Alphabet Animal Art Challenge: The final recap!

Alphabet Art Challenge 2017 Final Review by Brenda Zapotosky

Finished!!!!!!!!!!!

That was the elation I felt when I completed the final animal in the Alphabet Animal Art Challenge!  52 weeks, 26 letters, and I created both a prompt list and an animal for ALL of them!  It is quite an accomplishment if I do say so myself, and NOT easy.

I had several reasons/goals/ideas when I first dreamed up this challenge and I am happy to say that I met them (and perhaps even surpassed them!) There is so much to share, in fact, that I hardly know where to begin… (And, if you are just hearing about this challenge for the first time you can read the original post here).

First, the animals!  All 26 of them.  One for every letter of the Alphabet and almost all of them posted within their allotted 2 week time frame!

26 Animal Illustrations by Brenda Zapotosky

It is rather amazing seeing them all together.  Such a wide variety!  The first animal, armadillo, is a bit out of place.  After that first letter, and motivated by a comment from my husband, I decided to go “cuter” with the look of my animals.  I am really glad I did!  I think that I was able to achieve a pretty good consistency of style throughout the year and, scale aside, these animals could work well in combination in addition to solo.  (In fact I plan on tweaking the armadillo to use in a project I have planned). I chose a handful of favorites to create the title art for this post, but honestly, while I definitely have ones I don’t like as much, there is future “potential” for most of these.  One of the great “side effects” of this challenge is that I now have a large library of animal characters ready to use in patterns, greeting cards, and any other sort of art.  In fact, many of them have already been used in these ways, which you will see below.

Next, I wanted to share all the “prompt” posts I did for Instagram.

26 Animal Prompts by Brenda Zapotosky

These were posted every Sunday (except for 1, which got delayed due to some major computer issues I had) to kick off the new letter and give some ideas to get participants started on their next letter. (Of course, after the first quarter most other participants dropped out, but I persevered in sharing the prompts anyways, always in hope of new people joining in!) Each prompt had 7 animals listed. I researched animals and created these letter by letter as the year went along.  You might be surprised to learn that I did NOT check prior to starting the challenge if there even was an animal for every letter of the alphabet.  Honestly, that didn’t matter to me.  I figured there would be an animal for MOST of them and I could always use adjective descriptors for a letter that did not have an animal.  It turned out, however, that every letter DID have an animal!!!  And in fact, I was able to fill all 7 “slots” on my prompt list for every letter (although for Y some of them are “adjective Y” animals)!  It was a bit of work putting together the lists but it was also fun.  I liked looking up the letter and discovering new and interesting animals.

As I mentioned above, I have built up an impressive library of illustrations that I can now use for other design projects.

Surface Pattern Design: I have ideas for patterns for many of the animals I have created, but so far I have only created one seamless pattern.  It features the flamingo and is titled:  Flamingos and Flowers. This design is now available as part of the Floridian Collection in my Spoonflower Shop.

Flamingos and Flowers Pattern Promo by Brenda Zapotosky

Greeting Cards:  I also created several greeting cards, basically on an “as needed” basis as occasions popped up throughout the year.  So far I have created 5 different greeting card designs, 2 of which, the elephant and owl, have 2 different color variations (I chose to only include 1 color version of each card below but you can see the other elephant here and the other owl here).
Animal Greeting Cards by Brenda Zapotosky

I think it would be fun to do some coordinating patterns for these as well.  I am particularly found of the Birthday Owl!

Onto my final thoughts:

  • One of my goals was to force myself to be creative on a regular basis.  This challenge definitely achieved that goal!  There were definitely times when I really did not want to create an animal for a particular letter, but since I committed to the challenge I did.  I am very happy for that.
  • Another goal was to improve my animal drawing skills.  Character design does not come easy to me, so this was a great way for me to grow that skill set.  I think some animals were more successful than others, but even my least favorites gave me good practice.
  • If I am disappointed with any part of the challenge, it was the dropping out of most of the participants after the first quarter.  I totally get it… it was hard for ME to keep up sometimes and I created the challenge!  But I did miss that social aspect of it.

