misfit monday: fiber fair, a video summary

Footage I shot at the Fiber Fair held at Young’s Jersey Dairy Farm on September 21, 2013. It’s an annual gathering of local fiber/yarn artisans and wool farmers. The public can come, buy just about anything related to yarn and wool, and learn about the process, including spinning yarn, the animals involved, and the process of creating finished pieces using these fibers. My favorite part was meeting the Pangora goats. They’re a crossbreed between Pigmy and Angora goats, so they’re small and soft.

I’m not an editor or color corrector by any means, but I guess this looks alright. And in case you’re wondering, it was shot using  Canon T4i, and edited using Adobe Premiere Pro and color corrected in Adobe After Effects.

Heidi shows up in it, and at one point I do too!! With a Llama.

Follow my Tumblr: juliethehummingbird.tumblr.com

Brought to you by Hummingbird Productions. (hey, that’s me!)


product photography

My sister is working on updating her online store, and asked me to photograph her products. It was a good exercise in working with a client and figuring out how to give her what she wanted.

You can find her store on her website.

Here are some of the best shots (or at least my personal favorites):

heidi store-19


Loki print and a detail shot. The original was done in Caran D’Ache color pencils.

heidi store-21


heidi store-22


Heidi has her MFA in Sequential Art from SCAD, and is working on a comic done in watercolor and color pencils, called Dealing With Trolls.

heidi store-13

heidi store-11


One of her biggest sellers are her gijinka Pokemon bookmarks. Vaporeon happens to be my favorite out of all of them, but everyone who sees them has a different favorite.

heidi store-9

heidi store-2

Heidi’s favorite happens to be Arcanine.


These were all shot with a Canon T4i on apperture priority, using 2 LED photography lights and a closeup lens. Edited in Adobe Lightroom, although with a Canon, you don’t have to do much editing.

a graphic design process: The Hummingbird

It started with a tattoo, and eventually became a way I define myself.

When going through multiple designs to come up with my new logo, my sister suggested something that I quickly sketched out. I then did a slightly more refined sketch of it and scanned that to begin the tough part of the work.

hummingbird 01

The vector part of the work. For anyone who doesn’t know about vectors, it’s basically a mathematical definition of a shape in space, therefore it can be enlarged or shrunk without ever losing quality. After a very short (5 minutes maybe) rundown of how Illustrator works from my sister, I set off on creating the vector lines for what my Hummingbird would be. I wanted to go this route, because the original design for my tattoo (done by my sister) (notice how almost everything art related involves my sister) was a vector, I wanted to remain with that.

Hummingbird vector final

Believe it or not, but this took me a while to do, because I was also figuring out Illustrator while doing this. Every Adobe program I’ve used has a steep learning curve, and it usually takes one solid project and several hours of working before you feel like you’re comfortable with the program. The only one not like that for me has been Lightroom, mostly because I already understood photo editing and Lightroom is stupid easy if you know photo editing at all.

But I didn’t want to just have a plain graphic. I wanted to have color involved. Because I love color. So I took my vector into Photoshop and started playing around with some ink textures I have, put the layers on multiply and started coloring. Pretty cool, but I wasn’t satisfied.

Hummingbird vector final

And what do I do when I’m not satisfied with digital art? I go with traditional mediums, of course. I’m much more familiar with traditional mediums and feel like I’m significantly better with them too. I wanted to do an ink/watercolor colorization of the piece, so I printed it out and transferred it to some watercolor paper I had laying around. Arches is the brand, and as it turns out, not all cold pressed watercolor paper is the same. I typically work with Fluid watercolor block, and Arches has a much thicker/harsher grain to the paper. It also reacts to water differently from Fluid, so I ended up starting over on another sheet. Basically it soaks up the water and then absorbs watercolors and ink so fast and then they bleed. It also takes longer for the paper to dry than Fluid paper. So, lesson learned. I like Fluid paper 100% more. I guess the interesting thing that Arches paper does is it soaks in the watercolors at a different rate (Dr. Ph. Martin liquid watercolors absorb at different rates. Blues absorb into the paper slower than reds and yellows, but faster than browns) so I ended up with a really striated look. Not what I wanted.

