Visual Evangelism

 Design for Marketing  // Narrative Illustration

I create quality, custom visual communications that help you achieve your business and organizational goals.

As a designer, I’m a generalist with a variety of skills that combine into solid expertise. My design process is a collaborative effort in which my creative strengths mesh with my clients’ specific understanding of their services and products and how to bring them to fulfillment.

Approaching design in this manner requires an investment of time in order to carefully craft your visual message. There are no instant,
off-the-rack solutions. The results of my process enable you to meet your branding and marketing goals.


Narrative, Historical, Sports, Botanical, Likeness

Graphic Design

Identity & Branding, Print, Publication, Web


Designing Influence. Drawing Attention.

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Creative Services

You can entrust your design or illustration project to me. I offer total project oversight, from concept through completion.

Logo & Identity Design

Your logo is the foundation of your brand strategy. Everything else emanates from it, and it’s applied to everything, from your business cards to your social media. It needs to be unique and specifically tailored for your business or organization and work for a breadth of platforms and media.

Narrative Illustration

Storytelling in visual form for picture books, story books, trade and nonfiction books, in a lively, realistic style, with an emphasis on historic, sports and portrait subjects.

Editorial Illustration

Narrative scenes and environmental portraits for magazines, newspapers and journals.

Graphic Design

You cannot do any marketing or promotion without graphic design. Single designs or campaigns, printed collateral and direct mail, WordPress web sites. For advertising, editorial, direct mail, social media, web sites, signage, trade shows, and events.

Brand Strategy

From a graphic audit to a branding plan that fits your goals, strategy is offered along with a design project.


Original photographs in a photo-journalistic style — sports, concerts, events, street, documentary, landscapes. Subjects include locations, people, product and objects, using natural or available light. Available as part of a contracted design project.

Editing and Writing

Technical, narrative and descriptive copy based on your talk points, and editing of existing copy. Offered as part of a larger design project.

Total Project Management

I take care of all the non-creative aspects of a project, including art direction, print management, web site management and set up, mailing services, and more.

Alvalyn exceeded our expectations and assisted us in developing products that we are proud to share and has helped us step away from the crowd by assisting us in telling the story about our methodology.

— Dave Johnson, ITG Consultants, LLC —

Are you ready to take your visual communications to the next level?



My blog, Eye Level, is where I write visual notes and verbal sketches about what I know: design, illustration, drawing, freelancing, copyright.

5 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Color

February 10, 2017
Although we see in color, have favorite colors, and use color for practical reasons every day, we aren’t necessarily aware of what color is, how we see it, and how we use it. I pulled these 5 principles from my complete course in color theory, because they are stunning aspects that dumbfound many people. 1] Color does not physically exist. That red ballcap is not really red, grass is not colored green, and the sky is not filled with blue.  Color is a perception caused by light waves received by our photoreceptor cells and stimulating our optic nerves to tell our brains that we’re seeing red, green and blue. Nothing is actually colored. We see color on an object because the object contains pigment that reflects and absorbs light waves. What is reflected by the pigment is the color we perceive. 2] Color is energy. Color is a property of light. White light, aka visible light, is that part of the energy spectrum that we can see (rather than hear). White light is a blend of various wavelengths from red on one end to violet on the other. 3] Color is dynamic. Because color is a property of light and is measured like sound in amplitude and wavelength frequency, some colors advance, meaning they are seen more quickly, and others recede. Reds are longer in wavelength than greens or blues, which is why we see red so quickly at a distance. Red is used in highway signage systems to catch our attention when we need to do something immediately, such as STOP! 4] Black and white are colors. Black, white and grays are colors but are in a different category of color than the 12 hues. Black, white and gray are not hues because they lack chroma, and they’re not browns (chromatic neutrals) for the same reason. Black, white and gray are achromatic (without color). But, in order to perceive them, we need pigment to reflect and absorb light waves. For example, black is perceived when the entire white light spectrum is mostly absorbed by a pigment. Very little light (although there is always some light) is reflected by the pigment. With pigment, we can always make black darker by casting a shadow on it. White is the result of the entire visible light spectrum being reflected back at high amplitude.   5] RGB and RYB are both correct. There are 2 kinds of light. Direct light is created by a source, such as the sun and stars, fire, light bulbs, electronic devices, and bioluminescent critters. Indirect light is reflected from the surfaces of objects. Direct light is required before indirect light can happen. Direct light is known as the additive color system, where mixing its 3 primaries, red, green and blue, together creates white light. This is the RGB system which covers all your lighting and digital devices. Indirect light is known as the subtractive color system and pertains to anything that contains pigment. Its primaries, red, yellow and blue (specifically, cyan (blue), yellow and magenta (red) combine to create

