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Projects I-IV: Final

Project I

For the majority of this project I relied heavily on the pen tool, the shape tool, and the pathfinder tools. I used text in the first one as well and skewed/transformed it to look like what I wanted.

I found the last one to be particularly difficult, because I had to create shapes and connect them to make the letters and then connect them all to make one big shape. It was also really hard when I used the pen tool to use the handles to make curves. I still think I could improve with that, but overall it turned out alright.

Experimenting with the pen tool helped me learn a lot about it and considering I had never used Illustrator before this project I think I did pretty well with it. If I could go back and change things, I would probably try to use actual text for the last two instead of drawing my own. At least for the middle one, the text looks obviously hand drawn and I want it to look more professional than that.

Project II

For this project again I used the shape tool and the pen tool often. For the superhero I only used the pen tool and traced over what I had scanned in. I also used the smooth tool to make the lines look less sharp. For the building and the world I used pictures from online to trace over so help me get the image I wanted. I used the flare tool to make the stars and I used a drop shadow for a lot of the text.

The most difficult part for me was the colors. I am really bad at choosing a color palette so I tried to use colors from Chris Ware’s artwork to help me. I still think the colors of the superhero look too bold compared to the cooler, more naturalistic colors of the rest of the piece.

I learned more about the pen tool in this project and I think I also improved more with using the handles to create curves. I also learned about other tools than I can utilize, like the flare tool and the smooth tool. Those helped me a lot and I know there are still so many tools and techniques that I don’t know about yet. If I could change something, I would change the colors. I’m not sure how exactly, but I know that I don’t like them and I felt limited with my choices. In photoshop I could tweak the saturation and hue but in Illustrator I kind of had to know what color I wanted before I chose it.

Project III

For the bottom waves I used different sizes of the same image to make it look like they’re getting smaller as they go farther back, and I used the blur tool and a soft eraser to blend them with each other and the larger wave in the back. I used the soft eraser to get rid of the background of the big wave and used the paintbrush to add more foam. I used the paintbrush tool again with a low opacity to color the bottom waves and make it look more like part of the big wave. I used the free transform tool to skew the wave and make it look like it was coming from the waves at the bottom. I experimented with adjustment layers too. For the words I obviously used the text tool and lowered the opacity. I then used the transform tool to conform them to the waves.

The most difficult part was probably the text, because I think the selection was too small for a free transform and I had to tweak the already existing options to fit the waves. I still couldn’t get the biggest “Movement” to conform to the wave the way I wanted it to. I also found editing the big wave to be hard, because the picture I used had a background and the shape of the wave and the foam was so indistinct I didn’t know the best way to remove them from each other. I ended up using the eraser tool with 0% hardness and a lowered opacity to erase the background, and then went back over with the paintbrush tool using a different brush to add to the foam and make it look fuller and more natural.

From this project I learned about adjustment layers and the transform tool, both of which are extremely helpful. I’ve used photoshop before but the tools and effects I used were limited and I feel like I understand more about what photoshop can do for me. If I could change it, I would probably make it more of a collage. I didn’t quite understand what that meant and I tried to take parts of different images and blend them together to make a new image, so that you couldn’t tell that it used to be more different pictures. I think I also learned some things from the fourth project that I could use for this one, like how to better use adjustment layers.

Project IV

For the final project I used a lot of adjustment layers to change colors and levels and hue and saturation, as well as layer options such as overlay or multiply. For the background that was what I mainly did to get that effect. The smaller me walking away I selected with the masked selection and darkened it with adjustment layers. I used blur to soften the edges and make it look like a part of the background. I also used dodge and burn to change the highlights and shadows a bit. For the front image I used the polygonal lasso tool to make most of my selections, because the masked selection took too long. I changed the saturation and hue of a lot of it, but used masks to change different parts of the image to different levels. I used the content aware fill to remove the polka dots on my pillow and to remove the hand that was underneath the pillow. Where the hand was I put the book, which I had to skew with free transform. To make the shadows I used the burn tool and softened any hard edges with blur.

I think the hardest part of this was starting, and not just because I found it so difficult to find 300 dpi images. I had this picture in my head of what I wanted but I couldn’t find images that would make it look exactly the same, so I had to work with what I found and the final image did actually turn out a lot like I originally wanted it. It was also hard to let other people take pictures of me because I knew what I wanted and what angles and how I wanted it to look but they didn’t. I tried to draw it out so they knew. I also had problems with making the pictures that I took 300 dpi, and I had to change the resolution myself and make the images smaller so you couldn’t tell. The next hardest part was putting the images together to look natural, and not like I obviously cut and paste something over a background. I had this problem with the smaller me in the background and the book, because the pictures were taken in different lights than the backgrounds. I had to change the hue and saturation and play with the levels to get them to look like they belonged, and even so the book still looks like it’s floating over the bed.

