Brand Illustration: Create Unforgettable, Stylized Brand Imagery | Roman Muradov | Skillshare

Brand Illustration: Create Unforgettable, Stylized Brand Imagery

Roman Muradov, Illustrator

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9 Lessons (46m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:24
    • 2. Everything Looks the Same

      5:14
    • 3. Developing a Name and Concept

      10:11
    • 4. Developing Your Character

      7:25
    • 5. Creating a Mockup

      4:28
    • 6. Refining Your Personal Style

      5:56
    • 7. Presenting Your Piece

      6:18
    • 8. Final Thoughts

      0:33
    • 9. Case Study: Notion

      4:48
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About This Class

Create truly original brand illustrations that stand out from the crowd with award-winning artist Roman Muradov!

Whether for a personal project or client illustrations, it can be increasingly tricky to find a style that feels truly unique to you as an artist. Join Roman as he shares his personal process for breaking free from the expectations that surround creating illustrations for brands, allowing you to create unexpected visuals that tell a cohesive and compelling story (whether for a corporation, a neighborhood business, or even a planet).

From first sketch to final presentation, you’ll discover how to:

  • Craft a character to anchor your brand visuals
  • Create loose, quick thumbnails that spark creativity
  • Make a rough mockup to help clients visualize your work

Plus, Roman shares a detailed case study of how he created the brand identity for the project management app, Notion, so you can see how to apply your learnings to real world projects.

Perfect for illustrators or designers who are familiar with typical client work and are looking for a way to reinvent their creative approach, Roman’s unique point of view will unlock your ability to get a little bit weird with your next project and create a visual story that will be impossible to forget.

This class is geared toward creatives with some experience working with clients and who are familiar with the common processes of client work, though students of all levels are welcome. 