How To Show 3D Volume in 2D Space Using Spatial Devices

February 10, 2017
  How to create space… specifically, how to create the illusion of volume in 2-dimensional art and design. In this tutorial I present 3 spatial devices, or methods, for creating spatial depth. The methods for creating spatial depth — the illusion of volumetric (plastic) space — you can use in your designs and art are: Open form: the image “bleeds” off the edges of the design, giving the viewer the impression that what they are seeing is part of a larger scene; Vertical position: Things that are positioned lower in the picture plane are understood as being closer to the viewer if they are below eye level, and higher in the picture plane if they are above eye level; Diminishment: Things that are smaller in scale are understood as being farther from the viewer. Extreme foreshortening pushes the limits of diminishment to create depth; Linear perspective: Uses the principle of diminishment in relationship to eye level and how we organize information in our visual field; Atmospheric perspective: Things that are closer to the viewer are more detailed and saturated in color; Value: light colors advance on a dark background, dark colors advance on a light background, light colors on a light background recede and are not distinct, dark colors on a dark background recede. Manipulating value contrast creates the illusion of depth; Overlapping forms: When a form is understood to be in front of another, we automatically assume spatial depth. Proportion: objects are depicted in accurate proportions based on how they appear in reality.  

Drawing Basics: Portrait Drawing Tutorial

February 10, 2017
A demonstration tutorial from my sketchbook using a bearded man as the subject.  
advice Freelance Road Trip freelancing marketing

3 Reasons Why Creative Freelancers Should Go Bold Or Go Home

February 3, 2017
A long time ago in a faraway place called Pasadena, CA, I sat in a classroom and heard my instructor say, “You can’t sit around waiting for someone to hire you. The phone’s not going to ring simply because you’re an amazing artist or designer. It’s not going to ring just because you graduated from Art Center and have a stunning portfolio.” The difficult truth is that he was right. No one will call you. No one will “discover” you. No one will find you. And no one will just show up on your website and hire you just like that. Well, maybe occasionally that one will happen. But really, no one is looking for you. Whenever I express my frustration with not getting enough clients (it happens, freelancers!) someone always says “You should be on Behance.” or “Are you on Creative Hotlist?” or “You should advertise in the Workbook” or something similar. The thing with that is, I’m already on those platforms. And despite what their sales reps say, they are not all that effective on an on-going basis for luring clients to you. You can post your work on Behance, Tumblr and Instagram. You can build your website. You can use the latest platforms and marketing channels. But the reality is, no one’s going to find you. Unless you… Do the work of being found The key to being found is not in the platform you use. It is in identifying and engaging with people who can use what you offer. In order to bring people “home” to your web site you have to go out and grab them and bring them in. You need to introduce yourself and invite them in, and give them a reason to accept. In short, you need to go looking for them. Go ahead and set yourself up on various platforms. But don’t rely alone on being there. No platform is going to promote your work for you. That’s your job. From my own experience, we need to move beyond our doubts and fears and take the risk of exposing ourselves in the marketplace. We need to do this frequently. We must be willing to make a few phone calls. We must be willing to network and walk up to total strangers. We must be willing to send a personalized email. We must be courageous to ask for referrals. We need to boldly request appointments, advice and testimonials. We must be determined to ask for the sale.  We need to make a plan and follow through. If you want to work with a certain organization, how will they know you exist unless you reach out and introduce yourself? And when you reach out, you need to know who in the organization to connect with. That requires some sleuthing. Once you know who that person is, how do you craft your introduction so that they will want to know more, recognize that you’re a good fit and are compelled to “hire” you? This also takes some research. It also requires some deep introspection on your part, because you
advice Freelance Road Trip freelancing

