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redesign-fairy_game-02Once upon a time we showed you a sneak peek of an illustration we were working on and promised to show you the rest soon. Soon is clearly today because having received the print version we’re sharing with you a small board game for children that we designed. Our friend designs for a local children’s theater and for Children’s Day celebrations (that’s June, 1st here) they publish a small magazine for kids with activities prepared by designers.

Due to budgetary constraints, this was a pro bono job and these are always tricky in that everyone needs to come up with their own reasons to do or not do stuff for free. We actually have a whole set of conditions that we use to decide. In case you’re interested, here they go. 1) We need to have time to do the project, obviously. This is a basic condition. 2) The project needs to be interesting in graphic terms so we see it as a fun challenge or a chance to try out new ideas. 3) We need creative freedom (if you want to influence the design, that’s great but not free). 4) It can’t be a commercial project that someone is making money off of. 5) We need author’s copies. You’d be surprised how often people ask you to do stuff for free but refuse to give you even one copy of the finished work. (Of course, it helps if a friend asks but that’s not really a condition.)

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This time we decided to use the opportunity to play a bit with a certain illustrative style we’d wanted to try out for a while but never had a good project for that. We also decided to treat this as a tribute to one of our favorite pastimes ever and make a very simple board game.

redesign-fairy_game-04The rules are as simple as they come. You go along the way through the woods to get to granny’s hut and every now and then you meet a fairy tale character who makes you go forward, backward or stop for a turn. We came up with a whole host of those characters. They’re all drawn by hand and colored digitally, with a new method we came up with for the project. It turned out quite time-consuming but now we know we would probably return to it some time.

redesign-fairy_game-08Then we assembled all the illustrations into one board, added the rules and the game was ready to play.

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And here are some other activities.

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So we were going to get back to Words Matter (and we will next week) but it turns out today’s post is 200th! We wanted to celebrate this fact with special infographics and take the time to thank everyone who’s been with us on this adventure so far. It’s thanks to your involvement that we find motivation to work on the blog, even on the days when we’d rather do something else. Like sleep.

For these statistics we looked through all 199 posts so far and counted many things. Possibly the numbers might be slightly inaccurate in a few places, you’re welcome to check them. We also noticed that we haven’t yet shown you some projects we planned to show so expect a few trips down the memory lane in the future, but mostly expect a lot of new stuff and once again thanks so much for reading us.

Also, it turns out Society6 helped us with a celebratory gift: this week they offer free shipping again so you can buy our posters and other stuff cheaper if you follow this link.

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As promised, today we want to share a few wonderful books we found in Paris. We spent a lot of time in museum bookstores and, as if that wasn’t enough to run out of money, we lived near a wonderful little bookstore specializing in art books and children books. I’m sure it was put there specifically to bankrupt us and it nearly did. But our collection grew again. In the post we will show you a few more French finds of our stay.

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As usual we enlarged our collection of Petit pop-up Panoramiques, which we keep showing you every time. In addition to Paris and Louvre, which we already had, this time we found the whole of France compressed into a small book of pop-ups. This one has more painterly, delicate illustrations than other books in the series, less humorous and more fashion-like, which we find refreshing. It also has so many places we’ve yet to see.

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In Musée d’Orsay’s bookstore we found a whimsical and quite charming comic Moderne Olympia, a story of Manet’s Olympia and her ambitions to become an actress. We haven’t read the whole story yet (our French might not be enough to get all the jokes, sadly) but the most lovely idea is that the story happens among famous pictures from the museum. Various scenes and characters are recreated from the paintings but, of course, in a different context. This is the kind of illustrative and intellectual fun that we always look for in art books and only sometimes manage to find.

re-paris-02 re-paris-03 re-paris-04And if one is not quite an art history expert the code at the last page is supposed to give you a list of all the paintings used in the story (we haven’t tested that yet but it’s certainly a good idea).

re-paris-10Now, I’ll admit at first sight I overlooked Romance. But once you give this book a few minutes of your time and take care to understand its concept, it’s quite breathtaking. It’s an entirely fresh experiment in storytelling, married with gorgeous illustrations and impressive technical savoir-faire (heh).

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The story expands from chapter to chapter and invites you to participate in telling it. Illustrations, words, even typography combine to add to the history, which makes it incredibly intriguing. It’s like a fairy tale that you heard million times as a child but always managed to find something new in it.

