Caution: Ant Farm Ahead

Do you ever just look at the shizz that you produced months ago, or even years ago, and say, “Wow, that’s bad.”?  That happened with my Project and Portfolio 1 class in which I made an Ant Farm Ahead sign. My Kappa Crossing sign was okay though… not great but okay.

This week is our “Before and After Sprint.” We had from Sunday (yesterday) and have until Thursday to revisit three works and see if we can improve on them. It’s a pass or fail; they’re looking to see whether or not we can use what we’ve learned in the central track to fix our bad designs. Or maybe not even BAD designs, just our weaker ones.

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That was my Ant Farm Ahead sign. I could have made a sign for a literal ant farm, like the kinda stuff your uncle who hates your parents gives you for your seventh birthday… or I could have done a farm that GROWS ants (kill it with fire, am I right?) but I chose to make the ant a farmer.

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I thought it was good at the time, but it’s NOT. First off, the lines are too blunt. Second, it’s kinda lazy illustration that doesn’t show a good knowledge of my software. Third, it’s off-kilter in the sign mock-up. The placement is really off. So this is not a horrendous design, but it’s sure as heck ain’t good either! The whole thing is just way too busy and not legible on a sign mock-up. I would imagine I’d drive on this country dirt road going 50mph (as ya do on country roads…) and go “Wait, what was that sign I just saw?” There’s too much going on.

So I went back to the (literal) drawing board. As in, my sketch pad (that’s almost at the end of its pages, God bless its soul! It has to sit with its two wrapped up replacements plus a new mixed media book! Well, it served me well.)

So I came up with these weirdos.

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There was the top sketch from a worker ant, whose antennae were kind of in a weird spot to even illustrate. The bottom one was a fire ant with the antennae in a much more… sane place.

It took me so long to figure out the mandibles. If I placed the sketch in Adobe Illustrator, and traced them individually as drawn, they looked WAY off. So finally I drew one pincer and copy-pasted it, then reflected it, and came up with something more symmetrical. I had to use the curvature pen a lot, and getting certain parts to be transparent and others not (using Pathfinder, mostly “minus front”) and then I had to adjust the hat position and the position of our left (the ant’s right) antenna.

Finally to avoid the mistake I made with blunt lines on the wheat straw he’s chewing on, I used brush shapes. Came up with this.

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I have to say that’s much better. Is it the best ever? Still, no. But looking at this versus that, I can tell I’ve improved. So there you have my ant farmer. For the mock-up I used the same country dirt road, but just plopped this in on it and played with adjustment layers and the like.

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So maybe I wouldn’t think “Oh, ant farm!” driving at 50 miles per hour past this sign, but I would definitely think to watch for this ant who could probably murder me for trespassing. 10/10, would get murdered by ant farmer again! And doesn’t the sign’s texture just look like this ant means business?

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Woah, We’re Halfway There!

sub-buzz-19388-1472759204-1Fun fact, I actually own two paintings by the “Lincoln on a Bear” guy. I have Ronald Reagan on a velociraptor, and mecha FDR.

whoa-were-halfway-there-whoa-oh-lizard-on-a-chair-13876297I bet he can’t even play that guitar.

chicken-on-a-bear-the-dork-side-fbIs it just me or does that look Photoshopped?

Hello, from the other side! Or the otter slide, but I think I’ve memed enough this post. I mean we’ll see, but maybe.

Oh what the hey.

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Sitting here, on and off sketching while drinking a glass (read: bottle) of Prosecco. I’m going to have the bubbliest hiccups ever.

But I’m halfway to my Bachelor’s degree in graphic design! Well, I’m past the point where the Associate’s students would stop, so I mean I guess I have Associate’s levels of schooling. But my Bachelor’s is what I’m going for.

I’m in two classes this month and one’s pretty brutal. It’s also pass or fail so I’m like… If I name ONE THING wrong when turning in I fail it. Poppin’ anxiety meds like a boss. Double, triple, and quadruple checking EVERYTHING.

Have to draw like 60-70 things. And practice Illustrator.