I think that’s it!  It is a little weird to be done with this challenge.  But I am excited to move on to a new subject matter!  I announced the 2018 Alphabet Art Challenge theme a few weeks ago:  Fruits and Vegetables!  It will be a nice change of pace.  I would love for you to join me!

Thanks for reading!  I would love to hear which animal is YOUR favorite!  You can comment below.

Brenda

Announcing the 2018 Alphabet Art Challenge!!!

I super excited about this post and to share the theme for the 2018 Alphabet Art Challenge!  If you are new to this Challenge you can read all about the first one, The Alphabet ANIMAL Art Challenge, here. You can also read each of the quarterly updates here, here and here.

And so without further ado, and perhaps a little drumroll…. The 2018 theme is:

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!  (At least, I am hoping that is what you are thinking.)  I am very excited about this theme.  While the Animal theme was a great challenge to me personally, and I will be sharing a lot of thoughts about it all when I do the final recap of the year, I am looking forward to having a little bit simpler subject matter this time around.

The OFFICIAL name for this challenge will be the Fruit and Veggie Challenge, because that is more fun in my opinion, and makes for a shorter hashtag:  #2018fruitandveggieartchallenge

2018 Alphabet Art Challenge Announcement by Brenda Zapotosky

For this theme I have a very distinct vision for the style of the art I will be creating.  Since my days of doodle books, starting way back in college, I have LOVED hatching.  And one of the style methods I employ a lot in my artwork is creating “geometric” versions of common objects.  So for my fruits and vegetables this year, they will be geometric in style and employ hatching as part of the rendering.  I already created some patterns that use geometric fruits and vegetables, so I will be building upon that small library.  Here are a few examples (Which are available as fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap in my Spoonflower shop) :

Geometric Pumpkins by Brenda Zapotosky

Tropical Pineapples Pattern by Brenda Zapotosky

As an added “bonus” this year, I have also decided to create a new geometric font to go with my fruit and veggie illustrations, which will add an element of Art to the “Prompt” posts that I do at the beginning of each letter. (You can see examples of the prompts on my Instagram feed.)

Ok, so onto the official “rules” for this Challenge.  There are 52 weeks and 26 letters, so that means 1 letter for every 2 weeks.  Since 2018 starts on a Monday, that will be our starting day for each new letter.  So Monday, Jan. 1 will kick off the letter “A”.  On each Monday where a new letter begins I will post a reminder on Instagram with the letter for that 2-week period and some ideas of fruits and veggies to get you started.

Like last year, this is JUST FOR FUN!  There are not any prizes for participating.  Use any type of medium you like to create your art.  And if you are late to join in or miss a letter or 2, that is totally fine!  I would like to do an artist round up like I did for the first quarterly recap of 2017.  Sadly participation last year drastically tapered off after that first quarter, so the other recaps did not include other artist’s work.  I hoping that there will be more participation this year and I will able to share a bit more of other’s work.

So get your artistic thinking caps on and start mentally prepping for a year of Alphabet Art Fun!  I really hope you will consider joining me!

Brenda

ps.  If you are not already following me on Instagram, I highly recommend it.  It is where I will be posting all the prompts and fruit and veggie creations.

Alphabet Animal Art Challenge: G-M

Well folks, we have officially reached the halfway point of the Alphabet Animal Art Challenge and it is time for the second recap for the year!  As time has progressed, I have found that participation from other artists is dwindling.  Bummer? Yes.  But… this began first and foremost as a personal challenge to myself and alone or with a crowd, I will continue until the end!  I certainly miss seeing other’s people work inspired by the letter prompts, but I totally get the difficulty of sticking with any challenge for a full year!  Honestly, it has been hard for me for a few of these letters to want to spend the time creating anything, especially when I was uninspired by the choices.  If not for my determination to stick to my goal I might have stopped too!  (Or at least skipped some letters).  But I persevered and am happy I did. Today I am sharing a look at the second batch of animals, G-M, and sharing some designs I created that incorporate animals from both the first and second round of creations.

