Monday, July 18, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tell me lys, tell me sweet little lys...

The hydrology division of Decagon Devices, Inc. asked me to work up a few concepts for a new microsite that features lysimeters.

*Caveat: I hereby offer an advance apology to any soil scientists and hydrologists for my layman's explanation of this equipment and process.  A hydrology apology.  Heh heh.  I'm such a nerd.

A lysimeter is essentially a piece of equipment (well, multiple pieces of equipment to be specific) that allows very accurate observation and measurement of a given environment.  The data is used in climate research, water management, agronomy, and soil science.

Some of this might look familiar if you've seen the posts on this blog about the drain gauge project.  The drain gauge is made by Decagon.  The other lysimeters are made by a German company called UMS.  These things are huge.  They're a meter tall.

Have I mentioned before that I love my job?  Have I mentioned how much I love technical illustration like this?  Well, this project is no exception.  I've tried to explain before the impetus of this, and maybe that's a fool's errand.  I've cited before that technical illustration is very exacting and clean, which likely appeals to certain dominant personality traits of mine.  I may or may not have been German or Swiss in a past life.

I think there's more, though.  This kind of work (specifically this project) involves drawing lots of different materials (metal, soil, plastic) which means drawing a lot of textures, surface treatments, the way light reflects off those surfaces, a variety of colors, etc.  It's challenging and there's enough variety that it never seems repetitious.

I also love utilizing illustration to make something possible that can't really be done in other mediums.  I dare you to cut a lysimeter in half so you can see a cross section of it.  It's pretty hard to do that with soil, too.  Not impossible, but difficult to be sure.  And time-consuming.  And the result probably won't be as pretty.

There's a lot of talk about illustration being obsolete these days.  As if the ease of digital video and photography make illustration into an antiquated piece of ornament.  But, as just noted, illustration can make possible visuals that you just can't create other ways.  A cross section, an exploded view of an engine, step by step processes, the inner workings of mechanical or biological systems, multiple perspectives, hypothetical situations, etc.

Let alone the imaginative realms made possible through illustration.  Illustration can show other worlds and realities.  It can be infused with personality and emotion.  Illustration can narrate and explain.  Apparently, because of the cerebral cortex, humans are the only creatures who can create hypothetical situations in their heads.  We can imagine.  And illustration is this imagination made manifest.  And all of these things make illustration completely relevant, regardless of technological advances.

I didn't really mean for this to turn into a dissertation.  But I won't apologize.  I'm sorry, but that's just the way I am.


Tainted Love

Here's a whole flock of creature concept alternates I drew up  for PagePipe.  The company focuses on efficiency and speed.  They wanted an image that represents some of the potential pitfalls of the website arena.  The creature represents toxicity, inefficiency, waste, etc.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stop Gap

One of the two people who read this blog commented that I hadn't posted anything for a while.  Which is true.  I've been swamped with work.  Which is phenomenal, but leaves little time for ancillary agenda items.  I have multiple projects going on at the moment and there will be some exciting posts soon enough.

In the meantime, here are three semi-new items.

1.)  Color options for the Palouse Choral Society logo.  Did I mention this was the design they picked?  Well, now I have.  So there.

2.)  Several monster sketches for a website piece.  Color versions to come soon.

3.) The final version of the Latah County Historical Society Sign (oddly enough, I forgot to post this color variation even though it was my favorite).


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Seems Fair

The University of Idaho College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) just asked me if I'd be interested in drawing some fair cut outs for them (the kind painted on large panels with a hole cut in them where you put your face).  And I was all like...moo yeah (that intensely bad joke will make sense in a minute).

Here are the concepts.  They are currently waiting for approval.  It's difficult to tell without color, but the top set is a potato in various forms of awesomeness.

PCS Logo Revisions

Well, How do!  If you live in the United States, happy belated 4th of July.  Our neighborhood last night was apparently chock-a-block full of people reveling in the joy of filling the skies with the Kabul-like cacophony of mortars and Whistling Petes.  So if these posts seem a little punch-drunk, it's because people's supplies of gunpowder-fueled mayhem didn't run out until well after midnight and I couldn't sleep.

So, remember the Palouse Choral Society Logo?  Sure you do.  It was only one post ago.  Well, after the meeting there was much discussing and a secondary meeting.  Eventually the plethora of ideas were winnowed down and a tentative winner seems to have emerged.

This one has changed quite a bit since the beginning.  Most do.  I think that has something to do with the decidedly un-scientific process involved.  At the outset, it's pretty difficult to know right off the bat exactly how you want to represent a business, organization, idea, etc. with a graphic logo.  It has to work intellectually and aesthetically.  Those two things are difficult enough as it is.  But the logo also has to feel right.

Sometimes the process is like playing darts and hitting the bull's eye on the first throw.  And sometimes it's like playing Twister.  In the dark.  And none of you speak the same language.  Figuring out what a client wants and needs often boils down to communicating effectively.  That sounds like (and is) a total cliche, but it's true.  And effective communication is sometimes pretty difficult.  As far as I know, there's no manual for how to talk about visualizing abstractions.  That manual has to be re-written for every client.  It's a whole other facet to design and illustration I never predicted.  But, believe it or not, it's also really interesting.

Enough yakkity yak yak.  Logos now.