Package Design – Illustration Class Update Part 3

Ever since my fingers were nimble enough, I have loved making friendship bracelets. It was a summer hobby as a kid and even recently I have stumbled upon finger weaving (which is great as well). So when we were asked to create a package design for an item that had been “neglected” by old or uninspired design, I knew my product right away – embroidery floss. Take a look at the idea below. I know there really is no market for this more elaborate packaging, but it was a lot of fun to create. The artwork was done using scratch board and the mock-up was created using Photoshop.


Illustration Class Update Part 2

For this assignment, we were asked to create a portrait illustration of a 1960’s person and an object that goes with the person in some way. I chose Rachel Carson. She was a biologist who wrote about DDT and its affect on wildlife in her book “Silent Spring”. My first attempt combined both the object and a portrait of her (left) and in my second attempt (right two) I created little “icons” that could work in a website or as a favicon. All were created using Illustrator.

Illustration Class Update Part 1 (MCAD Continuing Studies)

I am really enjoying my Illustration class at MCAD this summer. I was, at first, very hesitant to take such a class because I’ve never considered myself to be a very good illustrator; however, I have found it really great for exercising my creative muscles. I’ve also enjoyed having “assignments” again, because they really do open your mind to other problem solving techniques. See what I’ve been working on so far 🙂 .

“Overheard in New York” inspired artwork in pen and India ink.
My quote went something like this, “Honey, flamingos don’t actually do anything.” It was apparently said from a mother to son in Central Park.

Opposing Point of View on scratch board used Photoshop to add text and text ornaments.
I skipped showing my first opinion piece because I thought it wasn’t my favorite work. My first opinion piece focused on nuns in America being singled out and persecuted by the Vatican. The following week’s assignment was to flip and create a work that displays the opposing viewpoint. I thought about how the Vatican must think of these nuns as rule breakers, not much unlike unruly school children.

Valentine’s Day Card in Illustrator.
I changed this assignment to be an anniversary card. Grant’s and my 1st year anniversary is this July. We met about 5.5 years ago at Como Park in St. Paul in the warming house before a broomball game. I was wearing a red hat.

20 stories in 60 minutes in Illustrator and Photoshop.
My image was inspired by the first 2 minute story in the NPR piece but definitely took some privileges on what I decided to illustrate.

Summer Learning

It is funny because as a teacher or a student, we all look forward those last couple weeks of school to summer vacation. We think days at the beach and hours of reading or computer games, but to me the best summers are where I get to take a couple classes myself! Currently, I am taking one class via and two MCAD Continuing Education classes.

I just stumbled upon Learnable when I was searching for coding classes in web development. Most of the classes run upwards of $600 which is a bit spendy. But through Learnable, I can take classes for $15 a month. I’m taking PHP & MySQL Web Development for Beginners currently but will definitely take HTML5 before the summer is out too.

At MCAD, I’m taking Intro to Screen Printing, which I’ve actually taken before but would like some more studio time and Intro to Illustration. I have enjoyed every class I’ve taken through MCAD. I will definitely post some of my work by the end of the summer 🙂 .

-Shalanah Dawson

Trending… Art Poster – Know the Warning Signs of Art

This poster seems to be working its way through creative circles recently, just thought I’d add to it! Here is a poster created by Philbrook Museum of Art. My favorite is “How long have you been photoshopping?” Reminds me of public service ads of the 90’s (when I was growing up).

Peter Max Contour Assignment

You may click on the image above to see more Peter Max inspired work.

I love contour line drawing. Sometimes, however, these drawings, while fun to make and view, just get tossed aside in art and end up in the recycling bin. So searching on the internet I found this awesome lesson by Ken Schwab, Leigh High School San Jose, CA. You can create a finished work of art with your contours drawings! I have adapted his plan for my Intro to Art class but you may read his whole lesson at the Incredible @rt Department – Peter Max Inspired Lesson Plan.

  1. Students draw 3 different people contour studies (on only one side of newsprint or plain paper)
  2. 3 hand contour studies
  3. 1 profile view study
  4. They then pick 3 of these or more if they wish to create a composition (Do what works for you!). They must use at least 1 hand and one person the third may be of his/her choosing.
  5. They then cut their chosen contour drawings off their paper with a small margin (not cutting on the line). They arrange them in a composition onto of the final project paper and lightly use a pencil to trace around the edges of the cut paper to indicate where each contour drawing will be placed.
  6. Students then use a window and masking tape to trace the contour drawing onto his/her final paper. They may use sharpe right away or trace all the contour lines or use pencil then go over with sharpe (depends on how confortable they feel).
  7. I also say, “No severed heads or hands!” Hands should have continued wrists/arms to go to the edge of the paper if needed or necks to profile drawings.
  8. They create 8 different patterns on a sheet that they may choose to use in his/her final. I give them a simple pattern packet for when they get stuck.
  9. Students draw patterns on their contour composition. I try to emphasize using more than one pattern in each part of the hand or person, using a light source, and trying to make the patterns flow into one another.

Some tips for newcomers (figure drawing posing): I do not have any “standing poses” anymore because students get light-headed when standing even if they are not locking their knees. I have lying down poses and seated poses. If you do standing poses I would suggest no more than 7-10 minutes. I find really good contours take 15-20 minutes so lying down works well for those and so does sitting. Having some pillows and blankets also help.

>> Ken Schwab’s Lesson Plan from – Incredible @rt Department
>> My PowerPoint and Worksheets for this Lesson

-Shalanah Backus

Bestiary Assignment

Click on the image above to see more students’ work from Crosswinds Middle School.


Work here is done by 7-8th graders but I believe almost any age loves mixing up animals!

Paper (Size is up to you! I did 9 x 6.), Pencils, Erasers

To combine at least 3 animals from a packet of drawn animals in either body parts or texture. You may also do this online (finding animals). Students first decide on what animals they will mix up by writing them down. Then they do a rough light sketch with circles, rectangles, and triangles to fit the animal to the whole piece of paper. The student then draws outlines of animal more carefully with details. Texture in the form of hair/scales/or even smoothness is added along in the direction of the animal’s body and with a sun to dictate where the texture will be darker or lighter.

1. Lightly sketch (using the whole paper) 3 combinations of animals
• These can be parts of animals, eyes, noses, texture, horns, tails, or even people!
2. Finalize sketch lightly adding detail like texture
3. Use shading and a light source to make the animal come alive!

Graded on:
Filled up space well
Used three animals seamlessly
Added Value correctly
Had at least one texture (hair, smooth, feathers, scales)
Neatness (no smudges on paper)
Answering reflection questions thoughtfully

Bestiary PowerPoint – Brief PowerPoint on Definition of Bestiary and some images.
Animal Packet – Mix of online animal images for students to draw off of. Make your own if you wish.
Absolute Astronomy Bestiary Page – Brief definition of bestiary and encyclopedia article website
The Medieval Bestiary – Great site with images, definition, stories check it out!

-Shalanah Backus