Wednesday, July 24, 2013


You know when you have an idea for a project and it seems like the best idea you've ever had, and you're grinning from ear to ear thinking about how great it's going to be? You just can't stop thinking about it, and the more you think about it, the better it gets? That's how it was when I started this week's design challenge!

Similar to my previous design challenge, I randomly chose something to design and a theme to base it on. This time the item was a business card and the theme was Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins is my favorite Disney movie, and with "Saving Mr. Banks" (a movie about how Walt Disney acquired the rights to Mary Poppins) coming out in December, it seems this challenge has practically perfect timing!

I started out by deciding that, since Mary Poppins is a magical character and pops up to those who need her most whether they know they need her or not, she doesn't need contact information on her card. The only purpose her business card really serves is to make her look official and to be a memento for the families she helps. The card needed to reflect her grace and charm, but be a bit mysterious. I sketched out multiple ideas, including the card being shaped like her handbag, the design including her measuring tape, and even incorporating her very recognizable hat. I think the flowing curved design I went with most accurately portrays her character.

Of course, there are more characters in Mary Poppins than Mary herself, so I made cards for a few of them, too. The famous nanny wouldn't have needed to come to the Banks household if it weren't for Mr. Banks. He's the workaholic banker who finds his life pleasant. He loves his children, but doesn't quite know what's best for them. He's also a muggle, so-to-speak: he lacks the magic that Mary Poppins possesses. His card has all the contact information, and looks very serious. The inward-curved corners and rounded inner area are reminiscent of a bank note (Although I'm not quite sure what the currency would have looked like back then - at the very least it looks like money to modern American eyes). The image of a businessman, down to the bowler hat.

The last card is the simplest, and I'm not quite sure I like it. This one is for Bert the chimney sweep/screever/one man band/kite salesman. In the movie, he simply goes by "Bert", with no surname mentioned. Upon researching the original books, I found out that the Bert in the movie is an amalgamation of multiple characters from the Mary Poppins books, one of whom is named Herbert Alfred, which is possibly where the name Bert came from. I chose only one of his many occupations - since he's a magical character like Mary Poppins, maybe his business card inexplicably changes depending on what he's currently doing! Anyway, the concept was to depict his broom, one of those with a long handle and bristles pointing outward in a circle. It ended up being a really difficult thing to depict. The lines I can make in Adobe Illustrator are very precise and perfect, but I really wanted something that looked hand-drawn. If I had a pen-tablet I could probably have come up with something like what I was picturing, but since I don't own one I had to make do. I also couldn't find a font that evoked what I wanted to. Oh well, this is just practice anyway. Take a look:

There you have it - business cards for fictional characters. Fun stuff. Until next time, remember "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down"!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pachyderm Postage

During the entire first half of 2013 I've designed virtually nothing. And I call myself a graphic designer? I had an excuse, though. Working 24-32 hours per week, mostly in the late nights/early mornings really swiped all of my design time. Plus, wouldn't you rather play in Disney World than sit in a room and design something? Yeah, me too!

I've worked out a remedy to this situation, though. Over the Summer I will take on design challenges. For each challenge I'll have two days (give or take). The challenges I'm used to have typically come from my classes, with the teacher of the class assigning the project and giving specific details. This blog post and this blog post are examples of the projects I've been assigned for my graphic design classes. Rather than a teacher giving the challenge, I've decided to give it a random spin. I made a numbered list of things to design (i.e. a postcard, a book cover, a brochure, etc.) and a numbered list of themes (triangles, museum, coffee shop, train, etc.). For each challenge I'll pick out, via random number generator, an item from the "things to design" list and an item from the "themes" list. Then I'll design something based on those items!

The first challenge is "postage stamp" and "elephant". I made some sketches - probably not enough, that's something I need to work on - then picked one and created it in Illustrator.
Elephant sketch. Aww, aren't they cute?

Finished design.
It was great to stretch my design muscles a bit! Overall I like how it turned out - I think the top elephant's ear could use a little tweaking, but I can't pin down how to tweak it. Maybe the right edge needs to not be so straight. I did "cheat" and grab a pre-designed postage stamp border from the Internet. It would have taken forever to make from scratch!

Want to join in the fun? I'd love to see what you can come up with keeping within the "postage stamp" "elephant" parameters. If you have a blog let me know if you post your design challenge response! If you don't have a blog, why not post a picture of your creation on the Designed to Create Facebook page? Design on, friends!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Orange Bird by an Orange Nerd

I know, I know. I said that since I was back in Texas from my Florida excursion (see previous blog post) I would post to the blog more often. Summer classes started, and since I was taking two of them my time was taken up by studying. It is my first time taking summer classes - I knew they moved fast, but I didn't expect them to be this fast! One of them is already over with, so now I can blog! Can I get a hoo-rah? Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled blog post:

Sunshine Tree Terrace. That was one of my favorite places in Walt Disney World. This little counter-service kiosk served deliciously refreshing items to cool you off on a hot Florida day. Ice cream cones, floats, fountain drinks, and the legendary Citrus Swirl are all offered here.

Copyright Disney
See that little bird in the illustration above? He's the real reason I love the Sunshine Tree so much! 

He's known simply as the Orange Bird. I enjoy him not just because of his obvious, overwhelming, cuteness, but also because of the interesting story behind him. 

The Orange Bird was created way back in 1970. The Florida Citrus Commission decided to sponsor the Tropical Serenade (AKA the Tiki Room) pavilion in exchange for a mascot. And so the Orange Bird could be found both in Disney World at the Sunshine Tree Terrace and on packaging and merchandise for the Florida Citrus Commission. He even had a vinyl record with a song written by the Sherman Brothers and sung by Anita Bryant that detailed his backstory.

Unfortunately the Orange Bird flew the coop when he faded into obscurity, abandoning his post in the Sunshine Tree. He made his return in the early 2000's, however, in Tokyo Disneyland when the Japanese fell in love with him. Then on April 17th, 2012, the little orange underdog was reinstated to the Terrace and returned to merchandise. He's such a neat little character. I'm glad he's back!

I found and bought the Orange Bird record on Ebay, acquiring a record player shortly thereafter so I could enjoy the musical story of my favorite WDW bird. The album cover is delightfully kitschy, with watercolor branches and flowers surrounding the bright Orange Bird. It occurred to me that the Bird himself would look great in watercolor. Lightbulb!

Copying the illustration, I began sketching Orange Bird on paper. Here's the progression:
Initial sketch.

Lightened sketch so pencil lines won't show through watercolor.
Then I broke out the watercolor pencils and began coloring. 
Almost there...
Orange Bird-ception!
All done.
Before I knew it, a watercolor Orange Bird appeared! I just love him. Now I'm thinking I need to do a paper-pieced version. Then a digital illustration.  He's such a simple character that there are so many opportunities!

As much as I love my Orange Bird painting, I know there are others who would enjoy him a lot too. So I've decided to sell this picture on Ebay. Here's a link to the auction if you're interested:

I'll be back soon with some things I've been designing! Until then, blessings to you.