Transcripts

1. Introduction: I believe that as artists, we don't have to pigeonhole ourselves and choose to be one thing or another. Hi, my name is Roman Muradov. I'm an award winning author, and illustrator, and a professor at the California College of the Arts. Over the course of my career, I worked for traditional clients like Penguin Random House, Wired, New York and New York Times, as well as tech companies like Google, Notion, Patron and so forth. Although I never aspired to be doing brand imagery as part of my work, it has become a significant part of my portfolio. I think I had developed it in a very personal and sometimes unconventional way, and I'd like to share this approach with you. In this class, we'll be creating an illustration and visual identity for an imaginary brand. It can be anything. Here, I used the word brand in the broadest way possible. It can be a tiny coffee shop or a non-profit, or even the planet. In the end, we'll have a name, a logo, a tagline, and three illustrations that helped us tell the story of the brand that you came up with. This class will be valuable to anyone interested in the mechanics of visual communication. You don't have to be an experienced artist, and the original approach is much more important here than technical skills. Please don't forget to share your projects, and I can't wait to see what you come up with. 2. Everything Looks the Same: So the problem with brand illustration is that most of it looks the same. Why do this happen? I think mostly because there's often too many hands doing the same thing and people will tend to play it safe. This creates a field where nothing new happens because everyone copies what's already working. At the same time, everything has been done more or less, and the history of how it is been taking quite a while, so it is incredibly hard to come up with something new. Then, how is it done? Well, the key in my opinion is to look away from our contemporaries. In one of her essays, Lydia Davis advice us to keep your original over your contemporaries lower because as she says, "You already belong to your time." I think that applies to pretty much any art form and the commercial art as well. In other words, if you want to come up with something new in the contemporary environment, it's best not to look at such an environment and to look back. If you're copying what's relevant right now, then you're severely narrowing your scope. Instead, you should broaden it as much as possible and not only go back in time, but also to look at other mediums and things that are not connected to what you are actually doing. So it might be helpful to turn away from what other companies and other artists are doing, and instead research things that seem to be unrelated. Graffiti, and fine art, literature, poetry, pretty much anything as far as it goes. It may seem irrelevant at first, but of course, the style is the sum of everything that we consume and process. The further the distance between what we're doing and what we're consuming, the more original the result will be. It really helps to surround yourself with things you love whether it has an irrelevance to your work or not, because everything that feeds into your aesthetics and inspiration will find a way in your work even if you have no idea how this actually happens. So in my case, a lot of people get a little surprised when they learn what I'm into because I like things that have almost nothing to do with commercial illustrations such as abstract art, and conceptual art, the modernist literature as well as the manga, and post-punk, and things that are not art at all like comedy and just things over here on the street. A lot of my artistic influences are very different from what I actually draw. For a long time, it gave me a lot of confusion. I would think, "Well, why do I draw so elegantly while I like things that seem to have nothing in common with that?" But then, of course, I realized that it only makes me more original as an artist because it would have been much less interesting if I was doing things that were much closer connected to what I like. I think having this diversity of influences and letting them take you somewhere where you don't expect to go is one part of developing a strong unique style. Just as important is to keep doing your personal work without questioning whether it has any relevance to what you want to do professionally. So if you like scribbling on pieces of paper, writing poetry, all of this will come up in some way or another and all of this is always important. It's not just a matter of personal, aesthetic, and style development, clients are much more likely to hire someone who seems passionate about what they're doing rather than someone who just wants to fit into existing standards. In my own career, there's been several examples when I would do something completely irrelevant and often silly and idiotic, and then somehow someone would ask me to do this for money which I would never expect when I would start it. Of course the important takeaway here is that I wouldn't be doing it anyway because I want to, and it brings me pleasure. All of the stuff that I've done, very little has actually given me any commercial value, but you never know, you just try everything and something sticks. So for instance, at some point I got really tired of drawing clean and polished stuff for work and I wanted to do something that would be a total opposite. Something much more rough, and relaxed, and simple inspired by the drawings of Paul Klee and lot of outsider art. So I started posting those on Instagram and soon enough, someone from WeTransfer asked me if I can do something along these lines with the branding for their new app called Collect. That was quite unexpected, but also really liberating because suddenly, I could do what I wanted to do for money, which is pretty rare. So it also allowed me to change my approach; instead of doing sketches, refining them, and then providing clean artwork, I instead