Posted 08.10.2010

Designing the CentriKid Camper Devotional Book

Now that the summer is over, I’ve enjoyed sharing some of the things I’ve been working on throughout the year, such as the CentriKid staff photo, the CentriKid set, and the Bon Appetit theme logo and art direction.

Well, add the CentriKid camper devotional book to that list.

Like the set, I drew everything first in my moleskine, scanned it in, and then traced it on the computer, in Illustrator. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, I’m not as good at freehanding it on the computer. Second, (and more important) when you create things on the computer, they tend to look perfect, exact. Take a straight line, for example. I can draw the straightest line you’ve ever seen on the computer. Click and drag. Cake. Give me a pen (no ruler), I’ll draw a “straight” line. It will have waves. I couldn’t draw a truly straight line if my life depended on it. —part of the kid art direction this year celebrated those waves. It embraaced the jagged edges and crooked angles. It was easier for me to keep the integrity of those lines if I drew it by hand first.

Moleskine Drawings

I did a lot of visual research for this project. First off, if you’re not a graphic designer, you may giggle at the term “visual research.” I know when we throw it around at work, people snicker because it sounds like a fluff task, an excuse to play around online, but there is so much value there. When I went to a design conference at the beginning of June one of the things they talked about was your art collection, images of things (or the actual objects themseves) that inspired you, challenged you, things you admired. A big chunk of graphic design is being able to make connections with things that you’ve already seen.

So I googled pictures of chefs, trying to think of new poses I could put the characters in. See the sprinkling in the bottom left picture, look familar? Look at the drawing included above

Chefs Collage

I also spent a lot of time going through Flickr. There are several collections there where users have uploaded pictures of vintage cookbooks. — These proved invaluable.

Vintage Cookbooks

Vintage Cookbooks

The first thing I designed was the cover. It actually went through several variations before we finally landed on the one that went to print.

This one was never finalized. You can tell, I’m struggling with spacing with the logo and title of the book.

I made headway here, by moving the logo to the top. But, I’m still struggling with spacing with this cover.

This one is getting close. I haven’t added the circle around the logo and the CentriKid logo is at the bottom on the back cover.

Here’s the final.—Definitely the strongest option. It’s all part of the process.

Then, I began to lay out the copy. —and there was a ton of copy! That’s the thing about working for a publishing company, they their love copy.

In some cases, I could pull from the library of characters I had already created and design the page layouts with them in place. But, on other pages, I added the characters last. I printed out what I had already designed and overlaid tracing paper and drew the characters on the tracing paper to see if I could get the positioning and spacing right.

The thing that I loved about this project was I was able to interject some of my personality and hide some easter eggs.

When I was working on the copyright page, I was trying to figure out what to write. I couldn’t delete that page, we had to have it. So, I included “boring copyright information, the lawyers made us” — which is so true!

For the memory card cutouts page, I put “cut along the jagged line.” When, I was creating it, I thought “this sure is a jagged line more than a dotted line.” —So I used that.

Cut Along the Jagged Line

A clean kitchen is a happy kitchen? Anyone?

A Clean Kitchen

The last few pages were reserved for notes. When, I was creating it, I thought, “How many kids are actually going to take notes? They will draw all over these pages.” So, I wrote “Notes or Doodles.” *Plus, I got to draw a pie in the face

If you look carefully in the bowl of alphabet soup, I hid my name. grin

Amy in Alphabet Soup

I’ve already started working on next year’s theme, Shipwreck Island. In fact, yesterday, we finalized the logo. It should be a fun project too.


Posted 08.08.2010

Posted 08.08.2010

Developing the CentriKid, Bon Appetit Art Direction


A year ago, last spring, Darrel (Creative Director) and I sat down to brainstorm the Kid art direction. We had already decided on a cooking motif, titled “Bon Appetit.” (For you CentriKid Trivia lovers out there, for a while it was going to be “Taste and See.” “Dig In” was another option, but we finally went with “Bon Appetit”).

Darrel had found an artist named Derek Yaniger that had a very distinct style.

Derek Yaniger

This style is not unique to Derek, though. Jim Flora was an artist (1914-1998) known for his jazz and classical album covers. He also did children’s books and illustrated for magazines.

Jim Flora

You can see the same feel in the Monsters, Inc title sequence.

Monsters Inc Title Sequence

We decided to stay within that same flavor (no pun intended).

Can I do it?

I was one of those weird kids that always knew that I wanted to be an artist. Hey, I spent all my birthday money when I turned 10 on Disney’s Art of Animation, from Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast. I would judge babysitters on their artistic ability. My favorite ones would sit and draw with me. My mom talked about how you could always entertain me at a resteraunt by giving me a pen and a piece of paper.

I believe that when God created us, he placed a part of himself in everyone. “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26) It’s the Imago Deo. We each have a diffrent piece and it’s only when everyone gets together that we should look even more like Him. My piece? I’m a creator, a builder. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the creation story. Creating something out of nothing. But, it doesn’t end there. The entire Bible, our lives even, are all stories of God molding us and making us. The book of Isaiah talks about the potter and the clay. Jesus was a carpenter. Priscilla and Aquala, tent makers.

