Personal Projects

Customized Star Wars Illustration: Naomi Strikes Back

First of all, please forgive the title of this post. I just couldn’t resist.

This blog was a significant part of my social media presence for my Social Media Design class (the reason behind all of my shiny new social media channels), but it didn’t cover every requirement for the class. I also had to create an ad campaign, and create new artwork specifically for said ad campaign. Given that I do not have all the time in the world (I wish), I wasn’t sure that I could create an entirely new vector illustration within the constraints of the deadline. However, I was reasonably certain that I could create something new-ish. Ever since December, I had been wishing that I had my own Jedi illustration to match the illustration I created as a Christmas present. Who doesn’t want a radical poster of themselves as a Jedi? I had created a few sketches idly as part of my usual church sketching session, but I hadn’t done anything with them since.

Gage Sicosta and Lex Desthei were meant to be best space buddies, friends and adventurers wreaking havoc across the galaxy.


So what could be more natural than creating a companion piece? With this shoddy justification bouncing around in my mind, I set out to work. As is customary, I began by outlining the shapes over the image of my sketches to start off the composition. I pulled photos of myself from my computer and traced them to attempt a more natural, realistic profile of myself, and then progressed towards making this iteration look like the illustration I had created approximately three months before.

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This was my first attempt at recording my process by taking frequent screencaps, showcasing the creative process behind my illustrations without livestreaming or recording it. As you can see, it’s a messy process!

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Once I had finished my side profile to my satisfaction, I was able to move on to her Jedi robes. You can see the sketch in the background of this shot, as well as a good view of my working environment in Adobe Illustrator.

Lex-In Progress 1-01

Here’s a better example of the “underpinnings” behind the finished product. The pose is not exactly like the initial sketch, but they’re similar enough that you can get a good idea of how I go from that sketch to a digital product.

From there, I continued to finish her robes, create a similar background to the Gage Sicosta illustration, add the glow and gradient effects, and finish the shading.

Lex-In Progress-01

I’m pleased by the fact that this illustration looks more like me than any other vector self-portrait I’ve done, but it also makes a great companion piece to my other Star Wars illustration.

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The fictional versions of ourselves look fabulous together, and created some interesting, engaging ads for the ad campaign required for my class!

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Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions, requests, or if you’d like to see yourself as an awesome, steely-eyed Star Wars character!





Personal Projects

Customized Star Wars Illustration

Vector illustration has been my first love ever since I started creating illustrations using the Shapes tool in Microsoft Word at the age of ten. Likewise, Star Wars has been my first love ever since my father first introduced me to it as soon as I was old enough to comprehend it. For years, I tried to drag one of my best friends headlong into my “obsession” with me, but she just wasn’t interested until the release of Episode 7: The Force Awakens. Suddenly, she couldn’t be happier to discuss Star Wars with me, and we started playing around with the idea of creating our Jedi alter egos as a personal artistic project. With the help of a Star Wars name generator, we came up with our personas: Gage Sicosta for her, and Lex Desthei for me. It was an interesting design challenge, as well as a fun project to turn to when I was feeling bogged down by my schoolwork. So, when I asked her what she wanted for her Christmas present (crossing my fingers that it wouldn’t be expensive), she told me that she wanted a full-size poster of her Star Wars character. Challenge accepted.

I began by turning to my sketchbook one Sunday in November. I already had a design for Gage Sicosta that I was happy with, but I wanted to pull from that to create the imposing Jedi that my friend had in mind. I went through several iterations of the pose and a few ruined sketchbook pages before coming up with two drafts, and then went to work. After importing the pictures of the sketches into Adobe Illustrator, I began outlining the shapes with the pen tool. I mainly use the Curvature Tool to create my illustrations, but on occasion I will outline the shapes I want with the Brush Tool, use Path > Outline Stroke, and then convert the lines into actual shapes to come up with the precise shape I want.

gage-in-progress-01At this point, I was still working on the illustration from my computer at work. I sent this hastily cobbled together draft to my friend to prove that I was indeed working on her present. At that point, she assumed the worst, accusing me of coming up with a color palette more suited to a Luc Besson movie than Star Wars. It was not, however, the final color palette.

gage-in-progress2-01The second draft was recolored to avoid the same kind of assumptions. At this point, the lightsaber was not finished, but the rest of the draft was close to completion. The reception was much more positive the second time around, and I was almost ready to finish the lightsaber and begin the coloring process. The lightsaber took a few days to finish, since I had to gather inspiration from custom lightsaber builds around the internet and design her own lightsaber for her. The amount of detail in the lightsaber is hard to see, but it consequently took much more time than the rest of the project.

gage-in-progress3-01After the lightsaber was finished and colored according to my friend’s request, I started working on the background. I used the font “Capitol” from Adobe Typekit to emulate the Star Wars aesthetic without being too on-the-nose (something surprisingly hard to do when working in the Star Wars universe).



The final draft was completed using Blending Modes and Outer and Inner Glow to create an otherworldly effect. I used the skills learned while creating my gig poster project to add these effects, and it made the whole project look much more cohesive and polished than it did in the last draft.

The finished poster was sent off to my friend about a week before Christmas, and she loved it! It was an excellent exercise of my vector illustration skills, and it was fun to indulge in a personal project rather than a school assignment. I plan to continue the series in my spare time and come up with an illustration for my own character, but in the meantime, if you’re interested in seeing yourself as a Star Wars character, feel free to contact me!


