I love when things get announced and I finally get to show you what the heck I’ve been doing!
Last summer, I got to check off another dream project – working on a game/app! An educational kids app, no less. I got to make art for this massive phonics app & game collection called Phonics Museum.
I illustrated fourteen different games, with various multiple states, and created a host of other assets for various animations and other parts of the app. Whoah!
It was such a wonderful and new challenge. I worked with a much bigger team than I’m used to (uh, typically it’s just me and maybe an art director), including other artists, which was neat. I had to try to match and take inspiration from existing assets, and also of course organize my work in a way that other teams could actually use my files. It was also really different trying to account for various different states within a game. Each set of illustrations had to have several different variations based on what was happening in the game – not something I’d ever done before, but something I really enjoyed figuring out! (I learned to love layer comps.)
Here’s a little example of what I mean- this game is one of several that involve connecting pieces to create a sort of Rube Goldberg track or machine. I also had to make lots of different track pieces – that was a total logic puzzle for me at times as well!
Another cool challenge that comes with any freelance gig is having to draw things that you wouldn’t think to draw otherwise. That came up a lot on this project, but one of the best examples I can think of was the ship game. I had to draw three different ships, each in various states of disrepair. I was baffled as to how I would do it, but once I started I actually really enjoyed it!
In most of these images, you can see another parameter I was working with – I needed to create background assets that could be moved around or turned on or off to make some variety in the background, so it doesn’t get boring. I really enjoyed flicking the layers on and off and seeing how different I could get things with just a few assets! There’s a good example of that in some of the screens from this game, in which players explore a pyramid. I had to make assets (including doorways) that could be rearranged to produce different rooms:
Of course, probably the absolute coolest part of all of this is getting to see the stuff in action in a working game! My drawings move and do things!! You can see a few things in action in the trailer for the app, below. (I was collaborating with some other folks of course, so it’s not all my art. My fellow MIAD Alum Jillian Stiles did a few games, and some other folks worked on a lot of the other assets.)
So wild! There’s more screenshots and such over on the Phonics Museum website.
Big thanks to my art director, Sean Hennessey, over at MajorMega! He always knew exactly what to tweak to make the pieces that last little bit better.
Alongside my illustration work, I also teach kids art classes a couple times a week. It’s a great complement to freelance life – gets me out of the house and talking to humans, gives me a community to be a part of, and best of all, I get to spend time with my wonderful, inspiring students!
I’ve been wanting to make a few drawings as exercises in capturing all the rich little details that make my students seem like the real human beings that they are. I had particular fun trying to create outfits for them that felt real- their clothing choices are always crazy awesome.
Hopefully I’ll get to do more of these soon!
Below, you can see a slideshow of the various steps it took to make this piece. Thumbnail to tight sketch to flats to finish! (I confess, there was A LOT of struggling between the thumbnail and the tight sketch.. but I didn’t save any of that to show.)
I’ve been finding myself wanting to work with traditional media more and more lately. I have a nice, sunny room upstairs where I’ve set up some sketchbooks and inks, and I tend to doodle there while I drink my morning coffee. I don’t really plan anything, I just sit down and paint whatever seems fun or relaxing in that moment.
This is a mini collection of some of those paintings. I definitely want to make more – I feel like it’s going somewhere, but I don’t know where yet. It’s all definitely something new to me, which is really fun and energizing.
New promo postcard illustration! Still have to draw/design the back, then I’ll be ordering a big stack of these to send around.
I have a part-time job as a children’s art teacher. One of the things I do at that job is create sample images for our various assignments. So basically I do a drawing that fits the prompt, aiming for roughly the level of detail/complexity my students can handle, and color it with the same materials they use. It’s SUPER fun and I kinda can’t believe I get paid to do it every week!
Anyway, the original drawing for this came about from one of those samples. I didn’t change the composition much,(Although I changed how I drew the bear – my students kept thinking it was a hedgehog or a beaver or a hamster.. oops!) but I wanted to go with a less expected color palette than what I used initially. I fussed with it a lot and even did a host of color studies, assisted by the color tools in the Adobe Capture App. I was really trying to make the green work! But ultimately, I just had to kill it. Wasn’t working for me. Modified primary palette it is!
I made a comic!
I love making comics, but I only ever make them when I have a flash-of-inspiration style idea, one that comes all at once. That’s pretty rare for me. I haven’t figured out a process that lets me get through “working out” an idea that’s not fully formed with comics, like I have with other kinds of art. I have so much respect for those who can do that!
Anyway. Take a look.
I’ve also revamped & reposted my Comics page with other comics work!
Art is the best job.
I mean, it’s always great. But sometimes, you get an opportunity that’s just so ridiculously cool, it’s hard to believe it’s part of your actual job! That’s what this project felt like.
The Furrow, a very cool animation studio in Kentucky, invited me to be part of their collaborative animation demo reel. They got a whole bunch of amazing illustrators to contribute pieces that were then animated by the team at The Furrow, and combined into this awesome video. How cool is that?
They took my piece and completely brought it to life- along with a host of other awesome art from other artists! Definitely go check it out.
Behind my parents’ house in Wisconsin is a huge empty grassy space we just called “the field.” My siblings and I spent a ton of our childhood wandering around in “the fields,” full of tall grass and shrubs and locusts and moths and turtles and one time, an abandoned washing machine. Later, the city added (beautiful!) drainage ponds to the fields, which brought geese, ducks, and a great blue heron. It was really a sacred, special place to me.
Now I live in Virginia, and I’m learning to feel like it’s home. It’s different and sometimes weird – especially in winter. I’m not used to winter that’s not blanketed in snow, and for a while I found it hard to see the beauty in a whole lot of drab, brown, naked trees.
However. I now live near this incredible, wonderful, breathtaking park along the Potomac. And in that park, there’s a pond – an achingly familiar pond with geese and ducks and yes, a great blue heron. And it has tall tall grass, and little shrubs, and all kinds of little miracle plants that have taken on such lovely shapes.
So, this drawing turned into a tribute to those two spaces, and to finding beauty even in winter. The colors are still beautiful, really – it’s just a different palette. The dead & dormant plants have a really different, delicate quality.
This piece is 18″x24″, colored pencil on paper – and not (yet) photographed very well, because photographing art is hard! I’m learning.
Below is an in-progress shot & some of the photos I took in the park when I was gathering reference.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I wanted to switch it up and go with some new tropes, so this year I did Silly Sci-Fi Valentines. Truth be told I’m more into science fiction than I am into fantasy, yet these were so much harder to come up with! I think it’s in part because sci fi spans such a huge range of settings and subgenres, plus I didn’t want to reference specific characters or settings. Ultimately, it was a great challenge- and it was a lot of fun to draw characters again.
Feel free to print ’em out and give ’em to your nerdy Valentines!
Puttering around with more plants and landscapes! Although there’s still fall inspiration all around me, I thought it would be good to try something different. I thought back to an afternoon I spent wandering around Caroll Creek in Frederick, Maryland – they’ve filled the waterway with all these beautiful and alien-looking aquatic plants.
I found that without a specific photo as reference, I went in a more stylized/whimsical direction. It was fun, but very different from my last piece, which was really about capturing a specific scene and moment.
Another in my landscape vignette series. This one is inspired by a particularly foggy morning on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was so foggy, when we stopped at overlooks we couldn’t see the ground at all! It was like a dream.
Here’s a photo I took that morning and used as reference/inspiration: