Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Digital Art Task List

Here's the to do list that's been sitting on the Whiteboard in the computer lab for the past several weeks.
  1. Resume
  2. Career Path/ Further Study Plan
  3. Self-directed Portfolio Piece/s
  4. Journal
I wonder if I could set up tabs for some of these different tasks in this blog? That would knock over one of the skills I want to build for myself in my Z Twist Art blog.

Here goes:
  • Using "Pages" I created a new page called "resume"
  • Using "Layout" I added a gadget, "Pages" clicked on "Home" and "Resume" that put it into the blog layout. Initially it comes up on the left as a list, which is not very spectacular. I need to work out how to make it as tabs across the top of the page. I'm guessing that's in "layout" as well. 
Here it is as a screenshot--and that's achieved with shift, command 3 on the Mac

Market Poster--Retrospective

Time for confessions again. A couple of weeks ago I rushed myself though completing the flier for Made n Thornbury Market. I had planned to document my process, but somehow I got ahead of myself. For the record, here's the poster I made.

The beginning of my process is here.

I was quite proud of the number of skills I managed to apply in this task, so I really should try to document as many as I can. Meanwhile, I may as well get the disappointment of reporting the result over and done with . . . despite my efforts, it was the victim of a committee and never saw the light of day. Nevertheless it achieved its purpose at this end by motivating me to apply my skills to what at least had the semblance of being a real life project.

Landscape Task--Digital Approach

Our last Studio task for the term has resulted in--and benefitted from--some progress in my digital work. The topic is Australian Contemporary Landscape. At first I felt overwhelmed by complexity. Tracy took us through a powerpoint presentation on the topic and we had a pile of book resources to access as well. The book, "Williams Creek and Beyond: Australian Artists Explore the Outback" is now on my wish list.

One of the approaches which I hadn't previously considered is to design a painting with Photoshop techniques. I'm not sure whether Tracy meant that was what these artists actually did, or whether the approach is merely reminiscent of Photoshop blending techniques. Nevertheless I decided to attack the task from there.

Coincidently, there's an exhibition including Australian Landscapes currently at Bundoora Homestead. And we need to visit some galleries for our Studio subject, so I made that my Sunday afternoon outing. I took some photos in the gardens and got myself started. Here's the result:

There was a huge ghost gum in the grounds. I've been taking shots of trees silhouetted against the sky for a while now. I had several I was considering for this task, but this ghost gum had the twisted shapes and the grandeur that is iconic of the Australian landscape.

  • I wanted to retain the proportions of the mobile phone image as a clear acknowledgement of the place of those images in my experience of the world. It's rare for me to come back from a walk or an outing without extra images snapped on my phone. 
  • I opened the image in Photoshop CS5. My phone pics come in huge, with 72 dpi resolution, so my first task was to take it to 300 dpi and set height as 60 cm--compatible with and A3 print out. 
  • I boosted the levels to increase the drama of shadows and highlights
  • Next I posterised the image in a new layer. I played around with how many colours to keep and settled on four. The idea is to simplify in my mind the task of blending colours for the sky, even though I expect the painted image to by less blocky than the photoshop version. 
  • I blended the posterised layer with a copy of the original image using "hard light". 
  • Next step was in Illustrator. I placed the saved image from Photoshop into an A3 Artboard. By now I was getting fond enough of the image that I imagined printing it out as a digital art piece in its own right. 
  • I'm planning to use an A4 canvas sheet for my first attempt at the painting, and I was impressed with an approach of using separate panels within a painting, which I'd seen in the Williams Creek book. 
  • So I placed the Photoshop image off centre and added two panels to fill out the image to the A4/A3 proportions--using the rectangle tool and sampling colours from the sky using the eyedropper too. 
  • Adding black lines between the blocks of colour completed the image. 
  • Now it's printed out and ready to use in my Studio class this afternoon. 

Posters 101

 Mark got us started in Illustrator by having us design a poster in the Phoster App on the school iPads. There isn't a version for Android, so it's not an App I'll grab for my phone. I need to check if there's a Windows version, but then again, it was really an educational launchpad for the class, so neither here nor there, really. The main point was to have a simple design template to then copy using Illustrator functions, rather than getting hung up on lots of design decisions as well as learning the basic tools.

