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    Welcome to my, Brandy Agerbeck's graphic facilitation lab. Why "lab" and not "blog"? Blog felt too serious, like I have to be an authority. While I have loads of experience, you can go to my portfolio to see my work. Here's where I play. Contact me with questions and suggestions. Here's the past archives.

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April 2004 Archive

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Put on You Thinking Cap
Today I'm in Pittsburgh, contracting for my friends and colleagues Diane and Peter at Alphachimp Studio. This morning, I graphically facilitated with a great facilitator for a great group. It's funny to see so much done before 1 pm!

A model they used was Edward De Bono's Six Thinking Hats. I heard of this back in my Ernst & Young Accelerated Solutions Environment (ASE)* days, but never read it. So, last night I crammed and here's a scan of my cheat sheet:

Click here for Edward De Bono's site, and Click here for his book on Amazon.

* Note: If you want to learn more about the ASE, check out MG Taylor's site, the company EY learned/bought/liscenced/whatever their process from.

posted at 4:08 PM

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Iconophilia, Chapter 1
Is ready to go! You might catch a few little to-be-edited things, but it is ready to entertain you.

posted at 12:57 AM

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Eh, Not Really.

Oh, this 24 Hour Comic is so not done. To look at the glass half empty, I sleep, oversleep and my old fogey computer ran real slow. To look at the glass half full, I've only got about 30 minutes of work to tweak my illutrator drawings on the last section, about two more hours prepping graphics (because that always seems to take longer than it should, and about 2 hours making the web pages.

If you do the math, I technically will have it done in 24 hours, but that's not the true game. But considering I have a full day of client work tomorrow before I head off to Pittsburgh for the week - I ain't complaining or dissappointed to not complete the task as stipulated. If I had, I'd be in pretty sorry shape right now.

But that's the short term of the challenge. The long term - I did lots and lots of good, good work on a section of the site, I've been thinking about for a long time. I made my first version of Ico in 2000, and I bought the domain name Iconophilia.com back then too. Let it lapse because I just have too many ideas/projects in my head.

The best kind of problem to have.

The Ico character had a rough start as a figure in a few web illustrations I did in 1999. Then in 2000, I made him snappier and built some images that have been happily sitting in my portfolio since then. In general, people enjoy them. Scott McCloud totally dug them in the 2002 MCAD class. He definitely encouraged me to draw a web comic and pointed me to Demian 5, which is fantastic. I was already keen on vector-based comics, and it was super to see someone already doing it so successfully.

So, I figured I'd make the first installment of Iconophilia a 24 Hour Comic. I knew I wanted to done a series of comics that were very non-verbal and iconic. Knew what the main everyman character looked like, but never got farther than that.

This first installment is shaping up nicely. I'm really digging where it's going. Folks who are comic purists will probably critique it backwards and forwards. I come to comics as an appreciator of the form and how it communicates visually, on the geekiest level of sign, story, composition - not as a comic book lover. So, you when you see Iconophilia, you can argue it is or isn't a webcomic. For me, it's a form for getting these ideas out of my head.

Soon you'll be able to see it. I'm going to leave my computer for the next few hours at least. If I don't return late tonight to finish it, I'll be bringing my computer to Pittsburgh to finish it.

Stay tuned!

posted at 4:16 PM

p.s. Listening to archived This American Life's are a good way to get stuff done in the wee hours of the morning.
posted at 12:28 PM

Uh, g'Mornin'
I have absolutely no recollection of my 10 am alarm. None whatsoever. But, I think I can webify this thing in 3.5 hours...

posted at 12:22 PM

Thirteen and One Half Hours

The hot bath helped, the pizza and salad helped even more, but watching the films of Charles and Ray Eames while I ate was the best inspiration of all. Holy moley, their work so just so good.

Part (1) & (2) are basically drawn. Just need to be made into web pages.

My right hand is feeling claw-like. My shoulderblades are trying to eat each other, they are so tight.

