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Posts Tagged ‘Illustrator’

Lightning Round with Illustrator Katriona Chapman

January 6th, 2010

I’m thrilled to kick off the 2010 Lightning Rounds with Katriona Chapman, whose illustrations astound me — the intricacies, the gorgeous colours and textures, and how they capture moments, whether whimsical or historical. And boy, she can draw hands like nobody’s business (see the Card Shuffle diagram below)! I met Katriona on twitter, and have mentioned her here before; it’s great to know that talented folks can also be so open and approachable. Now… ready to be blown away?

1. How and when did you start drawing and painting?
I always did since I was tiny, and my mum always wanted to encourage me. We both went to classes with an art teacher who was a family friend for several years when I was growing up. Actually, by the time I did my A-levels (age 16) I was a bit fed up with drawing & did a year specialising in sculpture, then when I went to university I studied literature because I really felt I needed a break!

2. How did illustration become your full-time gig?
Well, I still juggle two jobs at the moment because I find it hard to get the amount of illustration work I would like. I’m not a natural self-promoter but I have a new agent, which will help. I work on illustration during the day, and work a couple of evenings & all of Saturday at a theatre, where I’ve been an usher for about 7 years, on and off.

3. Ideal lazy Sunday?
Lazy’s the right word… on Sundays I’m rarely out of my pyjamas. My boyfriend’s an amazing cook, so we’ll often cook a big meal with me as kitchen assistant. We watch films, and TV series like The Wire, The Sopranos, Twin Peaks…

4. Early riser or night owl?
I used to a night owl but have become an early riser. I have more energy in the mornings, & on days when I have to go to the theatre it makes more sense to do a full working day at home before doing my evening shift. Then when I get home I can just relax.

5. Any new year’s resolutions?
I’ve never done new year’s resolutions!

6. If you had the time, what’s something you’d work at improving or learning?
My Spanish! I’ve spent nine months in Mexico & Central America… my boyfriend is Mexican and I still can’t speak it at all. It’s embarrassing.

7. What’s the last movie you saw in a theatre, and did you like it?
I think it was ‘Up’ in 3D, and I LOVED it.

8. You live in London, England. How did you end up there and what’s your favourite thing about it?
I was born here, but I’ve also lived in Amsterdam, Brighton, and a tiny village in Sussex… and I’ve travelled a fair bit. I actually don’t like that much about London & would love to live somewhere warmer one day. My favourite thing would be my easy & convenient job at the theatre and my friends there.

9. Who are your favourite artists/illustrators?
There are so many… but here’s a few: Toulouse Lautrec, Van Gogh, Robert Crumb, Lisa Evans, Ayano Imai, Elena Odriozola, Tove Jansson.

10. Introvert or extrovert?

11. What do you like best and least about being your own boss?
I enjoy spending time by myself… I’m good at organising my time & motivating myself.

12. What is your kryptonite? I guess messing about taking pictures of the wildlife in my back garden could be one of my weaknesses! Even if I’m really busy I can be distracted by a fox or a squirrel or a bird doing something cute.

13. What was the first concert you ever went to?
I came to live music really late. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever been to a concert! A few gigs and festivals. My first festival was Pinkpop in the Netherlands in 2003.

14. What would you be doing if you weren’t illustrating?
I think if I wasn’t illustrating I’d have to study zoology and try to get a job where I could work with animals. I was never interested in them when I was younger but now I find them really fascinating.

15. Happiest kid memory?
My trips to Nova Scotia every couple of years to stay with my aunt. As a child doing those trips was a magical, amazing experience.

16. When/where/how do you get your best ideas for illustrations?
I like illustrating other people’s stories because I enjoy the collaborative element of two people’s different input coming together. My most fun personal project has been illustrating a friend’s surreal short story because it pushed me in a more imaginative/weird direction than I had been going before.

17. Your illustrations are so detailed and crisp — even your ‘sketches’ [example above] look like finished pieces. How did you arrive at this style?
I don’t know! I must be a bit obsessive. There’s so much I want to improve about my work but in terms of that quite polished finish that I do… I just seem to naturally really want to smooth out lines and textures until they’re as perfect as possible!

18. What’s your go-to karaoke song?
I’ve never done karaoke but in terms of singing along at home… at the moment it’s Bad Romance by Lady Gaga.

19. What are you most proud of right now?
That I do keep pushing myself to get better at illustration. I think it’s important to be quite critical and keep trying to improve. I always wonder if I could work harder, but I also think it’s important to enjoy life a lot. I could never work as hard as some people seem to, to the exclusion of all other interests.

20. Finish this sentence: “I am…”
Easy-going, quite strong-willed, shy, fun-loving, independent and content.

Check out the rest of Katriona’s website to see more of her work, and/or follow her on twitter.