10 Items On My Don’t-Do List

February 2, 2017
I keep a Don’t-Do list. I spend most of my efforts on my to-do lists, agendas, and getting things done,  but a few years ago I began a list of things I don’t want to do. Managing my time and being effective in my work and personal life lies as much in what I decide NOT to do as in what I decide to do. Keeping Yourself Accountable There is a statement in the Bible about not allowing the little foxes to overrun the vineyard. I think this is good advice for creative solopreneurs. We are each accountable to manage our own time. Allowing small, insignificant things to distract and take over is not good for my business, and probably not for yours. I started my list to remind myself to avoid certain actions, behaviors and attitudes that get in my way. Things that distract me from my destination, that take time or that don’t fit, are added to the list. These are 10 business-related items on my Don’t Do list, not in any particular order. Don’t answer incoming calls from 800 numbers or numbers not in my contact list. I either decline or let the call go to voicemail. Then I decide whether to call back or not. Don’t respond to clients’ emails, texts or phone calls outside of my business hours. This guards my time and supports my productivity. There are no design “emergencies.” Don’t respond to unsolicited emails or sales pitches. Like you, I find myself added to all sorts of email lists I didn’t sign up for. I regularly click the unsubscribe link and then clear the email from my inbox. It’s similar to voicemail. I use folders to sort, bulk-delete irrelevant email without reading it, and aim to zero out my inbox every day. Don’t obsess over mistakes, problems or negative feedback. Worry slows me down, wastes time, and crams my head with unproductive thinking. Don’t keep my email open all the time. I set 2 times each day to read, sort and respond to emails. I try to keep these sessions to 10 minutes. By controlling when I manage email, I get more work done because I’m not being interrupted. Don’t pursue tactics or spend money that do not build income or influence. For this reason, I no longer submit to design awards competitions, join certain groups or promote my work on certain platforms. Don’t discount my fees. Reduce the scope of work instead. Don’t accept a new client if there’s even the slightest hint of trouble ahead. Spotting trouble becomes easier the more experience you gain with problem clients, unfortunately. I’ve had my share of those. If, in preliminary conversation with a client something is said, a direct question is not answered directly, or a tone of voice changes in a way that makes me uncomfortable, I politely decline the project. Don’t continue in a conversation where an ad hominem comment has been launched. Quickly end the discussion. Don’t be concerned about appearing weak by not responding.
Freelance Road Trip freelancing marketing

Leads and Referrals — What’s the Difference?

January 19, 2017
Early in my freelance journey I joined a business networking group through my chamber of commerce. Networking groups consist of members of different industries, with no duplication. There is only one mechanic allowed, only 1 web designer allowed, only one veterinarian, etc. Passing on leads to fellow group members was a requirement of group participation, and for this group it meant 2-3 leads each week. Regular attendance and lead exchange was a requirement. I got work from the group members directly, but few leads panned out for me. I also found myself distracted from marketing my own business because of the requirement of seeking leads to give to other businesses. I resigned from the group within a year because I just didn’t feel effective. So a recent question from a colleague prompted me to recall my experiences, and to consider the differences between a lead and a referral.   Leads vs. referrals Referrals are pre-qualified. A referral is where someone directs or commends one person who has a particular expertise to another who needs that expertise. There is the idea the the referral has been qualified to some extent, before their information is passed along. We can think of a referral as a qualified sales opportunity where the two parties are introduced to each other and both have agreed to be introduced. Consent is a prime aspect in successful referrals. Leads are a type of referral. They are reasons or motives to contact someone.When you’re given a prospect lead, you reach out to make the connection. A lead is unqualified. It’s a chance opportunity with potential. Leads are not personal introductions made by a third party for the mutual benefit of both. A person who is given a lead has no assurance that things will pan out. The lead had not given permission to be contacted, so it’s a basic cold call. Unlike leads, referrals are targeted. A referral is someone who needs what you do, who fits your client profile. There is greater potential for work from referrals than from leads. Referrals generally come to you, while leads are something you chase after. Here are 2 examples from my own experience: A colleague gave me the name of a portrait and wedding photographer, and passed on my name to her, with the idea that we could do business together. But I do not work with wedding photographers, and she was not in need of design work. There was no basis to connect, despite the good intentions of the referring colleague. For me, it was an unqualified lead. In another instance, a colleague thought I might be able to advise her friend about starting a freelance business. She asked if her friend could contact me, and I agreed. That was a qualified referral. The upside of leads is that you can gather a lot and build a huge list. But then do some homework to filter out those that don’t fit your ideal client profile. Unsolicited leads may not be a good fit, or the person sharing the lead may not have permission from the lead and may not be actually recommending the