So on to attempt number 2. Which also involved accidentally sticking my hand in really wet ink. When I use india ink with a nib and not a brush, it takes a long time to dry and sometimes the ink comes off the pen nib in large globs, which take forever and a half to dry.

After inking in everything, I took chalk pastels and added some texture and some extra color. While it covers up some of the more detailed linework, I’m fine with it. Then spray fixed it and voila. I’m really happy with this, and I like it. It’s a rube throated hummingbird, but I took inspiration from another kind of hummingbird that actually does have those long tails.

Hummingbird watercolor

Want to know something cool–about how this design came about? When positioned like this, the Hummingbird is in the shape of a letter J. As in J for Julie. Graphic design win.

misfit monday: mortal instrument madness

As a huge fan of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series, I was incredibly excited for the film adaptation. I did a digital painting of Clary from one of trailers, and then I decided to start in on another one in hopes of completing it before the release of the film. Life kind of got in the way and a long series of complicated and traumatic events delayed finishing it until recently.

I thought that you might enjoy seeing a progression of the piece and hearing some talk about my process.

Clary2 WIP 1-1

Clary2 WIP 2-1First of all, I set up a grid and then worked on getting a really clean outline. This is one of the most important parts. From there, I set up a few more layers, did a background gradient, added red bits that I’d eventually have show through, and then began a color layer on top of that, which you can see a few pieces of here. I started filling in her skin and smoothing it out bit by bit. The colors didn’t look quite right so I started veering towards a more lavender skin tone.

Clary2 WIP 4-1

Clary2 WIP 6-1

I eventually went though and changed almost all of the skin tones, erasing a lot and starting over. This looked better, and was an important lesson in color and light and the relation between light color changing skin color and what we perceive to be right being not at all what we’d think. A lot of her skintones are lavenders. Not at all what I’d expected to use. I started working on her hair, and by this point, using blues and purples instead of browns and reds didn’t surprise me at all.

Continuing on with the skin, I kept having to change to bluer and bluer tones.

Clary2 WIP 7-1

Clary2 WIP 9-1

I spent a ton of time working on trying to get her mouth right, and at this point I was annoyed enough that I moved on to working on more in the background and then her hair and jacket. A ton of purples, but it was reading right, and that was the important part. Kept working on her hair. Some of the reds I initially expected to use were slightly used here. Went back to working on her face and added her eyebrows and tweaked her mouth.

Clary2 WIP 10-1

I got annoyed and didn’t want to work on Clary for a while, so I went and worked in the background and the light grid. This is normal, where I get annoyed with one part of the drawing so I have to work on another.

Clary2 WIP 12-1

Clary2 WIP 13-1

I finished up her hair, then went back to working on the background, and at this point I’ve finished the entire background, although I haven’t finished the light grid or her eyes. I kept putting off her eyes because my reference photo was small and blurry and her eyes were completely lacking any kind of detail.

I spent hours working on those eyes, tweaking them, repainting them because they weren’t right, tweaking more, then tweaking more, then repainting then tweaking another few times before I was finally satisfied enough. I also spent more time tweaking her mouth. Every artist has a perfectionist inside screaming at them when things aren’t right, and sometimes we’ve stared at the image for so long we know it’s wrong, but we can’t see why. It takes stepping away or getting another set of eyes to explain it. Mt sister did some of that when I was working on the eyes.

So overall I learned a lot about color and perception. The individual colors, if I saw only those, wouldn’t look right, but within the environment and with the lighting as it is and all the other things within the frame lining up with that, it looks right. I’ve continued using what I’ve learned thus far with digital paintings, especially with making skin have texture and definition in the light areas, not so much in the dark. I constantly have a hand hovering over the keyboard to either press ALT for color pickup to help blend (I don’t use a blending tool) or Command Z, which is the oh shoot I didn’t want to do that, and often Command S so I can save everything I’ve done in case photoshop crashes. It’s only done that a few times, but saving often is major, even if I have autosave set up on small intervals.

Stay tuned for the final version! I finished it, but it’ll get its own post.

The Learning Curve

I generally learn fast. But with digital art, I have always felt like I fell behind. Everyone else was so good at it and I was a mess. This past winter, I bought CS6 and have been slowly trying to acclimate myself with Photoshop and the whole digital painting thing. Years of having Corel Painter did nothing for me, so I thought I was a lost cause.

