This was a great process that made me feel more connected to my craft as an identity designer than I have in some time. Thanks, George.
Why an ostrich?
I wanted to use a fairly unexpected animal. Something that wasn't what readily came to my mind when I thought of "cool." There were a few ideas, but ostrich topped the list. What a challenge to make an animal I thought of as uncool look cool to me.
All respect to the process, I didn't think of this part of the process as assembling a mood board so much as an acquaint board—something that helped me get familiar with this animal I hardly knew. I needed to see ostriches up close. Understand where joints where. Spot their universally accepted distinguishing features—you know, what about them makes you and I see an ostrich and not mistake it for a turkey or flamingo. These found photos help me gather that info and get familiar with the ostrich.
And of those pics, here's the one I thought would be the makings of a winning silhouette for my lanky bird.
Traces (and traces and traces).
Not being an illustrator, I expected to have more trouble with this part of the process. But I really enjoyed. I felt so connected to what I was creating. I rigged up a makeshift light table placing a small, low wattage lamp beneath a glass side table from our living room and pulled up a chair. I loved it. With my printed bird pose, tracing paper, mechanical pencil and micro pens I got to work.
Again, this was a great experience. I got really intimate with my bird, its curves, joints, posture. Every trace brought me closer to understanding the figure's essence allowing me to shed more and more details.
To angle or to curve?
While I really began to like the more angular approach of the second to last trace page above, I felt drawn to a more organic, flowing figure and landed right where I wanted to be on the ninth and final page of traces.
Here's how that went from paper trace to Illustrator trace (thanks in LARGE part to my 12-year-old daughter and illustrator-in-training, Cady!)...
Cady did a great job of tracing exactly what was there—no liberties taken to correct hand-made errors. I was a proud daddy.
Being quite satisfied with the shape and flow that was established in the hand sketch/trace phase, I only needed to finish up with several pushes and pulls to get the lines and shapes to my liking. Here's what Ola (yes, she needed a name) looked like in the end...
Admittedly, I decided to forego the circle gridding process this time around. I don't have anything against it, totally understand how and why it's done, and even used the technique here and there (like on leg joints). I simply didn't feel it necessary for what I wanted to achieve with this particular figure.
I know that probably flunks me out of this class. Guess I'll go stick my head in the sand with Ola.