Drawing Tip: The Ears Are Pivotal

January 13, 2017
These 2 drawing tips from my sketchbook are all about ear position and human head proportions. First, let’s look at the head in profile (side view): The Position of the Ears in Profile (Side) View As you can see, the ear is the pivot point and anchors the head to the neck column. Whether the head rotates upward or downward, the ear with remain in the same location and appears as the center of the rotation. My notes on the page are: The distance from the forehead to the back of the head is the same as the distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin. The head, in side view, sits within a square. It’s also important to note that the hairline is lower than the top of the head. Hairlines vary from person to person. The top of the ear attaches at the level of the brow. The top of the helix, which is the outermost rim of the ear, may sit higher than the brow line, depending on the individual. The eyes are positioned halfway between the top of the head and the bottom of the chin. As a general rule, position the eyes based on the vertical center (equator) of the eye ball. The attachment point of the ear lobe is level with the base of the nose. The jaw ends at the base of the ear. The head sits forward of the shoulders because the neck is angled. This is really important to note if you’re a beginner at drawing people. Most beginners tend to draw the neck as a vertical column, and also make it too thin.   Vertical Position of the Ears in Front View Shows Rotation On this page I’ve sketched examples of what the ears do when the head is rotated or tilted. Here are the notes: The axis of the ears is always perpendicular to the center axis of the face. When the head is tilted to the side, the ears remain aligned with each other but one is higher than the other. As the head rotates upward and downward, the ears are clues to what the head is doing. If the person is looking straight, the ears are centered with the upper attachment at the brow line and the lower attachment at the base of the nose. When the person looks up, the ears and chin align. The ears are lower than the face. Looking downward, the ears are higher than the face. When drawing likenesses, individuals vary. The idea for you as artist or illustrator is to compare the features of the person to the theory of anatomical proportions, and observe the differences between what you observe and what you know. In knowing where things are positioned and how they’re scaled in general, you are able to recognize the specific landmarks on the face and head you are drawing. Since the head “leads” the rest of the body in movement and direction, it’s essential to develop strong skills here when drawing

A Guide to Drawing Pencils

January 13, 2017
Pencils are so common that we use them without thinking much about them. When it comes to drawing, we become much more aware of the pencil as a creative tool, and we have a lot more choices for drawing than for writing. Selecting a wooden drawing pencil is an important and sometimes confusing task. What should you use when precision is needed, and what do you use to create broad tonal strokes? Pencil selection is easier when you understand the numbering and grading systems in use. For the purposes of this article, I will focus on wooden graphite pencils. The lead in a pencil is called that due to its lead-like color. Pencil leads are actually a mixture of graphite, which is a form of carbon, and clay. Pure graphite is brittle, so clay is added to reduce breakage. Graphite has been in use since the 1500s. Pencil Grades There are two grading systems used to classify graphite (lead) pencils: the Numerical and the HB. Both scales indicate the degree of hardness or softness of the lead. What makes the graphite soft or hard is the amount of clay that is added. More clay creates a harder material. The hardness or softness of the pencil lead affects its feel — rough or smooth — as you pull it across the paper, its appearance, and its smudge-resistance. Softer leads will feel smoother, appear darker and smudge more easily. Smudging is a desirable quality for many artists and illustrators. Numerical (American) Graphite System In the Numerical Scale, the graphite is designated by hardness of the lead. A Number 1 pencil is softer than a Number 4 pencil. The grade we use most often in the USA for general writing is the Number 2.  Hard lead creates a light mark with a low smudge factor, while soft leads create a darker mark that is much easier to smudge. Pencils using the Numerical scale will often have a ferule (a crimped metal ring) and a rubber eraser on the non-writing end, and are used most often for writing. HB (European) Graphite System Graphite drawing pencils use the HB system. This system describes the hardness (H) or softness (B) of the graphite. An HB pencil is approximately the same hardness as a Number 2 in the Numerical System. Increasing the number of the H factor increases the hardness of the lead. Increasing the number on the B side increases the softness. A 5B pencil is softer than a 2B, and a BBB is the softest and blackest of all. There is no industry-wide standard for graphite systems. A 6B Derwent may feel differently than a 6B Staedtler Mars Lumograph. Be adventurous in trying out a variety of manufacturers before deciding which is best for you. It’s a personal choice Any pencil will make darker and lighter strokes depending upon the amount of pressure you exert. The harder the lead, the less range of pressure difference. You’ll discover that you can use a very light touch with a 6B pencil and draw a line as light as one made with a 6H with heavy pressure. The question of which pencils to
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Should Freelancers List With Online Business Directories?

