Showing posts with label color. Show all posts
Showing posts with label color. Show all posts

Friday, September 13, 2013

SMA Interview Series: Illustrator, Jannie Ho

Hi, my name is Jannie Ho (pronounced Jane-nee) and I’m an illustrator specializing in children’s books and products. I’m also known as Chicken Girl.

I went to Parsons School of Design with a BFA in illustration. After graduating, I worked as a graphic designer and an art director at many fun places such as Nickelodeon, Scholastic, and TIME Magazine for Kids before going full time as a freelance illustrator.

I've illustrated more than 2 dozen books and my work has appeared in magazines, toys, crafts and digital media. I'm currently based out of Boston, MA.



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Q: Hi Jannie! Does your past as a graphic designer and art director influence the decisions you make in your illustrations? 

I think so, in many different ways. Illustrations can be part of an overall layout and I'm always thinking about that as I create. What can I do in my illustrations that would ultimately offer more for the art director to design around? Lately I've been thinking about how working at Scholastic book clubs had influenced my style and color decisions for quite a long time in my illustrations. I use to design the book club flyers and there was constant talk about making the book covers pop. Yellow as a background color was a very popular way to make things stand out, and for a long time, I had a hard time using other colors for a background. Also I was designing for a younger age group and the colors I ended up using all the time for my design ended up in my illustrations. And ultimately my illustrations geared more towards a younger age group too.



Q: Your characters are absolutely adorable. Where do you get inspiration for their clothes and colors?

Thank you! I use to often get feedback that the clothing style in my characters tend to be a little old fashion. But now that I have a child, I'm more aware as to how real kids dress, and what all the cute kids clothing stores are. Lately I've been into looking at Mini Boden (http://www.bodenusa.com/en-US/Mini-Boden-Clothing.html) for inspiration. Their color palettes are amazing too. I'm trying to keep a more edgier and sophisticated color palette but at the same time kid friendly and approachable. So keeping tabs on great colors I see on Pinterest, and using sites like colourlovers.com.


Q: Do you keep a sketchbook?

I don't really keep a sketchbook anymore. Only because the way my life is structured these days I have very little free time to do so. I do however, keep sketch files- little bits of file in Illustrator I play with. Sometimes when I'm working on a project and an idea sparks, I will start an illo on the side and eventually it gets cut and pasted to its own separate file.


Q: How important is it to market yourself? 

It is definitely very important part of being an illustrator. I'm always wondering if I can be doing more. My agent certainly helps me market and show my work to potential clients through illustration directory websites, catalogs, conferences, etc. But one thing I always like to mention is that I've never stopped marketing myself once I had an agent. Why not help myself? Why not double the efforts and hopefully cast a bigger net? It is my own career after all and I should take charge.

Some of Jannie's colorful, fun promotional materials!


Q:  How do you decide what work to show online? 

In my portfolio/website, I tend to show pieces that I enjoyed doing, hopefully attracting more of that type of work. And usually it ends up being a lot of personal or self promotional pieces. In my blog, I tend to like to keep an update of all my professional projects and what I've been busy with. I've been terrible with keeping up with my blog however. Facebook and Twitter really replaced my blog.




Q: What are your favorite tools?

I'm perfectly happy with a Wacom tablet and Adobe Illustrator! I always love hearing about new ways/tools to work, especially digitally. Keeping up with what is out there. But ultimately I do keep things very simple.


Q: Are there any exercises or experiments you do to keep your creative juices flowing? 

One great trick I've learned recently is a style analysis. Take a piece of art that you love, and write down all the elements that make up that piece of work. The way the lines are, the colors, etc. By doing this you can find out what you really love about the piece, and apply it to your work in your own way. Sometimes we see a piece that is amazing but can't really point out why we are attracted to it. This is a great way to get creative juices flowing. To get out of a rut, it seems to be a fine balance of knowing when to stick with it and when to walk away. Sometimes you just have to sit with the art till that eureka moment comes. Or sometimes I feel like I'm unbalanced in other areas in my life and I need to tend to that first before coming back to something creative. One thing I know is that everyone experiences it and its part of an artist's journey.






Q: Would you mind giving us a peek at your workspace? 

My workspace could use some more inspiration! I'm in a somewhat temporary situation so my space is currently not what I envision for myself in the long run. But I do have a lot of little toys and trinkets around that make me smile.



Q: What's the most fun thing about being an illustrator? 

I still can't believe I get to draw for a living! Getting to create my own worlds, having books out there to share my vision with others. That is pretty rewarding.


Q: Do you have any upcoming projects or news you're excited about and would like to share?

I have a wonderful Pop-up gift book coming out in the Fall published by Campbell Books in the UK. It is called Pop-up and Play Farm and I worked with the amazing paper engineer, Maggie Bateson. I'm also happy to share that the board book series I illustrated called Tiny Tabs are coming in the US! They are currently published by Nosy Crow in the UK and will be in the US February 2014 through Candlewick.







Thank you Renee and the rest of the Simply Messing About ladies! You are all very talented and I'm honored to have met ALL of you in person and be on your blog. :-)



Visit Jannie's website!
Follow her on Twitter and check out her Facebook Page!



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Thank you so much, Jannie! Your work is so bright and lovely and, I can say this having met you in person...it's just like you! D'aw. Congratulations on all of your new books, they're beautiful and fun and all the kiddos are going to love them!


It's been so great having some visitors on our blog the past few weeks. I, for one, have never been more enthralled by all the different answers we've gotten to similar questions- it just further goes to show that it's ok to make your own routine, do what works for you... 

But love what you do.

Some words of wisdom that have been consistent throughout our interviews: Never give up.