We had to turn in a set of 10 of our best works, and I have hundreds, so it took me a while to sort through them. I think I ended up choosing a few that were more interesting than best executed, like my best photo:

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Someone tagged the surveillance sign. Also decent use of rule of thirds, but THEY TAGGED THE SURVEILLANCE SIGN. Wonder if they got caught. I captured a mystery in this photo and I really love it for that. So many questions that will likely never be answered. At least not directly to me.

Best drawing was my abstract poker dogs, mostly because most of my drawings suck.

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That Collie in the back is cheating!

For fun, this is what I made with that drawing:

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It’s got issues, but I did this nearly a year ago. I like to think I’m not this bad anymore.

So yeah, just drawing now.

Visit me on RedBubble and use code “ALLYOU” for 20% off. I am here: https://www.redbubble.com/people/vanadisdesign

And that’s about all I got!

A Soapy, Salty, Sugary Adventure!

So over the past week or so I’ve gone on a new adventure! It was full of fails, but some successes. Actually, more successes than fails!

I’m working on a “line” of homemade, organic, cruelty-free self-care products, including bath bombs, sugar or salt scrubs, lip scrubs, shower melts, and bath salt soaks. I’ve gotten a lot of green fingers from this. Maybe even two green thumbs, but I still can’t keep a plant alive.

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Either way, I’m going to get these freakin’ shower melts to work! One way, or another! I tossed a broken-up one in my shower and the fragrance was AH-MAZING. Totally cleared my congestion. So I have no doubt that they work, just… they fell apart. I didn’t add enough water.  Now? I think I added TOO MUCH water so I’m baking them to get some of the liquid to evaporate. Low temp, 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Low and slow, yo!

In the meantime, I got a lot of other stuff to work! My bath bombs didn’t harden enough but I think I know why. Hard to explain, because I did a bunch of stuff wrong on those.

But the stuff I got that works, works awesome!

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I’m waiting on new labels to re-label all these. The ones I got were “waterproof” meaning also “sharpie pen proof.” D’oh! But this is my De-Stress Scrub. It is an epsom salt scrub with a secret formula for taking the stress right away from you. Seriously, when I smelled it, and used the extras that didn’t fit in the tin in my bath, it was like being taken away to… maybe not a tropical island, as it’s not coconut or pineapple – y, but to a place in my LIFE where I feel okay with things. I really don’t know how to describe this scent. It’s the scent I’d want my laundry to be on a hard day. It’s the scent of the candle I wish to burn after a day in which everything goes wrong. It’s clean, it’s fresh, it’s cleansing.

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Another failed label, for Eucalyptus Salt Scrub. Full of lovely Epsom salts with a green color and plenty of Eucalyptus scent, with a trace of Peppermint. Now, I REALLY like this one! It clears your sinuses right the heck out, if you’re having congestion problems. Which I often do, having chronic sinusitis.

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So here we’ve got my amazeballs Creamsicle lip scrub. That’s the yellow one. It is made with sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and orange essential oil. I accidentally broke the top of one of the little bitty 5gram containers, so I used it, and man, does it smell good!

The red one is my favorite, though. It is an avocado oil (so as not to impart too much of a coconut flavor) and cinnamon sugar scrub for the lips. It actually does a little lip plumping, due to the cinnamon. I didn’t use any essential oils on this one, just a dash of powdered cinnamon. I did put a little dye in it though to make it red. I think it looks cute being red!

The big one, though, is great too, especially for chapped lips. It is avocado oil, again, a little purple dye, that turned too dark, but that’s okay… and LAVENDER! Lavender is great for inflammation and irritation, and I’ve been using my mini version of this for when my lips die a little. I haven’t seen it dye my lips at all despite how dark it turned out, same with the cinnamon one.

In fact, I’ll give you a pic of my face/lips with the cinnamon done and then the lavender done two hours later!myfacecinnamonlipscrub

See? No color bleed! And my lips are not normally that plump. That would be the cinnamon. My lips… okay, remember that episode of Metalocalypse where they learned the Blues and Nathan Explosion said he had really thin lips and was gonna make out with Glenn Close? Yeah, those are my lips.

