Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Haunt - Illustration Friday

The topic for Illustration Friday this week is 'Haunt'. I didn't think I would have time, but decided to just give it a go anyway. I also decided to put down the paintbrush and pick up the wacom pen. I'm quite pleased, but I don't find it as satisfying as actually painting.

Happy Halloween everyone! :)

Pumpkins & Scarves

Day 299 of the Doodle Olympics – Puss has realised that it isn't a great idea to put your head into a carved pumpkin.
Day 300 of the Doodle Olympics – I've been decorating jars, I've got jars on the brain!
Day 301 of the Doodle Olympics – I carved three pumpkins at the weekend, I have pumpkins imprinted on the brain, I love them!
Day 302 of the Doodle Olympics – An elephant spraying colourful water... I would like to develop this one further in colour.
Day 303 of the Doodle Olympics – Miranda has been buried in a snowman. Miranda has big brothers!
Day 304 of the Doodle Olympics – Little Hedgehog reaches out to touch the first snowflake of the season.
Day 305 of the Doodle Olympics – Miranda's nanna has knitted her a scarf! :)

Friday, 26 October 2012

Book Review - Mastering Type

I've always been a little intimidated by typography. I've never been sure of which typefaces work well together, or whether my attempt at kerning was actually improving my type or making it worse. It felt a little like an elite world that I wasn't privy to. 

Mastering Type is a classy looking book and has given me some new found confidence. For someone with a degree in graphic design, I didn't find that it contained anything new, mystical or enlightening, it was all reassuringly familiar. Don't think that this diminishes the quality of the book in any way though, it just confirms that I was actually paying attention when I was at university, and that my only real failing has been lack of practice, experimentation, and if we are being honest, too much silly fear. 
Mastering Type offers a wonderful, solid foundation in the key principles of typography for anyone that is new to the subject. It's structured in a logical way, where by the chapters gradually build up your knowledge. It begins in chapter one by looking at the history of type. It isn't the most thorough history I've ever read, there are entire books on that, but it does highlight key historical moments and movements. 
Chapter two begins to look at actual type in more detail, the subject being Letter. Basics such as the difference between serif and sans serif, or the meaning of x-height, ascender and descender are explained. It then goes that bit further, breaking down entire letters into their different parts, including blunt, curved, cupped and point terminals, and brackets, barbs, beaks and shoulders. Simply, if you are interested in type, but have no idea what I'm talking about, then this book has something to offer. The chapter also looks at how type is measured and classified, as well as giving advice on where you might begin if you wanted to start designing your own typeface. It ends by looking at illuminated initials, monograms, and designing letter based logos. 
The following chapters build upon what you have read previously, so unsurprisingly the chapter following Letter is Word. The chapter on word considers how those individual letters form relationships once they are placed alongside each other, the success of which may be dependent on your chosen typeface, whether you need to think about ligatures, or alter the kerning. 
Word is followed by Sentence – leading, alignment, the use of punctuation – which is followed by chapter five, Paragraph – varying type sizes, complimentary pairs, type issues, poster and brochure design. Chapter six, Page, looks at balancing all the various elements you might have on a page, creating movement, layouts, and using grids.
The final chapter, Screen, begins to consider the role of type in a digital medium. While all the typographic fundamentals still apply, there are extra considerations that need to be addressed once you venture outside of the world of print. This chapter opens up a discussion about some of the current issues that designers creating online content might face. The problem is, as much as it is important to cover this ever evolving area, and it's great that the book acknowledges this, it's always going to be tricky to put something relevant into print about a subject that is constantly changing. For anyone wanting a thoroughly detailed discussion about using type online, it makes more sense to be kept up to date, by reading articles by the designers fighting for positive changes for type in a digital environment. The interview at the end of the chapter with Jason Santa Maria is a great starting point if you want someone to follow, I found what he had to say more on point compared to the rest of the chapter. The book itself doesn't lose any merit for this final chapter, it just felt a little like an add-on, when the information in the rest of the book had felt so reliable, timeless and solid. 

