#48 LAYERS IN MY LIFE – PART 2

Now that I am back posting on this blog after four years, I am eager to share some of the recent projects I have done for the Tillamook Dairy Company. 

Layers are a part of my life in so many ways. I love writing, music and art. Currently, all of my creative passions overlap just like layers. 

As a professional illustrator who works with Photoshop, layers are very important when I’m digitally illustrating. 

And for my Tillamookie Ice Cream Sandwich project, ice cream, chocolate and cookie layers were critical for my client, too!

I take this opportunity to really share my “photo-comp” process when I illustrated those unique and crunchy Tillamookies.

This is a partial screenshot from my Purchase Order.

This is a partial screenshot from my Purchase Order.

When I received the project I was asked this question. “Judy, have you ever tasted an ice cream sandwich that was crunchy, not soggy?” 

I had to admit, I hadn’t. That was when I learned a new word: enrobing. 

Enrobing was a coating of chocolate on the waffle cookie that provided a barrier to the ice cream’s moisture. And Tillamook wanted the back package illustrations to clearly explain this.

Waffle cookies diagonal

I’ll begin with those back package illustrations. 

The package design for them wasn’t set. Tillamook wanted layers that were clearly labeled and one idea was to simply show each one in a row. 

I learned right away how different the waffle cookie looked when it was angled, instead of “tic-tac-toe.” The lighting on it was one thing and there were a lot of color variations to consider: golden brown, ochre, tan, beige etc.

Tillamookie back package horiz layouts

The “side-by-side” layout was not chosen and the art director (AD) gave me a new template showing the layers in a diagonal. Below was my next round of layouts. I still wasn’t sure which cookie was going to be chosen.

Tillamookie back package angled layouts

The AD wanted the dark chocolate “enrobing” to look better. It was challenging to imagine how that chocolate actually looked, since my prototype cookies did not come apart cleanly to really show the chocolate. 

The AD sent me a photo to inspire me.

Tillamook's chocolate

That sent me into my kitchen. I melted chocolate and made my first chocolate pancake! My son was eager to know when he could eat my reference.

Chocolate Pancake

With the magic of Photoshop and the “warp transform” function – I made that chocolate pancake photo above rounder and also smoothed out the lumps. I shot off some choices to the art director.

Chocolate Layer choices

The AD chose D; I guess it was better without the pronounced swirl in the center. Now Tillamook requested another layout with chocolate layers included separately, so it would consist of five layers.

Five layers

After seeing the layout above, the client went back to the prior layout of just three layers. There were a few more rounds of “tweaking” and then my layouts were approved.

Below are the final illustrations. I used the same illustrated waffle cookie and chocolate coating for every flavor.

Tillamookie Choc Covered Strawberry Final Back Package Revision 3 Tillamookie Vanilla Bean Final Back Package Tillamookie Choc Chip Mint Final Back Package Tillamookie Choc Hazelnut Gelato Final Back Package Revision 3

There were a lot of revisions for the Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato flavor. The gelato was very sticky and didn’t contrast well with the chocolate layer next to it. 

I share one of my reference photos. I guess it would help if I knew more about being a food stylist. I couldn’t figure out how to pull apart/separate that cookie sandwich. I tried every kind of way. When I used a knife, it clearly left a “scraped” imprint upon the gelato. But I figured out a way to illustrate it anyway.

Gelato Photo Cut

That flavor was a challenge when I illustrated it for the front package, too.

Hazelnut Gelato Layouts Round 1

The front package illustrations were more interesting for me to illustrate. I enjoyed composing the ingredients on the left side. 

This becomes another opportunity to mention my “whatever works” motto. In order to help me create my design, I sometimes combine older painted artwork and photos together. It can look strange, but my final art “pencil process” usually pulls everything together. 

After receiving the Round 1 Layouts, the art director said the gelato looked like it was melting. So before moving on to Round 2, I had to fix that. Reshooting the prototype sandwich wasn’t going to work because even with refreezing, the gelato was still very shiny. 

I developed “A” and “B” by using my existing reference and softening the highlights. On “C,” I sculpted new gelato purchased at the market.

Gelato choices

The AD liked “A.”

There was another important change for every Tillamookie flavor that can be seen on subsequent rounds. The client wanted to show the ice cream fuller and rounded, as if the sandwich were pressed on. I experimented with a curve on each side, but more was requested.

The client wanted the enrobing to be visible on the top horizontal cookie layer; a slight dark line is there to show that. The enrobing was also enhanced on the back cookie, as well. This was another benefit to using an illustrator versus a photographer!

Hazelnut Gelato Layouts Round 2

I share Round 2 feedback from the art director below:

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT GELATO ROUND 2 FEEDBACK: The ice cream looks great! Option G is the approved option but they feel the composition is a bit busy – this may be that every element is about the same size. They made comments that we might not need the opened hazelnut – maybe try a composition where the open hazelnut is removed and all the ingredients move over, and try another that plays with the scale of the existing elements.

I followed those directions for Round 3; layout “I” was approved!

Hazelnut Gelato Layouts Round 3

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato Tillamookie

It has been fun sharing my working process. I’ll include a few of the other flavors with layouts to end this post.

Mint Choc Chip - First layout Mint Choc Chip - Later layouts

Chocolate Chip Mint Tillamookie Vanilla Bean Layouts

Vanilla Bean Tillamookie Strawberry Tillamookie Rd. 1 layouts

OREGON STRAWBERRY ROUND 1 FEEDBACK: The ice cream color should be less pink. Also, can we add more strawberry chunks into the ice cream for the final illustration? Could you play with the ingredient composition a bit more? It’s looking a bit empty with the space being open between the strawberry and the right-hand cookie – could you add another piece of chocolate? A smaller strawberry? Move the composition over to the right?

Strawberry Tillamookie Rd. 2 layouts

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Tillamookie

My Tillamookie Prototypes

Above are the reference photos of the Tillamookie “prototypes” (I received two of each flavor), made for me personally  by Tillamook.

My son came by as I was putting this post together. He saw the layouts on my computer screen and eagerly said , “Mom, are you illustrating more Tillamookie flavors? That would be great because I can’t wait to taste them!” 

His mom has such a cool job!

Pulling apart the Tillamookie

By the time I was done photographing those “prototype” Tillamookies, they didn’t look very appetizing. But my son said they were still quite delicious!

© Judy Unger and http://www.foodartist@wordpress.com 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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#47 LAYERS IN MY LIFE – PART 1

Pom, Cran, Blue-Sam's Club Pomegranate Berry Group

It's been awhile now since I've submitted line drawings for a job.

It’s been awhile now since I’ve submitted line drawings for a job.

Bye bye, sketches. Hello photo-comps!

Bye bye, sketches. Hello photo-comps!

