Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Eyak Lake display signs

My boss and I recently finished a job designing informational/educational outdoor display panels for the Copper River Watershed Project (CRWP). These six signs will be placed in locations around Eyak Lake in Cordova, Alaska. I hope to see them some day (you can only fly or boat to Cordova).

(The kick-ass salmon photography - like on the "Cycle of Life" sign - is courtesy Tom Kline.)

About: Each of these panels is about 36"x24 (91cm x 60cm ish) and were built with a combination of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. My boss had the initial concept and then I make it happen. Often I work with the images we are given and different layout ideas come out of that. I pretty much built the majority of the layouts with constant edits from the boss and he does all the copy editing and body typography. If it isn't a photo (or one of the two paintings on the second "Spirits" sign) then I drew it :D. It's difficult to get a true appreciation for how these work as signs unless you print them out full-size - it was quite a learning curve for us to go from working on a comparatively tiny 24" screen to seeing them full-size - there is an entirely different psychology involved in laying out a display piece versus a hand-held piece.

I am particularly proud of the bathymetry (lake depth) map on the 5th sign. I had three shoddy - and non-matching - bathymetries of various parts of the lake and had to piece them together in Photoshop, print it out and hand-label it so I knew which colors were which depths on the mis-matched areas, then re-trace the entire thing in Illustrator. :) I also really enjoyed creating the simplistic yet fun illustrations for the backgrounds. Though I'm eager to some day do something really complex with Illustrator and really flex those muscles, its a personal challenge to "dumb down" my style and I think it worked on these signs.

As a bonus, here are the fish from the "Small Fry at Play" sign, bigger. They were one of the last things I illustrated so they ended up much more detailed and less cartoony than the main sign backgrounds that were illustrated - which I think worked because they are foreground subjects anyhow. We just needed fish examples and didn't have photos of them all so illustrating them made it more unified.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

WPA Moose

This is actually only the size of a large postage stamp - it is a remake using a moose instead of an airplane, with modified colors. I drew the moose and everything else, of course, based on multiple moose. :) Did the vectors and base colors in Illustrator CS4, shading, texture, and text in Photoshop CS4.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


20"x26" oil on illustration board, 10 hours

Last week at the office, Gary's dog Gus was taking a nap in the hall. My boss, Chris, took the opportunity and turned on the hall spotlights and snapped this photo on his iPhone. I knew right after seeing Gus that this was a painting just waiting to be made so it was lucky Chris got the shot.

Gus is an ENORMOUS malamute - his head is bigger than a backpack and one of his feet are bigger than both of mine put together! But he's pretty low-key and I think this kind of captures a good chunk of his essence.

I am starting to like illustration board again, this being my second piece on it since I originally learned to paint on it 18 years ago. I really like the smooth blend I achieved on the wall and the black stayed more matte than if it had been on canvas, I think. I had a deuce of a time with Gus's fur; I started getting too detailed which clashed with the overall style so I blended it all together and tried again but with large strokes to give a general sense of color. And no, his rear foot isn't missing, he's laying on it.

Sorry no in-progress photos to speak of; I forgot my camera all three days I worked on this.