did 5 or 10 versions of the same drawing and just made them very quickly, and then picked bits from one, bits from another, and combined them together. In the end, that looked vastly different from anything else that was done in tech imagery at that time, and it really resonated with people because it had such a simple and hand-drawn quality to it. So for your own project, let's try to look away from what's been done in that field and look outside. So if you're doing a coffee shop, let's ignore all the other coffee shops and look at things that have nothing to do with coffee. It might be good to make a list of all these things that keep you up at night, or inspire you, or abuse you and see if that has any relevance to what do you want to do. If not, maybe you can find a way to find relevance in it. 3. Developing a Name and Concept: This is not a writing or a drawing class specifically, but of course it involves both of those things. So you can start with words or you can start with images. It doesn't matter what guides you. What's important is what it's the chain of associations and ideas that lead you to your project. So let's start working on your own project. Some of you may already have an idea of what you want to do, and others might not really have anything and that's also fine. You may want to start just doodling and scribbling and seeing what comes up. Some people like to start with images, other people are more comfortable synchroning concepts and then finding a way to translate that into imagery. Finding how that works for you personally is a huge part of figuring out your style and your method of working. So when you come up with a name and logo, make sure they make sense together and they complement each other instead of just doing the same thing twice. If you don't want to draw a logo, you can just think of a header image or something that would surround the name of your project. Remember that clarity and communication is probably the most important thing here. But at same time, I think it's really important not to spell everything out. You want to tell a story to keep a sense of intrigue and you want to inspire the reader to look further and then to reveal more as they scroll down. While redundancy is not necessarily a bad thing, and sometimes clarity is the only thing we really need, it is good to consider how words and pictures work together. Often it's a good idea to even contradict them or find a way to interplay them where something new happens in the space between the image and the word. So for instance, you can come up with a name and the logo that don't really make sense on their own, but once you put them together, they create some visual pan or a hint and open and expand into something new. There's really no guideline of how to do it successfully, and as long as it makes sense for your project and your aesthetic, it's all good. So for my demo project, I think I'll try to come up with something little silly. Maybe an app that allows you to sculpt with clouds. I'm not quite sure how that would technically work, but might might as well imagine something that doesn't exist and doesn't have any way of existence at the moment. So we can call it something like cloudscribbler or cloudscraper or cloudsculptor, you can always get rid of the Es and Os, so it'll be more [inaudible]. I think scraper sounds nice. So we will roll with that. Then we can think of the logo. Well, we can have clouds. Of course, clouds is one of the most overused images in the tech world. But of course, there's still ways to draw a cloud that hasn't been done before, we can try to figure out how that can be done. Of course, the simplest way to approach a logo is just to use the letters. So it would be C and S can be something like maybe joined together in a infinity sign. The S can be a little bit more like the hand-drawn S and maybe they can go together something like this, or maybe they can be inside a little cloud. This will do for our notes and then I can do it in a more polished way on my iPad. I really think that the best way to approach brainstorming is just to pick a piece of printer paper and fill it up. Not worry about quality, don't use fancy sketch books and paper or anything like that. The simpler the tools, the easier it is to make mistakes and to get things out of your system and not to worry about cliches and just get everything out and then pick. So let's imagine what is this thing. We can start with a tagline or we can start with the concept and then find words for it. Something that pops into my mind is the sky is your Canvas, because why not? Sounds like a tagline and so it is. Also the word Canvas has letters C and S, like the name, so that's nice. We can imagine maybe you pick your phone and you point at the sky and then there's a cloud, and then you move your finger around and you can arrange these clouds into different shapes. Take a photo and send it to someone and share it. Maybe several people can collaborate and do it on the same cloud and maybe they can read about those clouds and learn of their accumulative or some other words that they don't know. So we can split our story into three parts. One is that, it will be like an AR app so you can take nature and do your own thing. Then, part 2 can be collaboration and part 3 can be sharing. This tells a story from one person to many. You may want to develop your project further and to think about it in a more detail of how it actually exists or doesn't exist. In my case, I don't really care about a death match, it's just a little fantasy. So I'm going to care more about the way it's presented and the more abstract way of showing it. So I think the emotion is at the very least as important as the concept. The feeling of looking at something, whether it's an experimental novel or just a simple marketing website, is still the same, it's still an important aspect. Because we don't just sink without brains were also experience everything with our bodies and there's very real tactile