When my illustration career slowed to a standstill, I blamed it on the digital age.

I did not easily embrace learning how to use the computer. But because I had time on my hands, I decided to submit my existing illustrations to stock agencies.

I purchased a decent Epson scanner and started scanning all of my watercolor paintings. I taught myself Photoshop and learned how to “stitch together” larger paintings scanned in two passes. Gradually I gained control of a stylus after erasing backgrounds and cleaning up dust spots on the hundreds of images I worked on.

With Photoshop, I was eventually able to manipulate my images in any way I desired. I’ve decided that I can call myself a “digital artist” because most of my process is done on a computer now.

My next step learning the digital process was when I created new compositions; I’ve named this “reconfiguring” and have written about it before. The challenge with “reconfiguring” was to separate a painting into layers. Any objects that were cropped and/or behind other elements had to be completed.

I looked for creative ways to fill in those blank areas. The Photoshop “clone” tool was especially useful.

It was definitely challenging to combine elements from different paintings in a natural way. I learned how to adjust light sources by moving highlight areas on a separate layer. Softening the edges of objects reduced the “cutout look.”

Shadows were very important and needed to be convincing and transparent. Over the years, I’ve improved my methods. At first, I digitally airbrushed any shadows. Now, I create a “duplicate” layer of any object with a cast shadow upon it and label that layer “shadow.” I darken it with the “levels” function in Photoshop and erase everything except for where I want the shadow to be. That way, the original layer is undisturbed.

Sometimes, I also “excised” a single image from medleys so I would have that specific image available. I share below a salsa label that was painted “traditionally” with watercolors.

Salsa Medley New Salsa

One Chili Pepper

Learning how to “reconfigure” led the way to creating photo-comps for all of my assignments moving forward. Clients seemed to really appreciate seeing layouts that were very close to my final version. This was such a change from the way I had worked in the past. I didn’t have to create marker renderings over my line drawings to indicate colors anymore.

The best part was that I could quickly email those photo-comps and make changes over and over until my client was satisfied.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is an example of my “paint over a print” process on an illustration assignment for Ready Pak.

This is an example of my “paint over a print” process on an illustration assignment for Ready Pak.

It has been four years since I’ve shared technical information on this blog. Shortly before I went on “hiatus,” I still painted with watercolors over a print based upon my photo-comp. Currently, my process is similar except that now I use colored pencils instead.

My printer is an Epson Stylus Photo R800 and I still use it to this day. Repairing it several times and keeping it filled with ink cartridges has been a small fortune!

When my photo-comp was approved, the next step was to print the image onto high quality matt paper. This became my “road map” that I would look at as I painted.

My painting began as a light print that would become an “under painting” for my final illustration. I didn’t I have to painstakingly trace and transfer a line drawing to watercolor paper anymore!

Nacho Chip Garlic & Rosemary

I prepared ahead of time the watercolor paper to use in my printer. I carefully cut large 22 x 30 sheets of 140 lb. hot-press watercolor paper into perfectly measured 8½ x 11 sheets that would fit into my printer. If they were not exactly sized right, they would get jammed.

Because I usually illustrate for packaging and my paintings are small, I seldom have worked larger than 8½ x11.

Almonds in progress

I experimented to print my image in a way that worked for me. Areas had to be very light so I could add details and work them darker. If colors were way off, it was a lot of work to adjust them with transparent watercolors. It wasn’t unusual for me to make twenty prints before I was satisfied.

This is a later “reconfigured” version.

This is a later “reconfigured” version.

It was great that the Epson inks were waterproof and did not react to my watercolors by bleeding. However, I still used frisket as a mask to keep the edges sharp and clean.

Once I had a print that was satisfactory, I lightly rubbed on the back with a damp sponge. I stapled it to a board and let it dry. Now it was stretched and ready!

With this technique, my illustration was more than 50% finished. It was an amazing timesaver and the best part was that if I needed to start over – I just made another print. I also didn’t worry about having a painting that was 100% complete. If I wanted a better leaf, I rendered it on another print and “pasted” it over digitally onto my final scan.

At this time, I submit a photo-comp and after approval I refine it far more than in the past. I can spend a lot of hours working on my computer; I often have to remind myself that once I print my image – those details will lessen.

Pear, apple & rasp

I no longer paint over a light print. I don’t miss stretching paper and stapling it to prevent wrinkles while painting.

Now I print out a far more detailed and saturated image onto excellent quality matt paper. I work over my print with Prismacolor pencils and occasionally add light touches of acrylic.

Unlike the watercolor process, my pencil work doesn’t affect tones or color very much. My goal is to add texture, eliminate detail and make the illustration less photographic overall.

I know I’m repeating myself, but there is complete irony that I began my career making paintings that resembled photos, and now I was trying to make photos look like paintings!

I far prefer illustrating a pepper like this one.

I far prefer illustrating a pepper like this one.

One of my first “digital print” projects where I switched over to colored pencil instead of watercolors was for an illustration of chipotle peppers.

The illustration was to be used on a pizza box and I had to create new art. Rarely is that required of me, since I have such an extensive library of existing food images. But now I am intimately acquainted with Chipotle peppers. They were a lot harder to illustrate than I thought.

It was because they were incredibly ugly and no actual reference existed!

Every job of mine begins with finding reference. I contacted the art director after going to a local Latino market looking for an example of chipotle peppers. I told her that I couldn’t find any actual peppers to work from. It seemed that they only existed as a picture on a can. And inside the can, those peppers were soaked in Adobo sauce. I needed something better than that to work from.

So she emailed me a picture that I will name “Pepper Corpses.”

Pepper Corpses

I couldn’t believe it – how in world would I illustrate peppers looking like that?

It was time for me to be truly creative. I remembered seeing dried peppers at a Hispanic market. I would just go back and find something “similar.” I must mention that I was also searching for reference on another assignment. I needed items of caramel, chocolate and ice cream. For a few weeks I became a supermarket sleuth! My dining room table was covered with illustration reference.

Unfortunately, the peppers I found did not really match the shape or color. Some were very tiny, long and a bright red color. Others were longer, wider and brown in color. I altered my photos and tried to match the photo of pepper corpses above. I then shot them off to the Art Director, whom I will call AD.

FIRST PEPPER REFERENCE

AD sent me back more photo reference.

Art direction

Aha! Now I was on the right track! Once again, I went back to the Hispanic market and went through all the bins of dried peppers while holding a color copy of those images above. The penny was helpful for size, but there was still nothing that matched. But I knew with Photoshop I could do wonders.

As I was walking toward the checkout line, there was another bin. Wallah! There were peppers that really seemed close to what AD wanted. Hint: They were not Chipotle.

