Nacho Libre T-Shirt

About Project: Create a t-shirt design which follows The Narrative Image guidelines.  Since the design will ultimately be screen printed, I was limited to just 4 colors(5 if you include the color of the shirt).

Step 1: Sketching

I started out just putting as many ideas on paper as I could.  At first I wanted to do something related to Mythbusters.  I sketched out Jammie, one of the hosts of the show holding a giant hammer with a unicorn in the background to see if something like that would work as a stand-alone design, and then tried adding text to it.

I also played around with some Star Wars ideas – Luke and Leia over a planet(Alderaan) with text reading “Looking for love in Alderaan places”.  So punny.


Next I started doing Nacho Libre sketches.  I watched it for the first time in a few years and laughed my head off.  Jack Black is a comedic genius.


First Digital Draft

I finally decided on doing a draft of a bowl of “De Lord’s Chips” from that scene where Nacho gets in trouble for letting Steven steal the chips and is asked “Did you not tell him that they were the Lord’s chips???”.

I distressed all the layers with a vector texture I made from a picture I took of a rusted tractor.

Note On Vector Textures

Here’s a great tutorial on how to create a vector texture from a photograph using photoshop and illustrator: Cory Kerr Vector Texture Tutorial

This was really freaking time consuming to do.  Probably due in part to the fact that I was doing some of this on my Macbook Air.  The pathfinder pallet came in handy, but illustrator had an aneurysm every time I tried to get it to distress more than one object at a time.


Final Version

This is the final version.  I re-arranged the elements and scaled up the chips and the halo so the layout is more oval instead of hourglass shaped.

There are two layers to the halo, one yellow and one orange, to give it a bit more depth.  I did the same thing with the chips.  There are two orange layers behind the front yellow layer you see.

The font I ended up using was Impact – I know, I know.  Normally I avoid using Impact, but because I was distressing it with a texture the size of each letter Impact gave me just worked.  I tried Helvetica bold and a few others, but I couldn’t get the right blend of texture and letter integrity with it.

I threw my illustrator design into a photoshop template I found on Graphic Burger to get an idea of what it’ll look like printed.  The colors are probably a little darker here than they’ll be when it’s printed because of the blending modes I used to get the wrinkles and shirt texture to show through, but I really like it.


Credit: T-shirt mock up template from Graphic Burger


Social Media: The Interview No One Tells You About

As part of my senior project I created an infographic outlining the key statistics from an e-book I’m writing.  The book is titled, Social Media: The Interview No One Tells You About.  I’m publishing on Amazon and the book should be available around the middle of December 2015.

For this post I want to focus on the design aspect of this infographic.

I spent probably 8-10 hours on this from start to finish.  I started a Pinterest board  dedicated to infographics to start getting the ideas flowing.  I already knew what content I wanted to include, so that part was easy.

After looking at several different examples I sketched some wireframes of a few different layout styles and settled this one, with a large title section in the middle.  Next I picked the color pallet and created a universal set of swatches.


I created everything on the poster in Adobe Illustrator.  My favorite parts are the guy in the upper right hand corner and the ‘recent grad’ who’s right in the middle of the cutoff.  I chose 14 vector guys in two rows of 7 with a diagonal divide specifically so I could cut him in half.

I had a lot of fun creating this.  I got tons of compliments and a few people even asked to buy copies which was super cool.



Vector Bike

Biking is something I’ve been doing since I was just two years old.  I remember my dad always working on bikes growing up and thought it was the coolest thing when he’d have dozens of parts all laid out one day to clean them and the next they’d all be put back together as his red, Trek mountain bike.

It’s because of how I remember my dad always taking apart bikes and putting them back together that I wanted to do an exploded view of a bike.  It was a bit harder than I thought it would be, but I was able to refine a lot of my skills with different illustrator tools, particularly the rotate and shape building tools.

I started out sketching out various parts of the bike and from there quickly moved onto my first digital draft of some of those parts:


After that I refined the shapes and color scheme based on reference photos:

After that I was finished!  Well, as finished as I could be.  I’m going to come back to this project when I get some time to breathe.  There’s a lot more I want to do and aspects I want to refine.  The part I’m most proud of is the wheels.  I spent like two hours reading about and watching videos on how to string a spoke wheel, I think I nailed it on the spokes.  MBlaine_Bike_Final

Vector Watch


This was an absolute blast.  I only wish I had more time!  I probably spent about 25 hours working on the various stages of this project, sketching and watching tutorials included.  I learned a ton.

First off, I love watches.  One day when I’m rich I won’t hesitate to spend $40k on an IWC watch.  But for now, I’ve got this.

I started off by sketching out some of the different elements of the watch.  The numbering, stitching, and bezel were the main parts I focused on.  I took the time to look at some images of the watch and try to see it in shapes and values, picking out the number of concentric circles I’d need to make each highlight and contour.


After that I went to work creating all the various elements of the watch.

I started out with the basics: case, face, bezel, chronograph buttons, calendar, etc.  After that I moved on to adding in the various contours and edges by creating lots and lots of concentric circles with different gradients, opacities, and blending modes.

I eventually decided to simplify the face by loosing the two chronograph complications like you see in the photos.  It was fun picking and choosing which elements of the different watches I wanted to keep or discard.

Here’s a look at the four main stages I went through.  The one on the left is very flat and basic and the one on the far right is the finished product.


Throughout the process I referenced various photos and other vector watches.  One which I found incredibly helpful was this:

Vector Website

Websites are something we come across probably hundreds of times each day.  Their design and ease of navigation really make or break how well they ultimately function.

I set out to make an interesting, yet simple web design.  I wanted to try tackling a continuously scrolling website since I haven’t done that before.

I started out with some sketches.  This was probably my favorite part.

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As I took some of my sketches from thumbnail size to full size I was able to get a better idea of how different elements would interact.

First I sketched them in more detail on a white board in 12×18 squares.  Then I took those and created wire frames in Adobe Illustrator.

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After that I got feedback from some of my peers and decided on which layout I wanted to pursue.

Once I had that figured out it was just a matter of bringing in all the page elements, which took quite a while.  I had to create layouts for each section, decide on which fonts to use and when, what the links would look like in their various stages, etc.  Then I had to make notes that the programer could follow.

This is a project I really enjoyed.  I want to explore some of the other layouts I came up with in the sketching phase and develop them further.

Here’s my finished product!  Finished website design

Daily Essentials Icon Set

I started out this project with more ambition that I had time, and probably skill.  It took me three tries to settle on what I was going to create.  I started out at WWII airplanes, took a detour to sea creatures and got lost in the wacky world of skeuomorphism, and finally landed on my daily essentials.  That sounds weird.  Let me explain.

Once I solidified my concept, I took my messenger bag that I carry with me everywhere, everyday(my daily essentials), and emptied it’s contents on the table in front of me and started sketching.



Sketching taught me a lot.  I learned that it’s about solving visual problems and figuring out which shapes the objects I’m looking at are made of.  Once I started thinking in shapes, everything got easier.

I found taking the time to get in close and really break down each object into it’s various elements helped me sketch better and really understand how to translate that sketch into a vector graphic.

My first set of drafts: 


At this point I was still deciding on how best to orient each object.  I decided on making them as two-dimensional as possible.  I had to sometimes squint at them with one eye while sketching to really figure out what they looked like on a single plane.

Overall I’m happy with how everything turned out.  I learned more than I thought I ever would doing this project and I think the future projects I take on will go much smoother.

Final Product: