Category: best work

noir to pretty princesses? that’s right

My cousin is planning on doing a children’s book and asked me to illustrate, so with Groom’s permission I’m doing some concept work for the book! I’m gonna be helping give ideas and input on the characters and story. The idea is that the book will be about a girl (or a trio of sisters) who finds a crown up in her attic and when she puts it on, it magically transports her to another world where she is the ruler. My cousin is hoping to make it a series, but we’ll worry about that if/when the first one gets published.

The first way she pitched it to me was with her three daughters staring as the main characters, with slightly exaggerated personalities to jazz it up a bit. The next option she came up with, which I think is kind of interesting, is that it would be about one foster child who uses the crown and her kingdom as a way to escape what’s going on around her. Then it could be marketed toward social workers to read to children. I decided to try out designs for the foster child and designs for the three of her daughters.

My first step was to gather inspiration! I created a pinterest board for character design where I could save color schemes and shapes that I liked. Then I made another board for background design, because I don’t have a whole lot of experience in that and it’s something I’ll be needing to do a lot of for a book

Follow Leanna’s board character design on Pinterest. Follow Leanna’s board background inspo on Pinterest.

And she came up with an idea for a scene where the girls would be in the attic playing dress up when they find the crown, so i made a stockpile some vintage clothes and prom dresses too. That idea might get scrapped, but I thought I’d make the board anyway.

Follow Leanna’s board vintage clothes on Pinterest.


So I tend to work best with a picture in my head, and that’s what I got to work on in class. I doodled a little idea during my note-taking. I wanted to give each girl a different shape, to give them distinct silhouettes.

Katie is the oldest, the leader. And she’s got a whole lot of spunk and a dramatic flare. She’s got a huge imagination and will be the curious one that finds the crown and puts it on. She also happens to be pretty stubborn. The oldest kid is always right. So I took that and made her out of square shapes to play on her stubbornness and stability.  Then I wanted her face to be rounded with a pointed chin to mimic a heart to show her as a kind person. She was the first one I worked on while I was kind of trying to figure how stylized and cartoony I wanted it to look. The first had a more realistic body type and then I tried it differently and I think I like the stylized one better. Also I think the legwarmers and ponytail add to her spunk, as do the sharper angles. The book character is probably between nine and seven years old. In real life she’s three years old, so she has a more developed personality and interests than the other two girls. She likes ballet so for her princess dress I made the skirt shorter and kinda poofed out like something a little dancer would wear. Then I gave her ballet slippers and the legwarmers in her normal design cause of the dancer thing. The other dress I have next to her is from an idea that I’m gonna scrap. They are supposed to find this princess crown while playing dress up in the attic, so I was thinking about making their princess dresses, variations of eighties prom dresses that they’d be playing in, but I don’t think it worked. I also came up with this idea that maybe she’d have a stuffed unicorn that came to life in the princess kingdom and acted as a royal vizier and guide to the girls as they go through this new world.

Nat is the middle child, the wedge. Shy, sweet, and affectionate. And the optimist of the group. Her character’s age is probably around five or six. I made her head  square shape to symbolize her stability. Then I made her figure a triangular shape from her dress, to emphasize her being the wedge between the other two sisters. She’ll be the quiet one between Katie’s loud opinions and Kimmi’s friendly energy. Her princess dress was tougher to come up with, but I noticed the perfect thing walking by the kid’s section at target. It looks fancy enough for a princess and still keeps the triangle shape that I wanted. I see her as an animal lover and one that’s very concerned with rules and the well being of others. She would get really upset if something bad would happen to someone else. And she would be the one of the three to first want to give the bad guy a second chance. Then I drew her a cat too in order to show right away that she is caring. I think that she and Katie might butt heads sometimes over little things. Katie might be more the type to go for the easy way to solve a problem, and Nat would worry more about what’s the morally right way to solve the issue.

Then there’s Kimmi! The little one. I drew her character to be maybe two or three, but in real life she’s just a baby, so I don’t have much personality to go off of other than that she smiles a lot. So I built up a silly, friendly, little girl. She’s made up of round shapes to emphasize her friendly nature. Then the tutu and rainboots, and the one little tooth show her goofy side. I thought about overalls, but the tutu just seemed more endearing. And I think I like the pigtail hairstyle from her princess outfit best.



Then I have some design possibilities for a foster child. It was just an idea my cousin threw out, but I wanted to run with it. I played with the colors a bit more and made her hair purple to be fun.  I gave her a slim figure to put more emphasis on her slouch. She would have low self esteem and use the princess world as an escape. Then her hair ends up giving her a diamond shaped head. I didn’t really have a reason behind that, I just wanted to play with shapes. Her princess dress is flowy and freeing to reflect how she would feel in the kingdom.


no we’re never gonna quit it, no we’re never gonna quit it

I like chocolate, how ’bout you? …well too bad, this song is about cocaine. but i thought the theme of illegal deeds and running from the boys in blue fit well for bonnie and cleo.

This is for the lyric video assignment. I created each page of lyrics in photoshop. I paired the straightforward, thin font, Orator std, with the bold, large, and handwritten font, Boli MV, for contrast and to put emphasis on certain words. The song is called ‘Chocolate’ and it’s a cover of The 1975 song done by Nina Nesbitt. It’s one of the songs I had put in my playlist for Cleo that I made with her character dossier. I chose the fade from black transition for the beginning cause I thought it was cute. And then for the rest of the transitions between slides I didn’t want anything too flashy or ostentatious or tacky. so I went with mostly slide across and down and then a blur through whenever I changed the background image.

You may notice I only did a minute worth of the song. That’s because windows movie maker kept giving me crap with the audio. If I wanted to start watching it from the middle of the video, it would play the audio a couple seconds later from where it actually was. So then I had to watch the video from the beginning every time I wanted to check the timing on a slide. It was fine at first and then became mind-numbingly infuriating by the time I got 20 seconds into the song. Then I also felt like I was practically doing a lyric typography poster for each slide and was verging on spending way too much time on a three star assignment.

Killin it with these storyboards

So I did the “Swede a Scene” assignment, which was o recreate a scene from a movie in any way you could. So since I like to draw, I broke out my wacom tablet and story-boarded a scene from the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde movie, replacing Clyde with Cleo. In all I ended up with 33 frames drawn, and each one took about 5-10 minutes to do. I uploaded all the frames to a folder on flickr too if you’d like to look at them individually. Some of them don’t look the best but overall I’m in love with them!


bonnie and clyde

What I did first was use gifcam to capture the frames of the video that I wanted to use. At the point where Clyde comes out of the store with the money you can see I just recorded that little bit because it was too tough to pause at the frames I wanted. Then I took the gif into photoshop where I drew the new frames on top of the old ones. The technique is called rotoscoping. Typically it’s used for full on animating something frame by frame but that would have taken me all week to do. You can see in the frame below that I didn’t follow exactly how the actors were posed. I kind of went with what felt right.




I had everything separated into groups. The original frames were a group on their own and then the gray backdrop pieces I drew in and then a group just for the characters. I had a white layer set to 50% opacity over top of the original frames while I was drawing, to make it easier to see the black lines I was drawing.  Then once I had finished it I just saved every frame as a jpeg and put it into moviemaker. Then I downloaded the audio from the original scene, and all that was left to do was figure out the timing of each frame.

Over the semester I’d kind of been doodling ideas for character design for these girls. I liked Bonnie with short curly hair and a rounder face shape and round eyes to make her seem more friendly and kinda spunky. Then for Cleo I wanted sharper features to make her more mysterious, kind of.

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