CHIPOTLE REFERENCE CLOSER

I began my digital work and delicately erased the background and arranged the peppers into different compositions. I sent my layout choices off to the AD.Chipotle Comps

The AD picked B. But now, the color had changed. Brown or eggplant color was out and I was instructed to create something with a deep red. I created another layout on my computer.

Final Layout

My layout was approved! I felt like I saw peppers in my sleep by now. My eyes burned because I rubbed them by mistake while I was photographing the dried peppers. I forgot how potent those peppers were!

I printed out my image. Then I worked over it extensively with colored pencil, especially to soften the highlight areas that were numerous and busy. I used a colorless blender pencil and touches of acrylic for extra details.

I sprayed my artwork with a matte fixative when I was finished to smooth out the shiny areas.

Sometimes my illustrations feel very abstract when viewed as a close-up.

Sometimes my illustrations feel very abstract when viewed as a close-up.

Even with my clear photo-comp, clients can see things later on that they want changed. So revisions to final art still happen – and often. I sent off the final art and waited for a message telling me my artwork was approved and that I could send an invoice. I held my breath.

The AD sent me a message with a tiny revision. It wasn’t difficult with my computer to alter the artwork. But of course, I thought, “Why didn’t she see that sooner?”Fix

I made the small change and then I received her message below:

Judy! Client loves the work and is so thankful we talked them into illustration vs. photography. All approved!! : ) 

THANK YOU SO MUCH again for jumping on this! Shoot over your invoice and I’ll get it into accounting right away. Yippeee! 

I wrote back:

Wow! You just made my day. :) :) :) 

After illustrating peppers, I feel like I’m hot stuff. 

Judy

Chipotle Pepper Final Art

© Judy Unger and http://www.foodartist@wordpress.com 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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#46 TILLAMOOK WAS ALL IT TOOK

I began my illustration blog in 2010 and it has been four years since my last post in 2011. 

When I first began writing about my illustration career that spanned over three decades, I thought my career was pretty much over. My workload kept decreasing; for years I had few assignments and it seemed like my watercolor paintings weren’t commercially useful anymore. 

But Tillamook was all it took to inject life back into my art career. I am very excited to write for my illustration blog again so I can share stories about working for this wonderful company.

Above are some of the many illustrations of mine that adorn Tillamook yogurt labels.

Above are some of the many illustrations of mine that adorn Tillamook yogurt labels.

I have been an illustrator throughout many turbulent parts of my life. When I turned 50 in 2010, my illustration work had pretty much stopped. That was when I began writing and it restored my sanity. 

After my last post in 2011, I decided to begin a new life and separated after a long marriage. It was challenging to dismantle my large art studio so I could fit everything into a small apartment. I donated many art materials that I hadn’t used in years to schools and other artists. 

Prior to my moving, I also had cataract surgery. Many people love their “new vision” afterwards, but I had a lot of difficulty adjusting to it. I was very nearsighted all my life and later on a doctor even told that it wasn’t uncommon for the brain to have difficulty accepting implanted lenses. I had many complications from cataract surgery and the worst part was when I developed dry eye syndrome.

Tillabars All

I haven’t painted with watercolors for over five years, but working with a computer has been easy for me. I explored and expanded my digital abilities and suddenly many illustration projects began to pour in after my divorce last year. It truly was miraculous. 

In the span of my art career, I have never worked with a more wonderful company than Tillamook.

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato TillamookieFrom: Erika

Subject: Re: Shipping Tillamook Products! 

Hi Judy, 

Good news! Tillamook marketing is going to send you samples of the new Tillamook ice cream novelty products launching in 2015! Since the products have to be frozen we wanted to make sure someone would be around to get the package. Let me know what day is good for you.

Thanks, Erika

Wow, Erika – This is a first! I’ve illustrated for a long time and I don’t remember clients ever sending me the product (just the printed labels and I usually have to request them). You have no idea how much my son loved the small ice cream samples that I received in order to illustrate the Tillamookies. He’ll be very excited about this. Wednesday or Thursday of next week is best. Thank you again so much! 

Judy, that makes us so happy to hear! I will pass on your words to the rest of the team! Thank you!

Erika

Tillamookies All

Hi Erika,

I just wanted to let you know I received the shipment of Tillamook products today. Wow!!!! My son and I had a Strawberry Tillamookie for dessert tonight and it was absolutely fantastic. I was so proud to see my illustration on that label. Thank you again so much for sending me those delicious treats. How will I ever diet? I’m currently illustrating Tillamook’s Greek yogurt line with granola, so the challenges continue! 

Take care, Judy 

Judy, I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the yummy snacks! It’s the least we could do for all your help! I passed along your kind words to the rest of the team. Enjoy the rest of your treats. 

Best, Erika & Tillamook team

Tillamookie PackageFor my projects with Tillamook, I’ve worked with two different agencies: Sandstrum Partners and Flint Design. Both agencies provided clear and excellent art direction. It wasn’t as if every illustration was simple – I always did numerous rounds of layouts and final art occasionally required some changes. But as an illustrator I expect that and it is one of the reasons why I love working digitally. It’s so easy to make changes to my illustration using a computer in comparison to revising a watercolor painting. 

I have not illustrated everything for Tillamook; another illustrator has done all of their ice cream cartons before I came on board in 2012. But my work can be seen on all their yogurt labels and ice cream novelties. 

I am going to share my process and the illustrations related to those projects on separate posts later on.

Tillamook Cheese FactoryI took a trip to Oregon in April of 2015 and visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory. I also made sure to visit the two art agencies in Portland so I could meet the wonderful people I’ve worked with. 

My 18-year-old son came along to tour the cheese factory and we both were given royal treatment. First, a lovely woman named LeeAnne Mitchell gave us a fascinating tour. The quality of Tillamook’s cheese was easily apparent even before I learned how much care they put into their product.

Judy and LeeAnne

It was raining that day, so my hair was wet!

I learned a lot that day from LeeAnne. I loved seeing the “whey” cheese was made – it never o”curd” to me how complicated the cheese-making process was. 

My son and I were treated to a complimentary lunch. He said his Mac ‘n Cheese was the best one he had ever tasted (the sauce was made with sharp garlic cheese). LeeAnne even scooped ice cream out for us so we didn’t have to wait in line!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not my best food photography, but it does give a good depiction of the amount of cheese there.

I was excited to see my illustrations printed on Tillamook labels; there were many that I hadn’t seen printed before. My son took a picture of me examining the yogurt and ice cream novelties.

Judy with yogurt case

Tillabar CaseThe following day, I visited Flint Design and Sandstrum Partners. I started at Flint Design. The building was in the Pearl District of Portland and it was a very quaint area. I snapped a picture of their door before entering.

Flint doorCatherine Healy was the owner of the agency and we had a lot to talk about. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to meet the art director I worked most closely with, Amy Vaughn. Unfortunately she was out that day due to a death in her family.

