Shuku Li

Choral conductor / Fledgling Calligrapher

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Spring Challenge: Nero Wolfe and the Golden Spiders

Product Samples which are Not In Time For Workshop but Illustrator Finally Behaved

Wonder of wonders, Illustrator behaved itself after a night's sleep, so even though it's too late for this to be part of workshop project, I thought I'd post it anyway. I did a cushion cover (and learned the joys of the Envelope function!) and a skirt. I was surprised the skirt actually came out looking all right, so maybe as long as it is a 1950s circle skirt with crinoline support underneath, it would look nice!

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14th March: Duh Pattern Block

With all that lack of sleep I completely forgot to upload just the block sans repeats. Duh. So here it is. I'm still trying to see how to delete those background extras, but I think that'll take me till next century.

Other than that, it has really been an amazing time in the class, and I'm really thankful I took the challenge even if I didn't know anything about Illustrator at all when I started. Thank you Elizabeth, I think I just may be addicted to this now!

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I also tested the swatch out as a repeat for a wallpaper, and I would've done a single repeat as a cushion cover - except Illustrator decided to crash on me repeatedly after that and I decided it was probably a good time as any to go to bed.

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I'm fairly sure it'll work well for curtains too, in big bold repeats.


13th March: Illustrator Gremlins and the Pattern

Because of course, this was going way too easily to be true. The merging and all came together just fine - except, naturally, I have no idea how to change the background colour of the pattern. I still don't.

It's less random and more linear, which is what I was aiming for in a less grid-like fashion. Getting everything to line up and fit though took a Very Long Time. 

And then of course, I ran into an irritating persistent problem when merging everything down. The pattern overlaps, and all the vector strokes on the overlaps DO NOT WANT TO GO AWAY. They show up in the merge! They don't show up anywhere else in the artwork! And I have no idea how to fix it. I may just leave it as it is, because I am so stressed out about it I haven't slept for at least verging 30 hours now, trying everything I know how to get rid of the pernicious strokes. 

I've never used Illustrator before this class, or a stylus either. This may account for my complete and utter idiocy in such matters. I discovered the persnickety, glorious hell that is the Gradient Tool, and that I shouldn't be allowed to draft ideas for patterns when I'm half asleep given the amount of Bad Language floating around my room at the moment.

This is the pattern, which was thrown into Photoshop and fixed, background colour and all - the strokes-showing-up-issue is LESS problematic, except on that one stupid petal and a couple other things if you look closely, and I still don't know how to fix it. May need to go back into the original art and go at it again.

(I've also saved the original file, not once but twice under separate file names. Just because I'm such a clumsy oaf.)

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11th March: Patterning the Pattern

The vectorising part of this project is what's been taking ages - then again, that's also because I am an absolute first-class chump and drew Complicated Stuff Wot Is Absolute Hell To Vectorise. I finally got done with it tonight after snatching in-between bits at work and other related projects, imported the .svg file into Illustrator, and went for broke. 

It's nowhere near complete yet, still arranging and playing with shapes and so on. Illustrator's not as difficult to pick up as I was afraid it might be, surprisingly! Still got a long way to go to learn to use it right, but amazingly enough, sorting out the arranging and so on wasn't fraught with innumerable tech problems (such as those in Photoshop when I tried to learn to use the Pen tool.)

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Fingers crossed all goes well now!

2nd March: Sketches

So far this is what I've come up with for sketches. Yes, there's a big spider, and starlings, and just for the noir kicks, a revolver. I plan on doing a few more scribbles to see what I can add. I have a vague idea of what I want the various elements for, but that's probably going to change once I get 'em vectorised and tossed into Illustrator for playtime.

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1st March: Inspiration Hunt

I ended up doing a lot of web-surfing and digging through my collection of typography books for inspiration, because 'Spring' is still a rather foreign concept. I live in a country where it's summer all year round, and my experience of spring was limited to a decade in the US when I went abroad to study. What I do remember, apart from the incessant rain, was the colours - yellow daffodils in particular since they were always the first flowers to bloom along my university pathways.

This is my pile of Initial Desperate Research, from fabric that I own to the typography books and recipe books in my collection, and all the things I chucked into a template just to see if I could narrow down what I wanted to do. The list originally went:

  • Faberge - eggs and jewellery
  • Art Nouveau
  • Ikebana / Samurai kabuto
  • Victorian lettering
  • Artichokes
  • Guppies and spinal cord vertebrae

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That said, I read a great deal and one of my favourite books is The Golden Spiders, by Rex Stout, featuring 7th-of-a-ton detective Nero Wolfe and his wise-cracking sidekick, Archie Goodwin. It also happens to be set during late spring - so there's my (admittedly non-conventional) inspiration right there, for a spring theme! 

Finalised Moodboard:

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I've begun seeing a colour trend in the moodboard (blues, yellows, bright pops of colour) and a worrying tendency towards the Difficult (the Timorous Beasties line art style and the Art Nouveau). Now what I need to do is sit down and start sketching, to see if I can combine all these various elements together properly and not drive myself mad with Illustrator and vectors later on.

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