sensation of looking at something. So now do we think about the style, or do we continue thinking about this story? Well, you can approach it either way or you can do both of them together. Styles should inform narrative and narrative should inform the style. So in my case, I think I'll start with a story and then figure out what would be the best way of drawing it. Let's start with the beginning. We can imagine how it shows on the website and it would be probably a horizontal scroll bullet environment. Then we can think about most of the websites that we see. Most of them have the white background? So clouds are wide therefore, what can we do? Maybe we can use negative space. This way, it will look like a paper cut out and then the text will be here. Then as you scroll, maybe we can have some parallax movement and we can have a cloud within the cloud that will move at different speeds and this will give you a feeling of looking at clouds passing by. So for our story the first one will be about just open possibilities that you can do anything with the clouds. So let's have our cut out shape and let's have a little placeholder character here, maybe with the brush, and then we can think of what that character is later. We can also have someone just drawing something scribbling, can be scribbling the whole Canvas or you can have no character at all. You can simply have that open sky and several shapes overlapping like this. So that'll be our first one. For a second one, that's collaboration. Maybe our one cutout shape can be two, something like that. But of course, this is a little bit difficult because as Marcel Duchamp said I believe that, "When you have one, it's one, when you have two, it's a couple, and when you have three, it's any other number." Which I think is an important lesson that if you want to show the possibility of collaboration, you don't want to have just two because it feels almost too intimate and if you have four, then it's two pairs and if it's five then it's too much. But if you have three different things, that pretty much implies any number of participants. Then we can also think of having a single shape and just within that shape there's a bunch of characters doing something together. Now, I think it's really important to go for quantity rather than quality at this point. So make sure you come up with at least three different ideas for every single one. Then we can refine them and throw away the ones we don't like, it doesn't matter. For the last one, the sharing. So sharing because always a bit of a difficult concept because there are so many cliched images of people sending each other stuff shaking hands and all that. But it doesn't mean that we can't come up with something new and also doesn't mean that we can take something that's quite standard and give it an interesting spin. So for instance, we can play again with the idea of parallax and go back to the very beginning and have many, many layers that seem to suggest infinity and maybe their characters and all of this layers. Maybe there is a lot of little clouds like this and they are all tied together. Maybe there can be a combination of this two ideas. So this landscape going on here and then smaller ones receding into the background. We can also think about the ideas of collaboration of these little characters, building something together, forming a little sculpture. So fill up a page or two or however many you want with ideas. Keep it loose at this point, don't try to make beautiful drawings, just get as many ideas out as possible. You can start thinking about style right away, or you can think about it on the next step in our next lesson. 4. Developing Your Character: Now let's move on to the statics and style. What does the project look like and how does it communicate the concept? Remember that style is substance. You can have a story that makes a lot of sense, but then tell it in a really bland way that it doesn't do justice to the story and the whole thing will fall apart. On the other hand, you can have something quite simple that will still be affected if you really think about the style. So it can be a little overwhelming to think of all the different things you could do and all the styles and mediums you could use, and it might be a good idea to use constraints. I will always use constraints in my own art practice, whether it's personal or professional work. The reasons why I do is very simple; because it liberates you from the fear and tyranny of inspiration, of waiting for inspiration, thinking where it will come, and just having this blank sheet of paper or an iPad and trying to figure out how to make something out of nothing. So the way you use constraints is entirely up to you, it can be limiting your color scheme or line work. For instance, maybe you're not giving yourself opportunity to use different line waves or using specific patterns or using found material. The constraints can also be broken and perhaps should be broken. Think of them as a way to kickstart your ideas. So let's say, you give yourself a constraint to only use 10 lines per character. This will allow you to simplify things and not overdo them. Well, once you have something developed that you quite like and you feel like it will benefit from having a couple of more lines, then go for it. So for my project, I'm going to use an iPad for a couple of reasons; because it allows me to simulate a lot of different things without going too far out of my way, but you're welcome to use any medium you like and feel comfortable with or uncomfortable, which may actually be better. Again, it's good to start with simple scribbles. Now, how do we draw the clouds? I quite like scribbling myself. It's something I do almost compulsively and it's a big part of my work. Even when I do more polish drawings, I always try to retain a gestural handwritten quality to everything. So I can think of clouds as this little sheep like scribbles or then I can go somewhere quite different and have an idea of