Far from. It just took figuring out what works for me. So here’s the progression of the latest piece I worked on.

Ben screencap

Step 1: I used a grid system to get my outline ready to go, a quick gradient paint for the background (it’s barely a gradient, but it’s there). Then I start painting in skin. I used the original image to pick up colors, so there was a lot of switching between this image and that one.

Ben WIP5

Step 2: I start filling in details in the skin and smoothing it out, picking up all the in between colors, deepening shadows, defining shapes. I got annoyed with the skin at one point and moved on to work on the hair.

Ben WIP7

Step 3: Continue on here, evening out the skin, adding more highlights and correcting a few shapes (his mouth gave me tons of trouble). I started working on the eyes and the jacket and the shirt so I could get away from the issues I was having with his skin. I also defined the shapes of his ear and made that look better

Ben WIP8

Step 4: Working on the eyes, fixing some skin issues around his mouth, still, and moving on to work on other parts of him, like the jacket. Most of the work you see on the jacket here didn’t make the final image because I just wasn’t happy with it. His neck looked a little flat to me here, but it matched the reference image so I kind of let it be.

Ben WIP10

Step 5: I spent a long time working on his eyes and eyebrows, and I was satisfied with them in the end. I then finished his shirt, and then went back to working on his skin. I added details like moles and wrinkles, and then used a different brush to go in and add skin texture, and a different one to add the stubble on his upper lip and jawline. I was incredibly satisfied with how this looked.

Figuring out little things like adding skin texture was huge for this. My older sister also taught me how to make custom brush shapes in PS, so a texture on his jacket in the finished piece (not shown here) was one I made myself. It’s taken me three digital paintings to feel like I’m getting this. Each time it turns out better than the last, and this one feels like I’ve finally hit my stride. Now if only I could make this a faster process….

a long time coming

I worked a seasonal job, and the big thing I saved up to get was CS6 and Lightroom. Now that I have it, I’m slowly figuring out the whole digital painting thing. I’ve always been bad at it. Like, really bad. I had Corel Painter for a few years before I even learned how to make custom brushes, and it was because my sister walked me through the brush creator.

So here I am, determined not to be terrible in Photoshop, trying to learn the painting side of it. I learned how to use it in college, but I didn’t do much with it, especially since I’ve never been much for digital painting. I hit my stride with the Oekaki BBS system, and was good at that. I understood how it worked because it had like 4 functions. Simple.

This is the kind of stuff I was doing. As a high schooler.

Edmund Pevensie

Cillian Murphy fixed

Remus J Lupin fixed


While not the best, it’s pretty good. I’m still impressed by most of it. And then, just compare these to the following, which were done in Corel Painter during college and even after college.

Bella Swan 1 jpg

Ivaera and Ioan JPG

Garrett Hedlund final

Just terrible, right? Just terrible. Cringe worthy, really.

Well, I’ve been trying to get used to PS and what better way than to practice coloring on some sketches of mine? If you read my last post, you will have seen them at the end. Not bad. Each one I did I felt like I improved from the last. That’s a good sign.

And then I thought, well, why not try to do what you’ve never been able to do, and that is a successful piece of digital art that reflected what you were capable of as an artist?

And this was the first evening of work:

Clary preview1

Just atrocious. I thought for sure at this point that digital art was beyond me and that I’d forever be a traditional media girl. There’s nothing wrong with that, except oh wait we live in the digital age and people expect artists to be able to do EVERY medium, not just…. oil paints, graphic pencils, color pencils, watercolors, and ink. Well, and acrylic, but I don’t like acrylic for the same reason that most people do: the drying time. The next day I woke up and said, I wonder if  I can fix this.

Clary preview2

Yes, yes I can. I mean, it’s not completely fixed yet and her hand is a trainwreck, but it’s better, for sure. And actually looks like the actress and not like the horrific attempt from the night before that just looked…. sad. Like a blurry little sad mess. But this–this I could work with. So I kept going….

Clary preview6

Clary preview10

Uh, what? I might be good at this? STAHP. Let me tell you the parts I am most proud of:

  • the bracelet and the cast shadow from it
  • that mug. Look at that mug.
  • how I managed to cut out 2 people from the background of this.
  • that shadow from the hair on her face.
  • did I mention the mug? The bracelet?