I've used words such as foundation, and fundamentals, but that doesn't mean that Mastering Type is in any way simple. It's packed with useful information, broken down into manageable segments, all beautifully balanced with useful illustrative diagrams and images. All the information, whether textual or visual, is clear and easy to understand. Each chapter also includes an insightful interview with a designer/letterer/expert and a gallery of design eye-candy, based on the topic of the chapter. 

My only (tiny) gripe is that sometimes I had to flick over to the following page to see a visual that I was reading about. It was a bit annoying, but forgivable, considering the images were a great size (no squinting here) and plentiful. 

I'm never going to be a typographer, I don't have the patience, the meticulous attention to detail, or the tiny dose of obsession that is required. However, I don't think that is any excuse to settle for bad type either. This book isn't necessarily for professional designers, (they should already have this key knowledge covered), but it's a handy resource for anyone that knows they could do with refreshing their knowledge and skills. It's also for those that have an interest in type, but have had no formal training, but want to improve their communication and visual appeal of their blog, website, business card or poster. It's useful for those that have a say in the design or branding for their company, but can't understand why they always end up arguing with their designer. It's a great book for anyone thinking about studying graphic design, and perhaps, most importantly, it is essential reading for anyone still using comic sans (just don't).

There are many books on the subject of typography available, and many cover the same information as Mastering Type, but for me, the difference was, that as much as I'm interested in the subject of typography, every book I've read has induced sleep – until now, while I was reading Mastering Type, I stayed awake. Win. 

Mastering type  - Denise Bosler
Available from most book retailers including Amazon  
currently £22.74

RRP: £34.99
How Books
ISBN-10: 1440313695

Please note that I was given a copy of this book, but was not paid to write this review. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Sky - Illustration Friday & Doodle Olympics

The topic for Illustration Friday this week is 'Sky'. This is Miranda, she is pretty fed up of rain, so she carries around her own little bag of perfect sunny sky, just to help brighten her day.

Day 292 of the Doodle Olympics – Bug? Butterfly thing?

Day 293 of the Doodle Olympics – I'm really trying to get seasonal at the minute, usually as soon as my birthday is over I get really excited about halloween and christmas, but it isn't happening this year :? So I'm forcing myself to think about christmas. I will find my christmas magic.

Day 294 of the Doodle Olympics – It's a man carrying his house like a snail...

Day 295 of the Doodle Olympics – Hahaa! Tiny mouse has captured Baby Bear, Cat & Dog!

Day 296 of the Doodle Olympics – Halloween costume love!!

Day 297 of the Doodle Olympics – Halloween costume love... again!

Day 298 of the Doodle Olympics – Princess costume, pumpkins, trees, spider webs, mushrooms, whoop Halloween! 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Cushions! 1 week only!

Two of my paintings are available to buy as cushions for one week only from Ohh Deer as part of their Pillow Fight competition. 
This is my Two Foxes painting, inspired by my friend Anna's love of all things foxy. The photo of the actual cushion in situ above is hers :) If you like the look of Two Foxes and would like your own, they are available for one more week here two-foxes
This painting is Boy in Rain, it features Marvin, he is totally unimpressed that his mum has sent him out in the rain! He too is available in cushion form for one more week only from here... Marvin

Ohh Deer ship worldwide.

If you would prefer either of these illustrations as prints or cards, or mobile phone covers or cases, they can be found in my Society6 Shop. Society6 also ship worldwide. :)

Water - Illustration Friday & Doodle Olympics Update

The topic for Illustration Friday this week was 'Water'. Usually I like to play around with the word to see what I can come up with, but this week has been so busy, I've had my parents come to stay and I've chosen my wedding dress, so I just haven't had space to think about 'water'. So instead I went with my curly waves, that I often use when illustrating water, it was a bit safe, but I do find painting them relaxing.

I'm also behind on my Doodle Olympics/Daily doodle Challenge update, so here it is!

Day 285 of the Doodle Olympics - I can only imagine I was feeling happy about something... I was watching Red Bull X Fighters on the TV at the time, it always makes me happy when they land safely, maybe that was it.

Day 286 0f the Doodle Olympics - Have you ever had the urge to draw something with one really big eye and one normal sized eye? I have.