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These are actually my favorite. They are green tea scrubby soaps! They are just barely scented, and the only scent they have is from the green tea leaves themselves, so they’re good for people who have allergies to essential oils. Nothing in them is highly allergenic, actually! At least as far as I know. The color they have is from the green tea leaves. For a half pound of glycerin soap base (the clear kind, mainly hypoallergenic) I used three tablespoons of green tea leaves.

They feel so nice on my skin. They’ve even eliminated some of my skin issues, such as redness, and have made my psoriasis not as bad.

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That’s all I’ve got so feel free to check this big ol’ Creamsicle 1oz container! Isn’t it gorgeous? The cutting board it’s on is kinda meh, but this gorgeous orange and vanilla sugar scrub for lips will relax you!

These are set to be on sale in February, after my testers test them in January!

Whelmed Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

What am I gonna do with 20 more books? My shelves and my kindle together give me about 70 books I haven’t read yet.

My grandmother told me she’d send me “a book or two,” and in the box was about twenty books. A lot of Stephen King… What’s funny is one of the books she sent me by him was one I got my mom for Christmas in 2007. So I guess I was re-gifted… What I was thankful for was that there was a copy of American Gods by Neil Gaiman in it, as I lost my well-loved copy quite a while ago, and that’s one of the books I do enjoy re-reading. I think that book was one of the ones that never made it out of Guam, kind of like my community college art portfolio…

So I shoved them all on the bookshelf and I’ll probably curl into the fetal position not knowing which to read next. I’ve got shelves upon shelves, boxes inside of other boxes, full of books, mostly read and ready to go to Half Price Books for some extra moo-lah. Or more books, I dunno.

The other day the hubs came home early all feverish and said something about the car tires. I had to go to the tire store and get one new one because the treads were ripping off the base. The roads here, guys, they eat your tires. They ate one last year, then we got another two because those got eaten this year, now the final one ws digested.

But I’m on winter break until January 3rd! My course director suggested we all design something just for ourselves but I’m proooobably just going to play video games, drink tea, and read books; heavens know I have enough books now!

fsymsogxo5tv6npt2fz1rwwv_r1_500Oh, hey, look! I’m whelmed again! Just a bunch of stuff. I am ready to accept my life as an empty grocery sack.

But no, seriously, this sheer number of books and boxes and crud I’m surrounded by is making me nervous. So I’m looking at “Garfield Without Garfield” comics. I’ve got two baskets of laundry to fold and I’m like… *spazz* Laundry can live there, see if I care.

So why am I so whelmed… Well, the VA decided I didn’t need my meds, so I didn’t get that sorted until Friday, meaning I’d gone four days without them. So now I’m really off-kilter.

Also Friday I was backing out of a parking spot, was about 90% out of it, and a lady backed into me. Didn’t have her lights on. I went to see was she okay, and she was SCREAMING obscenities at me. It just made it worse every time I asked her “Well, yeah, but are you okay?” She illegally demanded my driver’s license to take a picture of so needless to say, soon as I got home I filed the insurance report (no claim, as there was zero damage) and told them how she acted and what she did. So far, my insurance hasn’t called me, so she probably realized she doesn’t have a claim. If she comes to my house, though, I’m gonna flip my shizz.

So that was a few days I lost working on my school work because of stress, feeling off, being angry, all that.

I got my stuff done, however!

I did a magazine spread, that I kind of like, I guess?  My “archetype” I was catering to is a 60something year old named Nina who’s a widow and all her kids are out of the house so she’s lonely. I want her to get a Maine Coon cat. (They’re amazing. I’m on my second one. My first one died from cardiomyopathy at age 11, but this one doesn’t have it, and he’s nearly 5. By age 5 we’d know if he has it or not and he doesn’t… phew!)

So here’s my spread!

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What killed me was we had to use one of a few given ads but we weren’t allowed to change the size. I used the PetSmart ad because my article was about cats, and putting an ad for like, a beer, would be like “Hey, you’re a single dude with a cat, have a beer!” and that just doesn’t work with my archetype! Though I am a married woman with two cats, and my hubs and I both will have a beer now and then, we were not part of the archetype I designed as the audience.