January 6, 2017
Q: As a freelancer, is it worth having business listings like Yelp and YP? A: It depends upon what directories you choose and why you choose them. There are advantages and disadvantages to being listed. Reasons for listing a business include: to increase exposure to potential clients to communicate your presence and what you offer to acquire more clients. Online business listings can increase inbound traffic to your web site, establish your presence in your local community, and provide leads on which to follow up. If you focus on finding clients in your own locale, local business listings may help. Because it’s a local business listing, your presence in an online business directory will assist you in being regarded as a legitimate business and creative professional. That’s important for a variety of reasons. List for the right reasons You want to be intentional about creating a listing on Yelp, YP, Manta, and any local business directory. If the clients you want to work with are looking on those platforms for service providers such as yourself, it will be worth setting up at least a free listing. The use of online business directories should not be your primary means of finding clients. Make it part of your marketing mix, but don’t rely on it as a major source of client acquisition. There are downsides to listing that are not always apparent when you sign-up. My Experience With Yelp On the advice of a trusted colleague, I set up a listing for my freelance business on Yelp and a few other online directories. At that time I was expecting to increase my exposure to potential clients near me. I chose the no-cost level on each of them. Fairly soon after I set up my listings, I noticed a marked increase in spam emails, telemarketing calls, and requests from offshore enterprises. I received email requests from individuals outside the USA asking me to hire them so that they could come to the States on a work visa. I began receiving a higher percentage of Nigerian-type money scams. And I received a series of project requests from scammers asking me to create their web sites. I have no evidence to directly correlate my presence on online directories with the increase in junk and spam emails, but I don’t believe that the increase was merely coincidental. Since I listed on Yelp, I’ve received 3 legitimate project inquiries. I received 4 from, and zero from the other 2 directories. None of the inquiries were gigs I wanted to accept, whether due to budget, type of work, or caliber of client. Yelp representatives call and email several times each year to ask me to upgrade to a paid listing and to create special offers that will entice Yelp visitors to go to my web site. Since I don’t offer discounts and I don’t have walk-in customer traffic, I am not interested in upgrading. Although I have not paid to be listed in online directories, being listed has not helped me reach my goals. Inbound traffic to my web site from Yelp is minimal. I have cancelled my other director listings, and would like to remove my Yelp listing, but cannot. Once
Freelance Road Trip freelancing