more oval shapes with textures, you can have patterns. You could have a cloud like that, that would be overlapping with the cloud like this and create a third one. The same thing can be done with color, of course. I can also think about found material and have an idea of maybe torn pieces of paper that cast shadows. You can make little mockups or just take your iPhone out and take a few pictures. We can think of where you're going to use people at all. So if we do, how are we going to draw them? Maybe it can be just one protagonist that has a cloud-like tufts of hair. This will be our spokesperson, maybe something like this. Maybe they can wear glasses because you have circles here that compliments circles here. I think when you are designing characters, it's often good to think of concrete things as abstract shapes. So in your mind, reducing your characters and environment to just shapes. So in our case, it's something like this. They're round and simple and it's a combination of straight lines and circles. However, I think for this project, it would make sense to do something more abstract because it is about something that exists in nature. We can think of maybe doing cloud creatures that are the protagonist in our story, so they can look something like this. When in doubt, you can always put a hub and it makes everything cuter. Then we can dive a little deeper and think of how the faces can look. It can be a little bit more realistic like this, or it can be even more realistic like this, or completely abstract, maybe just the eyes. You will notice that the more detail we add, the harder it can be to relate to the character. So sometimes the process of simplification means go in a little bit too far and then seeing what you can take away. So let's consider our cloud as a shape. First of all, we have domain shape. Now, how can we do this? It can be torn paper, or it can be an abstract shape done digitally, it can be just line work, or it can be combination of these things, perhaps a pattern. I think it would make sense to draw the shape digitally and then maybe put a texture on top. Then we don't want it to look too much like a nose, so let's avoid any associations. Now, the shape is always complemented by lines. Not always, but it can be. So we can have legs and hands. Now, do we need the legs? Maybe not. We can play around something like this, so it looks like a cap. Let's have our buree because a character has so little detail that anything helps. We're going to have just one hand and in this way, it looks less like a fully blown character and more like an abstraction that has been given a touch of a character. Now the character has a brush. Now, the problem here is that we have two straight lines next to each other and they look quite similar. So what can we do about this? Well, maybe the hand can be something like this, which will make it look a bit like a ghost, but I think it can work. As an alternative, the brush can be a little thicker and have a little bit more of a shape. So again, we're reducing our drawings to the level of abstraction. I quite like drawing noses because I think they give a lot of character, and I think in fact, very often you can do without a mouth and just have the nose. I think Steinberg said that the nose is the only part of our anatomy that doesn't lie, and I tend to agree with that. We can make their faces quite silly or maybe cartoony. Again, some people like to develop something fully at this stage, and some people prefer to start working and see where it takes them. I think you should just go with what feels intuitive and see where it takes you. 5. Creating a Mockup: It's also a really good idea to make a little mockup, not just yourself, but for the clients. Of course it's very convenient to send sketches that are just black and white, scribbles like what I just made, but at same time, some clients have a better idea of what your work will look like in the final forum than others, so it is good practice to start making mockups of the final work alongside with the sketches. So a mockup doesn't have to be polished, it doesn't have to look exactly like the final of course, but it should give you an idea, and let you imagine what the final will look like. In our case, it can be a matter of picking the right colors and seeing how they feel. You take a big brush and create a shape. Keep things very simple, and there. Now we can imagine how this looks on our website, and then we can imagine how it will look with a little bit of parallax. So maybe it'll be something like this, and then we can imagine how this layers can move against each other as you scroll through the page, and then we can take a little bit of background here. This is a hideous color. Let's do something more like this. That's even worse. Sure, why not. This was a complete accident, but let's explore it while we're at it. This really feels like it's the wrong tone for the project, but why not? So now we can draw a little cloud fella, something like this. This looks pretty nice, way more dramatic than it needs to be, so I'm going to get rid of that very dark sky and pick something lighter, maybe a sandy color. Not that Sandy. Yeah. This might be well too light. This is just a mockup. So for now what we'll have to do, we can make the background a little lighter maybe something like that, and we can give our cloud a little bit of features, so it can be a different brush, maybe a little more scribbly, something like that. Now we can think of shadows and things like that, so between these two layers for instance, we can get a very soft brush and give it a bit of shadow, not so much. So this is very very rough, but it gives us an idea of what it might look like, and then we're going to replace all of this things with real textures and things like that, and we can even take our pen, and imagine where the text will be, maybe something like this, and perhaps the text can be in white which would actually make lot of sense. It can be a combination. Now