Stay tuned for the final version later…….

I’m going to talk about what I’ve been learning in PS now, from just this piece.

  1. The smudge tool is NOT your friend. Just don’t even go there. The blur tool? That’s okay if you just need to make a line not sharp, like the background stuff.
  2. CS6 is supposed to have increased pressure sensitivity, so even my bamboo tablet suddenly becomes amazing. Corel Painter has sensitivity, but it’s an entirely different program.
  3. Keeping one finger over the ALT key is awesome. Why? Because when you’re using the brush tool, holding ALT gives you the eyedropper, so you can get a color in between the colors for shading purposes. Works wonders.
  4. The dodge and burn tools are really good in PS. Not in Corel Painter, because it’s meant to be a painting program, not a photo editing program.
  5. PS/CS6 comes with some really nice brushes already loaded in. And for the casual/hobbiest/sometimes freelancer artist like myself, I don’t really need much else. But finding the ones you like and resonate with is important, and will vary from piece to piece and on stylistic choices. And then you can just go in and edit them easy peasy anyway.
  6. Understanding coloring, lighting, shading, and so forth is important, and if you know it in traditional art, it will eventually transfer over. It may just take a little push. Or reading an artbook that talks about them in relation to digital media. Thanks to my sister, whose artbook is in the editing stage right now.
  7. Sometimes you need to deviate from the original image you’re using as a reference, if you are, that is. Colors may need to change, shading may need to be deepened, and artistic choices will need to be made throughout. As the artist, you control where the eye goes, more than you think.
  8. Keep track of your layers. I painted something on the wrong layer at least a dozen times, and one was so much that I ended up merging the layers because of it.

And lastly, have the trailer.

misfit monday: what a weekend

Sometimes I do exciting things, like appear on national daytime tv. Other times, I do slightly less exciting things like sit around applying for jobs and sewing while watching old tv shows.

True story. No really, the tv thing? It happened. Not an extra. As in front and center speaking role. For 20 minutes. I was trying not to freak out or cry. Although the crying part would have worked with the acting.

I have the most random life, and a lot of the stories I tell probably sound like they can’t have all happened to the same person. That either means I tell great stories about kleptomaniac ex-roommates and psychotic pregnant homeless people, or ….. maybe I kind of got the leftovers on other people’s lives. That sounds weird. Imagine you’re at a restaurant and you have four people, but between them, they only order 3 dishes. Three of these people only eat one particular thing each. Say, one eats fish, another eats chicken, and the other eats beef. But these three people get full and there’s still a little of each dish left over, all of which gets passed on to person 4. So person 4 doesn’t have a whole meal of any kind, just these jumbled bits of leftovers. I kind of feel like that’s my life. Jumbled bits of leftovers. On a psychological level, this kind of explains some stuff about me. I’m watching everyone else with whole lives, and I’m sitting here with scraps and tidbits wondering why I didn’t get a whole life, why everyone else is so much more special than me. On the outside looking in. This is my life.

Okay, well, that was depressing. Let’s move on. (I really wish you would all read this in Xander Harris’ voice. It makes it sound much more fun.)

A theater near me (actually the closest movie theater) has $5 wednesdays, so I went and saw a late night movie. By myself. Because I don’t have friends. This is my life. Well, I saw Pitch Perfect because I thought it looked funny. Anna Kendrick is beautiful and talented. On a deeper note that probably very few people in the theater would have picked up on, it touched on a psychological thing that I understand. The whole shutting people out because it’s easier. Because deep down you just don’t want to let anyone hurt you, and you just sort of expect that they will. There was a fitting tribute to The Breakfast Club in there, and I love that movie.

The last bit of that trailer… add that to the list of things I want to say.

Worked on sewing some other things now that my coat is done. I have this pattern for some 1940’s clothes, and I had enough fabric left over from an old project to work with, and that became the shirt. Now to start in on a pair of high waist grey pants. Three pieces. Pretty straight forward. Except the zipper part. Zippers are my downfall. Also, I had to sharpen a pair of scissors, and it was all going fine until I sharpened them right into my finger. Painful and just deep enough for it to bleed rather well.

Saturday was a big day.

