So I’m pretty sure I get a lot of follows based on my Avatar. Not to say that my real face is hideous and folks would shun me because of my non-blue complexion, but I think people are drawn to the creative aspect. As a graphic designer I’ve always felt it important to make a statement about my craft with my resume/portfolio, so representing myself in an illustrated graphic makes since for me, whereas a realtor, for example should probably go with their true face. Of course now you can get your own illustrated face through several sources on the web, and there are plenty of those hip little avatars from various social media apps but mine is truly custom and I do think it brings attention to my social media outlets.
Now the blue wasn’t my idea to be fair, in fact I got the idea sitting in a auto mechanics shop (waiting for my then blue chevy blazer to be worked on). I remember sitting in the small waiting room inclosed with windows that faced the penetrating and blinding sun, I sat with my two boys around 5 and 7 years old at the time, bored, thirsty, hot and driving me nuts playing with the door that rang every-time you opened it! And there it was the inspitration, sitting on the coffee table under a stack of People and US magazines, an image of hope to a designer needing a new motivation. Keeanu Reeves, in blue on the cover of RELEVANT magazine. The coolest thing I ever saw, I asked the mechanic if I could take the magazine, he didn’t seem to care. In it I found the content interesting, kind of a hip religious magazine targeted at 20 somethings, as a designer the design and illustration of the magazine and articles really moved me, it truly was a new inspiration point in my career. [Cue the chorus of angels].
So I decided I couldn’t let Keeanu have all the glory and thought maybe this would make for a cool client christmas card that I could send to my clients, to put my smiling face fresh in their minds. The process involved me late one night taking photos of my self, then a not so common necessity as avatars were virtually non existent. I then pulled the photo into Adobe Photoshop and applied a blue hue to the photo via the poster effect and hue saturation sliders. I followed by pulling the photo into Adobe Illustrator and began with tracing over the posterized colors. Posterization is cool because it breaks a photo down into basic colors, you can specify the amount of colors you want represented, the less you specify the larger the blocks of color, and you end up with a flat looking image that is less difficult to simulate in a vector program like Illustrator. As you can see, it took a number of steps to get to the final, (and I’m leaving out quite a bit regarding drawing with bezier tools and adding gradients). Illustrator’s layers allow for opening and closing of top and bottom layers so you can see what you’re doing from start to finish. Starting from Basic elements like face and hair shape to more detailed elements like eyes and facial hair, also the white outline which gives the illustration an added illustrative feel, is a duplicate of the entire image that is then added to the back with the white outline. Pleased with the final result I was able to produce the christmas cards, added snowflakes and all, and go on to use this same image in a number of other ways including my avatar in apps like Twitter, Facebook, Blip and of course WordPress. Thanks Keanu, and thanks RELEVANT Magazine for showing me the light. Just so you know I’m not slighting the content of your magazine, I did become a subscriber and I am also a volunteer core member in my kids religious teen group.