Keeping Busy + Adventures in Shrinking Plastic

What I’ve been working on:

1. New patterns for my Spoonflower store (these are still being proofed so this is a sneaky peek) —

surface pattern design by cynthia bauzon arre

2. A new wedding invitation set featuring stylish animals —

(You can see all the elements of the entire collection here)

3. More custom couple cartoons. (Nothing to show here yet as they’re still in the drafts stage but I’ll update the other blog once the drawings have been finalized.)

And as you may have seen on my Instagram feed,

4. Shrink plastic jewelry

I’ve been wanting to make accessories for the longest time. In fact I have an unused box full of jewelry findings hoarded from the Kamuning Market when we were planning our wedding… yes, it’s been that long! However, there’s so much competition and I didn’t know what I could do that would showcase what I can do best so i focused on other things. Until I discovered shrinky dinks — thanks to wedding blogging actually. Some of my brides would talk about shrinky-dinking stuff and I was all like “shrinky-WHAT-ing?”1 After much Googling and Youtube-ing I learned that specially made plastic can shrink into a harder & thicker version of itself if you stick it in a regular toaster oven. A little light bulb lit up in my head — what if I shrink my illustrations and make them into few-of-a-kind jewelry charms? Of course I still had no idea then that I was already late to the game and that there’s already a whole movement devoted to shrink plastic jewelry on Etsy. [insert embarrassed emoji here] Still, I ordered a pack of Shrinky Dinks sheets from Amazon. That would take at least a week to arrive and I couldn’t wait anymore so when I learned that I can also shrink #6 plastic (essentially, plastic used for take-out containers) and yay, we had one on hand2, I did this experiment, again documented on Instagram.

My shrinky dink-brand sheets (as well as a few unbranded ones) arrived in late December but I couldn’t play with them until this week. I got several types — white, clear, rough and ready – so I tried different combinations. Frosted sheets with colored pencils, white with sharpies. Here’s what came out of that experiment.

In the photo below you can see how big the original artwork is compared to the miniature version. You’ll notice that this time I printed my vector illustrations directly on the plastic sheet.

shrinkydinks jewelry

Some pieces already look good but I have yet to perfect shrinking the plastic without forming dents in the miniatures. This is all still a work in progress and I will update you once I come up with designs that I am completely happy with.

UPDATE: I made a YouTube video of how I make my shrink art pins!

  1. Not sure if art schools here are using it now but I’ve never encountered the stuff.[ back]
  2. it had cake on it which I quickly, um, got rid off [ back]
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How I make digital graphics and choose color schemes

I first published this tutorial of sorts in my blog for Poptastic Tees1 but I accidentally deleted that entire site a couple of years ago. Too depressed to attempt reconstructing 5 years worth of blog posts, I dismissed it as fate and let it be.  Last night I found a set of graphics illustrating my work process step-by-step and thought of rewriting just that one post since it might be helpful and worth sharing.

So this is one of my patterns — “Retro Robots” — as seen on a Macbook sleeve c/o Zazzle.

 

I will now describe how I make almost all of my digital graphics. Sorry about the ugly watermarks.

1. This step you already know: make doodles! Here are my robots.
retro robots by cynthia bauzon arre

2. Next step: scanning and making vector versions using Adobe Illustrator.
vectorize

The bottom row shows my robots in their “cleaned up” vector state but still raw and outlined. You’ll see that they’re simply made up of basic shapes like circles and squares with rounded corners that I just tweaked, duplicated, and assembled together to make robot-like forms based on my doodles. On hindsight, I should have just vectorized the drawings instead of constructing clean versions since the actual doodles look sillier and funnier!

3. Here’s where the fun starts — adding color to the finished graphics. I like to use a palette of 4 or 5 colors only to give the design a cohesive and somewhat retro look. For color scheme formulating help, you can turn to a tool like Adobe Color CC‘s color wheel where you can make combos to your hearts’ content. (This blog post has a list of free tools for choosing a color scheme.)

choosing a color scheme

This nautical inspired colorway was my initial try. #meh

robots by cynthia bauzon arre

My second attempt was more successful, imho. I liked how the subdued colors made the robots look vintagey.

4. Time to play!

retro robots cynthia bauzon arre

Now my vector robots can be imported into Photoshop and arranged in several ways to make images for kiddie t-shirts or patterns for surface designing. 🙂

* See these robots in action in my shop Funky Patterns and on fabric / wallpaper in Spoonflower.

  1.  the old t-shirt store a.k.a. our first foray into online selling [ back]
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On custom couple illustrations…

custom couple vector illustration

A custom couple illustration + wedding invite design for my friend Nyel and her hubby Val. (Photo by First Comes Rock.)

