PSYCHO | © studio c | all rights reserved

Mixed Media – Psycho, 1960

PSYCHO | © studio c | all rights reservedIt’s almost that time of year again.  With the weather turning sour here in the PNW, and Halloween just around the corner, my thoughts begin to turn to Autumnal favorites – like Vintage horror.

For many creators, media types – film, music, photography, writing – can weave, deliciously intertwining and fueling our pursuits.  Film has long been a source of tremendous inspiration to me with seminal favorites like Hitchcock, Carpenter, and Cronenberg.

So, since I’ve been on a bit of a creative refuel jag as of late, I thought I would relive that most famous moment of Psycho: the shower scene.  It an obvious choice but only because the visually imagery is, and I imagine will remain, so striking.

I like to start these kinds of mini-projects by looking at old newspaper clippings and ads from the time period.  In this case, there were plenty of great ads from Hitchcock’s famous marketing scheme.  With his house (and reputation) on the line, Hitchcock risked everything to bring out Psycho.  Obviously, I’m glad he did.

When the preliminary – and admittedly none-to-attractive – penciling and inking is more or less the way I want it, I bring the graphics into Photoshop and begin adding color and basic shapes.  The shapes needed to tell a story, to convey the emotion of the scene – this is why they’re all moving in a sort of right to left, top down, slashing sort of way.

Other sort of conscious decisions revolve around Janet Leigh’s expression – her eyes and teeth especially.  For the eyes – I choose to drop out a lot of my inking work in Photoshop, opting to use the fiber filter.  For the teeth, I go the other way.  I remove everything but my pencil work and shade the contours a bit more, being sure to make them as white as possible.  I feel the contrast really gives the piece a focus.

As I iterate, I wonder what it would look like if I drop the more obvious blood red background ink puddles for something a bit more cool in tone – just to see how it changes the mood.  I try out a nice, retro blue and while I play around with it for an hour or so, I just really want the red.  Sometimes, a thing just boils down to the want of it.

In the end, I leave you with a fun, fangirl poster for Psycho and ask what poster would you remake?

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HOUDINI | © studio c | all rights reserved

Mixed Media – Harry Houdini

HOUDINI | © studio c | all rights reserved
(Click to enlarge)

“I think that in a year I may retire.  I cannot take my money with me when I die and I wish to enjoy it, with my family, while I live.” – Harry Houdini

Here’s the result of a quick (as in: 1 hour) exercise using Illustrator, Photoshop, and my beloved Wacom.  I’ve always rather enjoyed the feel of mixed media works – that borderline, intent vs. chaos vibe that either looks completely intentional or, well, a happy result of out-of-the-box experimentation.

This piece, created during a lunch break, was a fun way to flex some brush working muscles while exercising color and detail constraint.

© studio c | all rights reserved: sherbet illumination

Creative Refuel – Illuminated Text, Part 2

© studio c | all rights reserved: sherbet illumination

Coming off a two-day work-cation (some of us love our work so much there’s no such thing as taking a vacation from it) in Portland, OR where I checked out all the crazy goodness at Rose City Comic Con, I found myself reinvigorated.  Sitting amongst greats like Brian HaberlinAnina BennettTim Seeley and the mighty Rich Werner (Plants vs. Zombies!!) can do that to a girl.

It’s not enough to live and breathe what you do.  If you can get to a place where you love it you may find yourself fulfilled in ways you never dreamt possible.  Of course, I’m talking about work-life balance.  It’s where your passion and your day-to-day flow together instead of fighting with one another.

The most commonly asked question during the panels at the Con was “how do you find time to do your creator-owned stuff?”  The answer?

Pay yourself first.

That means, before you head into work, before you do your household chores, before you put your creative juju into anything else – give yourself the freedom to do something *you* want to do, creatively.  It can be 15 minutes.  It can be 2 hours.  Just set aside the time and make it happen.

© studio c | all rights reserved: sherbet illumination
(Click to enlarge)
© studio c | all rights reserved: sherbet illumination

Creative Refuel – Illuminated Text, Part 1

© studio c | all rights reserved: sherbet illumination

As anyone who works in design will tell you, after awhile, you need a break.  It’s easy to get burnt out when your money maker is also your escape.

I’m talking about your creativity and how you need to routinely, and lovingly, recharge it.

Working against tight release schedules that require high levels of detail orientation, creativity, interactivity, and – if nothing else – the sheer desire to get it done, you need to remember to stop and find the joy in your work.

When I find myself in need of a little creative refueling, I enjoy lettering.  I’m no professional, but lettering is something I’ve enjoyed fiddling with since I was a child.  Lettering is as much an art as it is a science.  Letters can (obviously) be beautiful while still conveying their given meaning.

So, for the first part of the exercise, I set out to create half an alphabet – or thereabouts – as much as I could do in 30 minutes or less.  The goal was to have fun, but to also work on comfort and familiarity with the Wacom and Illustrator.  The result is a sherbet-y collection of letters shown below.

© studio c | all rights reserved: sherbet illumination
(Click to enlarge)

Say Cheese – Animation

When you have a design like “Say Cheese” it’s almost true to say it can practically animate itself.  With a classic Polaroid camera and speech bubbles, as soon as the art was prepped and ready for import into Flash, I’d already storyboarded the entire piece in my head.

The real opportunity to delight the user sprung from the idea to add a flash to the bulb and sound effects during the intro animation of the design, or the “concept reveal”.

With six vibrant backgrounds and seven different titles to choose from, I still thought there was room for more user customization.  I threw in the ability to turn the speech bubble on/off and while I was at it, I wired in functionality to enable the user to customize the bubble’s color if they so desired.  After all, if I believe in anything, when it comes to design, it’s that people want to make things their own.  Why not help them?

This fully customizable, playful greeting features art by Rastar and is available in the Smilebox service now.

Night Owl – Animation

The concept of this design was to take the given elements – stars, moon, and owl – and make them come to life in grand, puppet-show style.

With a choice of colors (including a gender neutral yellow) and layouts, the “Night Owl” design was produced with various animation phases that progress the design to its end state where the user image(s) is revealed and can be interacted with.

The challenge with the animation was to create a sense of gravity, of movement, and of space and depth all while enabling the user to tell the story of their family’s newest arrival.  The result is a delightful, customizable way for users to stay connected.

This playful, puppet-show style announcement features art by Rastar and is available in the Smilebox service now.

Watercolor Flowers design

Watercolor Flowers Greeting – Animation

Confucius apparently once said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”  The same can be said of good design.

In my experience, designs that look simple are rarely so.  Such is the case with the animation I created for this greeting, “Watercolor Flowers”.

My initial iterations were too complicated and detailed, leaving me to wonder how I could make the animation feel more like a watercolor.

Eventually, I whittled it down and let the most organic, visually arresting element within the design dictate the overall feel.  The result is a painstakingly hand-animated mask reveal that allows the flowers to “bloom” forth in smooth succession.

This visually soothing greeting features art by Rastar and is available in the Smilebox service now.

colorOptions for Watercolor Flowers design