First, I auditioned for a tv pilot being shot here. Don’t know where it’s going or anything like that, but hey whatever, I auditioned. Am I likely to get a part? Well normally I would have said no, but they happened to really like me. They said I had a lot of talent and I should really try to get into the acting thing more. First time I’ve heard that. I should hear about callbacks in a week.

Second, my little brother had a marching band competition at The Ohio State University. In the horseshoe. That was cool. Like really cool. But, I don’t understand the old-school marching band thing, with the drum major who is a baton twirler, the lack of color guard, the whole high-stepping thing…. makes no sense to me. The southwest area of Ohio is all about competition marching bands, versus I guess Cleveland is stuck in the “we’re here to put on a halftime show for the football team” thing. Ew. Add that to the list of reasons I will never go close to that town. Anyway, my alma matter did great. They’ve made massive improvements to the show since I last saw it, added more visuals, the guard (which has 3 vets and the rest are rookies) has made huge strides. They should have placed 2nd behind Lakota West (who incidentally have an awesome show featuring music by Edward Elgar and my all-time favorite Dmitri Shostakovich).

I’m employed! Finally. It’s at a department store as seasonal, but that’s a start, right? Better underemployed than unemployed. I have orientation this thursday, and I’m a little nervous for everything, but I always get that way. Last night I had this weird dream that my grandma came over and was asking me all sorts of questions about my new job that I didn’t have answers to and then when I woke up she was actually here. O_o

Oh, and thursday night I watched the VP debate. It was at Center College in Kentucky. And then I realized that I’d performed on the same stage they had the debate on. Woah. A couple years ago, Asbury, Center, Translyvania and maybe one more I don’t remember, performed the full Brahms Requiem at Transy and Center (that’s like an hour straight of singing). And…. yeah. Won’t go into politics. Oh, but Paul Ryan looks like the guy who plays Will Schuster on Glee. Anyone else notice that?

Here’s part of the Requiem. My favorite part.

Ooooh…. secret talent reveal time: the first time I ever joined a choir was in university. In the best choir there. I’m a mezzo-soprano who sings alto 1. What you don’t know is that I’m actually a French Horn player.

This video shows the sopranos and tenors mostly, with the altos and basses on the same side as the camera. So you can’t actually see me, but yes I’m there. In Gloucester Cathedral (they filmed chunks of Harry Potter there). In England.

I told you I had a random life.

Simplicity 2057 Jacket Review

Finito!!! I’m pretty excited to have sewn this jacket. It was a fairly massive undertaking, especially because I’m not all that wonderful of a seamstress. And it took me a long time because I’ve had to rip out and redo about half the seams on it. Okay maybe just a third, but that’s still a buttload of seams. The pictures don’t show the color as well as I’d like, but it truly is Tardis blue. But here it is.

1. The outside of the jacket runs a little big, but the lining runs fairly true to size. So I’d suggest cutting a size smaller in the jacket, but your actual size in the lining. You may have to fudge some seam allowances for this, but having your lining be a bit bigger than your coat is a good problem, and the opposite of what I had.

2. Wool is the easiest fabric to sew with. No really, not even cotton-poly blends are this easy. Lining? Not so much. In any case, I highly recommend finding a good wool to make the jacket in. I used 100% wool and can’t wait to work with wool again.

3. The directions for this pattern are clear up until the lining comes into play. Then it takes someone who can translate sewing-speak to even figure out what that means.

4. The fabric for sleeves both in the wool (or whatever you choose for the outside of the coat) and the lining are calculated separately. Weird. My mom and I redid the layout of the pattern in order to accommodate this. We got 2 yards of 60″ (57″) wool, and….

This isn’t including sleeve tabs or the back yolk because I didn’t wand to do those, and it uses the stand collar because that’s the kind I wanted, as well as using the welt pockets rather than the flap pockets also because that’s what I wanted. This layout worked out great. The open spaces around some pieces are where you’ll cut a second of something, like the stand collar, the epaulet, the pocket welt, or the welt tab.

5. There will be a lot of hand-sewing with attaching the lining to the jacket itself. I mostly ignored what the directions said here, because it was confusing and my mom said I could just hand-stitch it and not have to worry about that. Time consuming, annoying, but at least it was simple and would turn out right.