Letters G-M  There was definitely a lag in excitement when I hit the middle of this batch. Letters I and J were not very inspiring to me.  I came up with the idea to do multiple insects for I, which ended up kind of fun.  But J… the jellyfish you see here was actually just a re-working of an old illustration (and then scaled twice to create 3  different sized ones).  Thankfully the Koala helped me get some of my enthusiasm back!

Alphabet Animals Letters G to M by Brenda Zapotosky

I think my favorite of this batch is the Hedgehog.  I would definitely like to create a pattern for him using a maze of green hedges!

H is for Hedgehog by Brenda Zapotosky

Pattern and Cards:  So far I have incorporated 4 different animals from the challenge into either cards or a pattern.  These include my giraffe from this batch of illustrations and 3 other animals from my first round  (Letters A-F) of illustrations.  I absolutely love that I am building a library of animal illustrations, in my style, that are all ready to be used in other ways.

I created a seamless pattern with my flamingo for the Birds and Blooms Design Challenge on Spoonflower.  I absolutely love the bright, happy palette and am in the process of creating an entire collection around the signature print:  Flamingos and Flowers.

Flamingos and Flowers Pattern Promo by Brenda Zapotosky

The collection is not finished yet, but you can find the first two coordinates of Floridian, as well as the flamingo print available now in my Spoonflower shop.

I also created some greeting cards using my animal art designs too!

Animal Art Greeting Cards by Brenda Zapotosky

The cat card was a birthday card for my husband.  The giraffe card was actually a MOTHER’S day card (my mom loves giraffes) but I kept the greeting on the front generic to give it better flexibility for future use.  I had both a niece and nephew turn 2 in June, so I actually did 2 different colorways of the elephant card.  In my “girl” version (below) the elephant has pink toenails like in the original illustration, although in a brighter shade of pink!

Birthday Elephant Greeting Card Pink by Brenda Zapotosky

These cards were a lot of fun to put together.  I could see an entire line of animal cards along with maybe some matching gift wrap being developed at some point.  For now, I am enjoying creating them as the need arises.

Overall, I will call round 2 a success!  It is quite incredible how many different animals there really are!  I have discovered many “new to me” animals along the way.  Next up is the letter N, which marks the beginning of the second half of the alphabet.  So if you wanted to join me, or jump back in if you started and fell behind, this is a great time to start!!!

And be sure to follow me on Instagram, to see each animal as I finish them and see the reminder posts and animal idea prompts each fortnight!

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

A Fabric Design Tale

This post is a tale of sorts, of two whimsical designs that began as hand drawings and were transformed into fabric.  An appropriate title could have been: From Pen and Ink Hand Drawings to Seamless Patterns to Printed Fabric to Sewing Creations. But that is a lot of words. Hence:  A Fabric Design Tale 🙂

If you read my previous post then you already know that for Christmas 2016 I made my youngest niece and nephew each a raglan tee using my fabric designs.  Both began as hand drawings and so I thought it would be fun to share the process (since it was different for both) in how I transformed those into the fabric and ultimately a finished sewing project.

Fantasy Fish

fantasy-fish-promo-pattern-by-brenda-zapotosky

For my nephew I chose my Fantasy Fish pattern.  I originally created this design for the Great Barrier Reef themed contest on Spoonflower.  This was still in the beginning stages of my learning Adobe Illustrator and creating patterns. For this pattern I wanted to have all the elements inter-connected and I wasn’t yet sure how to do that in AI, so I stuck with Photoshop to create the entire pattern.  To do this I began by drawing a base design by hand, scanned it into Photoshop, cleaned it up, and then using the offset function split the design apart.  I then printed the split apart design and drew in more elements to start to fill the space.  I had to do this several times before I had the entire piece filled in and the full pattern tile created.  Below you can see some of the stages of the pattern.

fantasy-fish-pattern-progression-by-brenda-zapotosky-with-words

I chose to have the design printed on Spoonflower’s Cotton Spandex Jersey since I would be pairing it with Cotton Spandex Solids purchased elsewhere and I wanted the fabric types to be as close as possible.

fantasy-fish-by-brenda-zapotosky-fabric-photo

I love how it looks printed out!

