Thursday, August 30, 2012

Old school EGA character portraits

Click to enlarge

More work in progress for my AGS old-school style adventure game! This time I've started on on character portraits. Most likely the protagonist will be front-view and all the other characters will be three-quarter view. I will be making some male portraits too, of course! 

I've been working too sporadically on this game -- Gotta set aside some time each week to dedicate to this, or else it'll never get done :P.

-- Julia

Monday, August 27, 2012

Weaving illustrations for Inge Dam

Inge Dam is a master weaver based in Ontario, Canada. She specializes in tablet weaving, producing gorgeous, vibrantly coloured textiles that she sells on her site. She also exhibits and runs workshops. This fall, Inge is self-publishing a book of her techniques and invited me to collaborate with her!

Way back in the spring of 2011 I did an illustration for Alternatives Journal about how new technologies (such as Print-on-Demand) are revolutionizing the publishing world. Since then, two of my clients have used Print-on-Demand services to create their own books! The first was A Circus Mind, for which I produced an epic dozen illustrations; the second is Inge's project. And that doesn't include the two books I self-published: a slim portfolio book and a series of watercolour cat illustrations I did for various holidays and special occasions.

I ended up using Adobe Illustrator for the illustrations, because a lot of them are more diagrams or technical illustrations than anything else. It was a nice change of pace for me -- I'm such a Photoshop jockey! 

Most of my work has been editorial commissions. My first love is editorial, but it is nice to branch out and create stuff that's got a bit more of a shelf-life.

When Inge's book is finished I'll be sure to let you know!

- Julia

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How to make homemade tomato sauce

Click to enlarge!

Last weekend I helped my brother-in-law make homemade tomato sauce. A very time-consuming process but incredibly rewarding -- Summer in a jar through those diabolically cold winter months. 

Every year my brother-in-law and his brother have struggled with a chintzy red plastic contraption to extract the seeds and skins from the pulp and juices. This year, the brother sprung for a heavy metal motorized beast of a tomato massacre-izer. Game changer! This machine blasted its way through two huge cardboard boxes of roma tomatoes in no time flat. It felt like we were shovelling coal into the firebox of an old-timey steam locomotive. It was actually kinda scary!

After that, it was a mere matter of simmering down the pre-sauce until it was reduced 50% and then canning it with a bit of salt. The best sauce ever.


-- Julia
Portfolio site

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Mexico refuses a cash infusion to health care -- For the Weekly Alibi

The art director wanted a Zia sun symbol incorporated somewhere, to indicate that the state of New Mexico (the state's symbol) was the main character here. I decided to go with a belt buckle because it would make the symbol larger and easier to see, and something a politician might wear!

Sometimes I get a full article to work and sometimes it's just a few words. That's how the fast-paced editorial illustration works, particularly with a weekly publication! This time it was "IV bag of money", "a hand about to cut the line" and "Zia symbol". 

I wanted to pose the man with the scissors the same way you'd see a politician or celebrity pose for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. And I wanted to colour of his suit to be on the warm side because when I think New Mexico, I think of suits of this colour. Maybe it's all the Breaking Bad I've been watching -- I'm pretty sure I've seen Hank Schrader wearing this suit and shirt combo!

I've done a number of illustrations for the Weekly Alibi, so this wasn't the first time I've used a Zia symbol. Here's an example. And another! I try to avoid overusing symbols, but they will crop up from time to time. I've drawn way more guitars than anything else, though (that first link will lead you to a bunch my illustrations that have guitars in them).


-- Julia

Friday, August 17, 2012

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Flora Nymphea: Another favourite fragrance

I've mentioned before that Tom Ford's Black Orchid is my favourite fragrance (here's the sketch I made of it). It's a glorious, unique scent but unfortunately not that suitable for spring and summer. However, I've come upon something that is perfect!

I've gotten quite attached to Aqua Allegoria Flora Nymphea. All of the Aqua Allegoria series are fairly simple fragrances. Flora Nymphea is all about a lovely not-too-sweet honey smell. Which is weird because I hate the smell of actual honey. But this just smells so amazing! Fumehead Katie Puckrik describes it as a happy, natural, real smell. Here's her video review.

On the surface, Black Orchid and Flora Nympha are complete opposites: Complex vs. simple, heavy vs light, warm n' spicy vs light an floral. None of their notes are the same. But both have sweetness to them that isn't sugary or overpowering. And both have earthy qualities that work well on skin.

Here's the illustration job I did that inspired these fragrance sketches.

Other fragrance recommendations:

If I was more into fruity florals, Givenchy's Hot Couture is a good one of that type. It's hard to do a fruity fragrance that doesn't smell cheap or common. Hot Couture's got some nice raspberries that aren't overpowering. And it's got other stuff going on so it's not just fruit. Lancome Tresor Midnight Rose is another raspberry fragrance, but boring and generic in comparison.

Prada L'eau Ambree is gorgeous if you are looking for a sophisticated amber fragrance. And yes, to anyone who isn't big into perfumes: amber is fossilized tree resin and probably doesn't smell at all! Amber in perfumes is a sweet, woody, balmy smell that is created by combining a bunch of different ingredients.

My favourite jasmine fragrance so far is Bvgari Jasmin Noir. It's a little bit strange-- the first note I get off of a spray is something like rubber! But maybe I'm just weird, because when I smell my mom's night blooming jasmine I almost get a cigarette smell. And jasmine, of course! A lot of jasmine perfumes end up being too sweet. Even Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Jasminora seemed too sweet. But maybe I should give it another chance, because Guerlain is usually pretty great when it comes to perfume!

As for men's fragrances, I haven't really looked into those much. Ages ago I bought my boyfriend Burberry Men after spending hours smelling everything in sight at the Bay. He still wears it! It's great in all seasons, dries down nicely, and wears close to the skin. Decently priced, too.

What's your favourite perfume? :)

-- Julia

Monday, August 13, 2012

Syd Barrett in Wonderland for A Circus Mind

Here's a "A Circus Mind" illustration I did a while back. Somehow I hadn't posted it before so here it is! 

I love Alice in Wonderland so I was happy to do this one. Pretty teacups, a teapot, a raven and a writing desk. Here's another Alice piece I've done. I don't often do surreal stuff so it was nice to play around!

 Inked version and sketch:

-- Julia
Portfolio site

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bank Transfer Day for the Weekly Alibi

Here's a recent one I did for the Weekly Alibi for an article on Bank Transfer Day. Bank Transfer Day encourages people to take their money out of the Big Banks and switch to credit unions. 

"Unlike banks, credit unions are not-for-profits owned by their members. Instead of siphoning earnings up the pipeline to shareholders and CEOs, they can invest them as they see fit. This can take the form of lower interest rates and fees, or member-directed donations to local charities and community groups. Perhaps most crucially, they can respond to local economic conditions and offer loans to people who might not qualify at a big institution." (For the rest of the Alibi article, click here.)

The art director requested a portrait of Guy Fawkes on a bank note that had a number of references to Bank Transfer Day (the date, "99%", ninety-nine percents) so I did two versions, one of Fawkes' actual face and one of the iconic Fawkes masks. I was wondering which one they'd use -- they ended up using both! The article describes the historic origins of credit unions and the anti-Big Bank sentiment that is a form of protest today. Using versions became part of the concept, which was a fun surprise.


-- Julia

Friday, August 3, 2012

Garden sketches

Haven't done much sketching lately. Wasn't sure what I wanted to draw, until my mom asked me if I knew what a green bean plant and a cucumber plant look like. Sounds like a challenge -- To the garden!

Hope everyone's having a good summer.

-- Julia
Portfolio site