Sunday, September 29, 2013

Summer Sessions Postcard

Just got a print version of this panel I drew for promoting the 2013 UAF Summer Advantage program, which is a part of Summer Sessions that reaches out to the parents of prospective students.

Doing something like this dovetails quite nicely with the corresponding expectations I have in the classroom. It drives the point home to have students take the same steps as I do in my own studio with any client: working up a series of thumbnails and roughs is invaluable and a fairly common MO in illustration in general.

After tightening up compositions it's time to attend to some details (always subject to change as we'll see in a minute here) and get to inking in the selected image. And another great coincidence came about while teaching linear perspective: while on a field trip to the Wood Center to sketch some architectural wonders, I noticed that there was an actual scale model of the same building (Gruening) I was wishing aloud that I could get an aerial shot of. Well, that was easy! My initial concept of showing the arc of the sun as a multiple exposure of the summer solstice got weeded out as to the uninformed it would appear to maybe be a scene from an alien planet. Which, speaking of a different perspective, it was pointed out that Denali isn't technically visible like that from anywhere on campus, and even if it was,there also isn't any hill by those particular buildings to afford such a hypothetical viewpoint. True, and bears also don't read either, nor would all three Alaskan species be seen together. So, yeah.

The process can be convoluted and intense at times with deadlines vying against the gradual evolution of a drawing. A few tweaks were needed before hitting "send" on the final product: one was the inclusion of some special shades that are branded as the official Summer Session-wear. No problem, and an extra bit of color-theory to make the logo on the laptop catch the eye too.  Some visual real-estate was deliberately left open on the assumption that more elements would be added on long after I turned the project over and it made its way over various desks and desktops on the way to the printer.

The finished print dimensions for the postcard were 8.5 x 5.5" - which is why there are more leaves and more grass in the bottom image posted here than the one that's immediately above. Screwing up the ratio meant digitally adding on another half-inch to both the top and bottom, and then going back in and widening the composition, which can be discerned in the final scan of the final product seenat the start of this post.
But wait: pointing up the value of critiques or at least an outside perspective, it was noted by an astute co-worker that in my rush to portray an element of diversity by depicting different bears, I neglected the humans - won't somebody think of the children? So at the last possible minute one more revision was approved, and a third Cheshire (more like a Kilroy Was Here) kid appears as counterpart to the trio of bruins. Now if only racial harmony and equal rights could be so easily to fix as with a click of a mouse (see here for an interesting debate about cultural depictions in the mass media).

Looks great cropped and the colors all turned out perfect (even the slight highlight from the sunset/sunrise that tinges the building corner, the girl's shoulder and the grizzly hump shows up). Hat-tip to one of the best and hardest-working behind-the-scenes graphic artists - Dixon Jones - who always makes everything from campus look awesome (and definitely makes me look better every time any image from me pop up in his in-box).


  1. The description of this process is fascinating---as a hobbyist, I enjoy a behind the scenes look at how the pros do their work!

  2. Thanks, Not quite so sure on the image promoting the concept of a safe and secure educational environment to assuage the apprehensions of parents, but it gets the point across that the campus administration has a sense of humor!