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Happenings and wonderful things.

Have a Drink on Me

April 2016 - July 2016
Programs: Hand rendered + Adobe Illustrator

There are some clients who I'm happy to hear from no matter how busy I am. Ant Tessitore is one of those people who seems to constantly be the harbinger of amazing things. He has a natural creative spark that is highly contagious. When his name pops up in my inbox, I know something good is coming. He had written me a couple months ago with an idea for a new project, and he did not disappoint. 

With his wedding on the horizon and several groomsmen to buy a gift for, Ant wanted something special that each man could share, but retain their individuality. He decided that, rather than order a simple name engraving on a keepsake, we would team up to go all-out and create a completely unique piece for each of his friends.

I received matrix of information, covering two important topics to each of the groomsmen, as well as an animal they felt a close connection to. I was to then take each combination of elements and create an original coat of arms, which would then be laser engraved into a steel flask. 

As every good project does, things started off with sketches and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Blocking out the basic ideas for each of the heraldic elements.

Blocking out the basic ideas for each of the heraldic elements.

An important element in my current process is, well, the process. The focus has changed from 'get it done right now' to just 'get it done right.' I've allotted myself the time to go back and  make sure that each illustration has that correct combination of style and accuracy. 

Soft pencil lines overlay the hard linework from the printer.

Soft pencil lines overlay the hard linework from the printer.

Every cycle consisted of scanning the original drawing in, tracing it out in Illustrator, printing it back out, and then doing a fresh draw-over. This combination of techniques allows me to strike a balance between the surgical precision of vector illustration and the warm organic lines of a hand-rendered piece.

Coming into focus, replacing the palette with crossed paintbrushes and a paint spatter in the background. I also started experimenting with line shading and thickness.

Coming into focus, replacing the palette with crossed paintbrushes and a paint spatter in the background. I also started experimenting with line shading and thickness.

Pen and ink layer to complete the first analogue version of the illustration. 

Pen and ink layer to complete the first analogue version of the illustration. 

It was at this stage that I got in touch with my printer. This is an essential step in any large-scale project that has unusual specs. Inevitably, the starry-eyed designer is going to come up with some ideas that just aren't feasible due to the limitations of the printing process. I've been in this profession long enough to know that I fall into this category regularly. Thankfully, I have some impressive people in my corner. 

I got in touch with Tim Doyle at Ironmark, a multilevel marketing company that just happens to have one of the best print teams I've ever encountered in the business. Every designer has a list of printers they trust to do different things, and I know that when I have a special project that needs that extra level of attention to detail, these are the people who can back me up. 

Tim got me connected with exactly the product I was looking for. When I had artwork for review, he steered me in the right direction on a couple critical points so that I didn't end up with an unprintable product. If I had waiting until I had completed all seven designs, it would have been a complete pain to rework everything. As it was my first design, the changes were easy to incorporate and use as a template for the other six. 

Fully digital render with cleanup and simplified linework. Line shading in Adobe Illustrator cuts a lot of the tedium from the manual process, and ensures total accuracy in the image. 

Fully digital render with cleanup and simplified linework. Line shading in Adobe Illustrator cuts a lot of the tedium from the manual process, and ensures total accuracy in the image. 

From here, it was a simple matter of creating the other six illustrations and sending them off to press.

I consider this an example of collaborative work in the highest degree. Ant is a phenomenal person to work with, giving a lot of energy and enthusiasm without being overbearing in the slightest. Tim is one of those quiet heroes that makes everything happen seamlessly behind the scenes. With our collected efforts, this never would have been possible. What an amazing set of gifts.

Here's to another success in the storyline.