We've featured this beautiful wallpaper by our friend Jennifer Cirpici a little while ago. Now she's back and sharing with us a Case Study about how she made her Desktopography Valley. Enjoy! Every time you make something, you set higher values and become more precise. Remember to always set your own bar higher and higher. Never make yourself regret that you did not do enough, but that what you did, was the best you could do. 1. Starting all over again Over the past few years a lot of things have changed for me. I’m studying again and my 3 year internship takes a lot of time. It was difficult for me to find time to work on a piece for Desktopography for the past 2 years. But the thought of working on it again, never left. While I was looking on it, being 2 years older and on a new 27 inch iMac, I noticed that the sky was good enough. I was still very pleased with it. The rest? My god. The colours, the tree, everything I just couldn’t use. I decided it was time for a new concept and with that a new approach. This also helped me to get motivated again to work on it. All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici It took me a couple of hours till I thought of a new concept. What if I decide to do something difficult, but to completely rstrongove the middle and focal rock and to replace it with the logo in shape of an island?I took the unedited stock again which I saved and started working on it. It was difficult and it took more than a day to get the technical stuff done. With technical stuff I mean 3 basic things that need to be absolutely as perfect as possible: Rendering, Blending and Perspective. 2. Know what motivates you to go on It maybe sounds silly, but I get very motivated when I first start to set the colours right. This always is a long progress for me, so what you are seeing now isn’t the final result.I believe everyone has this sort of routine when someone starts working on something. Some begin with a sketch and some need to have a certain kind of music. I wanted the colours to look retro, to have a VSCO feel. In the end I ditched this idea (will come back to this later). After I played a bit with the colours I started to remove the big old’ rock. Whoa and that was difficult. It took a lot of my time, because removing something isn’t really fun for me. To continue motivating myself and to give myself a clear view of how it would look, I started adding water. All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici How I did that? Simple. Copy and paste water, blend those in, digital paint, perspective tool and puppet warp. The perspective tool and puppet warp are two tools I used a lot in this piece, because the perspective was crucial. It could make or break it. All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici 3. Making the island During these technical phases of an illustration, it’s important to keep yourself motivated. It was high time for me to take a break and get some groceries, take a shower and look at it from fresh eyes again a couple of hours later.I did had the bad luck that I was fighting against time, because the deadline was coming soon. Which meant that I was working from 12 pm till 5 am on it, until I couldn’t see it anymore and went to bed to start working on it again the next day. My friends think that this is crazy. Maybe it is. But it gives me such an adrenaline rush when I’m able to finish a piece. Like you’re on drugs. Well, you guys know what I mean haha. All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici How I made the island is the same way I made water. My photo-manipulation works are always a combination between painting and stockphoto’s (maybe sort of like a matte painting).I never just render and try to blend something in while not digital painting around it. Painting it makes things blend as well into the scenery. All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici I've also decided that the island shouldn’t exactly match the logo. Nature isn’t perfect, so this shouldn’t be either. It should make you wonder. And that wonder part makes people look at your image longer and make thstrong start liking it. I’ve learned this while I was working full time as a designer and wanted to strive for perfection. But when it comes down to illustrations like these, do not aim for perfection. The imperfection makes it yours. 4. Focus on the details All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici Above is a clear example of how important perspective can be. I’ve tried the perspective tool (edit > transform > perspective) till it looked right and made these tiny little islands in the shape of the leaves of the logo. Some are fully covered with trees, some not. Like I said, nature isn’t perfect. All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici Pay close attention to how things in nature look like. How edges from an island are shaped, how depth is working et cetera. If it does not look right, ask for feedback.Even a child from 10 can tell you, with no experience what so ever in Photoshop, if something looks weird or not. He or she could not point out what you could do about it, but can tell you with no-photoshop-eyes that it should look differently. Just a tip I once got as well. 5. And… flip it horizontal While I was working on it, there was something about the piece that I didn’t like. It had to do how we like to look towards a viewpoint. You see, now the rock at the left asked for my attention, not the logo in the middle. That needed to change, because I wanted the logo to grab the attention. All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici I often fix everything that takes the viewers away from the concept/focal point I want them to lay their eyes first one. And with this I mean blurred leaves in front, an eagle (coming back to this later) or in this case a rock.I’ve also asked two opinions about this decision: to my aunt, who is a photographer and to Mark Vogelaar, also a contributor at OtherFocus. Both of them agreed that it looked more pleasing for them when it was flipped. All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici 6. Adding my 2012 Sky and starting to change the colours All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici I’ve added the sky in it, changed the colours a bit and noticed that my piece was getting darker and darker again.Sure, it should be dramatic, but I felt it became lifeless due to the colours. Around this time my pet became very sick so I had to go to the vet. This reflected in how I was working on the piece.The moment he became a bit better and so that I looked at it with fresh eyes again, the moment the piece started to become better. I added more colours to it: made the trees/plants more green and the water and sky more blue. Remember that before I mentioned an eagle? I bought a, let’s say not very cheap, stock photo of an eagle. It’s absolutely stunning.Full of detail and it’s crispy sharp. Exactly how you want a stock photo to be, because that makes rendering easier. I started rendering it (I do this with calculations > channels and personally find this the best way to do complex rendering) and trying to see where the eagle could ‘fly’. All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici But no matter where I paste the eagle, no matter how small or big I made it or how well I tried to blend it in within the colour schstronge, it just took away the attention. Remember where I wanted the attention to be? I wanted the eagle to be an addition, not that the viewers see something that looks like an eagle (maybe even wonder if it really