Additionally, and this is explained by the fact that the author has a silkscreen experience, it employes a neat technical trick. All the colors are special colors instead of regular CMYK and four special colors – applied with amazing understanding of how halftone works – create the whole color scheme of the book, including all the tints. This might not seem very exciting if you don’t think about the technical side of printing much but for us it was quite awe-inspiring.

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And finally our possibly favorite new acquisition, Oh! Mon chapeau. You certainly noticed the little fact that we are suckers for pop-up books but more often than not we are disappointed to find them matched with bland illustrations and lacking in creativity. None of this applies to Chapeau. It’s as creative as books get, with a wonderful understanding of what pop-ups can add to the story (for instance, it uses very well the simple fact that something can hide behind a pop-up). The illustrations (as, if fact, the whole technical part of the book) are deceptively simple but it’s rare to see simplicity matched with such charm and lightness. Many illustrators try to achieve it as it is, clearly, a trend of today but few manage in such a seemingly effortless way.

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In addition to the lovely Mondrianesque color scheme, the book has a difficult to define Parisian feel. Instant love.

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Aaand we’re back. As was obvious from the illustrations, we spent this year’s holiday in Paris (again), where we had a great time (again). We also bought a few books we will want to share with you but first, as promised before our leave, we want to share a few unique finds from Warsaw Book Fair. Because many of the books we bought tempted us with their canine heroes, we decided to make them the theme of today’s post.

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This one by Beatrice Rodriguez is called The Chicken Thief and it is created completely without words. In fact, the only way the title appears is on an additional sleeve, so that the book can remain word-free. It’s an exciting picaresque about a kidnapping and a chase, including themes of friendship and forbidden love. The level of wordless storytelling is truly impressive and the author makes great use of the panoramic size of the book, which gives illustrations their unique character and structure.

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Chien Fou is another little gem about perseverance and the rewards of hope. It’s also about a little dog that runs a lot. The illustrations are guaranteed to make you a little sad and then quite happy. Also, do notice the lovely colors and masterful page compositions.

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Attention, voila Grand loup! is a simpler books for smaller children but it makes a great use of paper flaps where small animals hide from the big wolf (unnecessarily, it will turn out in an optimistic ending). Also, even though the illustrations are clearly much simpler, they manage not to be bland and boring. We enjoyed discovering who’s hiding behind the curtain or in the closet quite a lot and I’m sure for a small kid it must be quite an adventure.

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Finally, Le Petit Loup Rouge is a book we first saw online a while ago and we didn’t even know if it was actually published. We loved it back then and we loved it even more when we saw it in all its paper glory. It’s a marvelously illustrated tale in the best tradition of surrealist fairy-telling. It also has gorgeous typography and lovely atmosphere. There’s nothing not to adore about this one.

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In case it made you wonder, most of these books happen to be in French because French literature was the theme of this year’s Fair. We bought books in English and in Polish too, they just didn’t happen to be about foxes, wolves or dogs: but we will share at least some of those at some later time. At any rate, for a moment we could’ve fooled ourselves that having already bought books in French we won’t need to buy them in Paris so maybe for once we’ll come back with not too heavy a bag but, of course, we were so, so wrong, as you will see next week.

redesign-minigame-preview1As usual, we spent a large portion of the long weekend working but at least it was on a fun project: an illustrated simple board game for children.

We all-too-rarely get a chance to illustrate, particularly by hand, so we enjoyed this project, of which we’re showing you a few sneak peeks today. We’ll share the whole thing some time in June when it’s out.

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redesign-easter-15-ENHave a wonderful time this Easter, spend it with your friends and family
and maybe play a board game or two.

And traditionally next week we’ll share a bit of making-of story for this year’s card.

re-shop-friendsAnd a slight update: Easter is not necessarily a time for gifts but if you want to test that tradition, Society6 offers free shipping this week if you follow this link.

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We have a series of covers to show you but first come two thematic posts on the occasion of St. Valentine’s Day. This week’s poster is a design for Experyment Science Center, which, while normally mostly focused on activities for children, for Valentine’s prepared an evening for adults. We looked for a way to combine science and love in a not-overly-serious way that would also be consistent with the other posters for children’s events that we design.

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Also, stay tuned for our next Saint Valentine’s Day post next week.

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