Posts Tagged ‘design’

Illustrator Final Project: Designing a Beverage Label

Click to view a larger version

Click to view a larger version

My Illustrator class ended a couple of weeks ago, but I realized I forgot to post my final project — a beverage label designed by incorporating the things we’d learned in class.

I decided to design a label for sparkling water as Evan and I drink it all the time and we’ve even purchased a Soda-Club Stream machine to make our own sparkling water at home. So I took the shape of the Soda-Club bottle and decided to put a label on it.

Click to see a larger view

Click to see a larger view

Taking a closer look, you can see the detailed background I created with star shapes, bubble patterns and a gradient mesh to give it some brightness. I liked the idea of knock-out letters on black that would show a window to the background. I also wrote some rather silly rambling copy, found some neat drink recipes, and created the martini graphic

Click to see a larger view

Click to see a larger view

Though I feel it looks rather simple in the end, getting the layers of depth and texture took a long time, as did figuring out exactly how to place all the information I wanted on the bottle. I did keep in mind things like a UPC code and the recycling copy, but I have seen that printed directly on bottles before, so I thought that would be a good place to put those items to keep the actual labels less cluttered.

To get the label on the bottle, I used a 3-D mapping process in Illustrator. It has a lot of glitches and made Illustrator crash multiple times, so I gave up on doing the back label. It also weirdly distorts the label. Still, it’s neat to at least sort of get a visual of what the label would look like on an actual Soda-Club bottle.

Illustrator Class: My Posterized Murray Poster

Our last Adobe Illustrator class assignment was creating a “posterized” poster — a stylized version of a photo that combines areas with similar tones to create a more graphic effect. We had to achieve the postrized look using the pen and pencil tool, and we could also use the live trace tool. We also had to add a title to the image.

The original photo

The original photo (scanned in a while back)

I chose a photo of Murray that I took back when he was a puppy, which was always one of my favorite photos of him. I ended up tracing him with the pencil tool, then using live trace for the flowers and grass, though then I duplicated some flowers to fill in the empty areas. I also create a color palette from the original photo, since when I posterized the image in Photoshop and when I did the live trace, the colors got sort of weird, with Murray getting very pink.

The posterized image

The posterized image (click for a closer view)

I decided to enlarge Murray and put the photo in a frame with words around it, similar to how it’s displayed at my parent’s house. I also tested out using some different effects, like drop shadows to give it more depth.

Learning Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for Real

I use Photoshop just about daily, and have for quite a few years now. I’m familiar with many of the tools, and know how to get a lot of different results, but I’ve always felt like I’m not quite doing everything right — and that if I knew the program better it would help the work I do, so I signed up for a UCLA Extension Photoshop class, and decided to sign up for an Illustrator one, as well.

I’m taking these classes online, which has been an interesting experience — I do miss the camaraderie of the classroom and the real interaction with the teacher, and taking an online class requires a bit more self motivation than just showing up to class once a week since we’re supposed to be checking our class message boards frequently, participating and sharing our work in progress. So far, though, it’s going well, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot.

In the photoshop class, we’ve talked a lot about retouching and correcting photos, which I haven’t done much of before. Now I want to go back to my travel photos from last year and make them even better. We’re also working on creating layer masks, working in nondestructive ways, and creating interesting effects when compositing images.

One project we did was on photo retouching:

Before Retouching

Before Retouching

After retouching

After retouching

For another project, we had to bring together images, as well as use a gradient and creative text styles to create a brochure. I did it for a tour of Oxford, from photos I took there last year.


In my Illustrator class, we have been learning to use the shape and pen tools, and about combining shapes and paths. Our first project was creating a chess board and chess pieces — I decided to make mine little penguins.

Penguin Chess Set

Penguin Chess Set

Our next assignment was to trace logos with the pen tool and then distort the logos with the various transform tools. Here are some I did for the World Wildlife Federation logo.

WWF-LogoTracesSo far, the classes have been going well and I’ve been learning a lot with each assignment and through the great Adobe Classroom in a Book textbooks. I’ll post more of my projects as I complete my assignments.

Free Download: The Owl Calendar 2010

Click to view a larger image

Click to view a larger image

Our final project for Design Fundamentals, other than our design journal, was a calendar. We needed to show a change over time or some sort of metamorphosis while also displaying the 2010 calendar.

I started sketching some cute, boxy little owls, and created a little love story between the two of them. I didn’t know how I’d display the calendar part, but I started to think about making the calendar a part of the tree. After many different experiments on how to do this, what shape the tree should be, where the branches should be and how the story should fit around it, I came up with my final design and put it down in pen and colored pencils.

There are plenty of other small touches in the final design for you to look out for like a little hedgehog, a mouse and bumblebees. I had a lot of fun designing this and drawing it out.

If you’d like to download a high res version, just right-click the link below and select “Save Link As…” Please use it for your personal use only and don’t resell or reconfigure it. Do feel free to share with friends. And let me know if you’ve downloaded it and are enjoying it in the comments.