Profit Motive and the Freelancer: You May Be Running A Business If…

December 22, 2016
A photographer is still in school full time but is already establishing connections for professional work. She is purchasing cameras, lenses and equipment she will use in her career. She paid a professional designer to create her logo, business card and web site. She has had one small paid job so far and is scheduled to shoot an event in a month for which she will invoice and be paid for her work. Can she deduct the costs of marketing (web site, logo, business card) and equipment on her income taxes? It depends upon if she is demonstrating a profit motive. Profit motive is the intention of making a profit. Motive is the reason behind one’s actions. If you are in business, it is assumed you want to make a profit. With creative freelancers, the issue as to whether someone is running a business or doing a hobby can be a concern. Art, design and photography can easily be considered hobbies, not businesses. In fact, many clients would prefer that we do our work for the love of it alone and don’t care about being paid. However, we have the right to earn revenue and make a living via our talents, and if we choose to do so, we need to go about it correctly so that we can earn a living. If you have a profit motive, you must show intent to make a profit. This does not mean you must make a profit in order to claim deductible expenses. It is for this reason that, in Freelance Road Trip, I walk you through the step-by-step process of setting up your business and the putting necessary legal frameworks into place. The frameworks help to protect your livelihood from hobby-loss designation in case of a tax audit. These are some ways that demonstrate you are seriously running a business: If you obtain a business license, you may be engaged in business. If you have a business plan, you may be engaged in a business. If you have business checking, savings and credit lines, you may be doing business. If you file a DBA, you may be setting up a business. If you join (by paying dues) a chamber of commerce, you may be engaged in business. If you pay self-employment taxes, you may be running a freelance business. If you set up accounting and bookkeeping software with income and expense categories that relate to the Schedule C, you may be creating a business. If you distribute business cards, you may be promoting a business. If you receive money in exchange for your creative services, you may be running a business. If you are spending time regularly marketing, networking and pursuing client leads, you may be building a business. If you collect and remit sales taxes on tangible goods, you may be running a business. If you set fees for your work, write contracts, and register copyrights, you may be engaged in business. If you have a marketing plan, you may be creating a business. If you have a web site that says “Hire me
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What’s the Difference Between Pro Bono and Spec Work?

December 22, 2016
Is there a difference between pro bono and spec work? If so, what’s the difference? First, let’s compare them. With both, you work for free, providing your creative services at no charge. And that’s where the comparison ends. The difference is in why you work for free, and also in who initiates the project. What is pro bono work? Pro bono work is for the good, to take up a cause or to help out a client. The freelancer is practicing generosity and putting the needs of others above their own. In contrast, spec work is at minimum a test, and may be a ploy by the client to acquire creative work without paying for it. A big difference is that pro bono work is something a freelancer chooses to do. Services are offered in support of a worthy cause. I encourage freelancers to take up a cause, but to also be strategic in how they go about it. Pro bono work should not replace paid projects. Freelancers need to generate revenue, and donating their services does not help their bottom line. It’s a really good idea to devise a pro bono policy and even an application process. Another common factor in pro bono work is that the freelancer often initiates the project. She recognizes a need and wants to help, and approached the organization with an offer of services to support the cause. Freelancers are not required to do pro bono work, and should not do it unless their heart is in it and it’s for a cause they really care about. When pro bono work is required or demanded by a client, it becomes spec work.   When pro bono work is required or demanded by a client, it becomes spec work.   When considering pro bono work, ask  yourself what will it lead to? Will you gain paying clients? Will you be able to use the work in self-promotion? Does it fit with your values and life goals? Will it offer a great amount of creative freedom?   When you engage in pro bono work, you should: Use a contract as if it’s a paid project, and do not begin work until the client has signed the contract and you’ve answered all their questions. It’s a real project even if unpaid, and should be treated like any paid project. The contract should be specific about deliverables, deadlines, rights transferred and when when they transfer and for how long, and the total value of the work. It should include whether or not the freelancer is to receive name credit, and will be using the work for their self-promotion campaigns. If the pro bono work is in exchange for an in-kind sponsorship, the exchange opportunities (ad space, social media takeover, for example) should be clearly stated. The client needs follows through on their end with what they promised. Provide the client with an invoice that shows the full value of the work performed and the discount being applied. This reinforces the value of your services and the resulting intellectual properties, even though the client did not