But I did get to meet another favorite art director, Jeff Geisinger. I was touched when he handed me a stack of printed labels; I love having printed samples of my artwork. Years ago, I used to cut labels out and mount them on black boards to send to my artist representatives.

In this picture I’m with Jeff Geisinger and Catherine Healy from Flint Design.

In this picture I’m with Jeff Geisinger and Catherine Healy from Flint Design.

I told Jeff how upset I was when I discovered that my son had ripped open the ice cream boxes Tillamook had sent me. My son didn’t know that I wanted to preserve those boxes. When I told him that I wished he had asked my permission, I was greeted with a blank look and statement of, “It wasn’t for me – I wanted to share it with my friend!”

I have nice samples now!

I have nice samples now!

Well thankfully, I have a sense of humor about these things. And now that Jeff gave me those pristine flat labels to save, all is well.

Of course, I don’t need to mount them on black boards anymore. Those days of sending portfolio additions to my artist reps are long over.

I left Flint Design and drove my rental car through Portland to find Sandstrum Partners.  While I was waiting, I snapped a few pictures inside their offices.

Sandstrum OfficeThe owner of the agency, Steve Sandstrum, chatted with me until he had to take a conference call. I enjoyed having coffee with Lauren French whom I had worked with closely only two weeks ago on a Greek Yogurt/Granola line of labels. Unfortunately, another favorite art director of mine, Kay Zerr, wasn’t able to be there that day because she was at a press check.

Sandstrum-Judy, Lauren & SteveI saw displays of my illustrations on products at both agencies. It was very cool!

Yogurt Samples All

Packages on wallAt this moment in time, I can share the good news that my illustration career isn’t really over. 

From the time I began my career as an illustrator, I worked very hard in order to make it. I strived to “get there” and I’m not sure even where I actually wanted to go.

This is such a stark difference to my current situation because now I feel like I’ve arrived. 

And the place where I am is a wonderful place to be!

Judy & Lauren

Nectarine Direction

Nectarine Final

Nectarine close up

Rasp Granola Direction

Raspberry Layout

Raspberry Oat Final Art

Blueberry Almond Final Art

Strawberry Oat Final Art

© Judy Unger and http://www.foodartist@wordpress.com 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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#45 A MEDLEY OF PORTFOLIO ILLUSTRATIONS

I have enjoyed sharing about my illustration career. On this blog there are almost 2,000 images. This will be my last post as I am concentrating on writing a book based on my life entitled, “Music From Her Heart.”

I find the blog format fascinating, as my stories about my illustration career “unfolded” in their own way. I had no idea when I started writing my blog where it would go.

All of my stories, tips and information move forward from the first post. Therefore, because the blog’s format is backwards, this last entry has become the conclusion! However, because it is the “Home Page,” it is important for me to explain a few things that I have shared earlier in my blog. There are people reading this who have not seen anything else I’ve written.

I have already shared many of my “Portfolio Pieces,” but they have been scattered and it seemed like a great way to end my blog by putting them all together on this “Home Page.” For those who are not familiar with my painting techniques, most of my illustrations are completed with Dr. Martin’s dyes. I also use Prismacolor pencils and Badger acrylics for details. Some of my illustrations are done using only Admarkers (with pencil and acrylic, also) such as the Banana Split below.

A NEW BEGINNING FOR ME

From the time I graduated college until the present time, I considered myself an illustrator. My career suited me perfectly, because I was able to balance many things in addition to being an artist.

At times, being an illustrator was very stressful. There was a lot of “performance anxiety,” that went along with ridiculous deadlines and the pressure to please many people involved in projects. Often I worked with people who all disagreed with one another and gave me conflicting art direction!

However, I was always reliable and tried hard to do my best. I improved over the three decades that I was an illustrator.

I reached a pinnacle and felt very competent illustrating food, florals, and any still life object I could find reference for.

And then it was over. It was not my choice; it was just that there were very few calls for work anymore. That was not a bad thing.

When something ends, it also means that something begins. For me something wonderful began.

I discovered how much I loved sharing what I’ve learned with other people.

It has given me a lot of purpose and meaning to write about those lessons in my life. On this blog, I write about those lessons from being an illustrator, and on my other blog www.myjourneysinsight.com I write about other “life lessons” due to some of the many challenges I have faced.

I was very blessed to have had such a wonderful career as an illustrator!

ON MY PAINTING, I AM VISIBLE HOLDING A CAMERA IN THE REFLECTION ON THIS BOTTLE.

I LOVE THE TEXTURES AND COLORS OF THIS PAINTING.

PORTFOLIO ILLUSTRATIONS

When people see any of the illustrations in my portfolio I am often asked this question: “These paintings look like photographs? Why not just take a picture instead?”

Here is my answer:

1. Using an illustrator was often cheaper than photography. (No stylist, retouching, photo-shoots required). Sometimes the products did not even exist yet to photograph.

2. It was much easier to fit an illustration into the design of a packaging label.

3. And this was my favorite answer: I liked to think that my paintings were more than just a photograph. They were idealistic, because I attempted to make my images look exciting – shinier, more brilliant and more perfect. I tried to achieve this through the use of color, contrast and simple composition.

When I graduated college, I had no idea that I would specialize and become a “food illustrator.” However, I did have two pieces in my portfolio that steered me in that direction. One I called, “Vegetable Medley.” For some reason, I liked using the word “medley” to name many of my portfolio pieces. The other was a black and white painting of liquid pouring into a glass.

I DID PERFECT MY WATER DROPLETS LATER ON IN MY CAREER.

My portfolio was initially about sharing my best paintings. That never changed throughout my career; it was always more important than proving I had published work.

Therefore, my definition of a “Portfolio Piece” was a painting that would showcase and sell my abilities as an illustrator. It needed to be something that depicted my “strengths” and displayed what I could do best.

I kept my portfolio simple and didn’t show anything that might be detrimental – even though art directors were notorious in wanting to see examples of something close to a job they were looking for. Most illustrators know that clients often lack imagination about making a leap in subject matter.

Statements like these made me laugh and I heard them so often!

“I see you have a chocolate bar, but do you have any examples of melted chocolate?”

“I see you have tortilla chips, but can you do potato chips?”

“You’ve done cold cereal, but can you do hot cereal?”

Artist representatives told me only to share portfolio pieces of the work I wanted to do. That was perplexing at times because I had some nice paintings of beverages, but didn’t really want to illustrate them under a lot of time pressure (they are VERY complex). I demonstrated that I could do lettering on products, but always hated that part of illustrating.

When I began my career, I used to take my portfolio to appointments with local art directors. I painted two of what would probably be the most important paintings to guide my style of illustrating. It was my Nestle Crunch bar and Coca Cola glass. Those paintings opened up a lot of doors for me.

