Using my iPhone, IFTTT, Dropbox, and Hazel to 'capture' textures

I'm very fond of using texture in my illustration work. It's become second nature to use my eyeballs to scout random cement walls, the back of used books, and rusted car parts. I've also become a purveyor of many, many websites, online services, and free remote collections of old stuff - all in the hopes of finding something to beautiful to use in Photoshop.

So I thought I'd share a bit of how I made the some of the tediousness of "texture sleuthing" into a simpler, more intuitive process using tools that most people have access to.

The iPhone's Camera

I have a 5c and am largely happy with it. I use the app VSCOcam to take and edit the photos slightly. The main benefit my iPhone has over other cameras is that I always have it. It's not a DSLR and there are times I wished I had my clunker, but the trade off in quality is diminished by the iPhone's utility. VSCOcam is a nice app that allows me to play with exposure, color, and sharpness to bring out the best qualities in the shot. I can also delete blurry photos before they hit my photo stream and/or texture library.

IFTTT, Dropbox and Hazel

So this is the part of the process that used to slow me down. How do you quickly get the photos off of your phone and onto your computer (in a place that's actually helpful)? In that distant past, like 3 years ago, you'd have to actually plug in your phone to a cable that way plugged into your computer. Barbarians! Thanks to some handy services, I can save it on my phone and have it saved within a certain folder on my computer in minutes.

IFTTT is a service (app and website) that links internet things together using "recipes."  We're going to use a recipe that looks like this: IF I save a photo to an album named "Textures" on my iPhone THEN save it to a folder marked "iOS textures" in my Dropbox. Your photo or photos will now be saved to your dropbox on your computer. Note: You can name the albums and folders whatever you like.

You could leave the texture there, in Dropbox. But if you have a "can't quit it" texture addiction like me, you'll be hitting the bounds of your dropbox size allotment rather quickly. Hazel is a great app that does a billion fantastic things on your Mac, but in this case we just want it to watch the folder "iOS textures" and move it to the texture library that I store on an external hard drive.

So that's it. A lot of the time I take my daily bike ride, shoot a few texture shots, edit quickly and save it to my texture album all on my iPhone. When I get home, the image files are all ready to be used in one of my illustrations. 


New Website!

Saying goodbye is hard to do.

Saying goodbye is hard to do.

My last portfolio site was designed and developed in-house by me. It was a really fun project to bring into existence. I went with a single-page site with lots of subtle parallax effects, strong typography, and a lot of character.

It garnered lots of attention and was featured on a few showcase sites, like Site Inspire. I received lots of inquiries from fellow illustrators and designers about contacting the firm that had built the site for me. I don't think many people believed me when I said I made the whole thing from scratch on my own.

As is with all things, the site got stale. It wasn't responsive and it was difficult to add new work. The modal lightbox window was okay, but didn't serve my illustration work as well as I'd liked. I had it in my head that I needed to update, but client projects wouldn't allow.

At the same time, I'd been feeling a slow disconnect from the world of web design and a strong urge to increase the amount of fun illustration work I was getting. I can design responsive sites and have enough technical skill to make it close to what I envision, but to what end? What fun art director or children's publisher cares if I can develop in addition to illustrate?

Students and younger professionals always ask me about what to include in their portfolio. I always lead with "remove all the stuff you don't want to do more of." To get to where I want to be professionally, I needed to remove the web design work and play down some of the printed work that I didn't want to have an outsized influence on my portfolio.

So here's my new site, fully responsive and featuring my illustration work more prominently. I decided to use Squarespace for a lot of reasons, but chief among them is that I didn't have to build the site myself. Leaving me time to make work that I really love.