Applying the Gutenberg Principle in Print and Web Design

December 16, 2016
The Gutenberg Principle is a lesser-known design principle that describes the general movement of the eyes when looking at a design in which elements are evenly distributed. It’s also known as the Gutenberg Rule or the Z pattern of processing. Visual designers should understand that the viewer’s eye does not remain static but is constantly traveling across the design surface, looking for visual pathways, landmarks and resting points. It is up to the designer to control the path of travel and therefore the order information is received, by strategically positioning elements (shapes, lines, colors, textures, etc.) The more trained the eye of the viewer, the more of these elements will be found and the more engagement happens. So designers need to present a path of travel if they want the viewer to linger within the design. This is true for print, web, motion and UX. The Gutenberg principle assumes a design space is divided into 4 equal quadrants. Active quadrants are the top left and bottom right. The passive quadrants are bottom left and top right. The top quadrants are primary over their corresponding bottom quadrants. Left-to-right readers (English, Spanish, etc.) naturally enter the design space at the top left and flow diagonally down to the bottom right before exiting the design. This is a natural path of travel for the eyes. It may be mirrored in right-to-left readers (Hebrew).   The designer can choose to lead the eye in this natural Z pattern, or he may choose to present other entry and exit points. If he chooses to follow the Z pattern, he is working with the flow of reading gravity, moving from top to bottom. He will place key elements and focal points — the most important information — along this path of travel. This results in more comfortable reading and may increase comprehension. Disrupting this natural pattern leads the eye around the design in different ways. If a very large element is placed at the bottom center, the eye will enter the design at that point, and move to other landmarks from there. Visual designers, photographers and illustrators should be aware of how the viewer will see their finished work, and plan accordingly. It’s up to the creator to lead the eye on the right path in order to make the most of the information contained in a design.

Using Color Zones In Portraits

December 16, 2016
A color zone is an area where one color influences all colors in that area. This is known as color dominance, and it occurs constantly. It is especially noticeable in the human face, which has 3 distinct color zones. We’re used to seeing these color zones, but most people don’t recognize them. The zones are easier to notice on light-skinned people, but all people have them no matter their ethnicity. When painting a portrait in traditional media, or doing digital retouching or painting, working with color zones adds realism and makes for a convincing result. It is also important to note that color is influence by surrounding colors, lighting conditions and reflected light. Color perception is relative. The same color will appear differently depending upon what’s around it. This is discussed by Josef Albers in his theory of color relativity: The Interaction of Color. Facial skin tones are broken into zones. In general, skin tones in the face create 3 distinct color zones: yellow/white, red and blue/blue-green. These areas are clearly depicted in these self-portraits by Alfonse Mucha (more subtly) and Rembrandt Peale: Top of the head, forehead and brow area are yellow or even white. The skin is thinner in this area and contains less capillaries. Cheeks and nose are red. This is the fleshiest part of the face and contains more blood supply which results in those rosy tones. Mouth, chin and jaw are blue or blue-green. This is the zone that’s most often affected by reflected light and will be influenced by color that bouncing off clothing and other surfaces. In men, because of the beard area on the jawline, the jock in this area can appear quite blue. And in women it’s an area that will cool and neutralize. Since men don’t wear make-up, these zones are easier to notice. On bearded men, you can incorporate the coolness into the beard, applying the color zones to the face and hair that frame it. You don’t have to use highly saturated colors when “zoning” a portrait. Be subtle with your mixing. Color in light and shadow areas Another consideration when mixing color for flesh tones is the quality of light. Under a warm light, shadows will appear cool. In cool light, they appear warm. It’s a complementary relationship. If you depict your subject underneath the cool light, the light areas of the face will tweak cooler and the shadows warmer. So instead of mixing yellow ochre and cadmium red for a flesh tone in light under cool light you might want to mix a cooler yellow, perhaps a raw sienna, and use warmer earth tones (browns) and in the shadow areas. Color is a property of light. Our perception of colors on surfaces is always affected by what the light is doing. Color temperature — warm or cool — is relative to the overall color palette. The very suggestion of coolness in a shadow placed next to a warm color in a direct light area is all that’s necessary. You do not need to force the issue or go overboard with over-saturation.  Very often, you can create a shadow by using a cooler color in the same hue