Can I do it? I think that’s every creative’s secret fear. Can I do it? Will my last idea be just that, my last idea. For me, it’s that insecurity, that “thorn” that forces me to literally pray everyday for inspiration, to ask the author of the universe to inspire me, grant me the ability to create something today.

I fear the well will one day run dry, but look at Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well in John 4. “…whoever drinks the water I gve him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

So, like the boy with only five loaves and two fish, I ask God to multiply my efforts to the point where I have basketfuls left over.

The pieces that I work on that people enjoy and appreciate the most are the ones that I’ve prayed over the most. That’s not a coincidence.

So, just like any other project, I asked myself “Can I do this?” I wouldn’t categorize myself as an Illustrator. We were curious if we would need to hire a freelancer. I began to do some tests.

The blue lady was the first thing I drew. She actually made it to the Camper Devotional book, but I flipped her in the final piece.

The chef was my next attempt. He never made it.

The third and final charaacter test I did was a food critic. This character also made it into the camper devotional book, except in blue and sans wine bottle. grin


Last fall, I designed the CentriKid website. When we had designed the logo, a year ago, last spring, we determined our main color would be orange. When, I designed the site, Darrel and I decided that each section would have a different background color. I developed the other 3 colors based on the orange. —For the non graphic designers out there, that means that I needed to find colors that would compliment the orange. No clashing here!

CentriKid Color Palatte

Since we were really trying to reinforce the new CentriKid look, we decided to use the same colors with the theme. —And actually, we’re planning on allowing these colors to make another appearance next year with Shipwreck Island.


For the logo, I always knew I wanted the type to be in a script.

Logo Inspiration

I began looking at different fonts online and hand letting different options.

I ended up pulling some of my favorite letters together and creating what eventually became Bon Appetit.

Final Bon Appetit Script

Then, it became the issue of adding the character. I started drawing different options. This was the first one.

But, we decided the man made the overall shape too tall. The work did not go wasted, though. He made an appearance inside the camper devotional book.

Tall Blue Man

The next option was the one that we finally landed on. I think it’s a good case in point: never go with your first idea unless you’ve explored several other options. Nine times out of ten, your next idea will be better than the first.


Posted 08.07.2010

Posted 08.07.2010

Chef’s Pick = Staff Pic

A couple of weeks ago, I got to post some of the work that I did on the CentriKid set for this summer. That’s not all I did for camp this year. I also worked on all the print pieces and animated bumpers.

One of the print pieces that I worked on was the Group leader folder. Essentially, when a church group leader takes their group to camp, they get a folder with everything they need to know: schedule, missions information, etc. The first page in the folder has a picture of the staff that work in the LifeWay office, in Nashville, year round. They spend all year planning, getting site location information, hiring the teams that will work camp, registering churches, determining logistics, etc.

I got to lead the photo shoot. Jeff Venable helped me set up lights and Lydia Campbell helped with props. Darrel Girardier, our creative director gave me an idea of what were looking for. He suggested pulling out the chef outfits and kitchen utensils that would go to camp and have them dress up. This was a great idea, except for the fact that we didn’t have enough outfits for everyone. We ended up taking two pictures and I stitched them together, after the fact, in Photoshop.

Front row: left to right Laura Fillingim, Lance Howerton, and Jeremy Echols.

Back row: left to right Eric Sampson, Andy Dukes, Mary Carlisle, and Meredith Teaseley

We kept the chairs in the back row picture so that they would know where to stand, hoping it would make my job easier when I got ready to stitch them together. —It did help. The only problem was we actually took the back row picture first. I miscounted, and so we originally had 4 chairs on the front row. Meaning, I eventually had to Photoshop out the extra chair.

The first step was to cut out the front row.

Everything looked dark. So, I created a mask, cutting everyone out, adding highlights, and making their outfits look like a true white.

The cool thing about our eyes is that we recognize white when we’re inside under fluorescent lights or outside in sunlight. The camera is different. When you take a picture outside, it has a blue tint to it, fluorescent adds yellow. You can compensate for this by changing the white balance in your camera or modifying it after the fact, like I did. Most photographers will carry around a white card. Before they start shooting, they’ll hold the white card up, zoom completely in on it with their camera, and adjust the settings, that way the camera will know what true white looks like. Interesting, huh?

The next step? I adjusted the color of the background to make it white. In fact, I even put a black and white filter on the background to desaturate it.

Then, I had to photoshop out the floor and the chairs. The hard part was corner on the left.

If you look at the picture now, it would probably work. But, the area where our eyes tell us something isn’t right, is lghting and shadows. Watch movies carefully. A lot of places where they mess up in compositing are places where the shadows don’t line up, especially if you’re outside. There’s only one sun. —or at least for the planet I live on. grin

I added shadows behind the front row and around Eric’s legs, especially on the left side. Remember, I had to paint in his legs?

Here’s the final picture. There are a few places where I can tell, but for the most part? not too shabby.