Illustration

Procreate Brushes Provide a Plethora of Graphic Design Possibilities

Procreate digital brushes and Apple Pencil are key tools

What is Procreate? This powerful $USD10 illustration-lettering-drawing app generates high-resolution, multilayered raster images. First made for the iPad Pro for creatives, (thus, “Procreate”), today the app works on any iPad that can pair with an Apple Pencil.

In Procreate, you draw with a digital “brush.” Some brushes are strokes that mimic those of physical drawing and painting tools; others are “stamps” or shapes. Only Apple Pencil Generations 1 and 2 provide both tilt and pressure sensitivity for full stroke variability.

Procreate comes with 100+ brushes installed. If you need more (or are a “brush junkie”), you can tailor-make brushes or import ready-made free and paid brushes. You can find thousands of brushes with a little Internet sleuthing. Import brushes or brush sets via the Procreate brush panel.

I follow Procreate artists and graphic design blogs and often find new brushes. I purchase some and get others free. Here are a dozen of my favorite free and paid Procreate brush sites, in no special order:

Most all of these providers also offer free Procreate tutorials, color palettes, and more; Procreate Folio offers a discussion group and other resources, including a complete Procreate manual.

Watercolor drawing of hamburger on a red and white checkered tablecloth
Cafe Series, Hamburger | Procreate Watercolor and Pattern Brushes
Watercolor Cactus | Procreate inking and watercolor brushes

Procreate brush management tips

If you download everything that catches your eye, you will reach “Brush Overload.” So, consider these brush management tips to make it easier to use and find your Procreate brushes:

  1. Keep only the brushes you need active in your Brush Library. Experiment with new brushes you download; you will find lots you like and lots you don’t need.
  2. Keep your Brush Library organized; Export unused brush sets to your iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, or other file backup locations.
  3. Create a Favorites folder. Copy the brushes you use the most to that folder.
  4. Set a Brush Restore Point. Explore brush settings, but remember to back up settings before you change them.
  5. Make your own brushes and brush sets if you don’t find what you need in the marketplace. Export (Share) them for safekeeping so you can use them for another project.

I use Procreate almost daily in my design workflow; this little $USD10 app—now in its fifth generation—has amazing capabilities. Procreate provides a plethora of possibilities with an abundance of ready-made brushes and the ability to tailor-make your own. Experiment with different brushes, try different drawing styles, and find the ones that work the best for you. Keep your brushes organized, and copy your favorites to an easy-to-find folder.

Explore the possibilities, and happy drawing!

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Best Practices, Design, Graphics, Illustration

Jill B Gilbert reaches a milestone with pro bono projects impact

Volunteer work benefits a range of educational, environmental, professional development, and philanthropic non-profits in the U.S. and abroad

JIll B Gilbert has provided more than 800 hours of pro bono graphic and web design services for non-profit organizations

JIll B Gilbert recently reached a milestone: she has provided over 800 hours of volunteer work, saving non-profit organizations more than $USD 100,000. And she’s not slowing down—currently working on her next project!

Gilbert provided marketing communications, graphic design, and web design services on two dozen projects—many were multiple projects for the same client. The projects ranged from a highly-customized presentation for a sister organization to a U.S. National Park, to branding and logo design for childhood education and Head Start programs and a new high school, to custom presentations and brand guidelines for healthcare organizations.

Gilbert began working with volunteer matching organization Catchafire in 2021, during the height of the pandemic. Technology advances in the past 5 years made it possible to complete all of this volunteer work remotely—even for clients in the Houston area—with client meetings via Zoom or Google Meetings.  She provided project deliverables in electronic format, using Adobe Creative Cloud apps like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Acrobat; Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides, and Apple’s Keynote slide software.

Gilbert remarked, “I have enjoyed working on projects with these non-profits. I am open to paid commissions and plan to continue volunteering marketing, graphic design, and web design services to worthy non-profits so they can spend their budgets to further their missions.”

You can read more about several of the pro bono projects in our blog.