Designing a Successful Year

December 9, 2016
Each December I take a couple weeks off to celebrate the holidays and go through a visioning and goal-setting process in preparation for the new year. It’s a comfortable and convenient time for me to review the past 12 months and decide how to move forward with new goals and renewed purpose. My approach to this planning is holistic: I look at my WHY, read through my BHAGs, and revise my plans based on what worked in the current year and what didn’t. I include personal and professional goals, because I consider life as an integration rather than a balancing act. I also note the areas where I didn’t accomplish things because of my own shortcomings: did I waste time here, did I fail to follow through on something there, was I unprepared for the unexpected? I want to be honest in assessing my successes and failures. What can I carry forward without change, and what did I learn from my  failures? My answers to these questions form the foundation for my planning. Planning is design. Anytime we plan, we are designing (not visually, of course, except in how we map, chart and record our plans). In a sense, I am designing my year. Most of us go through a planning process without making the connection to design, creativity and problem-solving. To get anywhere, to accomplish anything, we first have to make a plan. Accomplishing goals is very much about solving problems. I think it’s crucial for creative freelancers who want to succeed to plan well. Here are 5 key areas areas which I believe should consider in their year-end planning: Review your vision and mission, personally and professionally. Your reasons for freelancing relate to your life goals. It’s a good idea to have a vision for your life and to live intentionally. If you create a vision statement for yourself (your WHY), and you write it down, you can tie everything — professionally and personally — to it. When you anchor your goals and actions to your WHY, you are more likely to accomplish your goals because they become meaningful. Not sure how to discover your why, create a vision for your life and set meaningful goals? Wondering if you can really design your life? I participated in Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever in back in 2015 and it truly changed how I approach visioning, planning, and living on purpose. I came away inspired and made significant changes to how I design my life. I recommend it to you. Check out Michael Hyatt’s free webinar! Update your business plan. Begin by reviewing your existing plan. Ask what worked, what you need to do more consistently, and what didn’t work. In adjusting your plan, consider what things in the previous plan were not feasible or that need to put onto your “someday” list. Look at the deadlines you set in your existing plan. Were they reasonable? In revising your business plan, consider working with a mentor to advise you. Is there a mastermind group or Facebook group you can

Create A Better Portfolio

December 7, 2016
Whether online or in hand, your portfolio is the primary means of landing a job or finding clients. Art school graduates have focused on developing and fine-tuning their portfolios during the last terms of their educational career, but even for those who are self-taught or have been professional for years, the “book” remains the primary thing for promoting your work. In reality it does more than a resume in determining whether a creative is the right fit for a particular design position or project. You cannot get by as a creative professional without one. I’ve been managing my own portfolio and advising students and working pros on their portfolio for awhile now, and I wanted to share with you some tips and insights about managing your own portfolio. Use physical and digital portfolios Styles of physical portfolios have changed over the years. When I started out, I had large format transparencies made of my work and presented them sandwiched between acetate and bound in hand-made black mattes. Currently, hard-cover post binders are popular environments. Format aside, you need both physical and digital versions. While many creatives use Behance, Creative Hotlist, Design Taxi, and other online portfolio sites to present their work, I cannot stress enough the importance of having your own web site. Whether you run with a done-for-you  option such as Squarespace or a self-hosted WordPress  site, an online presence is a requirement for doing business. For go-sees, portfolio reviews and in-person meetings with prospective clients, a physical book is necessary. While showing work on your tablet is an option, it’s useful only when wifi is available. The binder or box portfolio allows clients to interact with your work in a tactile sense. In an agency setting where you drop off your book and are not present during the review, the art buyer is able to flip through at her leisure and also compare it directly with another book to determine the best creative for their project. If web design is your sole focus, a printed portfolio is still a good idea. It allows you to present your work in a broader context, and when wifi is not available, it’s a reliable showcase of  your design talent and thinking ability. Printed portfolios are not subject to the whims of technology. And, as pointed out here, walking into an appointment with your book under your arm gives you a certain authority and command in the meeting. You have something to show that’s worth looking at. You present a credible bearing. Digital, remember, is virtual. Print is real. A recommended portfolio strategy Once you have your portfolio, what do you do with it? You need a strategy for management and distribution. Include portfolio updates in your annual marketing plan and be sure to schedule them on your calendar.  A well-managed portfolio goes a long way in convincing prospective clients that you’re the person for the project. I wanted to offer some tweaks and tips for managing your portfolio: Your portfolio is never a finished work. You will always be updating with new work, and your book is constantly evolving. This means you need
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