So anyway, I’m going to be making a post about my brand new venture, but I hope you all had a merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate!

Debauchery on Aida

Have you ever wanted a picture of just the F word? A little cross stitch sampler proclaiming yourself a “beeyotch?” Maybe something to put in your guest room saying “Suck it up, Buttercup?” Well have I found the book for you!

Well, my in-laws did. Oh man, I am so thrilled with the gift they gave me! It’s freaking hilarious and caters to my love of profanity. (I do tend to dial the profanity down a lot on this blog, because I dunno if there are 13 year old design geeks reading or not… but yeah. In real life every other word out of my mouth is a swear.)IMG_1622[1]

Enter this book!

Okay so other than design, and painting, I LOVE cross stitch. I have maybe… 5 of them left unfinished right now that I just haven’t gotten time for, but these ones in this book work up really quickly. Julie Jackson is a genius, and I love that the colors are coded so I know exactly what to get, or that I can change the colors up if I want to!

Basically, for the next decade or so, everyone’s getting vulgar cross stitch samplers for holidays!

It’s got such fun projects as “Suck It Up…” and I really like the border on this one! This will be perfect to hang over the hubs’s bed when he has the man-flu!

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It’s got “Life sucks, then you die.” Very true! I like the “Legend of Zelda”-esque heart line? I’m not sure if that was intended, but man is it relevant!IMG_1624[1]

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There’s a dead teddy bear asking for you to kill him… This is about my mindset most of the time! It’ll be my office picture. Along with my wood-cut map of Middle Earth. Move over, Bilbo!

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Finally, my wish to you and yours: Happy Fucking Holidays!

And who said cross stitch was for old people?

Dead Before Dessert!

Have you ever seen The Emperor’s New Groove? I love that movie.

This blog title comes from the line Yzma says: “Excellent. A few drops in his drink, and then I’ll propose a toast, and he will be dead before dessert.”

To which Kronk replies, “Which is a real shame, because it’s gonna be delicious.”

I was almost dead before dessert today. Literally. Not exaggerating. I was outside and a wasp got stuck in the hood of my jacket! So I was flailing and screaming bloody murder, it was buzzing menacingly near my head, and finally I whipped off my hoodie and threw it, and then ran inside. The wasp stayed around my patio door, just kind of haunting me, running into the glass, and finally it left so I could go back out and get my hoodie. So why death? Why, because I’m allergic to bees and wasps! I’m glad it didn’t sting me because I’m home alone right now. And, you know, because paper wasps have one of the ten (arguably) most painful stings, and they latch on and sting multiple times. They come in yellow and red varieties, and they’re all terrifying.

So anyway week three of my typography and page layout class is over and I’m on my final week now. It’s been exhausting. I’ll be happy if I get to winter break with any sanity left, let alone intact.

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Well I got an 83 on my event poster. I wasn’t expecting much better than that judging on how burned out I am lately. I still have a 97 in the class at least. Yay for weighted grading!

I had to also do a ticket stub for something local and in recent past or in the near future. Why not a hockey game? I hated this work the first night but I liked it a lot better the next day so I turned it in. I was tired of working on it, really.

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It looks like it could be sportsy. Though I see a mistake now — dang it I didn’t capitalize the stub section and such! Oh no! Why did that slip my mind, and why am I just now noticing it? The world may never know!

I’m gonna go hate myself now.

 

Shindig!

Okay first of all I’m freaking elated.

Tired, and we’ll get to why in the next couple thoughts, but elated. I have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroiditis (my immune system attacks and destroys my thyroid so I have to take thyroid hormone replacements.) So, a common thing that happens is losing the outer thirds, or in some cases even half, of your eyebrows. I don’t know why but in my Hashi’s support group on FB it seems to happen to a lot of us. Well, after switching hormones from synthetic to natural desiccated, they’re growing back! I only lost the outer thirds, but it made my eyebrow piercing look goofy. I’m also finding it easier to lose excess weight. So that’s why I’m thrilled! I know that’s not design related, but the rest of this post is, trust me!