I think I learned a lot more with this project than the last, like how to best make selections and how to use masks when you use adjustment layers. I think I also learned a lot about the adjustment layers themselves and all the different options I have with that. I also learned how to copy a selection to a different layer and select the pixels on a layer so I don’t have to reselect something every time I want to change it. If I could change it I would probably either tone down the burn tool or figure out a way to make the shadows look less fake and photoshopped. I would also like to find a way to make the book look more natural and part of the scene, not like a separate image on top of it. I would also take off my Disney princess watch before I took the picture because it looks out of place.


Project III: Movement

After much debate, I have decided to do my project on movement. Movement is when the eye travels throughout the artwork because the of the visual pathways. Certain elements like line and shape direct the eye.

Here are some tips that I found on artapprenticeonline.com:

-large objects placed far apart will cause the eye to bounce back and forth between them

-you can use a trail, bridge, or pathway

-frame the main subject with other objects

-in landscapes you can use the perspective and lines and size of the buildings

I was originally inspired by this picture:

which I found in the section about balance. The perspective and focal point were to show an example of radial balance, and I almost chose balance just because of this picture. But other photos like


made me realize I could do more with movement and also use inspiration from the first image. I’m now thinking of doing a collage of scenery and pieces of scenery using perspective and line to move the eye through the piece.


Project II: Chris Ware

The designer that I chose, Chris Ware, is an American comic book artist and cartoonist. His style is very identifiable from the very geometric backgrounds he uses to the unique way he draws his characters. He is most known for his comic book series Acme Novelty Library and his graphic novel series Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth.

His style is very similar to that of early 20th century cartoons and he is inspired by artists from around that time (including Peanuts artist Charles Schultz). He is also influenced by cartoonist Winsor McCay, whose art I love.

His work is mainly comprised of simple shapes that are added together to make a more complex object. There is almost no shading on any of the pieces I’ve seen and if there is, it’s just one color of shadow that is clearly separated from the main color. The colors that he used are mostly diluted and watered down, with undertones of “naturalistic color”, as Ware puts it. Many of his palettes remind me of 50’s pop art and propaganda ads, and his art is somewhat influenced by those as well.

Despite how precise and clean his lines are, Ware barely uses the computer except to color his strips. He relies almost exclusively on traditional drawing tools like paper, ink, and rulers.

Besides his own comic books, Ware has been published in newspapers and books. He has also designed album covers and posters for different bands, mostly ragtime performers. He even designed the facade of the San Francisco writing lab 826 Valencia. IN 2005 he created the cover for Penguin Books’ new edition of Voltaire’s Candide, which looks like a comic book with almost stick figure characters. Ware has also designed many covers for The New Yorker.

In 2010 he was commissioned to create the cover for an issue of Fortune 500 but his final design was rejected. When I read the description of what the cover looked like, I was expecting an extremely detailed image but when I finally saw it I was surprised by its simplicity. The angles are very isometric and the perspective is completely fictional. I was actually a little disappointed by its design, as it didn’t seem to have as much character as other designs of his I’ve seen. The characters are stick figure-esque like from the cover of Candide but the colors and the layout aren’t as interesting to look at.

Other images:

Phone Tutorial

Basic Shapes

I learned how to use basic shapes to recreate a scanned image like in the one above. Using pathfinders as well I was able to make the basic shapes seem more complex, like with the crescent moon shapes and the connecting circles. I also learned how to make polygons using the basic shapes tool.

Fill and Stroke

I learned what exactly fill and stroke is, and how to apply it to the image so that a shape is either filled in or transparent. We used this to fill in the black shapes and to keep the white shapes white.

Clipping Masks

I understand this tool the least, and I’m a little iffy on if I could recreate it on another image. It might take some trial and error. But it seems really useful and could be fun, especially if the masked shape wasn’t just a rectangle but something more complex.



Minus Front:



Project I: Preschool Scissors

Although not technically for office use, I really like these scissors. I like the shape of scissors in general, but these preschool scissors look like the short stubby baby of normal scissors. The negative space between the handles is closed off because of the spring that makes it easier to cut. I like the smooth texture of the plastic and the values created from all the crevices and shapes.

Project I: Binder Clip

These two pictures are both of the same object but are so different. It made me think of all the ways that you can look at the binder clip, and how unique and versatile it is. Leave the handle open and they look like birds; leave them closed and now they look like little purses, or altogether like a pinwheel.

There’s an interesting combination of organic and mechanical lines, from the curves at the top of the handles then to the straight lines that lead back to the triangular base.