Saturday, April 21, 2012

Overnight Prints Postcards

Sent out the postcards today, and I'd like to share a little bit of what that's like.

I have used Overnight Prints in the past and have always been very happy with the user interface and the items I receive from them. And *BONUS*! They're having an Earth Day sale until tomorrow! 67% off! Get those business cards people. Might as well! (Remember, you can click on any of my images to enlarge it and read it better)

Home page. See that postcards section on the right? Lovely, no? Right there. Saying, "Hey, you don't have to look any further. I'm here. Click on me!"And when you do click, you get the option at the top of the page to download their Adobe friendly templates for your business cards, or postcards, or brochure, etc. A quick download away, and you get a template with instructions written on it. And wouldn't you know, this setup they give you is exactly how they want the postcard uploaded (sounds elementary huh? You'd think so, but I've dealt with a company that makes it way more complicated, even though they offer you a template. It's nothing but a big pain in the neck). 

Below is the screenshot of the template in Adobe Illustrator CS5 with a dialogue box where they ask you to change the CMYK settings. It's seriously the hardest thing you have to do (just scroll down and select the right setting)- aside from deciding what how you want to design your postcard!

All that's left after that, is to save your postcard as a PDF, tiff, or a jpg, etc (all the usual suspects), and use their easy downloading software back on the website. Just click, download, and decide where you want your image, front or back.  It's nice because you can see what you're doing, and you know everything will look good because you've used their template that instructed you exactly what to do.

From there, you have the option for rounded corners (for an extra $2 per 100 cards, but I just really prefer the feeling, and you'd be amazed. It's those sorts of little things that can help people pick up your card or even keep it!). You always have the option of a matte finish, or a glossy UV coating. I opted for UV because even though light bouncing off the gloss can obscure your image in the right conditions, it also helps with keeping the color vibrant. A matte finish feels good in the hands, but the colors will appear slightly duller, and you'll lose some of the detail in the dark ares. And, ta-da! You pay, and all is good. Overnight Prints is priced well, and although you may balk at the price shown here, they are large 5x7 postcards... and there are 250 of them. Seems pretty reasonable to me! 

I went for a vertical format for my postcards, just because it's different and it allows me to blow up my images so people can see them better. I zoomed in on Lancelot and Guinevere because the rest of the piece is essentially unnecessary to capturing peoples' attention in a split second. Although I will be handing these out primarily, these sorts of conventions typically have a table where people lay out a few extra business cards and postcards that people can pick up at will if they like. And if they don't have a table, people usually find some sort of surface to leave their wares! You'll see postcards, business cards, stickers, and magnets strewn about unsuspecting decorative hotel tables where these conventions are often held!

I mentioned earlier the matte vs glossy option in the case of keeping things vibrant. Both of the images I decided to use are pretty dark, so to lose information in these areas is a pretty good bet with the matte finish. Also, you may notice that Lan and Guin are significantly lighter and a little more saturated than the finished version I posted yesterday. There I'm just trying to compensate for the printing process. A computer screen is backlit, so images that appear bright on screen will actually be much darker when printed. I'm making a calculated guess and lightening my images ahead of time slightly to compensate for that. You don't have to do much, just enough lighter that you don't wash our your colors or values, and you can be confident your guesstimate will be good.

That's it! Soon I'll have the Blurb portfolio books ready, and I'll have that process available for you too. Until then, I'll just keep on keepin' on getting ready for the big weekend!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Finished for Good!

Lancelot and Guinevere struggle with their emotions for each other and Arthur.

Preparations are in the works for Spectrum Live in... what is it? 28, 27 days? Oh boy! Getting those postcards for handing out and a few little portfolio books made. Postcards I'll be sending to and the portfolio books I'll be making through I've used both of these companies before, and have been extremely happy with their user friendliness and the product they produce. I'll be going through a little bit of that on the blog as I do it, and update all-a-ya'lls with the process. We've got to get these things out soon so that I get them back in time - just in case, for any last minute "oh shucks that printed too dark" surprises that may need fixing!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Pretty Much Finished

Here we have it! I think we're pretty much done here. I'll probably look at it in the next couple of days and make a few adjustments to whatever bothers me at that point. But from where it started to here, I'm extremely pleased.

In about a month will be the Spectrum Live! Show in Kansas City, Missouri. I've got the hotel and the ticket, and I can't wait to go! The hotels in the near vicinity are all booked up, so it should be a really fun event with lots of fellow illustrators to meet! I plan to make Lancelot and Guinevere a postcard I will be handing out along with my business cards. I may get to one more piece before I go though, and if it's good enough we can update the website. I'm also hoping to get into the portfolio review section of the event, but we'll see, as spots fill up fast! But I'll be right there waiting by the computer to press enter and get to hopefully have a good talk with Irene Gallo, the art director of Tor Books, and John Schindehette of Wizards of the Coast. Totally stoked. And I'll be sure to bring my camera and show you guys what it's all about. I'm just excited to get excited about illustrating. Conventions are always such a rush that way!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lancelot and Guinevere - More Progress

Sorry for not posting sooner. The day job has been very busy recently! But here's some more progress, and luckily it's the weekend, so there will only be more to come!

Lancelot is looking a lot better, and we added some arm gauntlet things which I think are helping the whole chain mail debacle quite nicely. Well, not a debacle. I just haven't decided how to go about giving the chain mail enough detail to be chain mail, but restraining myself from rendering it out completely (because that's unnecessary, and it's not my main focal point, so I don't want to even go there sister!). I like how the pattern on her dress is behaving, and I think it adds to her royal appearance. Lastly, I'm not too sure about those leaves in the foreground, so we'll have to play with that. I'm lovin' it. Now we just have to take it to the finish! Bring her on home!