"Jill is extremely organized and creative. Her commitment to advancing causes is genuine and inspiring. Jill goes above and beyond! It was a pleasure working with her."
Rosa
Bridges to Science
"I highly recommend anyone to work with Jill. She has a wealth of knowledge, is very kind, responsive, and did a wonderful job on our visual brand guide."
Heather
Wisconsin Association of Free & Charitable Clinics
"Jill knows design! She understands principles of good design and has in-depth knowledge of professional tools to make your designs look great!"
Kerry
Many Hands
Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Branding, Consulting, Corporate Identity, Design, Education, Graphics, Guidelines, Illustration, Logo Design, Marketing, Standards, Typography, Web Design

Case study: social media ad campaign for children’s book “P is for Pterodactyl

P IS FOR PTERODACTYL is the perfect product for a social media ad campaign. The English language is difficult to learn because of the many exceptions to spelling, grammar and pronunciation rules. This silly, fun read-aloud book by Rapper Lushlife (Raj Haldar) and Chris Carpenter teaches kids the ins and outs of spelling and phonetics. Adults love it, too!

 

P is for Pterodactyl
P is for Pterodactyl | The Worst Alphabet Book Ever

Buyer demographics

Who would buy this book? P IS FOR PTERODACTYL is attractive to parents with young children, parents with school-age children learning to read, and to grandparents, aunts, and uncles. More females than males would buy the book. Relatives would buy this book as a gift.  Buyers are more likely to be college-educated, often with advanced degrees.

P is for Pterodactyl inner pages
P is for Pterodactyl | inner pages

Buyer persona

Digital marketing technology lets us target specific buyers, or personas. My marketing campaign targets a buyer called “90th Percentile Nana.” She is 55-65 years old, married or widowed, with two or more grandchildren. Her household income is in the 90th percentile of U.S. Households. She has an Amazon Prime account, a college degree, drives a luxury SUV, and has a designer Doodle dog. 90th Percentile Nana is in a book club and is tech-savvy, but prefers physical books to Kindle books. She is a foodie and an amateur chef who walks or exercises to stay fit.

Grandparents love P is for Pterodactyl

Buyer's goals and challenges

Buyer’s goals:

  • Entertain grandchildren
  • Visually appealing book
  • Durable book, can be read over and over
  • Teach grandchildren the alphabet
  • Teach grandchildren to read
  • A New York Times Bestseller and/or award-winning book.
Buyer’s challenges:
  • Tired of the standard bedtime books
  • Finding a unique and interesting book
  • Finding a funny book with educational value.

Social Media Marketing Strategy

Goals and social media platform

The ad campaign goals are to create product awareness through advertising and generate sales leads. Facebook is a good fit for these goals, as it is the leading social platform with 2.7 billion monthly users; 54% Female, 46% Male. Facebook hits the sweet spot for 90th Percentile Nana’s demographics. Facebook has more users, and a greater percentage of users, in the target age and income groups than TikTok, Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube.

Social media scheduling

A key element of a social media campaign is timing. SproutSocial shows the highest Facebook engagement times are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. (Figure 1). The American Marketing Association recommends skipping Saturday posts.

 

I developed a two-week schedule for Facebook posts and News Feed Ads (ads that pop up on your Facebook feed) targeted at peak engagement times. Content and design strategies include:

  • Each Facebook Post will be a Sponsored News Feed with one or more images plus text.
  • Many of the posts will be educational and informative versus “hard sell.”
  • Each Facebook Ad will appear in the user’s News Feed and will use images or graphics and limited text.
  • Using images of the book itself will help to build product awareness.
  • The ads will offer 10% to 15% discounts or free shipping and will ask users to sign up for emails and/or texts. 
P is for Pterodactyl, sponsored Facebook post
P is for Pterodactyl, sponsored Facebook post

Metrics

Of the hundreds of social media metrics available, I selected a few to gauge the success of the P IS FOR PTERODACTYL advertising campaign:

  • engagement
  • impressions
  • mentions
  • tags
  • reposts
  • shares.

Marketing Collateral

Marketing pieces for the social media ad campaign use images optimized for Facebook. Collateral includes ads for desktop and mobile views, considering most people interact with social media accounts on smartphones—though 90th Percentile Nana might be more comfortable using a desktop or laptop computer. Marketing collateral also includes an original Acme Books logo for the ad campaign.

P is for Pterodactyl, mobile ads
P is for Pterodactyl, mobile ads
P is for Pterodactyl, mobile ad with signup form
P is for Pterodactyl, mobile ad with signup form
P is for Pterodactyl, desktop ads
P is for Pterodactyl, desktop ads
Acme Books logo by Jill B Gilbert
Acme Books logo by Jill B Gilbert

For further information on this digital marketing case study or to hire Jill B Gilbert for marketing communications advice or to design social media graphics, illustrations and ads for your company, please contact us.