Remarkably, I'm doing well enough on time to go to sleep. The screen shot shows all of the colors being mixed and rooms painted.

I could stay up all night, make myself miserable and try to do part(3), but that would make me miserable and it wouldn't be done very well.

So, off to make Brandy Soup to relax in a shower and hit the hay for a bit.

The sky is just starting to lighten and it purpley and foggy.

posted at 5:33 AM

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Nearly 8 Hours

I'm hitting my first wall. My hand is cranky from mousing. But I am running a hot, hot bath and I just order a late dinner of pizza.

I've got the first chunk done. Basically, the story is that (1) Ico goes to the store to paint, (2) Paints the house, turning it into a color wheel (3) Then you can click on each room in the house for another little story/composition lesson. Looks like I'll get (1) & (2) done. Doubtful about (3), but that can always come later.

posted at 11:43 PM

5+ Hours

I'm puttering along, but unless I kick some ass in the next few hours, I don't know how I'm going to get through all of the story.


But here's a teaser -

posted at 9:24 PM

2 Hours

Here's a screen shot at 120 minutes in. My tentative plan is to get all of the comic done in Illustrator by 2-3 am, sleep til 8 or 9 am and then do all of the web production tomorrow before my 4 pm deadline.

The idea is certainly solidifying - it's pretty darn ambitious, so we'll see what I can accomplish in 24 hours.

posted at 6:09 PM

I've got the coolest idea...

posted at 5:13 PM

I'm now going to hunker down with a couple dozen books about composition and visual language and all the kind of stuff my brain geeks out on. I think I want this to be a pretty non-verbal, super iconic story demonstrating some design/art concepts. Gotta look at some books and get ideas for what to tackle.

posted at 4:07 PM

4 to 4 - 24 Hour Comic.
In 15 minutes, I start a 24 Hour Comic. I've been wanting to create one since attending Scott McCloud's MCAD comics class. Finally, today's the day, as lots of folks all over the place are doing the same thing.

The parameters can be found here, but the general idea is to make a 24 page comic book in 24 hours. Or 100 panels if a web comic. And you're not suppose to plan a darn thing, start from square one.

What I do know:
[x] web comic
[x] drawn in Illustrator
[x] icon-tastic!

I'll be posting updates to this blog. Figuring that I don't want to spend too much of those 24 hours documenting the darn thing, I'll probably write text now, add pics later.

Stay tuned!

posted at 3:45 PM

Friday, April 09, 2004

Drawing up at the cabin. All time favorite picture, I think it's the epitoME.
How Do You DO That?
Today, my dear friend Anne Ford sent me this message after looking at this page:
"I used to watch my brother draw and say "How do you DO that?" (whereupon he would get irritated and make me go away), and I have the same urge with you: How do you DO that? What fairy godmother graced your birth? Do you have a microchip implanted in your forearm or something?"

My response:
Yeah, I've always enjoyed having this skill/talent. It's pretty snazzy that I can make pictures whenever I want.

Legend has it that my Aunt Myrna brought me my first coloring books when I was 2 1/2. They put me in a "baby butler" - a high chair with more table room and a lip around the edges. I was silent for hours. They checked in on me and I was drawing *plaid* and all sorts of patterns and my own drawings. It doesn't surprise me that I was doing my own drawing - at that age, I don't think you think you color in the shapes there unless really taught to. But I guess it hit them that they'd be buying me a lot more art supplies in the future.

Thankfully they did. And they totally encouraged it. Both of my parents are really visually talented. My dad did more drawing and is a tinkerer/builder. My mom keeps a beautiful home and creates beauty everyday as a hairdresser. Lots and lots of encouragement to express myself that way.

I drew constantly growing up. I think the coloring books were phased out really quickly. When I was younger, I hated it when people watched me. I was shy. Thankfully I got over that since I draw in front of people for a living now.