Day 287 of the Doodle Olympics - A cat hiding in a boat. Isn't that what most cats would do? They hate water...

Day 288 of the Doodle Olympics - A rabbit bum! I was drawing a random fluffy circular shape, so you can guess where my mind went from there.

Day 289 of the Doodle Olympics - Halloween is coming! Although this reminds me more of the scene in Home Alone where he makes it look like there are adults in the house.

Day 290 of the Doodle Olympics - I have absolutely no idea!

Day 291 of the Doodle Olympics - A random bit of nature on a hill surrounded by a city. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Mirror - Illustration Friday

The topic for Illustration Friday this week is 'mirror' - Now I realise that Perseus used a shield rather than an actual mirror, but I am going with the 'he used the reflection in the polished shield like a mirror' - so there! :)

A Rabbit, A Monkey, & A Sad Little Sackman

Day 278 of the Doodle Olympics - Bucky the Bunny is so tired, he has been in the library all night.

Day 279 of the Doodle Olympics - spooky gingerbread biscuits

Day 280 of the Doodle Olympics - Little Sackman is going on a journey, the moon is carrying him away through bubble clouds and circular rainbows.

Day 281 of the Doodle Olympics - Sad Little Sackman wants a sherbet Flying Saucer, but he has to climb the candy mountain first!

Day 282 of the Doodle Olympics - Alice meets the caterpillar.

Day 283 of the Doodle Olympics  - A tree house.

Day 284 of the Doodle Olympics - This suave little monkey is called Barry. 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Book Review - Make It And Mend It

Make It and Mend It first began life as a website, following a business project lunch that turned into a discussion on personal interests. Clare Flynn, Hillary Bruffell, Clare O'Briend and Anne Caborn came to realise that they all believed in making, creating, growing, and doing things for themselves, rather than relying on shops and buying things new. The site began as a place where they could share basic skills with others, but has now grown into a sharing community, focusing on a way of life, turning away from mass consumerism. They have now taken some of their 'easy-to-do' ideas and tips, and shared over 30 of them in this handy and attractive little book. 

I'm usually a little cynical of books filled with various craft projects, I find that although they are a nice idea in theory, they often contain very similar projects and there are only so many napkin rings one can make. However, Make It and Mend It has softened me a little, maybe it is because it feels slightly more varied. Yes there are the usual suspects, handmade cards and sewing projects, but there are also more DIY orientated projects such as building your own barbecue, and simple recipes for making your own cleaning products. It could of course also be down to the inclusion of how to collect sloes, and use them to make sloe gin - that is always going to be appreciated. 

There is the usual, but useful, introduction and equipment/materials list, before the book is divided into nine sections, including the four seasons, as well as special occasions such as Mother's Day, Christmas and Easter. All the projects are fairly approachable, such as making hand cream or perfume, but there are those that are even easier which feel more family orientated, like carving a simple pumpkin and decorating jars for trick or treating. 
Instructions vary from the very simple and succinct, such as making a bucket barbeque - although I think this would have benefited from a few extra details or a diagram - to clear, but longer, more detailed instructions, such as the section on how to make and keep a sourdough starter and make a loaf. 
The book has a clear layout, there are plenty of full page colour images illustrating finished projects, so you always know what it is you are aiming for, and although I personally am not keen on the cut-out montages that break up the sections, it does create a colourful and homely feel. 
Now we are in October I think it's okay for me to use the 'C' word, that's right, Christmas. Make It and Mend It would make a sweet little Christmas gift. Unless the recipient is proficient in most crafts, this book contains enough variety to be of interest to most people. I'm no expert crafter, but I do try my hand at lots of different things compared to most people I know, and I found enough projects in here to keep me entertained... and did I mention the Sloe Gin? 

Make it and Mend It by Clare Flynn, Hilary Bruffell, Clare O'Brien and Anne Caborn is available from most book retailers, including RUCraft priced at £14.24

Make It And Mend It website: makeitandmenditRRP - 18.99
David and Charles
ISBN-10: 1446302407

Please note that I was given a copy of this book, but was not paid to write the review.