Sketchbook Sundays

Maybe this will inspire me to draw more – I realized the other day that all I do is write to-do lists in my sketchbooks!

They sometime get a wee bit out of control. I’ve been trying to make more of a conscious effort to doodle in my sketchbook, I love doing it and yet I never seem to remember that it’s an option for free time (which has been few and far between lately).

Painting – From Way Back When

To be filed under “things that make me laugh”… I found these hiding on a thumb drive from forever ago. By forever, I mean junior year of high school. That feels like an eternity.

Proportions were clearly of zero importance…

It’s interesting to look at artwork from that long ago that I haven’t so much as thought about in the past 4 years or so. Definitely come a long way & yet there’s something nice and naive about these. I remember doing a whole series of square paintings just about objects that I found around the art room. Maybe I should bust out the paints again and see how I’ve improved.

Side note: It’s finally time for Spring Break! After a long quarter with oodles of projects, I’m finally headed south (well, comparatively) for a week of sleep, family time + designing.

Tips + Tricks

Met with the lovely Carolyn from Composing Nows yesterday to help with some blogging & wordpress tips (which was hopefully helpful?!). I consider myself far from an expert on the matter considering half the time I want to do something I just end up Googling it & hacking something together until it works (as long as it meets the goal, right?).

I decided that I’m going to start sharing some more of my tips & tricks for building websites, figuring out WordPress + other fun things. After all, there are so many out there it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks.

The first being Subtle Patterns. Seriously, if you haven’t found it yet.. go check it out. Now.

You’re able to access & download hundreds of different patterns for any use. Easy to use, best thing ever.. You get the idea.

Next up is Coda. It’s basically a stripped down version of Dreamweaver. I’ve become quite accustom to working in Dreamweaver, however I LOVE the interface for Coda. I’m actually considering buying a year subscription to it (It’s only $99). It’s way less clunky than Dreamweaver which means you can actually open multiple applications while working on websites & not have to worry about crashing your (somewhat old) computer.

It does take some getting used to because it’s all code view (there is a preview button) but I’m a huge fan of the split code/design view in Dreamweaver. The whole instant gratification thing in coding makes me happy. There is a 16 day trial period or something like that so definitely check it out & see what you think.

Finally there is Google Web Fonts. Chances are you’ve probably run across this one before but just in case…

A wonderful library of 466 (+ growing) font families free to use! They make it super easy to embed any typeface you want on your website and they even provide the amount of load time it takes so your website isn’t slow. Easy to use + makes typography on the web so much better!

Those are only 3 of many things that I find myself using on a daily basis. Will post again soon with more helpful hints!

What typography/design/development web tools do you find helpful? Have you used any of these before?

How to Survive – iPhone App

As I talked about earlier, I’ve been working on an editorial spread for a while now. The topic I decided on early this quarter was “How to Survive 16 Hours in the car” as that is the length of our typical road trip to Wisconsin each year for Thanksgiving.

For Interactive Design we were required to animate an app in After Effects. Being unfamiliar with the software, I wanted to choose something I already had assets for rather than worrying about both the design AND the new software. Turn out I completely changed my mind on the overall design of the piece in the process so I ended up redoing everything anyway – but it was worth a try!

The app features various games that can be played on the car ride. Ideally it would be a more in depth app but this was a pretty quick deadline. I featured the “Are We There Yet?” part of it where a user can insert their intended destination and then anytime the “Are We There Yet” button is pushed the app updates you with a “Nope, not yet. Still have ____ miles to go” or some other similar saying. There is also a “States & Plates” part that acts as a digital checklist for finding license plates.

Unfortunately the final movie clip is a little large to embed on here right now. After Effects is definitely going to take longer than the 2 weeks I spent on it to get used to! I’m pretty happy with the progress that I made on it so far and definitely a lot happier with this direction compared to where I was going with it earlier in the quarter. Everything always seems to smooth itself out in the end!

Finals Week

Tomorrow is the start of finals week at RIT. Luckily for me it’s the start & kind of the end of it as well – I have 3 finals tomorrow and then just one more thing due on Tuesday. I’ve enjoyed the projects I’ve worked on this quarter for the most part but I’m definitely ready for a fresh start (and more sleep!).

I’m currently working on finishing up a 4 page editorial spread on Road Trips & how to survive them. I’ve been looking and tons and tons of car/road trip/traveling/route 66 designs for inspiration. It’s been a frustrating process at times because I keep changing my mind! I was originally going an illustrative route & then switched to photography & then back to illustration! It has been a good learning experience though – I’ve become SO much more proficient with the pen tool in illustrator and better at making quick vector graphics for icons. I’ve also gotten the chance to play around more with typography & more inventive uses of that. Sometimes I feel like I get stuck in a rut of using the same typefaces and using them in the same way. Well for this latest project I’ve gotten a chance to break this & try out some new exciting things!

Here’s an example of something I was looking at while working on my own. (Note: I use these for inspiration only. It’s really helpful to look at other examples and see what is possible to do with type – gets my brain thinking!)



Probably won’t put a final shot of my editorial spread up for a while – I’m also working on an after effects animated version of an iPhone application that I created with the imagery from the editorial spread. First time using After Effects – boy was that a learning experience. Easing is still not a huge strength of mine – I do just fine with print or interactive thing but getting animations to look normal is tough! New found respect for animators & anyone who deals with After Effects or Flash on a daily basis. Even if I don’t really plan on using the software myself in the future, I was really interested in getting a basic knowledge of it – mostly for fun!

After classes are over this week, I have a few plans for over spring break – mostly figuring out what I’m doing in 10 weeks for after graduation (!), redoing my personal portfolio website and working on some design projects I haven’t otherwise gotten around to during this busy quarter. Should be nice to work on some of my own projects for a week or so without the thought of homework looming!

Ketchup Fridays

For Editorial Design, we’ve been working with photographers all quarter to produce 2 to 4 page spreads on topics of our choice. They will ultimately be going into a magazine that is all student produced called Positive Negative. It’s definitely an enjoyable class – I’m liking how it’s going outside of the traditional “professor lectures, students listen” mold that a lot of classes fall into. We’re learning a lot by simply experimenting on our own.

For each article we come up with a topic or two to propose, write a 500 or 1000 word article on it, get them read over by the writing center at RIT (the only part of the process I dislike), and then come up with a photoshoot. The first project took place in about 2 weeks while the second had almost 4 (we had to do a 4 page spread though) and this last one is due is slightly over a week. Yikes!

Things get somewhat hectic at times especially if you struggle to come up with a topic or the photographs aren’t coming out just right.

photo by Joe Philipson

On top of working on the articles, there is also a subsection of students on the magazine staff team that are all working to produce the magazine. Everything from the typeface used throughout, the cover, the folio and photo editing is all taken care of by the staff. Definitely a huge amount of work going into it but it’s awesome to see how much people really commit to something when it’s fun!

For this next article my partner & I are going to be working on a spread about how disgusting chicken nuggets are (okay, more like how ridiculous the number of ingredients in them is). Should be a fun spread to work on – it’s due in a little over a week so we’re kind of jumping right in. I experimented with some ketchup typography last night, didn’t turn out quite like I wanted but a good first run.

Will update with the final image later!

Here is a video from our Kickstarter page that explains more about the project:

Label Design + Sketches

Clearly packaging design has taken a front seat on the blog for right now. It’s kind of funny because I never really intended on getting into designing products. I first became interested in graphic design because of magazine layouts and the newspaper. Much like how times have changed, I’m much more inclined (and excited about) designing for web.

Taking packaging design this quarter has been interesting because it’s made me think more about how much a label says about a product. It could be the exact same iced tea, coffee or beer and yet the label sets the mood for the customer. If the label is more elegant it implies that it’s probably going to be more expensive. If it’s very minimalist with traditional typefaces it often suggests a store brand (ie. Walmart).

I’m personally drawn towards beer and wine labeling because designers have gotten pretty inventive with the designs for the packaging. Looking at bottles for Juice (our project) they all start to look alike. There is a lot of the standard stock photography looking fruit with water droplets and bright colors. Custom artwork on basic juice labels is rarely seen. Perhaps that’s because fancier labels implies expense?

Lots of thing to keep in mind while designing for juice labels. It’s also turned me into a crazy person (ie. pulling juice bottles from my boyfriend’s recycling and photographing it).

Currently playing around with a number of different ideas for the label design – with a bottle shape that is not 100% nailed down it’s rather difficult to fully work out anything. Hopefully that step gets taken care of this week and we can start working through some more of the designs. Ideally the packaging and the label design would compliment each other and play off of each other. [Ignore the fact that these sketches are all in purple – I just happened to like that marker that day!]

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Juice Packaging

I’ve already posted a fair amount here + here about my packaging project to redesign juice labels. I’ve found it so interesting to look at all of the different types of bottles and designs out there. Right now we’re working on focusing our target audience down to a slightly narrower market. We originally started out by naming three or four different target groups (who were all very different!) so I think focusing it will give us a better idea of where the branding/design aspects need to reach.

Loving these simple yet elegant & funny designs for the juice bottles. “No bad stuff. zilch, zero, nada.” and “one ingredient: fruit”  Clever ways of reinforcing the idea that these are really all natural! Even though juice bottles like Juicy Juice claim to be “all natural”, I’d much prefer to sip on one of these lovely juices – goes to show how much branding can make a difference!

All sorts of different categories of importance go into juice buying: brand loyalty, organic/non organic, price, flavor, and the list goes on.

What do you look for when you pick out your Juice Bottles or other drinks? Does packaging make a difference or are you brand loyal?

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Juice Packaging Design

For my Packaging Design class, we’ve gotten our second project brief. Unlike the first project, this one is lasting 7 weeks and involves 3 different majors (Graphic & Industrial Design as well as Packaging Science students).

Our group is tasked with redesigning Wegman’s organic juice line. A few weeks back we went to the store and did a visual audit which involved walking around and photographing various bottles that are currently sold. We looked pretty goofy because we were testing out how easy it was to hold or pour the individual juice bottles. People must have thought we were super intense grocery shoppers.

Anyway, today we did a little brainstorming for our final packaging. Without giving away too much, here are some things we’re finding inspiring so far.

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