a logo can be somewhere here. I think keeping it lose is a very good idea at this point, and still always allowing yourself a lot of room for improvisation when it comes to the finals, because you didn't want to prepare everything to the point where the final is simply fill in the blanks, you still want to give yourself enough room to play and experiment, and try something new all the way until the end. 6. Refining Your Personal Style: So now when we move to finishing our artwork the thing to ask yourself first of all is, what will be the first impression? I think of it the same way as when you approach a poster or a book cover because before you understand what it's about and what's going on, you have a very immediate emotional reaction just to the shapes and colors, and you have to ask yourself, what does it do and how does it relate to the product in question? At the same time it's just as important to maintain a level of complexity. So you don't want to say everything right away, you don't want to spill everything out. You want to invite people in, but then let them explore the imagery and the words on their own and draw their own conclusions. Just as important as style is knowing and understanding your audience, but at the same time not playing completely to their tastes and expectations. In fact, often it's good to play with these expectations and subvert them. Another thing to consider is the issues of diversity and the representation. So if you're doing something quite abstract, like My Clouds, it's not really an issue, but if it's a real life cause then of course it's tremendously important to be respectful and at the same time to think about the level of detail that you put into human representation. For instance, if you do something in a realistic style, it's a little harder to relate to those characters because they become more specific and more real, while something that's more cartoony and minimalist means that any person can project themselves onto that image. There's no right and wrong here, and it's not a sliding scale. It's more of a issue of considering what you're doing, and the fact that it can have on people, and whether there's any chance for misinterpretation or offense and how to avoid that. In general, people tend to gravitate towards art that doesn't look like it's trying to sell them something, so it's probably best to avoid really harsh, aggressive marketing imagery and to try to go for something subtler. In general, people also don't enjoy feeling like they're being patronized. So it's best not to pander to a specific demographic and try to be respectful in whatever depiction you choose to do. So again, there's no right way of doing this, the only thing which I can suggest is doing lots and lots of exploration, being playful and light, and considering a lot of different options, different mediums, different styles and representations, and seeing what makes sense. In my own work I like to start the day by doing little doodles, though I don't do it every day, but it does all fit into my general aesthetic and allows it to develop slowly and gradually instead of sitting down and banging your head against the wall until something new comes up. I think it's really good to practice observation to draw people, your friends, and strangers, to do it in as many different styles as possible. I'm really against this whole idea that as an artist we should find one way of doing things and stick with it. I think it's more and more acceptable to be something of a polymers and work in different mediums. Although I'm mostly known for my ink work, recently I've been learning Blender in 3D and doing things that are completely out of my comfort zone. I think it's also very important to do many versions of the same thing, not even trying to explore that much, but just repeating because it's absolutely impossible to do the same drawing twice and every time you try to repeat something, you inevitably come up with something new. So that process of exploration is how you come up with something that's unified, and simple, and feels like it just came out of nowhere. It's also really important to consider your temperament and consider mark making as a process. So very often I just start making complete scribbles that have absolutely no sense or context and this is simply a way of exercising my handwriting and my gesture. The more you do it, the more it becomes your own. Then something like this has the same handwriting and the same gestural quality as something more elaborate. Pretty often I draw too much and then card away, and that's also a legitimate process of minimizing your material. So a lot of my drawings they start as many versions that I put together, delete some bits here, some bits there, try out different things. Often I have a stack of drawings for just a single final print, and then in the end you will have something like this. Mixing traditional and digital media allows you to have spontaneity, but at the same time have control. Speaking of that, I do have some other classes on ink and on digital media that you can look at for more in-depth exploration of the technical stuff. Again, I think it's important to understand and respect your temperament. For instance, I'm quite impatient and it's easier for me to just draw several versions of the same thing instead of polishing a single one and that's why I use various simple, cheap printer paper for most of my work. Finding the one that feels right rather than looks the best is also quite important because very often it's not the one that is the most polished and beautiful, but the one that conveys the feeling better than anything else. It's good to play with conventions and expectations. For instance, in this drawing the allocation of black is completely unreasonable. There are big chunks that are completely unfilled and it breaks a lot of rules of basic drawing and image making, but of course it tickles me because it's my personal work and I can do whatever I like. So as