Butterfly Party (Midnight)

butterfly-party-midnight-by-brenda-zapotosky-promo

For my niece, I chose the Butterfly Party design, Midnight color version from my Flutter Collection.  I created this design from a doodle I drew in one of my doodle sketchbooks long before I ever started created surface patterns.

butterfly-doodle-by-brenda-zapotosky

Since I never intended this drawing to be a seamless pattern when I created it, I decided to use the elements as components in a new design instead of converting the original composition to be seamless.  For this design, I used the auto-trace function in Adobe Illustrator to render the elements as vector.  From there I did A LOT of clean-up, modifications and redrawing.  In fact sometimes I do so much editing of a traced design that I wonder if it wouldn’t be faster to just redraw all the elements manually.  I do like, however, how auto trace gives a bit more of the hand-drawn feeling and for this print I think it really works.  While I love the black infill with the butterfly silhouettes and polka-dots on the original doodle, I thought it was too busy for the pattern version so I decided to eliminate it.  Instead I used some of the little butterflies to create a coordinating pattern.

delicate-delights-four-colors-small-by-brenda-zapotosky
Delicate Delights design in 4 different colorways.

You can find these little butterflies and many other coordinating prints in the Flutter Collection on Spoonflower.  And here is a look of the fabric (also printed on Cotton Spandex Jersey):

 

butterfly-party-by-brenda-zapotosky-fabric-photo

 

Raglan Tees

kiddo-raglans-by-brenda-zapotosky-2

I used the same pattern for both tees, the Raglan Sweatshirt 015 from Brindle and Twig. Since the kids are so close in age, I was able to use the same size for both of them!  For each shirt I was able to fit the body pieces on one fat quarter of the Spoonflower fabric and used solid fabric leftover from other projects for all the rest of the pieces.  (Huge perk of sewing for littles!!!)  I chose black for the fishes since there is already black in the design and I love how it makes the colors really pop.  For the butterflies I used this aqua I had in my stash that I was happy to see matched so well!  I was a bit concerned about the arms being lighter than the body (I guess when I think of raglans I usually think the darker color as the arms and bands) but I think it adds a lovely brightness!

butterfly-party-raglan-tee-by-brenda-zapotosky-with-words

fantasy-fish-raglan-tee-by-brenda-zapotosky-with-words

For the most part I thought this was a good pattern.  I was surprised at the size of all the bands, which seemed a little small in diameter to me.  I change almost all of them to be a little bit bigger after I sewed the first one (I THINK the neckband on the butterfly shirt is the only place where the band is cut to the pattern size).  I would definitely keep this change in the future.  It made it easier to sew and was still not too big. I made the butterfly raglan first so the tweaks on the fish one reflect what I learned from the first.  My only other complaint is with the pdf assembly.  I found that the aligning box on the pdfs to be a bit confusing.  Perhaps it would not be to someone else, but I thought I would mention it.  I will say that Melissa from Brindle and Twig was very kind and receptive to my feedback when I emailed her, which is huge bonus points in her favor!!!  Customer service and communication goes a long way in my book. I also like the very large size range that comes with the pattern.  I could make these for several more years before the kids will be too big for the pattern.

So there you have it!  A look at the progression of a design from the very beginings to a final finished project!  I’ll end with a couple of detail close-ups.

kiddo-raglans-by-brenda-zapotosky-details

And as always,

Thanks for Reading!

Brenda