6. On the smaller pieces of the pattern, like the epaulets and the welt tabs, I’d suggest doing a 3/8″ topstitch rather than 1/2″, because of size ratio stuff. You can see here a little of that.

7. The collar can be a bit tricky. Sew carefully. Everything has to line up.

8. The coat uses a lot of thread. By a lot I mean buy 2 spools.

9. For as complicated as this will seem at first, with nearly 30 pieces involved, it’s not too bad. There are a lot of places you can mess up, but as long as you sew carefully, it goes together a lot easier than expected. It will, however, take some time because of how many pieces and all the finishing involved.

10. The jacket is beautiful–a really great design. If you make it out of a nice wool, and make it well, the store-bought equivalent would cost around $200-250 (although as low s $150 or as high as about $300).

11. Even if you don’t normally use shoulder pads in things because you have great, strong shoulders naturally (thank you swimming) this pattern really does require them. The jacket won’t lay right without them. The sleeve pads you can do without.

12. If you’re using the epaulets, and want to sew them down with a button, sew that on before you do the shoulder pads. The directions won’t say anything about finishing the epaulets, and I didn’t realize this until I’d already put the lining in.

13. I chose to do a little customization to this. No deviation from the pattern, because it was complicated enough to begin with. But, I did a little TARDIS applique on a sleeve. Since this is, you know, my TARDIS jacket.

14. Having a sewing buddy always makes things better. Although, cat fur sticks to wool like hair to lipgloss.

misfit monday: when a find meets a design

I was in JoAnn’s the other day buying additional fabric for the back of my quilt, I browsed the fabric section and found this amazing blue wool and this gorgeous gold-orange lining. UH, PERFECT. For what? This!!

I have a pattern that is fairly close to this, and in order to not chance things with a rather expensive wool (though it was 50% off thanks to an awesome coupon) I’m going to stick to the pattern. The fabric is 100% wool, and as close to Tardis blue as I’ve ever been able to find. I mean, I knew it was perfect the moment I saw it, and I’ve been eying this other potential fabric from Mood that I thought was close. Here’s the wool and lining. (the photo makes them just a hint lighter than reality) Perfect perfect perfect!!

I do plan, however, to paint some hexagonal patterns inside on the lining. It’s like a little secret. You have no idea how much I love those little secrets in fashion, those little details that take time to notice but then you’re like that’s just genius.

Now, the pattern is weird and calculates yardage in the oddest way imaginable, so what my mom and I did was to get 2 yards of 60″ wool (it was actually 57″ because I think it was preshrunk… you have to shrink wool before working with it, and you can just hover an iron about n inch above it and steam it. When I did this, the fabric stayed the same, so I think it was already shrunken.) and then we had to redo the layout of pattern pieces. I’m the one with great spacial relations, but my mom’s the one who knows the sewing thing, so I needed her help to make sure that I wasn’t placing the pieces the wrong way. If you notice, every pattern piece has an arrow on it, and every arrow has to go the same way–vertical. Some of the open spaces you see are because I have to cut 2 of one of the smaller pieces so I’ve left space for that.

That is all to say, if you want to make it, now you know. I’ll do a full debrief on the pattern and sewing after I’ve completed it.

I found one of those circle cutter things, and suddenly I know why designers and people who do a lot of sewing use those. So much faster, and straight, clean lines. Awesome.

I’m really excited to make this!

Thing 2: The front of my quilt is done!! I’ve worked on and off on this for a while now, from cutting up tshirts back in… late june–not sure–to finally getting around to sewing the thing a few weeks back. Now I have to add the edging and sew it onto the back and then put the batting in it and then my grandma offered to take me to this shop she knows around here that machine quilts things.

It’s not perfectly rectangular. One side is a little longer than the other. Oops. But for my first quilt, and making everything up as I went with no real idea of what I was doing, I’d say that this is pretty good. Plus it looks cool.

Thing 3: I’m not 100% happy with the sketchbook I made, but I bet if I made another one it’d be perfect. You live and you learn. I’m about 95% happy with it. That’s pretty good.

Thing 4: Here’s a drawing I did in about 20ish minutes yesterday of my little brother while in church. He was rather thrilled that I was drawing him, and every once in a while would move so he could look at it, then return to his original position so I could keep going. It looks exactly like him.

That is all.