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Branding, Consulting, Corporate Identity, Design, Graphics, Illustration, Logo Design, Marketing

Low poly artwork is a lesson in persistence

I recently had the opportunity to learn a new skill—how to create low poly illustrations. Low poly, short for low polygon art, is a minimal art style used in video game design, animation, and illustration. This art form requires at least 50% technical skills and the rest artistic skills.

 

I photographed  a Mississippi Kite, a swallowtail bird with its wings spread, roosting in a half-dead tree in nearby Exploration Green. I used another photo of cirrus clouds in a blue sky, and a third photo of the Hunter Moon a couple of weeks ago for the background. I used Adobe Illustrator to create hundreds of triangles to highlight the bird’s colors and contours. This took many hours plus lots of patience and persistence.

 

You can see the results below.

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Color, Design, Graphics, Illustration, Photography

When the dog bites, when the bee stings…

Illustration of a bee flying near flowers, with the title Bee Calm

I had just returned from walking our dog, Maggie, which happens three or four times each day. I unclipped her leash to let her run in the yard and noticed a stray leaf that needed to be picked up. As I bent down, a bee or wasp stung me on the face. I had a fat lip in seconds and calmly drove myself to the ER. 

I drew this “BEE CALM” illustration later that day to remember to remain calm during emergencies. I used Procreate on my iPad Air with several stamp and texture brushes. A nice memory of a scary situation! By the way, I never found the insect responsible…

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Graphics, Illustration

Halloween Thanks to CLHS Teachers and Staff: “No Tricks, Just Treats!”

Halloween Poster in Appreciation of CLHS Teachers and Staff, "No Tricks, Just Treats!"
Halloween Poster in Appreciation of CLHS Teachers and Staff by Jill B Gilbert

The Clear Lake High School PTSA wanted a Halloween poster to show appreciation to the school’s teachers and staff. 

Jill B Gilbert created a 20- x 30-inch poster with a black cat and pumpkins, a haunted house on a hill, and spider webs. The poster, created in Adobe Illustrator, uses various tints of purple for the background, with oranges and yellows for the pumpkins and a hint of glowing green. 

Thanks to the amazing CLHS teachers and staff from the PTSA! Enjoy your treats!


 

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Design, Education, Graphics, Illustration

Mississippi Park Connection selects Jill B Gilbert for graphic design work

iMac with screenshot of Mississippi Park Connection presentation slides
Custom, branded presentation template for Mississippi Park Connection

Mississippi Park Connection needed a custom, branded presentation template to convey its mission and message. They selected Jill B Gilbert to design the template. “The challenge was to understand Mississippi Park Connection’s needs, and find a style to complement the organization’s three pillars—habitat restoration and tree planting; paddling the Mississippi River; and youth education,” says Gilbert. MPC is thrilled with the presentation template, which includes over twenty customized illustrations that will appeal to diverse audiences, from prospective board members to volunteers and Park visitors of all ages. 
Read more about the project here.

“Jill was wonderful to work with. She responded positively to our initial feedback on a design and came back with an update that accurately met our needs and vision while incorporating her professional expertise in PowerPoint and graphic design. She is prompt, communicates efficiently, and pushed the project along at times when I felt overwhelmed. We now have a well designed, branded, and functional PowerPoint presentation that will bring cohesiveness to all our presentations. Thank you Jill!”

–Callie Sacarelos, Communications and Marketing Manager, Mississippi Park Connection

Mississippi Park Connection is the nonprofit partner of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (U.S. National Park) and has headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota, at the start of the river. 

 

Jill B Gilbert is a graphic and web designer with years of experience creating impactful marketing communications for both digital and print platforms, for large corporations, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. 

 

the nonprofit partner of Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Branding, Consulting, Corporate Identity, Design, Graphics, Illustration, Marketing, Standards, Typography

Watercolor “Food for Thought” Series

I completed a few watercolor tutorials by Every-Tuesday and got hooked. After the tutorials, I found a handful of inkers and watercolor brushes I liked and started drawing colorful fruits and vegetables. I found it engaging.

Now, the Watercolor Food for Thought series has 30+ images! You can enjoy some of these below.

Selected watercolor drawings from the Food for Thought series by Jill B Gilbert. Ruby Red Grapefruit, Hatch Chilis, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, and Red Onion.
Food for Thought Series | Selected Watercolor Drawings
Selected watercolor drawings from the Food for Thought series by Jill B Gilbert. Dragon Fruit, Lime, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Asparagus
Food for Thought Series | Selected Watercolor Drawings, Part 2
Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Color, Illustration