Now on to why I’m tired. We had Thanksgiving break, a four-day weekend, off from school. I did do some work and reading during that break, but mostly I just futzed around and ate turkey. We finished Little Witch Academia, which I recommend if you like anime that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s not exactly slice of life; it’s fantasy I’d say, in a school setting. So anyway we did that and we were going to go see Thor: Ragnarok, but I was too busy getting back in the mindset for doing my projects.

Well, I ended up having to do a gig poster, two in-depth critiques of classmates’ posters, and a typeface research flyer thing something, plus re-working my pre-production, and watching lectures… in four days. I was burnin’ that midnight oil a lot. I didn’t sleep well or much, because I tried not to take my Doxepin (antidepressant that doesn’t work for its intended use all that well but is a great non-habit-forming sleep medication) so that I wouldn’t find it too horrible to wake up. Doxepin gives me a hangover for about an hour, seriously. Not like the alcohol kind, just… brain fogginess, still sleepy, “just five more minutes!” kind of thing. Well, with not taking that, my quality of sleep bit the dust. Everything was due yesterday and I managed to get it all turned in with thirty minutes to spare. So it’s probably not… good. But I worked fast thanks to energy drinks and rum. Not at the same time. Only partially a non-coke speed-ball.

It was hard, to the point at which I was having massive anxiety attacks. I was overwhelmed and overworked. I kept popping Vistaril (an antihistamine that also works for anxiety) and when I’d reach the max dose I’d feel like I needed more. Which is saying something, because like the Doxepin, Vistaril is not a habit-forming drug. You can’t really get addicted to it. I lost an hour due to maintenance banging on my door so hard it flew open and I was just shaking for that hour, even though they were only coming to replace my A/C filter. I have PTSD though so yeah, loud noises and the door suddenly opening equals a bad time. It’s not the first time that’s happened. I keep asking them not to pound on the door because it freaks me out something fierce, but they keep doing it. I need to make a sign or something.

So there was all that and a lot of time where I just stared blankly into InDesign as if it were the void staring back. Like, “How do I do this? How do I make my sketch be a thing? Do I even know how to use this program? Crap, I forgot to download my typeface! Better go do that. Aw, that typeface looks awful! Better download a new one.” Then had to re-update my pre-production creative brief thing. Well I finally got a design that was okay-ish. I’m not sure it’s the best thing ever, but at least it looks like it belongs.

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So there was my first sketch, that I hated. You can kind of see the typeface in the word “jazz” that I had to replace. It was a nice typeface but didn’t work out in practice as well as it did in theory.

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Then there’s that monstrosity but it’s what I ultimately went with. It was a quick sketch because I had an idea and just wanted to get it put down onto paper.

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And it turned into that. I couldn’t find the actual date for next year’s, and 2017’s was in October so already happened. I had to play with the date in that case. But see? As I said, not that good, but I was rushed, full of anxiety, and didn’t even know where to start!

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And my font flyer, which I like more than my event poster. The idea was that, as the Baskerville typeface has bolder strokes with thinner, more angular serifs, bold lines would be nice for it. I wanted it to jump out! That said, Baskerville was not always loved. John Baskerville’s contemporaries said that it would damage people’s eyes. I however use it in a lot of things, a lot of my writing, because of said bold strokes. It makes it easier for me to read without squinting or putting my face right up to the monitor to read.

So I did all that plus in-depth critiques and then finally got a decent night’s sleep. With Doxepin. It’s a gorgeous day, not too hot, and definitely not cold because it doesn’t really get cold here, so I’ve got the sliding glass door open with the screen door shut to keep kitties off the balcony. Airing out the apartment cause it needs it. And guess what? My lectures aren’t all that intensive this week so I’ll likely get a few more good nights in too!

That magazine article though… that’s going to be interesting. I need a topic. Maybe an article about cats.  Maine Coons would be interesting because a lot of people I’ve met have heard of them but don’t know much. I could use my Siamese, but Siamese cats are seen heavily in media and everyone says “They’re loud, mischievous, and mean!” Not all are mean, but mine certainly is…

So yes, a magazine spread about Maine Coons sounds good to me.