Drawing is my way of making sense of the world. Creating ColorFULL, a PDF coloring book, kept my stress brain from rampaging after having to postpone a big European teaching tour in early March. Thank goodness that project has been positive on all sides.
Not long after, I was percolating on the paradox of the teamwork it takes to flatten the curve, but each in our own way. If Social Distancing was a sport, who are the teams? What are their mascots?
I grabbed paper and pen and created this:
11 oz & 15 oz white mugs
Adult unisex tshirts, XS-3XL
Youth unisex tshirts, S-XL
Long sleeve shirts S-2XL
3, 4, and 5.5 inch stickers
A Peek into Process
Most folks think of drawing only as a noun/product. Something only capital-A Artists can do. I preach the gospel of drawing as a verb to help more folks reclaim it as an indispensable tool.
When I draw in that mode, I keep my drawings loose and very fast.
Process over Product.
AND I am a fine artist. The Social Distancing All-Stars are product-focus drawings. My work is slower and more controlled. I make sure I'm using visual references of mascots and athletic shirts to make these designs successful.
To show you what it took to create these designs, and to see how process and product are intertwined, I share the steps in creating the All-Stars.
Step 1 | Coming up with the idea. ;^)
Step 2 | Looking at reference photos of honey badgers to figure out what are the essential elements I should include in my drawing.
Step 3 | Sketching the idea in pencil on paper. Happily with 40+ years experience, this is a joyous and pretty quick process. My Inner Critic goes on holiday and I love being in flow state.
You can see I started out with "STAY AWAY." Clearly I had to go for "BACK OFF" and the alliteration.
Step 4 | Once I like what I have, I ink the drawng. I like using a light box to redraw the design on a fresh sheet of paper. Less eraser dust or bits to clean on on the scan.
I draw in the outlines with a Papermate Flair, and use larger markers to finish the design.
Step 5 | I scan the ink drawing into my computer.
Step 6 | I realized because this was the BACK OFF Badger, a second badger and the distance between them would better convey the idea.
Drawing is an iterative process.
I flipped the first badger over on my lightbox to make creating the second one easier.
And back to the scanner.
Step 7 | I open my scan in Photoshop and turn on a podcast.
My goal is to make the background of the drawing the whitest white and the inked sections the blackest black for the next step.
It's zooming in to make sure there's no smudges or spots in the image. Using a light box to make the ink drawing speeds this up greatly.
Step 8 | Next, I hop over to Illustrator to make the magic happen. I place Photoshop's raster image (made up pixel by pixel) into this new file.
Image Trace transforms the drawing into a vector image (made with math!). This gives me the cleanest lines and a totally scalable image that won't look "crunchy" or pixelated.
And I color the image.
Step 9 | Here is the second wave of joy: COMPOSITION.
It's time to figure out how to integrate the images with text in a design that's scaled well for the end products. Bold fonts, high constrast colors.
At this point, I need to think about how each object will be printed. How this design will work on a tshirt versus a sticker versus a mug. A black tshirt versus an orange one, or a white one.
Step 10 | The drawing and design process is over. Now I turn my original artwork into products.
I'm using Printful to offer shirts, mugs and stickers. This is a print-on-demand company, meaning there's no inventory or waste. You order your shirt in your color and size, and it is printed for you.
At this point, I need to think about how each object and how to best prep and place the design. Here you can see, in the screenshot of Printful's design interface, I changed the file about to suit an orange shirt. We don't need or want an orange rectangle on an orange shirt.
If you shop on any print-on-demand marketplace (Teespring, CafePress, Redbubble, etc, etc) you've likely seen tons of designs looked lousy because this step was skipped.
Step 11 | The final step on my side is setting up my online store. I use Shopify. Copwriting, layout, tagging. Thankfully, Printful and Shopify play beautifully together. Technology is lightyears beyond my last using CafePress in like 1998?
Printful-ing and Shopify-ing is lots and lots of detail wrangling. Never ever my favorite past of any process, but it's what it takes to get my ideas into your hands.
And that's how it's done!
The time drawing was pretty darn fast. It was all the product-ifying that took time and tweaking and lots of podcast-listening.
Thanks so much for viewing/reading, and I hope wherever you are you're staying healthy and safe.
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