Thanks for being a great sport, Kat, and I look forward to seeing more of your inspiring work! Now… to get you to a karaoke bar… ;)

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The Graphic Details: Resources and Freebies and Tutorials, oh my…

March 11th, 2009

Since I joined Twitter a couple of months ago, I’ve learned about countless sites out there that offer all sorts of graphics tutorials, tips, resources, downloadables… So much helpful, creative, inspiring stuff out there. Below are just a few of the design- and freelance-related links that I’ve collected from the tweety banter. ENJOY!




Great resources


FREE design stuff!




Small Business + Blogging (design-related)


Geeky + fun


I’ve been astounded by just how much talent is to be found online, and coupled with generosity in many many cases. Schmanks for sharing, folks

[Since I've learned about all these resources, I've become reluctant to continue adding my own low-tech tutorials here... Not that I thought that I was the first to come up with blog lessons or anything, but there's just SO much amazing stuff already out there that I'm less motivated to add to it. So these Graphic Details posts will be sparse, methinks!]

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The Graphic Details — raster vs. vector images (Basic)

January 9th, 2009

As a freelance designer, I often get asked job-related questions… I thought it might be helpful to tackle some of these questions here. So without further ado, welcome to the first instalment of The Graphic Details!

One of the most basic things to know about computer graphics comes up when people ask me about logos: the question of raster vs. vector.

In nutshells:
1) RASTER (aka BITMAP) images:

  • … are built pixel by pixel.
  • … have resolution (72 dots per inch is web resolution, whereas 300 dots per inch is print-ready).
  • All digital photos and static graphics on the web are raster-based.
  • Examples of file formats that are raster-based are: JPG, GIF, TIF, and BMP.
  • Photo-editing software, such as Photoshop, are used for creating and manipulating these types of files.

Here is a (raster-based) photo I took in Nova Scotia last summer — at 100% on the left, then zoomed in at 1200% on the right. The image is obviously very pixelated and grainy when I magnify in:

2) VECTOR images:

  • … are built with paths.
  • … do not have a resolution associated to them because the files are built on mathematical formulae (don’t worry — you don’t have to do the computing; it’s all done by the software while you use the drawing tools), so they’re clear regardless of size
  • Ideally, logos SHOULD be built as vector graphics so that they can be printed at the highest possible quality.
  • Examples of file formats that are vector-based are: EPS and AI.
  • Illustration software, such as Illustrator, are used for creating and manipulating these types of files.

Here is a (vector-based) logo I created for my buddy Bob Ledrew (who, with his lovely partner-in-crime Cat, hold house concerts in their abode) — at 100% on the left, then zoomed in at 1200% on the right. Even this close up, the logo remains crisp and clear; the fine blue lines and dots that you see are the program’s selection points and and paths.

Ok, so who cares?
Well, say you’re working on a printed brochure at work, and you need to include a bunch of company logos. Easy enough, right? You go to each company’s website, right-click the logo, and download the graphics to pass over to whomever happens to be doing the layout. Sorry… no cigar. If you print web graphics, they will be grainy.

What you need to do is contact each company’s communications department and ask for a vector-based version of their logo. Hopefully they have an EPS or AI on hand… which will print out clear as a bell.

And heaven help us….

What happens if you open a vector file in a photo-editing software, or if you open a raster file in an illustration program???

1) If you open a vector file in Photoshop, the program will ask you what resolution you want to open it at. The file is AUTOMATICALLY rasterized once it’s parsed/opened. Even if you save it again as an EPS from there, all vector information is lost. [WHY then, would it be possible to save an EPS in Photoshop? Among other things, EPS files saved from Photoshop can contain info like mono/duotone colour schemes or clipping paths... which other formats can’t do.]

2) If you open a raster file in Illustrator, it’s still rasterized. There are ways to vectorize the graphic — such as with “live-trace” in Illustrator CS3. The image, however, will look different than the original raster version did.

This is what the ladybug shot looked like when I did a live trace on it:

This is what it looks like when all the vector elements are selected — again, the fine blue lines and dots are the outlines and nodes of the objects:
And finally…
For the inquisitive folk who wondered in the first paragraph when I said “The vast majority of computer graphic files… are either one of the other…”: Which files are the exceptions? There ARE a few file types that can contain both raster and vector elements:
- PDFs can contain both
- Anything created in an illustration or layout program can contain both
- Photoshop’s text is in vector, even though all other elements in the program are rasterized; but these are only maintained if the file is saved as a native PSD or a layered TIF

*** NB: I plan on posting my ramblings about graphics and entrepreneurship from time to time, but this’ll just be me geeking about stuff I work with day to day — and hopefully in a helpful, not-too-technical way; in NO way do I profess to be a certified graphics instructor. I use the Adobe line of products (plus Corel Painter, which rocks) on a Mac platform, so those will be what I’ll tend to talk about.

Please feel free to leave a comment if:

  • I ever miss something,
  • I am unclear about anything,
  • my posts are helpful or not, AND/OR
  • there’s a topic you want to know about.


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