Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Princess Sun is Done!

I hate gift registries. I can never find a gift in my price range and I usually end up wasting so much time and energy trying to find something suitable for the happy couple that I am a pretty grumpy customer. So I decided early on that when my friends got married I wasn't going to have any of that gift registry crap. If I'm going to spend time and energy on a gift for my friends' wedding gifts, I'm going to give them something truly spectacular. So was born the tradition of creating a custom illustrated poem to give to my close friends upon their marriage.

One of my dearest friends (like a sister that I never had to me) is getting married soon and so it was time to create yet another of my illustrated poems. I knew about the wedding since October and had worked on some ideas briefly over the holidays, but due to other commitments wasn't able to get started until about February/March of this year.

The poem gave me a bit of a challenge early on, but it proved to be the easy part. Now that I had the poem complete I could begin work on the illustration! I first had to secretly acquire photos of the couple-to-be from her sister. No problemo. I got the pics and began sketching. I start out trying to capture a realistic version of the person first then simplify it down for my style.

My friend's husband-to-be was easy, I got his illo nailed on the second try. My friend, however, turned out to be more of a challenge. I tried sketching from several different photos and even just parts of photos to try to capture her likeness. No luck. Time was growing very short and projects were piling up was I was trying to sketch out my friend. As you can see in these images, I just wasn't "getting it".

So I did what any good illustrator would do: I put the project down and went on to another project. When I came back to this illustration (and it wasn't long after I put it down due to my timeline), I decided to try a different approach. I went straight into the simplified illo in my style. While I don't think it is perfect, I do believe it does capture the essence of my friend's personality (and that is the point, these illustrated poems are intended to be fairy tales, not exact duplicates of reality).

Now the huge hurdle: I had no idea what kind of layout/environment to put these two people into! My friend is a huge Art Deco and Edward Hopper fan, so I looked there for inspiration. I had a great poster on my wall that might do the trick, so I sketched it up for inspiration.

But it was missing something. Something important. Then it hit me, sunflowers! My friend loves sunflowers and since it is one of the symbols of the sun, a field of sunflowers could be her domain!

Now that I was getting somewhere, I determined that Celtic-style clothing would work best as my friend is of Irish descent. I did my research and came up with what I feel were suitable garments for the princess and her prince. I added a Celtic cross to the man to reflect his Catholic faith and I added a moon pendant to Princess Sun to represent her sister.

I didn't have the hands figured out, but I needed to get this illo done, so I just forged ahead and put it all into Illustrator as is. I got the file built, but the hands were still an issue. So I printed out what I had so far and began to sketch hands in different positions. I finally found the solution: Princess Sun's hand would be over the pendant (to reflect her close bond with her sister), and the Prince's hand would be on the Princesses' arm to reflect how all three are now connected. Bingo!

I finished my digital inking and laying out flat color in Illustrator and then I pulled everything into Photoshop where I added the textures and lighting to complete the illustration. Here's the final illo that I ended up getting done with a week to spare.... :)

The text of the poem reads:
Princess Sun
Princess Sun and her sister,
Princess Moon,
Shared the vast sky.

They shone their brilliant light
Upon the world.
Princess Sun loved her sister,
But she was still lonely.

Searching for the love
She saw blossoming
All around.
Her brilliance began to fade
As time and hope faded.

Until one day
A glimmer caught her eye
And she turned to see
Her true love
(©2008 Nicholas J. Nawroth, all rights reserved.)

To my dear friends, Reb and Matt, may your wedding day be beautiful and your marriage long and fruitful!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Envelope Fun!

I recently picked up a box of security envelopes. I really didn't pay much attention to the packaging, because, well, let's face it, envelope packaging is rarely engaging (my apologies if you are one who designs envelope packaging, I'm sure you are a good designer).

When I went to open the box, I found this bit of text:

Now I've opened quite a few packages in my life and I'm used to seeing the phrase "Tear Here". I've never seen "Tears Here", and I actually read it at first as tears, as in crying. So naturally I took a photo of this oddity.

But then the fun began. Silly me, I actually tried to open the box! And naturally, I started where it said "Tears Here". The problem is it didn't tear "here". It tore everywhere but "here" (what great glue they used!). So after a few minutes, my box now looked like this:

So perhaps my original reading of "Tears Here" was indeed correct…

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Disturbing Packaging

In my day job as a designer at a local grocery store, I was in the store taking some test photos for a project. I was in the ice cream aisle and notice this package:

Now I'm open minded and all, and I have no doubt the actual product looks like it does on the package, but I couldn't help to laugh and snap a quick pic. Perhaps a different angle would have helped on the product photo. I dunno, I'm just thankful it provided a smile on a hectic work day!

Friday, April 11, 2008


Hello there! So you've found me. Whether that is good or bad has yet to be determined. :) I'm a Graphic Designer based in Dayton, OH with about 10 years of experience under my belt. While I don't consider myself a great writer, I figured trying a blog couldn't hurt.

So what will I talk about here? Oh, pretty much anything. I will do my best to keep it design related, as that is my passion in life. But as with all of us ADD, er, artsy types, my attention and topics might wander off course.

Sit back, enjoy the posts and let me know how I'm doing. (But only positive comments please, I'm frageelay. Just kidding!)

So this week, I'll start out with a simple teaser for all my HOWie friends…here's a top secret photo of the covers I'm doing for the HOWiezine issue 12. Spies went to great lengths to capture this image, so please forgive the poor quality. Enjoy the teaser and keep your eyes peeled for my full write up and reveal of the finished covers coming soon!