So...don't. :)

And that concludes the self help portion of this blog post. 
Thanks for following along with our SMA Interview Series, everyone! 

Cheers!
~Renee

Monday, April 29, 2013

From Sketchbook to Screen: Color

In my last post, I detailed how to get your scanned sketch to a workable level in Photoshop. This will be sort of a continuation of that, but in color

I recorded a demo of myself painting the sketch below and, though it was intended to be only 10 minutes long, I ended up going on and on for about a half hour! I don't expect that everyone would want to watch that, so I sped it up to 3 minutes and added a Huey Lewis tune! WIN.

In the long version of the demo, I show how to use levels, multiply layers, and use brushes to get a softer look. In this shorter version, you really just see some color decisions fly by!


Sketchbook Painting Demo (3min) from Renee Kurilla on Vimeo.


Here are some of the brushes I use:

Useful tips mentioned in the long version:

  • To quickly change the line color of your sketch, select the line and hit CMD+U (Hue/Saturation), check the "colorize box"
  • If you paint with the pencil tool instead of the brush tool, the autofill is MUCH better.
  • Layer Lock: Lock Transparent Pixels is AWESOME. 
  • You can also use Blending Modes on a layer above your sketch to colorize your line, but it effects all colors underneath the layer as well. 

Learning Curve:
Even though the long version is 30 minutes, if I were painting this for a paying job I'd definitely spend another few hours finessing details. I think spending those few minutes ahead of time colorizing your lines is worthwhile.
If I had known I'd end up colorizing this sketch, I might reconsider how much pencil shading I add. I found as I was coloring that it was very difficult to select sections to "colorize" because of the thick shadows. The shading also makes some parts of the piece very dark (her shirt, hair, the little bear nook).

Noteworthy: Someone who really has this technique down is UK based illustrator, Alex T. Smith. His work is phenomenal and lively, so talented! His latest blog post actually shows a before and after pencil sketch turned color.

You know what the real secret ingredient to all of this is... (drumroll please)

Patience.

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*If you'd like to watch the long version of my demo in which I say "Umm." 2,000,345 times and immediately go back on my promise to label all my layers, I've made it available on my Vimeo page, here. :)

Thanks for reading, and as always feel free to comment below and ask questions!

Cheers!
~Renee

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Watercolor my World

It's the beginning of Spring here in Boston, a time of new beginnings and rebirth. There's no mistaking a change in the air when you get that one extra hour of sunlight! In the Spring, I start to reassess where I've been and where I'm going. This year I chose to focus on my art style. Lucky for me to find three talented ladies in the same boat!

As we previously mentioned, the goal of coming together on this blog is to help not only each other, but offer advice to anyone else who might need a lift. I'm thinking of it like a journal. Down the line, there's bound to be a story you'll connect with to help steer you in the right direction.

Here's my first story:

I studied oil painting in school by choice. 15 years ago, I had different goals and different influences, but things change. After school I got a job in the animation industry and suddenly I was a digital artist frantically learning new skills and software, letting my paints dry and crumble. How sad to forget about something you studied in such depth!?

A few months ago, tired of leaving them half full, I started to make myself draw in my sketchbooks. I thought it might be helpful to use Instagram to share photos of my sketches (social media "cheerleaders" are your best friends). Because of the reactions I got, I kept going. I learned to draw more freely and be less dependent on the Cmd+Z.


A few months into posting sketches, I pulled out my Pentel brush pen:


Having that solid pencil sketch made adding a more permanent line actually fun to do. Being able to manipulate a brush pen got me to thinking (uh-oh). 

Here's the conversation that happened in my head:

"I need to relearn how to paint."
"But oil paint is too messy."
"And smelly..."
"What if my cat eats the paint and dies?"
"There has to be another way."
"Water...
...Color"
"!"

It sounds so silly listed like that when actually, over time, I just developed new influences and became more fascinated in a particular picture book illustration style. (A style you just can't replicate in Photoshop, believe me I've tried!) My husband focused on watercolor in school and we had a "Painting Sunday" where he showed me some techniques. Our cat, Timmy, was happy I chose water over oil and so eager to pose:


I kept dabbling for a bit on my own:


Then I discovered a local watercolor class with illustrator, Dan Moynihan. I can't imagine taking a class these days unless the teacher is someone I greatly admire and want to learn from. Dan's style is cartoon. My style is cartoon. Perfect! I was relieved to find that class #1 had us starting from the very basics. There is absolutely no pressure to finish anything and make it look "perfect," which I have been trying to do for 15 years.

I've only been to a few classes so far, but taking a giant leap backwards has been extremely helpful. It can seem gruesome to have to start all over, but it's never too late if you don't freak out (*quote of the day). Patience is so hard to find, I know.

The reintroduction to value and hue studies is one of my particular favorites:


Through this simple test, I'm discovering what colors I like best and realizing I can probably subtract a few from my palette (i.e. second row from the top left - ultramarine and cobalt look close enough to probably choose just one):


My first palette (that I will eventually condense):
-Cobalt Blue
-Ultramarine
-Viridian Hue
-Sap Green
-Burnt Umber
-Yellow Ochre
-Quinacridone Gold
-Cadmium Yellow Hue
-Burnt Sienna
-Alizarin Crimson
-Cadmium Red Light Hue
-Cadmium Red


There you have it, the beginning of my sloooow, messy process of getting back into painting and the end of chapter one. If this ends up being a 25 chapter book, so be it. The second you stop learning is when the creativity stops as well, right? I'll do my best to share what I learn on this blog and I'll definitely keep posting frequent sketchbook photos on Instagram!

Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions, and so forth. I would love to keep the discussion alive!

Cheers!
~Renee