Basic Tools Used for my first poster: 

  • Create an Artboard--this one is A4
  • Rectangle tool to the same size: click and drag
  • Add fill for background colour
  • The next step was adding the "bunting" top and bottom. This began with a triangle with the polygon tool: 3 points and then clicking on the top point and stretching it to the required shape. 
  • Fill and stroke set the light blue colour of the triangle and the size, colour and style of the surrounding line
  • Copy and paste, multiple paste using command-D 
  • Group the triangles and drag the row to fit the bottom of the page
  • Copy, paste and rotate to make the top row of "bunting" 

Commercial Printing Templates

As I'm learning to use Adobe Illustrator, the issue of how to set things up for commercial printing comes up. Caroline suggested using a commercial print template such as these ones as a starting point.

Moo printing

It's sort of the opposite way around to how I would have thought to approach the problem, but it works

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Uploading Photos

It's been a week since my last progress report, but nevertheless progress has been made.

  • I now know how to convert my Illustrator file to upload--via File>Save for web and devices. Just to prove the point and celebrate, here's a digital collage I created in photoshop earlier this term. 

And it seems that the ease of upload in Blogger has improved since I last used Blogger eighteen months or so ago. 

For the record, this image consists of several layers of my work in Photoshop:
  1. A collage of japanese papers
  2. DI drew into it with contours in related colours--inspired by the warm-up exercises we did in Studio class with Andy Sutton in week 1.
  3. A photo of succulents I took on one of my regular walks forms the other dominant layer
  4. There's a layer formed by another photo of a plant: converted to a black and white using tonal drop out
  5. And another layer of autumn leaves
  6. Blending modes pull the layers together--note to self, I need to get more familiar with the various blending modes and what they do. At the moment it's pretty much a matter of trial and error. 
For extra excitement, I've just received a print-out of this image on fabric. It's printed on the school printer using Esiprint--printable cotton sheets from Embroidery Source in Fairfield. Esi-print is a printable woven cotton sheet pretreated for printing with removable backing paper. It comes in A4 or US letter size.  I've also been able to purchase a similar product from GJ's--one of my favourite local fabric stores. That one is made by Matilda's Own and there's an A3 size available, so I can see a skirt panel in my future! I've been told that the quality of print-out depends a lot on the printer quality, rather than just the quality of the substrate. Meanwhile I'll soak the fabric panel I have to loosen up and excess dyes and start to play with it with my textiles techniques. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Day 3--Market Poster

I decided to work on a flyer for the Made n Thornbury Market as a learning exercise with a real purpose.

Here's my first attempt

-- my first challenge for today. Blogger won't upload a pdf file and I can't find how to save my Illustrator file as a JPG, GIF or PNG, which are the formats Blogger will accept. I'll have to add that to this list of things I need to find out in Illustrator. Thankfully I have class this morning and I grabbed a few books from the library yesterday.

Other than that, my process involved

  • Importing the key design elements from TWNH: bunting, TWNH logo, Made n Thornbury Logo
  • checking the other key elements/wording to be included
  • choosing a new image to illustrate the "Twilight" market--as theses markets are usually daytime events. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble remembering/finding the source of the image I chose
  • Playing around with arranging the different elements on the page
  • Sending a first draft for feedback. 
Second Attempt
  • used a clipping mask to fix around the absence of a cropping tool in Illustrator--looked this up via online help
  • eliminating the bunting gave me more room to work with--benefit of feedback from Market Coordinator--she loved the stars image, so I went with that. 
  • added stars with key words--played with grouping objects, resizing and rotating and altering colours
  • sent second draft for feedback--result is mostly good, though some of the wordings that I shortened to fit the image better are apparently key/not negotiable, so those will need to be reinstated. 
Challenges/Learning Points
  • matching colours--using eyedropper tool
  • some imported logos/images appear on a solid background--transparent would be easier to work with
  • matching fonts to maintain overall cohesive look--there are already several fonts included in the TWNH Logo and the Made n Thornbury Logo
  • I'd like to be able to edit the shape of some of the curves in my main image--I'm not sure if I can do that with the approach Mark gave me last week, and now I can't find the image I started with. 
Now it would help to be able to access this information from school and I have it set as an "invitation only" blog. I'll have to see how my google ID works . . . 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Day Two