you're finalizing your project, think about who it's for, who's going to look at it, what they're going to feel, and think about the style. At the same time, don't obsess about these issues too much. Try to find a balance between liberty and examination. It's good to scrutinize, but at the same time it's good not to get too carried away and lose track of what you actually want to make. 7. Presenting Your Piece: Now, as you're wrapping up your project, ask yourself, why is it there? Why is it not just a photograph? Why does it need drawings? Sometimes we can get carried away and just make things compulsively without really understanding their purpose, and it's really important to interrogate yourself every now and then and figure out, what is the purpose of illustration here and how are you using it? So what is the function of an illustration? Well, there can be many things that an illustration can do. It can attract attention, help you stand out from the crowd, inspire something, contradict the text, complement it, it can seduce the reader or maybe turn them away, and it can do all those things together in a more complex and subtle way. When we spent too much time with our project, it can be easy to forget what it's like to see it for the first time. So it's good to step away from it, maybe put it aside, go to sleep and then look at it again in the morning, show it to someone else and see what they think. The same principle is applied to the final presentation. Try to find a way to present it that gives it justice and also plays alongside with your concept. So it can be a series of image or you can even build a website or it can be a scrollable Instagram thing, or a postcard or anything that makes sense for what you're trying to do. So for my project, I'm going to present it as a series of images that simply go one after the other and tell the story. It can be more complicated than that, it can be even simpler, whatever makes sense for your project. Another tremendously important skill to have is the willingness to make revisions. So many artists are not quite ready and don't realize just how much revision tend to go into professional work, especially when they finish art school, and there's quite a lot. Being able to do revisions for your own work just because you want to make it better and not even better, but to explore what other possibilities there are is really important and useful both in your professional and your personal practice. Finally, it's good to consider how you present yourself on the Internet. It's good to think how people see you online. For myself, I don't really care that much, but for people who are more concerned with their professional image, that will be more of an issue. So for me, I'm very open and honest in my presentation and I post a lot of things that are not necessarily related to my professional work. But then again, it ties together with my aesthetics that are all based and inspired by silliness and playfulness. If you're going for something more serious, that approach may not make sense. The only thing to avoid is affectation. It's always better to present yourself in an honest and straightforward way than to pretend to be the artist that you really aren't. So for my final versions, I went with something quite simple. There's a simple logo and a simple typeface, and then we have three images that are built like panorama with a little parallax implied. The first one, we have a little cloud creature ready to face the canvas. I wanted to embrace the openness and I didn't want to put anything in the background because I wanted to make it feel like you can do anything you want, and it's not a specific thing that's being advertised here. In the second one, I wanted to focus on the interplay of these three characters working together, and most of all, I wanted it to feel light and playful, and I didn't want to give it an impression that they are doing something difficult or that they're putting too much effort to it. I wanted it to feel like something that any person can pick up and start working. In the third image, I wanted to focus on the depths and the possibility of this project. That it's not just what you see in front of you, but it's infinity of canvases and you can share it and see what people have made all over the world and so forth. So for the final, I decided to use very simple color palette and put in some paper texture. This way, it's not exactly the texture of the sky, but it's a texture of something that is tangible and familiar to us and that reminds us of clouds. So in a way it takes a little step away from reality, but at the same time feels rooted in nature. So once you're done, take one final look at the entire project and ask yourself all these questions. What does each image establish? What is the progression from one to the next? How does it change? Is one of them necessary? Can it be taken away? Can they be replaced? Can the order be changed? I think asking all these questions can give you a better understanding of what you did, and it's not necessarily for changing anything. It can be just as simple as getting a better view of your own project and what you've accomplished. So from the technical side, I decided to do the entire thing and procreate using software brushes for the outside layers and the slightly harder brushes for the clouds themselves. This way, there's a little bit of contrast and then the lines on the features are little bit jagged than more hand-drawn. As a final touch I exported everything into Photoshop and applied simple textures and curves. You can learn more about all the things in my class on digital printmaking, which covers all this and many other techniques. For your final presentation, it can be anything you want. The simplest way would be to just export a bunch of images and put them one after the other. But if you like, you can write more about your idea and use more texts and even animation if that suits your needs. I think it's always good to show this stuff