Last year I took the plunge and started accepting custom couple illustration requests for save the dates and wedding invitations over at my wedding blog. It was something I’ve been thinking of offering on the site for a few years now but I kept getting cold feet. Partly because I hear horror stories about custom work from my other designer friends, and also because I know how it is to be a bride-sometimes-zilla myself. I decided to go for it anyway and now, 6 months and more than a dozen couple portraits later, I’m actually glad that I did. Not only have I met such wonderful non-‘zilla-at-all clients (um, #blessed), I’m also able to flex my vector-crafting muscles and of course make some Christmas money on the side. 😉

I just updated the other blog so if you like you can now see some of the cartoon couples I’ve done. (GO)

Eventually I will accept hand-drawn couple portrait commissions for weddings too but right now I’d like to focus on these cartoons. 🙂

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My art on RedBubble

cynthia arre illustrations on redbubble

Hey guys, just a quick update to let you know that some of my artworks can now be purchased on art prints, t-shirts, tote bags, some household items, etc via Redbubble. They’ll also be available locally sometime within the month — I just need to get them to my printer. 🙂

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The evolution of my drawing style

First of all, happy new year! I hope your 2015 is off to a great start, yes? As for mine, well I post on Instagram almost everyday so you can have a look-see there if you’d like to know what I’ve been doing since I last wrote.  🙂

I’ve also been working on client-commissioned cartoon portraits for my wedding site over the holidays but I haven’t had the chance to post any of the newer stuff yet. In the meantime you can see what I’ve already done here.

While I’m waiting for a new batch of rubber carving blocks to arrive, I’ve been practicing figure drawing with colored pencils. I confess that I have a hard time drawing males –they always end up looking girly1. Witness Exhibit A.

I made this sketch today, an homage to the Japanese movie “Hidamari no Kanojo” which stars my favorite Juri Ueno (awesome actress) and delicate-faced Jun Matsumoto2. I’m a sucker for chick flicks, even at my age *blush*, and this warm & fuzzy scene at the train station was one of my favorites in the film. Can’t say I liked the ending though, but that’s another story. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a link to the trailer. While working on this drawing, I thought of looking for old artworks I made back in college just to see how much my style has evolved. Thankfully, I remembered that they were in my old online portfolio which means I didn’t have to look too far. 🙂

cynthia arre old illustration

 “Fence” (1990) — Seeing this again today, I can now say that I was a bonafide mushball *bow* — I blame the many Sweet Dreams books I read as a teen. On another note, I’m amazed that I was able to draw the girl’s expression so well! I was 18 when I drew this and I haven’t experienced real love yet #chos. Kilig moments? Probably. I clearly remember making sure that the chain holding the gate together forms a heart, haha. I’ll try scanning the painting again so you can see it in detail.

“Pool Hall” (1991) – See, even with this painting there’s romance brewing between characters. In my teen-aged mind, the girl on the right and the tall guy in red are dating… but his friend, the guy in green likes the girl and she seems to like him back. Tall trophy boyfriend, meanwhile, is oblivious to the sparks between the two and is only concerned about maintaining his billiards champion title. The two guys on the left… well they’re the only ones without love problems tee hee. 🙂 Again, I’m amazed that I was able to tell a story through one painting. Also, I have no patience to paint in watercolor with that kind of attention to detail anymore. Maybe I should title this post “DEvolution of my drawing style” instead, lol.

cynthia bauzon arre illustration

“Hitching a Ride on Santa’s Sleigh” (1996) — And then came the E-heads’ “Fruitcake” book project while I was in the middle of an advertising career. From this point on, it seems I started drawing people in a more cartoony fashion. I also don’t recall why I chose to do these illustrations in black and white. Printing cost concerns, most likely.

Artworks for my old online store “The Paper Basket” (2008) – Looking at this again now, I know I could’ve done this series so much better. I think my freehand drawing downfall started after I got dependent on the computer from 1993 onwards. I would still draw outlines by hand but coloring by computer was so much quicker. That, and I think I lost confidence in my illustrating self after being on the computer for so long…

Artwork for an auction (2009) – I was challenged to explore painting and drawing by hand again when I started getting invited to participate in exhibits and auctions. It was refreshing to actually dab paints to paper and “touch” my drawings after just seeing them on the screen.

“Dreamtangle” (2010) – By this time I was already comfortable drawing and doodling again. Sometimes I would combine hand-drawn inks with digital paint, but now after much trial and error I’ve learned to just leave the pen and ink art alone as they are. K.I.S.S. and all that. The bare-bones black and white version of this drawing is on RedBubble.

Just to cap off this post, let me show you another colored pencil practice sketch. This is from the other day.


After seeing all my old stuff, I’m glad that the attention to detail (folds in the clothes, etc) that was present before is back. However there’s still much to learn and new techniques to experiment with so we shouldn’t stop evolving. As Arnold keeps telling me, “gawa lang ng gawa” — and he has every right to dish out that advice as you can see on his site how much his art has evolved and developed through the years. Laterz!

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  1. have you seen my artworks for “Ang Nawawalang Soundtrack“? Enough said. [ back]
  2. no he’s not my favorite Arashi, Nino is. [ back]
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I'm Cynthia Bauzon-Arre, a Filipino watercolor artist & graphic designer. I live in QC with my talented graphic novelist husband Arnold and our friendly marmalade tabby Abbas. This blog has been chronicling my life, likes, and loves since 2001. [ more ]

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