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Discovering 3D Book Mock-ups

After uploading Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit to my portfolio I realized that my website looked really rough. The previews of my book covers cropped oddly with the dimensions provided by the thumbnails and it made things look very sloppy and ambiguous. This is the year I decided that I wanted to focus on illustrating books. With that being my goal, I knew that I’d need to find a better way to display my work now and for the future.

I started with the idea of doing my own photoshoot and started planning places to photograph the books I have in print at the moment. Quickly, I ran into a few problems. It was taking a lot of time during my day to set up these staged photos, especially with destructive little helpers. I also found that I was lacking creativity, proper lighting, and a desire to really put in the effort for a GOOD product shoot. I’ve done product shoots in the past and know I can get the results I want but ultimately I’d rather spend my time making art rather than photographing it.

Then it hit me. All self-publishers couldn’t possibly also be wickedly talented product photographers on the side. There was no way that these perfectly lit and composed photos were being taken by EVERY person who wrote a book. Maybe half of them, but not all. So I did some digging and found a gold mine of resources in the form of 3D book mockups. I’ve listed my favorites below:

    • For very basic mockups, https://diybookcovers.com/3Dmockups/ is a great resource. You can save their files as a .png and insert your own custom background to better promote your work. I haven’t experimented with it but there are a lot of digital and traditional layouts that you can utilize here.

    • My favorite resource was https://covervault.com/. With Photoshop it makes editing book covers easy. I liked having the ability to customize my end result and further edit the layers provided with the files.

    • For another online option with a little more moodiness to it, I enjoyed using https://bookinmotion.com/book-mockups/. They have a lot of dramatically lit and composed layouts that will add a little spice to your books. Perfect to enhance those witchy vibes.

    • I haven’t used this resource yet but it is another easy online option with beautiful, professional backgrounds. They offer great previews both on digital (phones, tablets, computers) and traditional (books, magazines, etc) options.  https://placeit.net/c/mockups/?f_devices=Book

I hope this helps some of you! This definitely was an exciting find for me and will be something I utilize in the future. I look forward to testing out some open book previews in the future with an art book I’m currently working on!

Rabbit Vision

Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit began with a desire, a need for Molly’s thesis work to be printed into a hard copy. I wanted something tangible that I could hold between my fingers. To set the words in ink so that they’d hopefully stop circling in my head. To stop me from whispering “oh fuck” every few poems and feeling these unnameable feelings.

Convinced this would be the path to my freedom I began rereading, arranging, re-arranging, and rearranging again her pieces. I transferred them into one document, doing my best to keep the same consistency and feel as the original compositions. I felt a small sense of peace once I was done.

After transferring the sections, I made the harmless decision to design a cover for this book. It would make for a good surprise for Molly and would look better on our bookshelves, I rationalized. My plan was simple, a black cover with one of the fonts found within the book. It would be an easy task to complete and I would be able to print the book by the end of the week. I was pleased with the idea of this book in physical form and began imaging where I’d put it once it was printed.

What I hadn’t realized at this point was that Molly’s work had become an obsession. When I closed my eyes, rabbits were all I could think of. And they were breeding. Immersed into this work I began to see rabbits everywhere. They filled my Pinterest feed, I noticed them outside on my walks, they existed in my dreams.

They were everywhere. I felt like this was potentially unhealthy but instead of worrying about it I simply texted Molly whenever I felt that reality and rabbits were mixing too dangerously.

This book haunted me. It lingered with me and I soaked in it for months. I worked on it grudgingly, obsessively, in secret, and with a fervor that I rarely feel towards a project. What started with a simple, text-based book cover became a detailed illustration. Then came the section illustrations. Then came my reaction essay, an explanation to the insanity of this process, coupled with process and studio photos. Once that was completed it was still. And perfect.

I’m hoping her work and our collaboration has a similar effect for you.

Some obsessions are meant to be shared.

Information on preorders for the book will be shared soon.

Cover for Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit a collaborative project with Molly Meador Illustrated by 9 Sirens Creative - Lauren Walke

Check out the portfolio HERE for more pictures featured in the book.

Art Project 2016 Review

Children’s Book Illustrations

In the beginning of 2016 I dabbled with children’s illustrations. I was pregnant and wanted to see if that was a route I wanted to take with my art. Though it was fun experimenting with different styles, I definitely don’t see myself sticking with children’s illustrations. My dark heart can’t take that much fluffyness. In the end, I had 6 illustrations that I used to decorate my daughter’s room (the wanderer and cat series) and a few gifts for friends. I’d say that though this experiment didn’t go as planned it was well worth my time to try something new. I can see using these techniques for custom greeting cards in the future.