I loved drawing. I loved clay. I loved cutting up pieces of paper and making things, like paper alligators with little white jagged teeth.

So, I drew lots and lots and lots. I drew the same lines over and over until I got it right. Drawing was my escape and my solace. I got plenty frustruated doing it, but I loved it so much, enough to work and break through. I got lots of praise and support for it - very good for a child's psyche.

In middle school, I remember the first time I spaced out lettering on a middle school yearbook cover right the first time. A new door opened. All the pencilling was paying off. By the time I got to college, my young fresh-out-of-college himself drawing prof confessed that he didn't feel like he had much to teach me. Looking back, I beg to differ, that I could be
challeged more to work on a series, vs. the piecemeal assignments. Mix it up more. And from my printmaking professor I learned to critique - to be challenging and constructive at the same time. One of the more important skills I know.

So when Anne asked "How do you DO that?" I say I was obviously hardwired towards it, but that was coupled with teeming hours of practice. Muscle memory. Getting confident with your hand. Learning "tricks." I've got the eye, and I don't think everyone excells at spatial skills* or seeing composition reflexively - but at the same time I think there is so much to learn. It's hard work, but I think there's so much someone can learn, if they want to draw.

I'm always careful to emphasize that my drawing skills are a slice of ineffiable, unbuyable talent and tons of practice.

Or perhaps there is a microchip in me somewhere.

I encourage anyone to pick up a pencil and try. Unfortunately, I've heard dozens of stories from folks about when they were told they couldn't draw. What age. Who told them. What they were drawing. It's sickening that in their mind a switch was flipped to off. That someone flipped that switch. Then as we become adults we tend to narrow our definitions of ourselves, until we can't concieve of learning anything new anymore.

Of course that's crap. Anyone can learn. It just feels different in our adult realm of time and priorities and expectations. It hurts more, because we judge it so much. But when someone says, "I draw like a seven year old" it makes perfect sense because that's the last time they did.

If you want to pick up a pencil and draw, be wary of drawing book. Too many of them go from sketch to finished in one magical step. That's crap. But I can recommend these books:

Ed Emberley's Drawing Book: Make a World

Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals

Emberley published a bajillion great drawing books, here are a couple to start with. He breaks down drawing into basic, basic geometric shapes. So, you can build with those. Everything is broke down step by step - and Emberley had a great sense of humor to boot!

Another book I adore is a bit harder to come by. It's Ernst Röttger and Dieter Klante's "Creative Drawing: Point and Line." It's a showcase of children's drawings, not an instruction book. I find it endlessly inspiring. I can also vouche for his "Creative Paper Design." I got hooked on this from the Creative Play Series** at the library, so check there, Half.com and Amazon's Marketplace or abebooks for these out of print gems.

Mark Kistler's*** got a great teaching style, and while his audience is kids, he can teach anyone principles like foreshortening, overlapping - techniques to draw 3D. My only criticism is that folks who learn from Kistler, look like Mark Kistler clones. So, I usually advise folks not to start with him, to get a bit of their own style first. Then they can learn the ideas and techniques, versus his exact line.

I'm on the search for more suggested reading, and will soon compile them in the VisCom bibliography.

* I vividly remember totally geeking out on spatial reasoning tests I took in kindergarten. I had to go to the principal's office to take bubble tests. The "which flattened cube makes this cube?" test were the best.

** The Creative Play Series from Van Nostrand Reinhold Company includes: Creative Textile Design: Thread and Fabric, by Rolf Hartung; More Creative Textile Design: Color and Texture, by Rolf Hartung; Creative Paper Design, by Ernst Röttger; Creative Wood Design, by Ernst Röttger; Creative Clay Design, by Ernst Röttger; Creating with Corrugated Paper, by Rolf Hartung. (If anyone can find a good site for the publisher or the series, please let me know!)

*** Kistler was at the 2002 International Visual Practitioner's Forum. info here.

posted at 3:13 PM


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