I had done the lettering by hand on both of them, and in the advertising domain it was not considered “perfect” enough. I had to find a way to create perfect lettering.

Eventually, I did.

After that, I indulged myself to create paintings that truly allowed me to explore what I loved through textures, colors, and contrast. I used my own photography as my reference and painted a “Portfolio Piece” every year or two. My purpose for these paintings would be to use them for self-promotion.

Because I was usually busy with assignments coming in, I wasn’t always that motivated to paint something for which I wouldn’t be paid. However, it was important for me to advertise almost every year in a “Source Book” for art directors to see my work.

Below are some examples of my ads that were very useful for gaining credibility with art directors and for getting jobs:

THIS WAS MY VERY FIRST AD (THE WORKBOOK). IT WAS VERY EXPENSIVE FOR ME. AT THAT TIME, IT COST ABOUT $3,500.

I RECEIVED A LOT OF COMPLIMENTS ON MY ADS DESIGN. I LEARNED HOW IT WAS FAR MORE INTERESTING TO “CHANGE UP” THE LETTERING ON MY NAME, AS WELL AS TO USE OTHER SHAPES BESIDES RECTANGLES. I PAID THE DESIGNER $400 FOR HER SERVICES.

THIS WAS MY LAST AD IN THE WORKBOOK. I DESIGNED IT MYSELF AND INCORPORATED THE NICE LETTERING FROM A DESIGNER’S PRIOR AD.

Painting portfolio pieces helped create colorful advertisements  that showcased my style. Printed job examples were also important, but they were never as impressive as something that I created to please myself.

I still have boxes of the expensive ads that I had printed. There is no need for me to do time consuming “envelope stuffing” anymore. The Internet is a far easier way for an art director to find me, and most of the places I used to mail my samples to have gone out of business.

I did design my own ads for many years, but with success I decided that even the ad design needed to be more professional. Because I was never very comfortable with graphic design, I hired a designer for the last six ads that I did. It made a huge difference. I always had admiration for designers, and even more so after that because I saw what an improvement it was over my own “boring” placement of images.

My postcard promotion with my Snicker’s and Nestlé’s candy bars was also very helpful for my career. It was often easier to share a postcard than a larger tearsheet.

So much of what I have shared is not relevant in today’s career marketplace. I don’t know if there will be more projects for me “down the road.” Working digitally is certainly much faster and easier on my eyes.

For me, my journey into becoming an artist started when I was very young. I do not believe that talent alone guarantees success.

My passion to do my best is what truly guided me.

I continue to do that now as I pursue writing and music.

ICE BECOMES VERY “ABSTRACT” WHEN ILLUSTRATED UP CLOSE!

THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF MY HAND LETTERING USING WHITE GUACHE AND A TINY BRUSH.

SINCE I HAND LETTERED, MY SKETCH NEEDED TO BE VERY ACCURATE. I WAS VERY GOOD AT TRACING.

MY PHOTO REFERENCE FOR THE COCA COLA CAN.

THIS WAS PAINTED USING CUSTOM, RUB DOWN LETTERS AS A MASK. I CUT AWAY AREAS OF DROPLETS WHERE THE LETTER CONTOURS WERE ALTERED.

I PAINTED THE ICE USING MANY VARIETIES OF BROWN.

I LOVED CREATING THE REFLECTION OF THE MELON IN THE SUNGLASSES.

I FELT LIKE A KID SETTING UP MY PHOTO REFERENCE IN A SANDBOX!

IT WAS FUN PUTTING THIS SANDWICH TOGETHER!

I LIKED THIS IMAGE SO MUCH AS A MARKER SKETCH, THAT I DID IT AGAIN MUCH TIGHTER WITH THE MARKERS.

I DID BEGIN PAINTING THIS IMAGE, BUT DECIDED I PREFERRED WORKING WITH MARKERS INSTEAD. THE WHIPPED CREAM IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF HOW I INCORPORATE MANY COLORS EVEN INTO SOMETHING THAT IS WHITE.

MY PHOTO REFERENCE TO PAINT MY NESTLE CRUNCH BAR.

I STARTED OVER WHEN I WASNT SATISFIED WITH THE WATERCOLOR PAPER. IT WAS DEFECTIVE, AND THAT SOMETIMES HAPPENED. AFTER THAT, I ALWAYS TESTED THE PAPER BEFORE I BEGAN.

MY PHOTO REFERENCE FOR THE BRACH CANDY MEDLEY ILLUSTRATION.

A TOOTHBRUSH WAS ALWAYS HANDY WHEN I NEEDED TO “SPATTER” A TEXTURE.

SKETCH FOR MY FLOWER MEDLEY ILLUSTRATION.

TO CREATE THE PHOTOGRAPH FOR MY “FRUIT STRIPE” PAINTING I ENDED UP WITH A LOT OF LEFTOVER FRUIT!

ITS HARD TO APPRECIATE HOW LONG THIS PAINTING IS. I WORK FAIRLY SMALL AND IT WAS ABOUT TWO FEET LONG.

THIS IS ACTUALLY A “STOCK IMAGE” I CREATED DIGITALLY BY MOVING PARTS AROUND FROM MY EXTREMELY HORIZONTAL FRUIT PAINTING.

THIS CANTALOUPE TEXTURE WAS A CHALLENGE!


MY PHOTO-REFERENCE FOR DESSERT MEDLEY. I DID FOLLOW IT RATHER CLOSELY.

I USED A LOT OF DELICATE COLORS IN THE WHIPPED CREAM, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS “WHITE.”

I USED THIS PHOTO TO CREATE “RUB-DOWN” LETTERING THAT WAS MORE PERFECT FOR MY PAINTING. THE RUBDOWN LETTERS WERE ONLY USED AS A MASK, AND LATER ON REMOVED.

© Judy Unger and http://www.foodartist@wordpress.com 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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#44 SOME UNUSUAL AND USUAL ILLUSTRATIONS, PART 3

A CLOSEUP OF A "RECONFIGURED" DIGITAL PAINTING.

For this post, I have an assortment of jobs that range from early in my career to very recent. On the most recent assignment, I am proud to say it was completed digitally and no original artwork exists. Of course, I did not “paint from scratch” on my computer, but I created my image by assembling elements scanned from prior illustrations and “reconfigured” to match in a unified composition.

Usually I work chronologically, but I prefer to start with this recent job. When assembling images from different paintings, unifying my painting is very important for me. Painting over a print certainly helps to “unify” or pull all the elements together so they don’t look like they were painted separately. This job was not “painted over.”

On the computer, I always make sure all the elements have the same light source and I create shadows to help tie everything together, just as if I had painted my illustration on paper.