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Drawing Environments

I’ve always hated perspective drawing and drawing backgrounds. I hate it more than I hate drawing hair and that’s saying something. Near the middle of the year, I decided that it was time to buckle down, improve my weaknesses, and focus on drawing environments for my characters. I’d gotten use to having simple white backgrounds be enough of a stage for them but I realized that the projects I wanted to take on would require a bit more effort. While the first few attempts were awkward, I can already see an improvement in this aspect. I’ve learned that some backgrounds should be more simple to fit the subject while others should be flushed out and filled with details. Through this process, I’ve also gotten a better understanding of my process and how best I like to work (pencil base drawing with digital color washes over the top). I still have a long way to go but its a start.

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Month of Fear Entries

After my Turtle Baby was born I took a break from art for about two and a half months. I doodled here and there but didn’t work on any large projects. Mostly during that time I was looking at other illustration work and seeing where I wanted to grow and develop with my own craft. When October rolled around and I discovered the Month of Fear art challenge I decided to jump right in. I decided to relax a bit and try to bring a bit more spontaneity back into my art and, hopefully, some life and emotion that I felt had been missing while I focused on the technical aspects of my work. Since I had my process more fully hammered out I was able to finish the first two prompts on time but then we bought a house, packed, and moved. I started falling behind. In November we were busy unpacking, working on fixing our schedules (especially Turtle Baby’s nap schedule),  dealing with a grumpy teether, family colds, etc. Needless to say, I’m still working on the prompts in December.

Despite the setbacks and delays, I’ve found that all the studying I did during my hiatus has paid off. These projects are finally getting to where I’ve been trying to go, stylistically, for the last few years. I’m finally getting comfortable with my process and letting go a bit more in my work.

Looking ahead to 2017

I have some projects that I’ve already got lined up for 2017 and I’m really looking forward to them. On top of those, I plan on finishing the Month of Fear prompts and start the Month of Love prompts in February if I have the time. After that, I’ll start back practicing my perspective drawings again. I’m hoping to be a lot more productive this year now that I’ve found the direction that I feel comfortable and genuine in.

Weekend Card Designing

This weekend I ended up creating 5 cards of various forms. 4 of them were hand made cards (you can see the cover of one here and its inside here) that centered around simple inked designs with watercolor accents. One was digitally designed and later printed.  I hadn’t expected to work on any cards at all so doing 5 was completely surprising but it turned out to be a needed break from my normal illustration work.

Below I’ve posted steps of the process of digitally creating one of my cards and the thought processes I went through as I put it together. All in all this card took about 2 hours to complete from collecting the patterns to the final card edits. It was a lot of fun and relaxing project to work on. Honestly, after this weekend, I think I’ll start creating all my cards either digitally or by hand in the future.

 

I initially started with a color scheme. I knew I wanted it to be extremely limited and center around warm blue-green tones. I collected a few patterned backgrounds and tested out the over all design and look of the card. card-Lauren-Crest-Illustration I decided that I didn’t like the starry sky background as much as I initially thought I would so I toned down the background with another pattern and lightened the color of the whale. I also created waves in the ocean and changed the colors of the water a bit by adding another pattern on top of the original one.
Card3-Lauren-Crest-IllustrationWith the overall design decided upon I started working on the details. I cleaned up the line art, added details to the water coming out of the whale’s blowhole, and added a gradient shade to the water to give the piece more depth.
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The whale seemed a bit stiff so I then added some blushing cheeks and changed the outline from black to a warm orange to give the whale some life and personality. I also started experimenting with creating more depth to the ocean by adding more waves, though those turned out rather difficult to see.Card5-Lauren-Crest-Illustration I added gradients behind each wave layer to help the waves stand out and I also choose to add more green to the waves to help them match the sky layer a bit more. After that I increased the saturation for parts of the original patterns and called the card done. 🙂

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Warm-Up Sketches

I’ve started working on warm-up sketches every day for the last little while. With these first few, I’ve been focusing on depicting various emotions as well as getting more practice in rendering faces accurately and quickly. These are the ones I’ve been working on as of late:

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Follow me on Instagram for regular sketch updates like these as well as in progress updates on my latest work. My username there is laurencrestillustration!

