This is Part 1, Concepts.
Go to Part 2, Final Workflow.
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Collaboration can lead to wonderful places. I've done a few blog banners for other bloggers before, (Retrospectacle, Of Two Minds, The Meming of Life) and I think it can be incredibly beautiful for a serious blogger to hire an artist to do some custom work. Look at Carel Brest Van Kempen's exemplary A Blog Around the Clock banner, or Jessica Palmer's own Bioephemera banner. This is serious art conveying information on the diverse moods and interests of the blogger. Perhaps a review of blog banners is in order some day.
Dan Rhoads is a molecular biologist and avid naturalist who moved from America to the island of Cyprus. His blog Migrations ranges in topics such as bird-watching, conservation, science in society and whatever else catches his keen eye. After a rocky patch of non-connecting emails ("What do you mean I am having trouble sending instantaneous messages halfway around the world?! Preposterous!" I spluttered), and with some help from Mike Haubrich, Dan and I got started.
Initial ideas that were tossed into the salad bowl of my brain:
-Fibonacci sequence. Archaeopteryx. Cyprus. Human migration out of Africa. Bird Migration, v-formations. Darwin's finches.
-Dan's personal migration to Cyprus.
-Looked up cellular migration, realized it's poorly understood.
-Read about Dictyostelium discodeum, an amoeba useful in studying cellular migration, has a slug-form it adopts when moving. I like saying "dicty-disco" out loud.
Starting with these ideas, here are some of the images developed in the rough conceptual stage.
Archaeopteryx on a slab in the shape of Cyprus with a shadow of a modern bird, pencil:A spiral emanating from archaeopteryx's eye, birds following the path, human footprints, dictystelium amoebae tracing a path. Cool tones, digital painting:Same spiral, archaeopteryx. Warm tones in oil paint:Wedge-shaped concept, flight of birds in center, Cyprus on right, amoebae moving from left. Pencil:
Wedge concept simplified. Dan suggested amoebae in positions of Mediterranean islands, but I kept a wedge shape. Oil paint:
There were a few other pencils in similar vein. I worried the concepts were missing a human connection for the blog-reader.
On my walk to work one day, I stopped in the park and scribbled out an idea. Take it right back to the human traveller. I touched up the pencils with india ink, scanned it and did a slapdash colouring job with digital painting in Photoshop. Included the image at the last minute in an email to Dan:
I'll conclude this "Making of the Migrations banner" in part 2 later this week! In the meantime, make sure to view the final in its proper home.
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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.
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