombow brush marker

I composed the collage in Illustrator with found vintage art and then re-drew the entire poster with a Tombow brush marker

 Ice Cream! Cameras!

Ice Cream! Cameras!

 Kittens!

Kittens!

 and Snakes! This was the last stretch of tracing the image

and Snakes! This was the last stretch of tracing the image

 And I got to go to the actual show this time. It was crazy fun!

And I got to go to the actual show this time. It was crazy fun!

Golden State Process

I recently had the opportunity to do a series of screenprints for a gallery exhibition here in Sacramento. I themed all of my prints around California, pulling historical references from early explorations of the state. Many of my type choices were pulled from forms and styles from the days of the Gold Rush, when settlers moved west with hopes of pursuing their dreams and opportunities that the land held. Various names of the state throughout the years were researched, but "Golden State" seemed to stick for the largest of my 7 prints (16x20"). I love California and have lived here all my life. My goal was that the series would be a celebration of all that California has to offer — including the real "gold" that is found in it's climate, diverse landscape, and culture. Super fun project to work on and definitely something that I want to continue to expand on.

Below is my process for one of the pieces in the series. The show will be up at Bows & Arrows in Sacramento for the month of May and features screenprinted work from 3 other graphic designers.

 I found this really amazing map of "Old California" during my research. This became the textural foundation of the background layer.

I found this really amazing map of "Old California" during my research. This became the textural foundation of the background layer.

 One of the early sketches of the lettering. I wanted it to look elegant but still have a hand drawn feel.

One of the early sketches of the lettering. I wanted it to look elegant but still have a hand drawn feel.

Setting up screens to print. This is usually the longest part of the process outside of design and initial research.

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 Color 1 laid down!

Color 1 laid down!

The final product, ready to frame for our show.!

California Dreamin' Process

I recently enrolled in a class with Joel Felix and Hans Bennewitz on Skillshare called "Lettering: Learn to Draw Illustrative words." The main class project was to pick a phrase that you like and engage in the design process to come up with a unique lettering treatment of your phrase. I decided to represent California with high hopes that I will be able to use it for a gallery exhibition that is happening with Interval Press this Summer. Check out some of my process below. This one evolved quite a bit as I took into consideration feedback from friends, other students, and the instructor of the course. I always love looking back in hindsight and seeing how much a project changed. I struggled with it until that moment came where the letters "came alive" and really felt like they were right. 

My initial sketch. After receiving initial feedback, I determined that this was looking too formal and elegant for the phrase that I chose. Time to revise my style choice. 

I started to do several monowidth-line sketches, playing filling up the space of the circle. My goal was to achieve a sense of balance in form and negative space. 

More variations. After this, I made a key decision to switch up the style, thicken up all of the strokes, and simplify the flourishes to look like a coastal wave.

This is the revised sketch with a revamped style. Definitely feeling more fun and "California" to me. Time to take it into Illustrator for vectorizing and cleaning up the curves.

Almost there. Still have to clean up the curves and some of the spacial relationships between the letters.

I added texture to the lettering and placed it over one of my infrared images from Yosemite. 

The silkscreened version! 13x19 2-color print on French Speckletone paper. 

Rope type Process

My latest published project was a fun hand-drawn illustration for a Rope Climbing Challenge at Sac State. I wanted to share a glimpse into my process in creating this for anyone who is interested. I'm also working on developing a workshop on hand-lettering with a colleague of mine, so please let me know what you think by commenting below. Enjoy and hope this helps you out in some way or another. 

The first step was the write out the words in cursive and play with spacial relationships and how the individual letters could interact with one another. This is by far the most creative part of the hand-lettering process, in my opinion. There is room for editing past initial sketches, but I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to produce from this step. After writing out the words into something that I thought would work, I outlined the letters to have a thicker rope look. 

The next step was to refine the sketches. If you look closely, you can see that I increased the space between the two words and cleaned up the curves in the letters. 

Next I drew in the rope texture and outlined the entire drawing in ink. This is the most tedious part of any hand-lettering project. Of course, any minor mistakes made can usually be fixed in photoshop. This is the scanned image (600 dpi) of my final drawing. After this I scaled the scanned image up by 300% and did a live trace in Illustrator. Next I did some minor tweaks to the image, which resulted in separating the type into three parts (seen below) so that I would have more freedom in playing with color in the next step.

Next I applied color and texture. This is when the illustration really comes alive to me. I finally begin to get excited about finishing. This is the part of the process that probably takes the most amount of time, and a good knowledge of the software really helps to achieve the look you are going for.

Finally, I put the illustration into it's final context — a poster advertising The Rope Climb Challenge. My goal was to apply color, texture, and type in a way that would give the poster somewhat of a nostalgic/retro feel since the content is referencing a "gym class classic."