Below are my references that I’ve used for these pieces:

http://mybluelight-stock.deviantart.com/art/cold-winter-II-73682927

http://faestock.deviantart.com/art/Alanna40-369008055

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/570057265312204093/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/567664728001941624/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/521573200572688900/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/531284087268953963/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/522910206712882258/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/345792077614870613/

http://robynrose.deviantart.com/art/Expressions-in-Profile-Stock-Pack-319939028

http://faestock.deviantart.com/art/Expression-Stock-Pack-3-478718553

Thumbnails for the Win

This week’s post is a follow up from last week about focusing on improving my style. I originally had wanted to work on a bunch of pieces and see where they took me but ultimately I decided to place my focus on one piece. I pushed myself with this piece by adding in a detailed background, something I’ve never been comfortable with nor have I focused on improving on in the past. I’ve also gone back to work on my love of details and the human anatomy with this latest piece.

Below is a step by step guide to how this piece progressed:

As usual, when I’m searching for an idea I’ll take to pinterest for inspiration. When I found the image below I instantly fell in love with it. I could see this image turning into some sea squid woman and I couldn’t wait to start working on the piece. I loved the movement and lighting in the original photograph so I knew this fit within my goals for this week’s piece.IMG_3952

 

I started off by sketching some thumbnails. I typically skip this step but I’ve been pushing to start working with the fundamentals of art and have been attempting to do thumbnails now before starting a new piece. I wanted to get the proportions and composition perfectly prepared for my final image so doing a thumbnail sketch would definitely save me a lot of time and effot. Below is the first sketch that I did. I wasn’t pleased with the composition, the figure didn’t have room to breathe and was pretty squished within the page, so I decided to try again.

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Below is my second sketch. I made the figure smaller and fixed the composition of the piece. I felt that the image was still a bit boring with it just containing the figure so I added a jar around the figure, as if she were a pet fish, and an idea sprang to mind. IMG_8565

 

Seeing this mersquid in a jar reminded me of specimen jars and how much I’ve always loved them. I decided to try a new composition with a bunch of fantasy hybrids stuck in variously sized jars all placed on a shelf. The thumbnail below is what I eventually came up with. This is one reason that thumbnails are so important. Without sketching out the piece a few times I would have ended up with a poorly composed piece that was a lot less creative than this one. My idea was allowed to grow because I took the time to figure it out and I was saved the time of correcting the piece over and over again because I had already done that in a smaller, less detailed piece.

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As you can see by my sketchbook page below, I only did three thumbnails. Technically I should have done a bunch more before moving on but I was too excited to get started so I jumped right in. This would end up causing some problems so I definitely learned my lesson on this one. The-Collector-Series-blogLauren-Crest-IMG_8560

 

Getting the jars and figures on the paper was harder than expected since the format of my thumbnails above tended to be a bit wider than my final paper format. This is one reason why having multiple thumbnails of a final piece is super important. With some maneuvering, and taking more time that I should have, I got the basic line art down. The composition could be better but that’s what I get for only drawing three thumbnails.

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My next step was to decide whether to use powdered graphite or to hand shade this piece. I decided against the powdered graphite for this one and get back to my roots of hand shading. I didn’t have enough references for the powdered graphite to really work well and I don’t have the experience that I’d like with it to start such a detailed piece. So jumped in head first with a 3h, 2h, hb, 2b, and 5b pencil. After a few hours we can see progress.

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This is where this piece is at thus far. More details to the figures and shading have been added and the creatures in the remaining jars have been decided upon.

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I should have the final drawn image finished by Wednesday at the latest. After that I’ll be deciding on a color scheme and will be starting the digital coloring. 🙂 I’m super excited about this piece thus far and am super pumped to see where it goes from here!

Let me know what you think!

The Origin of Creation pt 2

This post is a continuation of my previous blog discussing how I go about creating the art I make. This post will be covering the last two key factors that have lead to how I create art as well as my over all creative process. The first post, with the first two key factors, can be found [here]. Read more

The Origin of Creation pt 1

I was recently asked to reflect upon my creative process and describe how it has evolved. When I first thought about this, I wasn’t sure how to even begin. I knew it wasn’t intuition, instinct, or raw talent that guided my art, that it was years of learning, practice and perfecting upon craft that lead me to this point. Aside from that, I had nothing. I wasn’t sure what my process was or how it happened. Over the following week I started being conscious of how new pieces came about and realized a few key factors, in no particular order, that have helped to shape my practice and eventually came to understand what my practice is and how I create art. This was a great exploration for me to become aware of how I work so that I may better understand myself and my art. Read more