Tag Archives: Creative Process

VP 74: Yard Stick —BONUS: A Glimpse at My Creative Process (Making Stuff Up)


This is such a simplistic pun that I can’t image that it hasn’t been done. If it has been done then this is my interpretation so trolls take a hike. This might be a good time to explain my creative process. I don’t Google or go to the web when coming up with these. In fact the only time I use the web is when I post.

Creative Process: Making Stuff Up

Brain Storm

With a pencil and paper I start jotting down words. Sometimes it’s a word list and sometimes it’s a mind map (a word list for visual people). A great way to get motivated and start creating.


Once I have some ideas, I do quick, small sketches called thumbnails. Most of us have a hard time taking ideas we visualize (in our minds) and making it real or concrete (on paper). The first time an idea is put to paper is almost always a disappointment. This is why thumbnails are so important to me. I can do several of these in minutes to give an idea a “workout” by exploring composition, light sources, size and content (what to leave, what to take away).

Comp/Final Drawing

Once the idea is fleshed out, I go to my trusty Moleskine sketchbook and with a pencil start my visual pun. Once I have what I want in pencil I will ink over the pencil lines (I still make decisions on what to leave or add even when inking). After the ink is dry I erase all of the visible pencil lines.


The drawing is then scanned and touched up in Photoshop. Touch-up consist of erasing any pencil that are still there, converting the image to grayscale and adjusting contrast (making the black lines darker and the white of the paper brighter). While in Photoshop I add the shading (each tint gets it’s own layer). I normally don’t use more than 4 or five tints or shades. The light source was established during the thumbnail stage so I try to stay true to it when laying down shadows, but not always. One of the top poster designers, Kevin Tong, once told me that sometimes you can have different light angles if it enhances the message and does not become a distraction.

Save For Web, Post, Final

That’s it. I then save for web and post. All of this starts with pen and paper, not the internet. Sometimes it involves the people that mean the most to me, over a bottle of something, we will “brainstorm” ideas and then I will further flesh-out these ideas as thumbnails. I hope the year 2017 will be good to you and a creative one.


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Art Challenge: Day One—The Sketch

A small sample of the sketchbooks I've filled over the years

A small sample of the sketchbooks I’ve filled over the years.

I was challenged by one of my art peers, Kathleen Fettig, to post three pieces (minimum) of artwork per day over the next five days. For day one I would like to start at the very beginning of my creative process—the sketch.  For me art doesn’t just happen. I have to capture it, toy with it and let it simmer, sometimes for years. Sketch books can be found all over the house and I have folder upon folder filled with loose sketches.

I randomly opened some of these sketch books to show you a glimpse of my artistic soul.

I randomly opened some of these sketch books to give you a glimpse into my artistic soul.

The first thing new designers and artists need to learn is that the sketch and sketch book are essential equipment for creativity and that no one has to see these nuggets of inspiration, unless you want them to.

Close up showing a graphic concept and thumbnails for a publication I was working on.

Close up showing a graphic concept and thumbnails for a publication I was working on.

Over the years these books have become a graphic timeline of my life and growth as an artist.

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Filed under Illustrations, Sketch Book