2010 Owl Calendar, High Res: owlcal-francinekizner.jpg (4.22MB)

2010 Owl Calendar Computer Background, 1280 x 800: owlcal-background.jpg (788KB)

Computer Background version -- Click to enlarge

Computer Background version -- Click to enlarge

Playing with Figure/Ground Reversals and Repetition

Project 4: Figure/Ground Reversal

Project 4: Figure/Ground Reversal

Last night, my third design project was due, and it was a shape exercise where we played with a figure/ground reversal, which we then had to pattern.

We had to create a single panel with an axis of symmetry (mine goes horizontally), and on each side of the axis, the white and black areas were reversed, creating a composition with equal amounts of white and black space. We then had to repeat that image on a grid, getting smaller and smaller, by half each time, until we created a dizzying 8×8 grid.

I really struggled in choosing a concept for this piece. The assignment was so straightforward, and I created about 20 different trials, many of which I tried patterning, but I had a lot of trouble settling on just one. In some, the initial design looked too abstracted, in others, the patterned versions were too blocky or stripy or just didn’t quite look good. I finally settled on this one, which I felt was balanced, interesting and not overly complicated.

It was interesting to see how the movement of the design changed as the tiles got smaller and to see the strange sorts of optical illusions that occurred. When the design is tiled, it creates some new shapes that start pulling your gaze in different directions, but then when it gets tiled more at a smaller scale, it becomes much flatter and less active, looking quite even and flat.

In class we didn’t do a group critique — we discussed our projects at our desks with the instructor — but I could still see many students’ versions. Some people did some incredibly fanciful and complex designs, with swirling shapes, or ones that looked almost like chandeliers. Other students stuck more with flame or rose-like designs, and yet others did straight-lined square designs.

We also got to do the project digitally if we wanted, and the image above isn’t a photo of my presentation board (if only I could take a photo that accurate!) but a digital composite.

The Positive and Negative Space of a Big, Bold K

project 2 - shape relationships

For project #2 in my class, we had to create a 3-panel project. The first panel was a 10-inch tall serif letter — I chose a K — arranged in a 6×9-inch panel. The panel #2 was an arrangement of the negative space from panel #1. Panel #3 was a combination of panels #1 and #2, and had to show overlap, transparency and division between the shapes, using black, white and two colors of gray.

Since we had to do the project by hand, cutting the shapes out of Canson paper, I decided to keep things at least relatively simple by choosing a shape with straight lines. I figured I’d have enough to worry about in panel #3 without having to deal with matching up curved edges. Panels #1 and #2 came together pretty easily, though I did try out many formations for panel #2 before deciding on this one.

As expected, panel #3 was much more difficult. I started by cutting out all the shapes out of all 3 colored papers and started trying to piece together the composition like a puzzle. I quickly realized that I needed to do some more planning if I were going to achieve things like the transparencies properly. I also realized that I needed to really focus on the shape relationships first, so I could complete the assignment, and then worry about tweaking the entire composition to feel more balanced and interesting. The final composition ended up looking so straightforward — like such an obvious combination of panels #1 and #2 — that it really betrays how difficult it was to do.

Last night in class I started to worry that my composition didn’t look anything like the other students’. Almost all had chosen letters with lots of curves and with lots of negative space. There were some some very strong compositions for #3 that didn’t use anywhere near as much white space as I did and had many more intersections between the various shapes. I’m always amazed at how completely different interpretations of the same assignment can be.

When it came time for my critique, though, my piece was really well received. It was pointed out that it was sort of an obvious solution, but it did clearly show transparency, overlap and division with the shapes, and I received some nice compliments about it being well constructed and even looking digital (thank you, straight lines). I still can’t believe that I used only 2 colors of gray and black — there are some interesting optical illusions going on with how the values are perceived, especially in the light gray on light gray transparency with the bottom triangle.

Next week we’re doing a patterning exercise. I’ve already started on some mockups. It should be interesting. And I’m glad we can do it digitally since I’m off to Pittsburgh tonight until Monday, and I’ll be able to work on it while I’m there.

Order to Chaos in Lines

Order to Chaos

I’m currently taking a design fundamentals class at UCLA Extension, and today our first project was due. We had to show a progression from order to chaos, using only lines. I had this concept in my head from the start of intersecting lines on a diagonal that would bounce back at each other and slowly break down into chaos.

The critique from the class was pretty good overall. They felt the design was cohesive, it had a good transition area and it was balanced. The biggest complaint was that I didn’t push the chaos concept enough, which is something I struggled with as I was composing the piece. Maybe I should have had everything break apart at the end, with no continuous lines. I also feel that I could have made some more of the chaotic lines heavier, which would have also helped the reception from the back of the class — it was very hard to see the thinner lines when you stepped back, which made it feel more orderly than it was.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and I’m excited to start tackling next week’s shape assignment. I’ve finally retrieved my drafting table from my parents’ house and pulled out my design tools. It’s great to be creating some physical pieces, which I haven’t done in a long time.