Handlettering some quotes

Late-night Hozier-induced handlettering practice is fun! :)

“If I’m a pagan of the good times, my lover’s the sunlight” (Hozier’s Take me to church)
“With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy?” (Oscar Wilde)


Designing for colour blind people

Ever thought of how a colour blind person perceives the world? I wonder how many graphic designers (especially for functional things like webpages and book illustrations) take colour blindness into account in their design process.

I didn’t know anything about colour blindness until I did some researching last week. Apparently 1 in 12 people has some form of colour blindness and men are more likely to be colour blind than women. A colour blind friend of mine, who is very interested in art history and museums, sometimes speaks about how colour blindness changes the way he looks at art. The thought that he sees the art differently than most people, including the original creator, feels very frustrating.

Especially flat design (which is very in style at the moment) can be problematic for people with color blindness. Flat design consists of stylized vector images without any line-art. If you are colour blind, flat design can be a problem since there’s no border between two colours. Shapes that are clearly separate for people with perfect colour vision might be merged in the eyes of a person with colour blindness.
As a small test, I’ve taken one of my one flat designs and put it in the colour blindness simulator over at color-blindness.com. The left image is the ‘normal’ image, the right image is the image as seen by someone with ‘deuteranopia’ (red-green colour blindness):

colorblindness-birds-normal colorblindness-birds-deuteranopia

If you want to test yourself for colour blindness, you can do an Ishihara color blindness test at color-blindness.com as well.

Now I’m wondering: how can we make graphic design better, also taking into account that 1 in 12 (or: 11 in 12, if the designer is colour blind!) people might not perceive the things we make the same way as we do?

How to learn to use Adobe Illustrator

Today, I want to give you some tips and tricks for when you want to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator. I’ve been using Illustrator for two years now. In the beginning, I really struggled with the pen tool and the fact that the program is so different from Photoshop! I hope I can help some of you by sharing how I started out using Illustrator.

Adobe Illustrator is not Adobe Photoshop.

Forget everything you think you know about Illustrator since you know Photoshop. You’ll thank me later.

Gather some resources

Surf the internet. You can find many tutorials online that deal with illustrator, the pen tool and all other stuff you need to know to craft basic vector images. Some tutorials cover one tool, other are step-by-step explanations of the process of a particular image. There’s even a game for learning the pen tool!

Some resources I used to learn Illustrator:
Illustrator shapes tutorial by milkbun
Tutorial part 1: The basics of illustrator by modernreligion
Tutorial part 2: The basics of vectoring by modernreligion
Illustrator tutorial: gear wheel by surgio
The bézier game

Get your hands dirty.

You learn fastest by doing. Reading tutorials is fine, but step-by-step going through all the actions in a tutorial is better. As an example, here’s the first thing I created in Adobe Illustrator by following this tutorial by Milkbun.

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Free skillshare class: Yuko Shimizu’s masterclass in inking (one week only)

For those of you who always wanted to try out Skillshare: the illustrator Yuko Shimizu is offering her masterclass in inking for free, the coming week only.
If you use the link below to enroll, you get a free month of Premium Membership on Skillshare for unlimited access to hundreds of online classes:
Yuko Shimizu – Mastering Inking: Basic and Pro Techniques
I believe this link is valid for three days.

I can definitely recommend Skillshare! Last year I took a course in handlettering there, and it’s lots of fun.

Another interesting read: Yuko Shimizu’s website features a FAQ with advice for starting illustrators.

Unwritten bij Yuko Shimizu
Unwritten, by Yuko Shimizu

Introduction to cartoons and comics

In the wake of the tragedy in Paris of last week, there has been a lot of attention for comics and cartoons, especially as a medium to voice an opinion or tell a personal story.
Sarah McIntyre has written this nice introduction to drawing cartoons and comics. It includes answers to frequently asked questions, some cool project ideas and lots of examples from numerous web comics.

Stop motion short: the history of typography

I’m working on a Skillshare project at the moment (more about that here) and I came across this handy stop motion video that explains the history of typography in a mere 5 minutes! I think it’s really handy for when you want to search for a specific font but you don’t know the exact category — knowing the different between humanist sans and geometric sans is really useful when browing sites such as myfont and fontstore.com! This video makes it really easy to find out what kind of font you’re looking for.

If you like this kind of stuff and you want to learn more about typography, be sure to check out the book Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton. It’s quite a good primer on everything font-related. If you live in the vicinity of Nijmegen, you might be able to borrow it from me. ;)

Ukiyo-e reference books

I’ve been an admirer of Japanese wood block prints ever since I bought my first art postcards in Paris. When I went to the Kuniyoshi exposition in Leiden, I looked around for a good reference book. The Siebold Huis sells art books with large Ukiyo-e prints, but the prices for those books started at 60 euro’s! :O

Eventually I found Ukiyo-e: 250 years of Japanese Art, a gigantic book that’s so large that it doesn’t fit in my bookcase! It normally costs around 60 pounds, but luckily I was able to get it second-hand. It offers an overview of Ukiyo-e prints through the times, which means it contains traditional images such as portraits of actors and famous warriors, but also more modern work.

book Cover of Ukiyo-e: 250 years of Japanese Art
Cover of Ukiyo-e: 250 years of Japanese Art

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Screen printing

In September I took the most difficult courses in university of my life. I am a computer science major and the specialization I chose for my masters was the most abstract direction one can choose: mathematical foundations of computer science. For 6 months, I studied type theory, category theory and complexity theory and wrote a research paper on term-rewriting.
To keep my sanity in these months of abstract thinking (and the obligatory ascetic lifestyle) I signed up for a course in screen printing from Jeanne Verbruggen at De Lindenberg, the local arts & crafts institute.

Every Tuesday from 6 to 10 in the evening I would get my hands dirty with paint and chemicals while experimenting with screen printing, assisted by a very kind teacher and 5 other people. We would share ideas, techniques and tricks to prevent things from going different than planned. Since I normally work with digital media, this ‘hands-on’ way of making art was a revelation and an adventure. I absolutely loved it!

Screenprinting a portrait of Bertrand Russell

It was also very challenging. There is no undo-button in real life, so when making art, a good idea and technical knowledge is not enough. You need a fair amount of concentration and also the experience to really make something.
I learned a lot during the course, besides the insight that analogous work has its own benefits and rewards.
The course is now finished and I have a stack of prints made during the course that are now ready for processing.

If you want to learn more about screen printing, I like this blogpost by Jane McGuiness where she explains the creation of one of her prints.