Monday, February 21, 2011

Vacation (and Taxes)

Excuse me while I take two weeks off of blogging to catch my breath. See you very soon!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Logotype Shadows

Ed Benguiat’s class, week 3, part 1. Let’s say you are designing a simple logotype or signage and you want to cast a clean, hard 135º shadow behind it. Sure, that should be easy to do on the computer, right? Using the good ol’ drop shadow command in Illustrator, it would look like this:

What’s wrong with this shadow? Although this is an accurate 135º shadow—the duplicate of each letter positioned in a perfect diagonal from the original—it looks weak as a logotype, because the thickness of the shadows are uneven in the diagonal strokes of the M, A, and X. How do you get the thickness of the shadows to be an exact half of all the strokes all around? If the computer can’t do it for you, you’d better fix it yourself:

Ah, much better! If you look closely at the X, for example, you will notice that the shadow is largely distorted from the original. But the strange thing is that it looks good optically!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Say Something!

It’s a good thing I’m not a kid anymore! LOL

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Monochromatic Portrait Study

Painting a portrait in watercolor can be quite intimidating, but my amazing teacher Denis Ponsot helped me ease into it by showing me how to approach it using a reference photo and a single color of paint. It really helped me to understand that painting is like drawing. I worked from a gorgeous photo by Hugh Hill who generously made it available in the Wetcanvas Reference Image Library.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Aqua Flamingo

When I doodle, I seem to draw a lot of girls and animals with their eyes peacefully closed. That’s partially because drawing downward-facing eyelashes makes me so happy! I ♥ eyelashes, I don’t care if birds don’t have them in real life. Somehow, drawing the upward facing ones aren’t as satisfying. Huh.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Cross

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today’s post involves a cross, not a heart (close!): another exercise from Ed Benguiat’s class. You start with two identical rectangles, 2"x6".

And then you rotate one 90º and intersect them dead center to make a cross:

But now, do you see that the horizontal now looks (a) a bit too thick and (b) slightly low? So what do you do to make this look even? Shave a bit off the bottom of the horizontal:

I have actually shaved off about 1/8", which sounds like a lot. This principle reminds me of my dance teachers training me to keep my gaze slightly above eye level on stage, otherwise from the audience I appear to be looking down.  In type design, we get to constantly grapple with optical illusions, such as these!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kern Krazy

My inner type nerd is having a blast in Ed Benguiat’s Designing with Type class at SVA this semester. In this class we dive into the realm of insane letterform and spacing detail that most people in the world probably don’t care about or even notice. But once you learn to appreciate these things you can never look type the same way!

For this week, you start by setting the copy in Helvetica Neue Bold, all caps, 132pts. Here is what InDesign will spit out:

Now let’s say you wanted to set this tighter, so that there is only a hairline of space between the first A and the M. The quickest shortcut would be to adjust tracking (overall spacing amongst all the letters). Closing up the tracking to -50, it looks like this:

It’s not terrible, but can you tell that the kerning (space between each letter) is a little bumpy and uneven throughout? That some letters appear too far apart or too tight? That the hyphen looks too low? That the number 1 looks too thin and short, because it was meant be set next to lower case letters? So you tweak around obsessively for while, even custom-tailoring some letters here and there, until you have something like this:

Click on the picture above to see it at 100%. Right now, the letters look too tight in the thumbnail, because it was not spaced to be read at this smaller font size. Yes, every time you make the font smaller or larger, you need to readjust the spacing!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


A while back when we were doing a creativity blog together, my sister-in-law suggested the word “pobby” as the inspiration trigger of the week. Not sure why, but I heard “pobby” and I thought, pillow fighting! ...because as you know, any excuse to bring pillow fighting into life is a good one.

The best part is, this feisty little cookie comes with a sweet theme song, thanks to my wondrous hubby!

Here comes the champ,
The champ-i-on,
She'll take the gold,
when all is said and done,

She’s the champ of the world,
and she'll make you seeeeee...
Her name will be etched in historeeeee...
Pobby's the champ, the champ is POBBY!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Baby Goddess

One of the doodle series I did for Art of Silliness 2 workshop: making random blots with watercolor, then drawing what you see in it. It’s basically a self-administered Rorschach test, except it’s not really testing anything! The great thing about this exercise is that you always end up surprising yourself.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Cocoa Butter Love

Cocoa butter is my current moisturizer of choice. The tricky part is to find a good brand that blends cocoa butter well with another natural oil; otherwise it dries up and crumbles. This one is from Inesscents – a blend of cocoa butter, shea butter, jojoba oil and sweet almond oil (nothing else!). The ingredients are organic and fair trade, and it has stayed perfectly creamy for over a month now – definitely a keeper! The best part: every time I spread it on my skin, I get to smell like divine chocolate.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Superbowl Blues

This one is from a few years back. Funny how some things never change... every year on Superbowl, I always try to make myself join whatever Superbowl party my hubby is going to, back out at the last minute, and overburden myself with triple-guilt :-( All I seem to like about American football is the mesmerizing form that bulky glutes and quads give to colorful shiny spandex.

Friday, February 04, 2011

One little berry in the snow

T.G.I.F! Gotta say, all in all, the New York winter this year has been quite rough. There has been too many days where I had to forego doing whatever I was planning on doing, simply because I really could not bring myself to go outside. Have never yearned for spring so much.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Mom’s Hostas

Despite my love and appreciation of indoor plants, I have been terrible at taking care of them. The most I can seem to do is to remember to water them, and when that doesn’t work... sadly, it’s all over for them. On the other hand my mom keeps her hostas in impeccable shape and has given me many clippings over the years (which I have left my husband to do the potting alone because touching soil kind of freaks me out. I know, this is getting embarrassing!). Her hostas always look so lusciously green and perky.

The leaves and stems are not as yellowed out as they appear here. My scanner always picks up too much yellow, which kind of drives me crazy.

Pondering getting some clippings again this spring for a fresh new start... how are you and your plants?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


In honor of my brother’s birthday today, here is a drawing of his canine daughter Yuna, who loves him as much as I do. Happy birthday Yuhei!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Subway Montage

Walking through so much half-melted snow stained with dog pee, icy sidewalks, gigantic muddy puddles, overcast sky, temperatures below freezing... I find myself being drawn to cheerful colors more than ever. Who knew calves in skinny jeans and umbrellas have similar shapes?