Animal Project Part 2

This was a project assigned to me for my Design Lab class at CMU which required me to research an extinct or endangered animal and then make a poster about this animal using Adobe Illustrator.

Going into this project I was slighty apprehensive due to my inexperience with Adobe Illustrator, but I was excited to learn. I thought it would be interesting to have one main larger bird that is closer to the viewer and then more birds behind it. My first thought was to do a forest since it’s the Carolina Parakeet’s natural habitat. I could also potentially work in a farmer or an orchard somewhere to convey that they were hunted to extinction. Above are some of the initial thumbnails that I made for this project as well as my first design.

I moved this sketch into Adobe Illustrator and started going over it with the pen tool. This took some trial and error as I worked, but I tend to learn things quickly so it wasn't too bad. Then I began figuring out what colors I wanted to use, which is a challenge in itself due to the 7 color limit of the assignment. I had not yet written my text, but the box in the corner of the page was where I was intending on putting it.

I tried to make the birds their true colors and the background something more monotone to emphasize how these birds look tropical but lived in the Midwest. Above are some of the color combinations I tried. I ended up simplifying the head of my parakeet to just yellow and removing the orange since it allowed me to have more shades to show depth in my trees. When I asked some of my peers, I got the best response from the color scheme with the blue background and brown trees. I used a color pallet generator website to suggest some colors that matched with the green and yellow of the parakeet.

I continued to add detail to my bird and started adding text in. The unfortunate part of this design was that it left little open space for text which I should've considered more when designing it. I wanted to frame my main flying bird a little better and add some depth to my poster so I added some shrubbery on the top and bottom of the screen. I also moved around the closest tree a bit so that I could fit the text on the left of the poster. I wanted to play with adding some texture or shading to my trees which is what I was working on in the iteration on the right.

I recieved some strong feedback from a professor and this mixed with my own dislike of my poster led to me restarting. I talked to one of my peers a bit and she taught me some helpful tools on photoshop as well as some tips for making a successful composition which both of those helped me a lot. I came up with these potential new compositions.

The benefit of restarting is that this poster was much easier and faster to develop since I now had more experience with Illustrator. The bird is the most important part of this poster, so I wanted to use multiple colors on it. I also wanted to keep the true bright colors of the bird since I felt this was one of their most distinguishable characteristics. I then went on to take some of the branches from my last poster and apply them to the trees in this new poster to make them more realistic. I wanted to add in some detail to the tree in the front, so I took the time to play around with textures. I didn't end up using either of these textures since it was too geometric compared to the rest of the poster.

I changed the patterning on the tree to be less geometric and more representative of what a tree’s texture really is. I also added in a subtitle for my text and added in some more shadows on the bird and tree. I changed the color of the tree a bit to make it less red and more brown and muted to match the rest of the composition. I also changed the trees in the back in the bit to be more accurate of what the top of a tree would be like.Next, I added in some feathers onto my bird. This was my most difficult part of making this poster because I had trouble taking something so flat and representing it without using straight lines. I attempted to use shadows to show the shapes as much as possible. I also added a hunter into the background to show how these birds were tragically wiped out. I then moved the bird in the background to align with the hunter’s gun and show more of a story.

This is my final composition. I added some texture to the trees to keep them from becoming too geometric looking, especially the ones in the back which seemed very stick-like. I added some more detail to the branch in the front through a twig, some more shading, and some stripes/bark. I elaborated on the detail that I was working on establishing on the bird through more shadows and defining more edges of the bird’s feathers.

Overall I’m pretty happy with how this turned out, especially for most of it being made in 2–3 days and my discomfort with Adobe Illustrator from the start. I’ve definitely learned a lot about this kind of illustrative technique and making a composition, on top of all of the technical skills that I developed with Illustrator.