About a year ago, I created several illustrations for a supermarket, Price Chopper, Inc. It was exciting for me to know that I embraced the computer after so many years. I received a nice note from the art director, and that’s sweet to share also.

MY FINAL, DIGITAL ARTWORK WITH THE TYPE FOR THE LABEL IN POSITION. I NOTICED IT WAS POSITIONED DIFFERENTLY ON THE PRINTED LABEL BELOW!

THE PRINTED LABELS HAVE LOST A LOT OF DETAIL FROM THE ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATION.

I DID A FEW OTHER LABELS FOR THIS COMPANY.

I have illustrated a lot of dried fruit packaging. Below are ones from an early assignment with General Foods followed by some “Fruit Dinosaurs.”

THIS WAS A MARKER COMP. THE COMP WAS GLUED TO ACETATE AND DIFFERENT COLORED BACKGROUNDS COULD BE INSERTED BEHIND IT.

I FOLLOWED THE ART DIRECTOR'S SKETCH CLOSELY.

MY MARKER COMP.

Early in my career, I received a large assignment for General Foods. It consisted of several illustrations of Fruit Rollup packaging, with two accompanying landscape/crate illustrations. The landscapes were for a “point of purchase” in the store where the dried fruit products would be sold. The art direction was clear as I followed the art director’s sketch very closely.

The landscapes were interesting because they were inserted into another illustration, which needed to resemble a wooden crate. I used markers to create the wood texture on a separate illustration. The landscapes themselves were enjoyable. I loved painting the sunrise and sunset skies so much, that I continued to collect photo reference of those images for many years after.

MY ORIGINAL, JOB LAYOUT FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT.

THESE PRINTED TEARSHEETS SHOW THE WOOD CRATE TEXTURE I ALSO ILLUSTRATED.

One thing I have often lamented, is that I always find great reference “after the fact” when I would have loved having it for a certain job. When I was truly “stuck” while searching for reference, I sometimes used a local company called Warner Research, which the movie studios also used for printed items. An example of something I was looking for once was an image of a banana tree and a camel!

I have been gathering photo reference for thirty years, so I have a rather extensive collection. It consists mostly of food images, but also many other photos that might have been useful for prior jobs if I’d only found them sooner. Examples would be holiday related items, hands, landscapes, and many other still-life subjects.

I received jobs throughout my career that were not food related. The most important part for me on any job was obtaining good reference I could follow.

When I did an illustration for Sparklett’s, I was driving around my neighborhood looking for brick walls that had cracks. Once again, a lot of preliminary work was helpful and the job went smoothly.

PURCHASE ORDER.

JOB LAYOUT FOR AN ILLUSTRATION OF A CRUMBLING, BRICK WALL.

AN EXAMPLE OF MY PHOTO REFERENCE. I LIVE IN NORTHRIDGE AND THERE WAS PLENTY OF CRACKED WALLS TO LOOK AT DUE TO THE '94 EARTHQUAKE!

A GOOD EXAMPLE OF MY MARKER COMP "IN PROGRESS." I MUST HAVE SUBMITTED SOMETHING ELSE.

A TEARSHEET WITH THE FINAL ILLUSTRATION.

The current FSI inserts in the Sunday newspaper do not carry illustrations very often anymore. Everything is very bland and boring for me, as I look to see if there are any exciting illustrations. Photoshop has truly replaced the need for the style of illustration that was once widespread.

A few years ago, I created a marker comp for a design agency of an agricultural scene. I did not spend much time creating the comp – perhaps only a few hours. However, the subject matter was very useful for me to have. Because the sky on my marker comp wasn’t too exciting, I experimented digitally and utilized the sunrise sky from my General Foods assignment. Of course, I needed to reflect the sky into the winding river, and that was also easy to do on my computer. I also inserted another sky with clouds.

MY MARKER COMP WITH THE SKY AND MOUNTAINS I CREATED IN A FEW HOURS. I DID GO OVER THE COMP WITH COLORED PENCIL AND ACRYLIC.

I worked with the same designer on some illustrations for Parmalat (milk in a box), and created two, marker comps with breakfast scenes. I’ve always enjoyed working with markers because the looser style helps me to feel more like I’m a “true” illustrator!

I created an illustration for “Professional Write Software” and it involved photographing my husband’s watch, a sandwich, a cup of soda, and inserting a box of the software packaging. I used custom, rubdown letters for the packaging that were made from my photographs. I loved the straw’s reflection in the soda! The watch dial was definitely a challenge.

I HAD NO IDEA THAT LATER ON THAT SANDWICH HAD OTHER USES!

Years later, I modified the painting so that it could be “more generic” and useful for stock purposes. I was not utilizing the computer yet for digital techniques – which is ironic since I created images of computer items. I worked with markers to create a mouse and mouse pad and then cut the paper and glued it over the other illustrations.

I HAD TO WRITE ON THE MEMO IN PERSPECTIVE WITH A PENCIL.

I have shared both versions – I don’t have a scan of the original painting with the Pro-Write package, but I did have a tearsheet.

I wrote earlier about a menu that I illustrated for Spires restaurants. I found some of the menu’s interior illustrations. These images depict the bright and simple dye technique I used early in my career. There was less photorealism, and the images translated nicely when they were reduced. For the examples below, I simply scanned an old menu – which I had taken from the restaurant because I could not get any samples!


Two of my old projects came together for me on one of my few ventures into the world of licensing and fabric. I was only paid an advance of a few hundred dollars to have at least twenty of my illustrations utilized to create fabric designs with a “deli theme.” The fabric was not a big seller.

MY DELI FABRIC - IT DID MAKE A GREAT APRON!

Five years later, I was told that a manufacturer was interested in making towels and potholders from the fabric; however, I would not be paid for the use of that fabric. If I chose to let them go ahead with the project, my compensation would be twenty sets of towels, potholders, aprons, napkins and tablecloths.

THESE FRENCH FRIES CAME FROM THE SPIRES MENU FRIES.

WOULD YOU EAT THESE BURGERS OR EVEN WEAR THEM?

THIS SURE LOOKS FAMILIAR TO ME!

THIS IS NOT HOW I ENVISION MY WATER DROPLETS SHOULD LOOK! WHAT HAPPENED TO THE HIGHLIGHT?

I decided to allow for it. I enjoyed seeing my artwork on towels! However, when I ran out of the twenty, I had to pay for more. I did that because I felt that it was such a great gift idea for me one year!

Below is a fruit juice label. There’s not much for me to write except the cherries were an “add on” to some other illustrations that were used to create a flavor “medley.”

However, I am sharing these “cropped illustrations” to once again state how sorry I was that the fruit wasn’t completely painted. I wanted to enlarge the peach to indicate how colored pencil was helpful to create the “fuzzy texture” that I was looking for.

THESE FRUIT ILLUSTRATIONS WERE CREATED TO BE USED ON JARS OF JAMS.

THIS IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF A PEACH THAT I MADE "FUZZY" USING COLORED PENCIL OVER THE DYE PAINTING.

I painted three illustrations for a large company where I signed a confidentiality waiver. Since the agency involved is out of business, I’ve decided I could share the illustrations. However, I won’t share invoices, etc. and I’ve cropped the product name off.

There were three, basic flavors of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Below are the job layouts, line drawings, and comps. Those share the process of creating my final paintings, of which I only have a color copy.

JOB LAYOUT.

MARKER COMP FOR THE STRAWBERRY FLAVOR.

A SCAN OF THE FINAL ART TAKEN FROM A COLOR COPY.

LAYOUT FOR THE VANILLA FLAVOR.

THE MARKER COMP HAD TWO, SMALL ORCHIDS AND THE FINAL ART BECAME ONE, LARGER ORCHID.

LAYOUT FOR CHOCOLATE FLAVOR.

IT WAS INTERESTING TO COME UP WITH SO MANY COMPOSITIONS OF CHOCOLATE CURLS. THE CLIENT ENDED UP WANTING A "SQUARE" IN THERE ALSO!

THESE CURLS LOOKED TOO BRITTLE, ALTHOUGH I WAS INSTRUCTED TO ORIGINALLY PAINT THEM THAT WAY.

A SCAN OF THE FINAL ART TAKEN FROM A COLOR COPY. THE CURLS ARE NOW "SMOOTH."

On this project, I had a “paid revision” because it was decided on the final painting that the chocolate curls were preferred to be smooth instead of “striated.” I followed instructions and always hated when the final art was completed with a change of mind. Especially when I created a color comp that clearly showed what the illustration would look like!

The very last image I want to share is a digital one that I created for a friend. It is an illustration of her Maltese and I used Photoshop filters and worked over a print. It was a lot of fun and certainly a lot less time than if I had rendered it from a plain, white sheet of watercolor paper!

I no longer lament that I don’t have the tactile sensation of holding a paintbrush anymore. I am far more passionate about the other things in my life, which include music and writing. I have embraced the computer as a wonderful, efficient, timesaving tool.

Creativity can be found in life and one should never rely on technical aspects to be of the most importance. I became technically proficient perhaps, but it is what is inside my heart that is most important for me at this juncture in my life.

A CLOSE UP.

© Judy Unger and www.foodartist@wordpress.com 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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#43 ILLUSTRATING YOGURT MADE ME CULTURED, PART 2

Some printed examples of my labels.

For this post about yogurt, I am sharing the illustrations that I did for Darigold. Each group of fruit that I illustrated was mirrored and used on another part of the label. Probably the most challenging flavor to illustrate was the plain yogurt – a white dollop on a spoon!

Plain yogurt flavor for Darigold (Final art is from a color copy). I did have the marker comp and it had more detail to share. It was also somewhat yellow.

Since I have most of the original paintings for this project, I have provided many close-ups. Certain flavors required more design development and my line drawings indicate how the illustration was cropped.

All of my yogurt paintings (with the exception of the cottage cheese ones for Crowley’s) were created using watercolor/dyes. I sometimes added colored pencil for more detail. Acrylic was always used to create “peel textures” and strawberry hives. Friskit (the peeling kind) was used to create crisp and clean edges between the elements. I also masked my work to prevent smudges or imperfections.

Peach flavor for Darigold.

A close-up of the peach texture. Pink and white colored pencil helpful create the fuzzy texture.

Cherry Vanilla flavor for Darigold.

Key Lime Pie flavor for Darigold. It is a very popular flavor.

Strawberry Banana flavor for Darigold. I have illustrated a lot of cut bananas, and "delicacy" of strokes is definitely required!

Below are examples of the different kinds of leaves for this project. Because these illustrations were so small, I did not make them “super realistic.” I did always keep in mind the color of the fruit next to the leaf. I would incorporate that color into the shadows, as well as the leaf I was illustrating.

I hardly require reference anymore in order to paint most leaves anymore. I have painted so many that I could do them from memory. I never thought that would happen for me!

Strawberry flavor for Darigold.

A close-up of a strawberry leaf and stem. I like the droplet showing the hive underneath it.

A close up of the strawberry hives. I like the little droplet on top. I learned later on how to add droplets to the contours of objects.

Cherry flavor for Darigold.

A close-up of a cherry leaf.

Blackberry flavor for Darigold.

Marion berry flavor for Darigold. It is also called "Huckleberry," I learned.

A huckleberry leaf.

Raspberry flavor for Darigold

A close-up of raspberry leaves and stems. The center stem usually has spikes and hairs on it.

I began my freelance career right out of college in 1981. I was an illustrator for thirty years. I have enjoyed sharing about my art career on this blog.

On my other blog, myjourneysinsight.com, I share about my passionate love of music and writing. Sometimes there is a “crossover.” Just for fun, I thought I’d share my dialog (in blue) with a few friends regarding the pun choice for this post. I have always loved puns.

To my friends:  I am writing a post for my art blog on Yogurt. Here is what I have so far: ILLUSTRATING YOGURT MADE ME CULTURED. If anyone has any better pun ideas for me – please share!

I like the title, though I wonder if your culture was ACTIVE enough. Of course illustrated art is pretty GREEK to me, and I’m not RUSSIAN to take it up at this late date, HONEY. Susan

Ps. Don’t give me any RASPBERRIES about this!

Wow, Susan, great puns. I just got CREAMED! I like active – that is possible a good addition for me. Maybe I’ll do: “I was actively illustrating yogurt when I became cultured.”

If the yogurt is good enough, I say Clean YO PLAIT!  On the other hand, I can see that I might soon SOUR on these puns. Susan

I am letting out a blood CURDling scream because these puns are so bad!

Well, if that’s the WHEY you feel about it. Susan

I know I feel that way because it’s a “COTTAGE” industry. I’m a “KNUD SON of a bitch.” I can’t believe I just wrote such a bad pun!

You guys are MILKing this subject for all it’s worth! Carol

I DAIRY you to come up with another one!

There’s no TOPPING that! Sam

I’m afraid I LACTO the enzymes to DIGEST all these puns. Susan

Oh, CHEESES, you’re really making me work for this one! Carol

I don’t know how everyone has been able to keep CHURNing these puns out! DANNON it! I am so tired from blogging on this post that I am going to go eat something. It will definitely not be yogurt or cottage cheese!

Estimate for Darigold.

© Judy Unger and www.foodartist@wordpress.com 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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#42 ILLUSTRATING YOGURT MADE ME CULTURED, PART 1

I have illustrated many flavors of yogurt for different companies over the course of my art career. I had so many images that I decided to break this up into two posts.

