Today, I want to do something a little different and see how it goes. Each month I'd like one of my posts to focus on something I'm doing creatively and go a bit behind the scenes, whether it's new work from my full-time job, a project that came out of a course I'm teaching, personal work I'm not secretly creating behind closed doors (see my last post for more on that), or just some experiments with techniques and/or tools that I was inspired to try. For today's post I'm going to concentrate on the latter—an illustration/pattern design experiment I worked on over the weekend inspired by the picture book Beastly Verse by Joohee Yoon.
I first came across this book through a post on Brain Pickings. I was immediately blown away by Yoon's illustrations that combine both printmaking and digital techniques (check out her portfolio for even more cool work!). The book was printed using only 3 Pantone colors but uses overlay effects (when two or three colors overlap) to create a larger color palette which you can see in the detailed image above. Yoon's style of illustration, reminiscent of linoleum or woodblocks is really suited for this production technique and looks almost silkscreened. There were also several gatefold spreads within the book which added to the wow factor.
Several years ago while I was in my MFA program, I spent some time exploring an illustration style that mixed traditional printmaking with digital techniques in Photoshop. After my program I primarily focused on letterpress, however, and didn't make any progress with furthering that illustration style. So seeing this book re-sparked an interest in where I left off in grad school. I wanted to play around with a couple of techniques that could replicate a similar overlay feel. So I used the dot pattern on the end papers of the book (below) as inspiration to replicate a similar pattern to experiment with technique.
First, I wanted to see how well I could duplicate the pattern using hand drawn dots. I used a brush marker in three colors, making each color a different size dot.
Then I scanned in each dot pattern and layered them on top of each other in Photoshop while using a "multiply" blend mode for the top two layers, creating the overlay effect. Below is the final result.
I also wanted to see how that compared to just drawing all three dot layers with brush markers on the same piece of paper. I found it really tough to create a dynamic and spontaneous feeling pattern once one layer of dots was already on the paper. I feel like the below version of the dot patten is the least successful.
Finally, I did a version created entirely in Photoshop using my Wacom tablet with different custom brush settings. This allowed me to use a yellow background with white dots, similar to what appears in the end papers of Beastly Verse. I could also hide that layer when working on the next one, allowing for the dots to be created spontaneously without the distraction of other colored dots below. I could easily go in and tweak any dots that didn't work or needed to be moved when all three layers were visible. By far, I feel like this was the most interesting version of the three attempts.
Though I'm not really sure what method Yoon used to create Beastly Verse, that's not the point of my experiments. What her work inspired me to do was discover some new techniques I can use and try on some potential work or projects down the road. And it got my really excited to play around with creating new patterns or illustrations using an illustration style I abandoned several years ago. So thank you Joohee Yoon!
Like what you've read? For the next few months I'm changing my weekly posting day from Wednesday to Thursday to accommodate my teaching schedule. Hope to see you here again next Thursday for a new post on creative living!