in context. So rather than separate images, take screenshots of that work, or if it's a publication, then you might as well take a photograph. If it's a book cover, then take a photo of it in the bookstore. Putting things in context give people a better idea of where it belongs and what function it serves. One last question you may want to ask yourself is, did you enjoy making this? Would you like to do it again? Would you like to do it for the rest of your life? I think it's quite easy to get stuck in doing something that you don't particularly want because it's relevant right now or it's trendy, or if you're just good at it, and you can spend quite a lot of time, and I'm speaking from experience, doing something you don't really want. So remember, you're going to die, would you like to keep doing this until this happens? This is a question I ask myself pretty much everyday and I don't really have an answer for it, but I think it's a question worth examining. 8. Final Thoughts: Congratulations on finishing this class. Thank you for watching and thank you for all your work. Please don't forget to share your project in the project gallery. Remember that there is no real distinction between art and illustration, between commercial illustration and personal, it's all the same thing. All these distinctions is the assumption that we create ourselves. So we don't have to think about those things and we can just reconnect with the joy of making and creating, and find different sources for it and different outlets. That's what I'd like you to remember. 9. Case Study: Notion: So another example of my personal work and aesthetics feeding into my commercial work would be the branding that I did for Notion. So I've always been a big fan of printmaking and screen prints or risograph, and I've always loved the beauty of hand-drawn images, and I've always mainly worked with ink and pencils rather than digital. So with pieces like that, I would make one or two color prints, and then I would also develop a habit of join something over and over again until the feeling is just right, which I think is really important not to go for perfectionism of quality as such, but for finding the right feeling. So for instance, if we look at this cats, they're all basically fine, but one of them is a little bit more naive and relaxed than the others, and that's the one that I decided to use for this final print. So I've been making these prints and ink drawings for myself for a very long time without any purpose in mind. I just enjoy doing that. When Notion approached me, they were drawn to the stuff that I've been doing for New York or New York Times that had a very textured, hand-drawn quality to it, and they wanted to have some of that for their branding. So as a product and brand Notion is built on minimalism and simplicity and accessibility. Therefore, the illustrations also had to reflect the idea behind it. At the time, most of the tech startup branding was very colorful and quite uniform and very polished and clean. So we wanted to come up with something that would be radically different, that it would have just a single color, maybe occasionally a secondary color, mostly black and white, and that would have a very gestural, hand-drawn, maybe slightly eccentric quality to it. So to develop the Notion style, I right away went for something that would be very simple, very smooth, and quite polished, but at the same time would have quite pronounced gestural quality. So in order to develop a style that felt very breezy, and light, and in touch with the product, which is also quite minimalist, I wanted to come up with this look that only relies on a single gesture for every single shape. So I would never build on the line. I would just use one gesture to define shape of a face, or hair hair, or anything else. In the beginning, I worked with just brush and ink. So I would make drawings like this, which are quite nice, but also take a lot of time to make, and in the startup climate where things changed quite a lot and you have to rework the same element many, many times, it was pretty unsustainable. So I would develop a slightly simplified look for a lot of our branding, which would be what is now mostly on the website. While all of Notion illustrations are quite consistent, there's still a varying degree of finish to them. Some of them are more minimalist, others are more realistic, some are drawn with a brush and ink, and others are done entirely digitally, and that allows for a bit of variation that still never crosses into territory that doesn't feel in touch with the brand identity, with their values, and what the product means. I also think it was quite important for me to research and understand the inspiration behind Notion, the competing pioneers that have inspired them, and that also allowed me to create a style that made sense for the product and transfer, not just the concept, but the emotion behind it. So I didn't really expect the Notion style to become popular, but it did, which is great. But also it inspired quite a lot of imitators, and I think what people miss about the quality of that style is the consistency and the gesture behind it, and also the idea that in order to arrive at something that's so minimalist, you actually have to go really far and do a lot of research and build something that is way over the top, then to trim it down and to come up with something like this that is very small and simple. But if you take something like this and try to replicate it, that doesn't quite work. In other words, if you are dealing with minimalist aesthetics, you always have to remember that behind everything simple there is a gigantic mountain of stuff that you never get to see, which is again, another reason why you shouldn't look too closely at the final products of your contemporaries and instead look back and try to figure out what inspired them and all the stuff that is behind the scenes, and find similar mountains of your own and then trim them down.