Sep 2008

Beer Label Brainstorming pt2

The answer to the Great Question of... Life, the Universe and Everything... is forty-two.
Douglas Adams from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

With the sketch of the Pan/fawn and bee characters from the previous post finalized, I’ve scanned the drawing and opened it in Photoshop. I’ve rotated the pencil a few degrees to the right to exaggerate the characters motion.

The drawing is bumped up to its own layer and the base layer is filled with the tan color because I like to work on a neutral ground. I saved the file and opened it in Painter and began to add color on another layer between the two. Painter’s brushes are great for building texture on underlying layers.


I now add a layer with a green fill and an oval cut out shape. The oval area will contain the distant background elements which I begin to rough in. The thatched roof cottage fits in to a fairy tale/medieval kind of setting, the flowers of course, spring. My original intent was to create a cutout with more of an amorphous shape but I like the way the oval frames the two figures and emphasizes vertical movement. With the lay in complete the rest of the painting process is one of refining, building form and value. I then save the file and reopen it in Photoshop. Most all of the work done from this point on is done with one brush, a Scatter Brush variant of my own making. The brush is very simply a stock Scatter Brush with Shape Dynamics enabled in the Photoshop Brush Engine so that I can paint a relatively thin to thick line based on brush pressure. While the brush doesn’t have the same naturalistic qualities as the brushes in Painter I do find it easier to maintain fine control with. (I often use another variation of the same brush but one with Texture enabled to break the stroke up and create more interest.)




The painting is essentially finished in this shot, (the background scene layer is turned off here),but I decide that the horns on the fawn are not working as well as I had thought originally so I paint them out on a separate layer. Much better and a lot less distracting. The solid green area looks too lifeless though so I decided to add a texture with a floral feel, something that would reinforce the flowers in the painting. Textures were imported and then smeared with Photoshop’s Smudge Tool using a rough edged brush. I’ve added a ring shape as well with a tortoise shell style finish to act as a border around the oval.



The completed painting below. (Click the image for a detail view.)













Beer Label Brainstorming

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
Benjamin Franklin

Recently while checking out the micro-brew choices at the local grocery store I was thinking how great some of the label art is. It really runs the gamut in style from classy to humorous with a lot of the art having a nice hand crafted, painterly look. I would assume that’s to reinforce the hand crafted image of the beers themselves, a marketing strategy to help distinguish the small guys from the Buds and Millers of the world with their nondescript, corporate looks. In any case, there is some great stuff here. I especially like the pieces that describe what the bottle contains with their landscape paintings or characters. So much cool art with an adult beverage thrown in - kind of like a wine and cheese gallery opening for Joe Six-Pack.

Anyway that got me thinking about creating some label art for a micro-micro-brewer friend of mine. I started with the name, “Honey Bock”. Sounds good, no idea what it would taste like. Wikipedia tells us that
Bock beers were historically brewed by monks to celebrate special occasions such as Easter. Today Bock beer is most often associated with spring and the labels often depict a goat, a reference to the German translation of “bock”.


So with “spring” and “goat” in mind I started to draw and wound up with the sketch on the left. I wanted to break away from drawing a regular goat and played with some animal caricatures but decided a Pan character would work even better as a reference to both spring and a goat. The bee is obviously a connection to the “Honey” component. The character ideas are ok but they are very static. Sketch 2 refines things and improves the movement. Pan now sports a springtime flower necklace in place of the strap across the chest and I lost the traditional Pan flute, giving him a medieval horn instead. Figuring the bee reference was strong enough, I ditched his honey drip from sketch #1 and gave him some instruments as well. With more animation the’re both in celebration mode.

As far as the background goes, my plan was to work within a shape which at this point I’m thinking may be something slightly amorphous. Maybe a smoke shape or a flowing design along the lines of a
Mucha poster. The art would then be usable on a variety of further background colors and textures.

Next: It’s time to play with a little color.

Website Redesign

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
Andy Warhol

If you’ve been here before then you know things look a little different. I’ve reworked the design of the site attempting to inject a bit more personality, a little bit of creative warmth and humor. My intention is to devote this blog space to new work, maybe a demo or two, ideas, sketches, etc. My intention is to update more often than in the past but to be honest time has a habit of getting in the way so we’ll see how it goes. I appreciate your input so if you do have any comments please feel free to send them along.

Berry Blast

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
Groucho Marx



The above is a group shot featuring the central image from each of five paintings recently completed for General Nutrition Center stores. GNC’s ad agency proposed some in store pop/shelf talkers to draw attention to the health benefits of the different berries used in GNC products. The resulting assignment was to create a series of paintings each containing a central, oversize image of the featured berry surrounded by smaller sized berries in a curved group. This would lead to an open area for copy extolling the health promoting attributes of each fruit, (left to right- acai, goji, mangosteen, cranberry and noni), as in the noni berry piece here. I have to admit though I’m familiar enough with cranberries I’d never heard of noni or goji berries. The approach was to produce pieces that were realistic but still had a warmer, hand crafted feel as opposed to slick or too scientific style renderings. Even with the client's tight deadline requirements these were a lot of fun to paint and a nice change up from the narrative work I've been busy with lately.