Vector Graphics

Cosmic Pinball Gig Poster

A gig poster is a means for advertising a concert or show in one specific location. The poster is supposed to reflect the feel and sound of the music in a visual format, and gig posters are as vast and diverse as music itself is. For this project, I was inspired by the music of Anamanaguchi, Approaching Nirvana, and Chill Harris (formerly Kill Paris). I knew I wanted to create a poster for electronic/chiptune music, something that sounded heady and celestial. So my first step was to try to describe the music in more visual terms. In conversations with the friend who first introduced me to this genre, I started to come up with ideas.

Here’s a look at the notes I generated:


After coming up with some ideas for what I wanted, it was time to turn to the drawing board. I chose the band name “Cosmic Pinball” after reflecting on this list and deciding that it was an excellent name for a chiptune-based electronic music group.

Sifting Through Ideas



Since I had so many ideas, most of them centering around a first person platformer game, I had to find out how visually feasible they would be. I had just bought a new Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, and I was trying to draw fast and loose to attempt to sketch intuitively. I wasn’t terribly inspired by any of the concepts that I had come up with, except for one. On the second page of my sketches, I had doodled an alien-looking woman with strange clothing and masses of hair. Her eyes were inspired by the artwork in Lady of the Shard by Gigi DG, and I found myself drawn to her and the aesthetic she represented. In conversation with the same friend that had introduced me to this genre of music, we had been discussing the 1968 film Barbarella and the unique aesthetic associated with it. This woman I had drawn represented a little of this 1960’s space age aesthetic, and I wanted to continue perfecting her. So, I basically abandoned my other ideas and took this sketch into Illustrator.

Illustrating Concepts

My first alien woman was based directly off of the sketch I had already done. While creating the illustrations, I colored the different segments of the costume randomly before deciding that I actually liked the high contrast in the colors and the values! These specific illustrations were inspired by a variety of 1960’s space age references, from science fiction pulp novel covers, older science fiction movies (like Barbarella), the original Star Trek series, and 1960’s fashion.

Most of the references I found were either hideously dated, sexist and objectifying, or just plain ridiculous. But overall, I tried to emulate the general aesthetic while also bringing it towards the future.

The Initial Draft

The first draft was flatly colored, and at this point, I was looking for preferences on which alien woman they preferred for the final version. After the work I had put in to create these two different women, I was having trouble deciding which one I preferred. After some feedback from my classmates, I decided to change the color scheme of the first woman and use that as the final design. I also received some feedback from my instructor, who suggested that I recess the buildings to make alleyways and increase depth. He also suggested that I desaturate the buildings as they got farther away, placing warmer and brighter colors towards the front and darker and cooler colors towards the back. He wanted me to play with perspective and put more thought into where the buildings hit her, to not hide her hands with text, and to add more squish to her wrists. Other than that, I was free to proceed as planned.

Gig Poster Draft 2

With the recolored version of the first draft in hand, I set off to edit the colors and positions of the buildings.

Using Adobe Photoshop, I created two different value comps to see what colors and values I needed to fix. I wanted to lighten her skin a little to offer better contrast without completely destroying her skintone, and I also needed to fix the arrangement of the colors in the buildings.

The six different illustrations are all of the different arrangements, sizes, and perspectives for the buildings that I tried. I eventually decided on the one in the middle of the second row, because I liked the extra negative space around her head so much. The new colors followed a much better procession from warm and bright to dark and cool, and arranging the buildings differently gave them more depth and dimension.

To more accurately represent the translucent, colorful nature of a galactic background, I started experimenting with blending modes. From there, I wanted to mess with blending modes on the buildings and on the alien woman, to add a more dreamlike feel.

This process was not easy, and it took two full days to a. figure out how the blending modes worked and b. figure out what I wanted from the blending modes. The first image was an experiment with creating a better galactic background. After applying the same effects to the other elements of the poster, I came up with the second image. It looked cool, but it definitely wasn’t what I wanted. The third image came about after a solid three hours of layering, messing with blending modes and colors, and several failed attempts at working with something else. For the fourth image, I tried adding a solid background to the alien woman’s body and clothing, and it worked much better. I wanted the stars to shine through her hair, but having the buildings be visible through her body was not what I had in mind. The fifth image was the closest to what I wanted, as far as the colors and the transparencies. After that, I recalled that another classmate had used the Inner Glow effects really well, and I wanted to try that. The sixth image includes my attempt at Inner Glow and Outer Glow, to make the poster look almost like neon lighting. I loved the effect that it gave, but I needed to tone it down more. I posted the last image to the class Facebook group to gather feedback, and realized I had some other things I wanted to fix before the final draft.

The Final Draft


After receiving feedback from my peers, I decided to keep the gloves and remove the robot arm. It was creating confusion and gaps of color, so I chose to remove it. I increased the saturation of her costume to make it more visible, brightened the buildings, toned down the glow on the stars, and recolored her eyes and lips.

This poster perfectly reflects how I think the music of Cosmic Pinball would feel. It would feel celestial, psychedelic, a little sultry, but ultimately it should make you think of stars, galaxies, and extraterrestrials. This poster is attention-grabbing and gorgeous. The glowing effect is reminiscent of Vegas neon lights, and the galactic background adds to the dreamlike surroundings. If you listen to specific tracks by Chill Harris and Anamanaguchi, specifically Slap Me, U n Me, Endless Fantasy, The Walk, or To a New Earth, this poster should make perfect sense to you. When I listen to that kind of music, this is what I see. I hope that this poster enables you to see it too.