Progress Report
Day 1

  • reserved the Austin Keon books from local library
  • borrowed a couple of books on Creative Cloud applications and reserved a few more
  • briefly worked on a draft of a flyer for Made n Thornbury Market in Illustrator--learning points to be identified and explored further
  • made some progress on the Doll Project--testing materials
  • did a couple of quick sketches in my visual diary
Clarifying Skills to Develop
  • Mark showed me last week how to import a graphic (in black and white) and convert it to a vector which I can manipulate. I want to see whether I can adapt this to the graphic I chose for the Made n Thornbury flyer.
  • I already worked out how to fix around the absence of a cropping tool in illustrator by using a clipping mask. Are there other or better ways to achieve this? 
  • Dee has asked me to "go nuts" with fonts for the flyer--I tend to like to keep things simple and I'd like to be able to match the fonts used in the logos as much as possible to help the whole piece to look coherent. 
  • I have a collection of photos I took last week for Em's school formal. At least one of these will be printed as a gift to her family. I'd like to use my photoshop skills to make it as good as I can before printing.
  • As an extension I could do a digital collage incorporating her formal ticket and the lace pattern from her dress.
  • I need to decide how this journalling does or doesn't integrate with my public blog--having set this up now as a private blog to be read only by invited guests. 
  • Re-styling my Z Twist Art blog to look more like a website, with easily navigated tabs and links to my Facebook and Pinterest has been on the agenda for a long time. 
  • Importing and placing pictures is an essential part of making a blog look good. From memory this was rather clunky in Blogger, but I had a routine going. However I had run out of free storage--that whole situation needs to be explored and sorted. 

Confessions of a Facebook Addict

This is a first and ambivalent post in a blog which may not have a future. I've just finished reading a review by Maria Popova of Austin Kleon's book, "Show Your Work". His previous, "How to Steal Like an Artist" remains on my recommended-but-not-yet-read-list. I came across Maria Popova's article in a facebook feed and it sat in an open tab on my desktop for several days.

This morning I woke with what felt like way too many "tabs" open in my brain. So much so that those precious last twenty minutes of potential relaxation before the alarm rang were occupied with reluctant mental gymnastics while I lay in the half light with my eyes closed, listening to my dogs snoring in their beds. I remembered how my almost-daily blog posts used to serve as a personal ideal work supervisor and focal point for my textile art. I mentally rehearsed the myriad of tasks on my "to do" list. I admitted that I'm no closer to fulfilling the requirement for 10 journal entries for my digital art subject at school. Then I got up and started the day, as I usually do with coffee and cereal and waking the resident teenager. But after the now-traditional browsing of my facebook feed and overnight emails, I read that article and found a collection of relevant and intriguing thoughts.

So here I am, as the teenager finishes getting herself ready for school, typing away at a blog post for the first time since she came to live here and remembering another point--I like arranging words on a page.

As for the open "brain-tabs", at this stage I think they may just need to be deposited on this page as dot points so I can come back to them later:

  • journal entries for digital art
  • improving photoshop skills
  • improving illustrator skills
  • improving photography skills
  • developing my "doll project" for Studio Art
  • documenting the "doll project" for Studio Art--extending it with digital techniques
  • exploring possibilities for printmaking
  • improving and gaining confidence with drawing skills
  • developing a better work routine
  • exploring future possibilities for my art practice
  • making decisions about my Z Twist Art micro-business: direction, promotion, viability . . . 
  • sorting the studio--including allocating workspace to different types of activities or simply clearing space enough to be able to work productively
  • promoting my work while all this is going on
  • reviving my Z Twist Art blog . . .or not?
  • learning about world history in general and art history in particular
  • re-learning and updating my medical knowledge
  • getting back into a routine of walking regularly
  •  . . . and I'm sure there are more
For now, they can just sit on this page which may or may not be published, but at least I've made some sort of a start here.