What was fascinating for me about illustrating yogurt, were the “trends” I encountered. I illustrated some unusual flavors and often more than once! I even illustrated packages for companies that were competitors.

It always seemed to me that associating a yogurt flavor with a dessert or something fattening was certainly a TRICK! I have yet to taste that “pie crust” or anything remotely as delicious as the “deceptive illustrations” I put on those labels!

However, it didn’t stop me from doing those jobs and was quite educational. I actually learned how “Key Lime Pie” wasn’t supposed to be green the way I had illustrated it prior to illustrating it for Publix Supermarkets. That was because Key Limes grew in Florida close to where Publix was located. They wanted their pie more accurately portrayed!

I am going to share some yogurt lines from three companies, although I illustrated many others. It was very hard to share the illustrations for which I only had color photocopies. On those lines of illustrations (Crowley’s and Publix), I grouped them smaller. I figured the gist of the concept and design was still conveyed.

There was no way that the yogurt tasted like this!

A close up of the cinnamon roll texture.
A close up of the cinnamon roll texture.

I did have a transparency of an illustration of a cinnamon roll (deceptive yogurt flavor!) I share it as a larger version with a close-up to show the texture. I used a toothbrush to add the stipple effect indicating cinnamon. I used liquid friskit to create “white” highlights, and tried to create many varieties of brown.

When I illustrated yogurt for Crowley’s Foods, it was part of an extensive assignment that also included many varieties of cottage cheese, sour cream, and even orange juice. I became very close with the art director and enjoyed our working relationship very much.

This was a wonderful, purchase order to come across. Sigh – those were the days!
I see on this line drawing that I saved a lot of work not completing the fruit. I regret it, though.I illustrated over sixteen flavors of yogurt where I cropped the illustrations. My line drawing of peaches above, shows that I saved some work by not completing all the fruit. However, I regret that a lot. Although it saved me time, unfortunately, cropping the illustrations didn’t allow for flexibility of different usage on a label later on. If the fruit were completed, I could have reconfigured the illustrations to utilize in my stock illustration library.
There were also some other challenges, particularly when illustrating pineapples. The crown had to be shortened to fit the label’s perimeters better, which looked a bit strange to me.The job layout for Crowley’s cottage cheese label was too “blue.” My photo reference was very pink when I pasted it together to create a “photo comp.
Solving the texture of cottage cheese was challenging, but the preliminary comps and practice paid off. I decided that the best way to capture the texture of the curds was to use marker and colored pencil. I put my translucent, marker paper over my photograph on a light table. I added the light gray marker tones and used colored pencil to add delicate definition. It worked! Unfortunately, I didn’t have any examples of my final illustrations.
I inserted my marker comp. I liked the technique and it's "forgiveness." I'm fairly certain I used markers for the final painting.

Another marker comp for this illustration. Pasting my comp in position was important.

Above the two, marker comps for this illustration show my marker sketch pasted in position. That was important.

There were several types of sour cream to render and those were fun because of the colorful products using the sour cream as an accompaniment. I am sharing one with cantaloupe. I did another two illustrations of a dollop of sour cream on a taco and a baked potato. Below is the art director’s layout and my marker comp. I didn’t have any examples of the final art on this either.This was the art director's concept. I illustrated several flavors of sour cream - this was a pretty illustration to render.

This is my marker sketch for the sour cream. I did not have any copies of final art.

Later on, I was contacted by Crowley’s to do some additional illustrations. Those later illustrations were done with “full bleed,” as I no longer cropped any of my illustrations any more. I noticed how I illustrated the Key Lime Pie very green for them!

A group of only a small portion of later flavors that were done for Crowley's yogurt. This company is based on the East coast.

The group above is only a small portion of later flavors that I did for Crowley’s yogurt.I couldn't help but fix my photo reference (I took away the background). My photo gave me the information I needed to make my painting more realistic. It didn't hurt to have a few candies nearby to eat and look at while I was working!

I am sharing my photo reference, which I couldn’t help but fix (I took away the background). My photo gave me the information I needed to make my painting more realistic. It didn’t hurt to have a few candies nearby to eat and look at while I was working!

Pina Colada was a common flavor. Even though I had only a color copy, there was enough detail on it for me to show it larger. I was used to illustrating cut pineapples and I have illustrated them cut vertically, as well as horizontally.  To capture the texture on a coconut, I used a crowquill with acrylic.

An example of a “repetitive, unusual flavor” would be white chocolate raspberry. I have actually illustrated that flavor numerous times for different companies!

Prices for my yogurt label illustrations ranged from $1,000 – $2,000 per illustration. I have included estimates and invoices on some of my projects.

Ironically, I eventually painted groups of fruit later on for Crowley’s that were used on “Multi-pack” labels.  It turned out that there was a lot more fruit to paint since it wasn’t “cropped!” Those illustrations thankfully paid more! I illustrated approximately, four multi-pack labels and had transparencies of two of them, as well as examples of the printed labels. My illustration reflects the strange shape where the blueberries had a space for the type to go!

My illustrations definitely improved upon the layout!
I can share a thank you note from the art director at Crowley’s. Crowley’s was based in upstate New York and the art director, Randy, relocated to the state of Washington and worked for Westfarm Foods. Later on, he contacted me to work on an assignment for Darigold through his new position at Westfarm. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to work together again!

Working with Randy was always a pleasure. I still get a Christmas card from him every year, even though he is now with a different company.

Working with Randy was always a pleasure. I still get a Christmas card from him every year, even though he is now with a different company.

Below are a medley of my illustrations for Publix Supermarkets, based in Lakeland, Florida. Putting all those illustrations together makes them look adorable!

I included my line drawings to demonstrate the importance of designing and indicating how my illustration would fit on the label. Of course, it should be obvious from my scans that I used a photocopier prior to using a computer!

In my file cabinet, I have a lot of magazine clippings for photo reference. I probably have several hundred images of pumpkin pie because I find it so appealing! That was helpful for this particular design.

It was a challenge to come up with this flavor. I always was curious which one the art director would choose!
Banana berry yogurt. I loved illustrating the "huckleberry!"
On this flavor “banana berry yogurt,” I loved illustrating the “huckleberry!”

A really “deceptive” flavor for me and quite imaginative was “Wild Berry Crumb Cake Yogurt.” Just thinking about it, did make me hungry. It was fun to create the photograph for this flavor. My photo wasn’t that appetizing, but it still gave me the information I found helpful for my illustration! The client did not want any dripping, for sure!

I couldn’t help but try to enhance this photo. It was very dark and not easy to paint from. I did work from several photos, and the information for the crumb/sugar texture was very important for my painting.

© Judy Unger and www.foodartist@wordpress.com 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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