Illustration

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 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

A Plethora of Possibilities with Procreate Brushes

“What is Procreate,” you ask? Procreate is a powerful, inexpensive, illustration-lettering-drawing app that works with your finger or an Apple Pencil. It was originally designed for the iPad Pro (hence the name, “Procreate”) and now works with iPad Air (Generation 4) and all iPad Pros.

The digital “brush” is how you draw in Procreate. The app comes with 100+ brushes. If that’s not enough, you can create your own brushes or import free or paid brushes that others create. You can find thousands of brushes with a little Internet sleuthing.

I follow several Procreate artists and graphic design blogs and often learn about new brushes. I believe in supporting fellow graphic designers and artists, so I purchase some Procreate brushes and download others free. Here are ten of my favorite sites for Procreate brushes, in no particular order:

Watercolor Cactus drawing uses 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, or other folders.
  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 settings.
  5. Make your own brushes and brush sets if you don’t find what you need in the marketplace. Export (Share) them for safekeeping.

Happy drawing!

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Design, Illustration

Drawing during the pandemic improves skills measurably

Patience, the Procreate app, and creating something every day improved my drawing and illustration skills.

Last year, my “go-to” hardware was a MacBook Pro, a Wacom drawing tablet, a wireless keyboard and a 25-inch monitor. Late in 2019 I upgraded my iPad and purchased an Apple pencil. I could use the iPad anywhere, rather than be chained to the desk in my studio.

Back to the pandemic… I have worked at home for over 15 years, so staying home a bit more was not too taxing. I wanted to improve my drawing skills, but could not make myself pick up a sketchbook. I remember my drawing teacher told me, “just try drawing something–anything–each day.” So I started creating something on the iPad nearly every day. Birthday cards, abstract illustrations, watercolor drawings, comic-style illustrations, and more. I learned how to use dozens of different types of “brushes,” something I hadn’t explored much in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I created many works from photos–free stock photos and my own photos. My skills grew, week-to-week and month-to-month. 

Do something good. Create something every day.

Jill B Gilbert

I truly improved my drawing and illustration skills during the COVID-19 pandemic. I credit patience, and creating something nearly every day, for much of the improvement. And I credit learning the Procreate app for the rest.

Now I use my sketchbook almost daily. Sometimes I use it at the start of a project. Most days I see where my mind takes me when I start Procreate, and use the sketchbook to take notes and to paste printed versions.

My advice: Do something good. Create something every day.

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

Procreate for iPad review

Procreate is a Raster (pixel) drawing app with many features not found in other drawing apps available for the iPad.

In 2019, my “go-to” tools for making quick–and detailed–graphics and illustrations were Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop on my Macbook Pro. My setup included a Wacom drawing tablet, a wireless keyboard, and a large monitor. My iPad was a secondary tool, hardly part of my graphic design workflow. I dabbled in the different Illustrator and Photoshop apps for the iPad, but they seemed awkward. 

Then I traded in my iPad for an iPad Air (3rd Generation) and bought an Apple Pencil. I kept hearing about an app called Procreate, designed for the original iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. A blog I follow had lots of Procreate tutorials, so invested a small sum of ten dollars (!) and got started. Read on to learn the ins and outs of Procreate.

Pluses

  • You can choose from pre-installed drawing templates, or create your own.
  • You can use pressure sensitivity to change brush behavior and drawing stroke.
  • Layers! Depending upon the drawing size and resolution, you can have up to 40 or more layers.
  • Robust text capabilities and the ability to add typefaces.
  • Preinstalled color palettes.
  • You can create color palettes manually, from an image or a photo, or import palettes created by others.
  • You can export and save color palettes.
  • The shape tool creates “perfect” geometric shapes.
  • Drawing assist allows you to create straight lines, smooth curves, symmetrical illustrations, and more.
  • Create CMYK and RGB documents for print and Web, respectively
  • You can export to several file formats, such as PNG, JPEG, TIFF, layered PSD, and PDF.
  • You can edit and create Procreate brushes and brush sets.
  • Thousands of free and paid Procreate brush sets are available.

Minuses

  • As a Raster app, the drawing size and resolution must be set upfront, according to how you intend to use the illustration.
  • In the current version (5x), you can draw and edit arcs with three or four points, but not “S-curves.”
  • If you are a Typophile or often create illustrations with 20 or more layers, Procreate will crash periodically, even with decent iPad memory–but I have never lost a file!
  • There are so many Procreate brushes available, you may find it hard to limit the number you add; currently, you cannot tag brushes as “favorites.”
  • Cannot lock a color palette; I have accidentally changed color swatches many times.

Conclusion

Procreate offers many features not seen in competitors’ drawing apps. I recommend it as part of a graphic design workflow and use it almost daily. It is a true gem, and well worth the money. 

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