is an eagle!) and then see the logo. Get rid of everything that does not make sense huh… Decision time again. I got rid of it. 7. Know where the light comes from A difficult part. There are multiple light sources I this illustration, also because there is a ‘storm’ coming. But right now I wanted to flip the sky and make the left side darker and the right side lighter. All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici Another trick that I use since I was 14, is adding a gradient with a white circle in the middle where I want the focus to be. Then I set it on soft light with an opacity of 2-5%. It makes it stand out a bit more. 8. Final touches Unfortunately it was already Tuesday and in a few hours the exhibition would go live. This is my favorite part of working on a photo manipulation: the final touches, the final details, the painting. I can go nuts on it for days. But there wasn’t much time left so I had to set down my priorities: making the water look better by adding reflections, plants, depth, waves, reflection from the sky et cetera. All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici I’ve also fixed the depth within the leaves by adding light and shadow. Doing this by digital painting it as well. Just using the standard brushes that are already in Photoshop. I vary from soft to hard brush and set the opacity and flow lower. Final result All Rights to Jennifer Cirpici This entire progress: the decisions I had to make, how my mood is reflected into the design, which music I listen to while working on it (huge fan of Bonobo), how I set my colours, how I set my focal point etc. is what I call ‘style’. So how do you find your style? In my opinion it is figuring out your working routine. Which steps do you continuously repeat? That makes your artwork yours. Thanks for following my work in progress. Hope you like it! You can download the wallpaper for your desktop at Desktopography here. Video Links More about Jennifer Cirpici and her blog: http://www.otherfocus.com Follow Jennifer on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jennifercirpici More about Desktopography: http://desktopography.net/ Previously seen on OtherFocus
After the very successful article "10 Advices for Designers", I decided to come back with this new article who might be helpful for startup designers and experienced professionals of the industry. For many artists it's quite difficult to let people know of your work. Even if your work is outstanding, it just seems that no one really notices it except your friends around you. The difference between a designer who has a lot of exposure and a designer who doesn’t, is within the character of the designer. Today's advices are from Jennifer Cirpici (Breaking Canvas), a self-taught graphic designer and illustrator based in Netherlands, Holland Introduction Are you social? Do you like to go to design events? Are you ready to meet new designers around you? Are you open on social media sites? Designers like to gain something when they interact with you, even if it's only advice or interesting tweets about gadgets. So to gain more exposure, change your attitude. Give something back and don't think about only gaining. Social Network Sites and Blogs Join social network sites like Behance, Twitter, Facebook and create your own blog. Behance.net is an excellent way to show your work. When you follow someone, they most likely will follow you back. Don't put uninteresting work of you out there, show the work you're the most proud of. Even If it's only 2 projects, it's fine. The more you comment on people's work and your name will pass by, the more likely they'll comment back. It's all a matter about what you give is what you get back. Twitter is a good way to interact with people and to keep people close. It's more personal than Behance. If people tweet about their work, tweet back that you like it and etc… Don't expect that people will notice your work, if you do not notice theirs. It just doesn't work that way. Marketing Plan Now that you are interacting with designers, you'll notice that you'll already get more exposure. The next step is to focus on a marketing plan. It seems so serious, but a marketing plan simply helps you with finding out where you are now, and what you need to improve. It helps you with your work, your work flow, getting more clients, getting more exposure and etc… Begin writing where you are now in your career and what you want to change. Then write on the other side, 6 months later, where you will be and what will be changed by then. Write along with it what needs to be done within that 6 months period to change. A marketing plan can be about anything, from getting more exposure to getting specific sort of clients. It helps you to put things on paper and give you a clear overview what needs to be done. Your Own Site Very important, don't give me that reason "I am too lazy" or "I am working on it." and etc… Don't work on it too long! A portfolio site needs to be simple, minimalistic and simply just showcasing your work. The more effects, glitters, animation, colours and gradients your portfolio site has, the more attention will go to that and not your work. Honestly, if your site is all white and it simply has 6 thumbnails of your work, above there is 'About, Contact, Blog', copyright written somewhere and social media buttons. That’s enough. Only show the work you are the most proud of on your portfolio. You don't want to have work there from 5 years ago, keep it up to date as well. Personal Work Remember that personal work is more attractive to clients than work you have made for other clients. So the more personal projects you have on your portfolio and Behance, the more it will attract clients. The more you can show clients that you can do different kind of works, the more work you may get (logo’s, interactive websites, illustration, animation and etc…) Promoting your work sometimes takes more time than to actually make the work. Put dedication in promoting just as much if not even more as in the making part. Your Own Success Don't depend on others for your own success. You have it in your own hands how successful you are going to be. Don't let other people inspire you too much. Cause if they are gone, so will your your inspiration or motivation. Come up with your own projects; don't let others think of a theme to work on. If you are a designer/illustrator, you’ll have enough imagination to figure projects out on your own if you have to. Get out of your Comfort Zone Never think you are there yet, don't aim for perfection either. You have a lot to learn and that's what makes everything so interesting. The more 'mistakes' you make, the more interesting it's going to be. Don't stay in your comfort zone. You need to work bloody hard in this industry. Throw yourself in the unknown. Try working for an agency in another country, visiting a design conference, getting to meet other designers, studying a different direction, begin working with a new program and etc… Don't be afraid of the unknown, because that'll hold you back from who you might become. You are doing it because you love it. You are a designer because you're born with this creative passion, and whatever you do, you cannot stop creating. It's just as important for you as breathing. Time is Limited "Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” by Steve Jobs About the Author To find out more about Jennifer Cirpici, you can check out her website at BreakingCanvas.com, her awesome blog called Other Focus at OtherFocus.com and follow her on Twitter @JenniferCirpici.