Filtering by Tag: Pattern

Latest Project: The Đặc Biệt Longevity Sweater

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

When I was at Leo Burnett New York, I sat next to a Japanese designer and one day, he had an epiphany and told Skyler and me, “I just realized why I like Chipotle. It’s because it has rice! So good, man…so good.” Years later I realized that was true for me, too. I’ll eat anything if it has rice: burrito bowls, pilaf, halal chicken over yellow rice, Rice Krispies Treats, anything. And though I’ve never tried “cauliflower rice,” I’d give it a shot.

If you grew up in a Southeast Asian home or ate in Chinatown or went grocery shopping in an Asian market, you surely saw on one of these ubiquitous patterns, adorned on plates, bowls, spoons and chopsticks, sometimes referred to as a longevity pattern. I mean – I ate all my rice out of this bowl my whole life. I don’t anymore, but I do get nostalgic for them. And that’s when I had an idea:

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THIS, I thought to myself, NEEDS TO BE ON AN ALL-OVER PRINT SWEATER.

And as I thought that, I accidentally shared the thought with a friend. And like any song that gets stuck in your head, the only way you can get it out is to express it, or in this case, put it on paper and eventually design the whole thing and get it printed and made into an actual thing that you can hold in your hands.

So that’s what I did.

It took a while, to clear the other projects off my to-do list, but with Tết looming, I skipped my usual Procreate process and went straight to Photoshop via Astropad Studio using Kyle’s brushes. I tried to find an Asian movie or show to watch to help me get in the right headspace, but the closest thing available was Murder on the Orient Express (2017), which was…fine.

Getting the balance and spacing between all the pattern lines was tough and took a while, and after fudging and shifting them around, I got it in a good place. Now I just had to do it three more times for the backside, right arm, and left arm templates. I decided that instead of just using the same front.psd file for the other three templates, I’d retrace it, because although this sweater is inspired by the “longevity” pattern, which is a mass-produced to the point that ensures its longevity long after this planet melts and drowns, each side has to be special.

I also wanted to replace the Chinese character in the center which said “longevity,” with “đặc biệt” (“special” in Vietnamese), because anyone who wears this is đặc biệt.

 
 

If you’ve ever seen a longevity plate or bought a Supreme one for $100, you’ll notice that there are other floral accents on the edges. I couldn’t put this flower on the sides of the sweater because the template has bleed, trim, and safety areas, so I painted them onto the elbows, and that’s how we ended up with this look:

And before we have a bad reaction to the cultural appropriating model, the sweater website uploads my images onto this stock man’s body so I can see it mocked up.

It’s strange. I was never big on AZN Pryde [sic] when I was growing up in middle school, but I thought the song “Got Rice,” was pretty good, and that was probably the closest I got to showing pride in being Asian. So the recent uptick in Asian-inspired projects has been out of the norm for me. It’s either because of the current political climate where the Trump administration wants to limit refugees and end birthright citizenship; or the smash hit movie, Crazy Rich Asians; or growing older and realizing that I have to understand my culture and traditions to pass it on to my cat or dog or whatever; or maybe it was after watching Ali Wong’s last stand-up special.

It’s hard to tell.

Latest Project: Delft Ego

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Someone told me I was obsessed with Ego. Multiple people, actually. And I don’t know, maybe I am, but Vincent Van Gogh did a bunch of self portraits and no one ever said he was obsessed with himself.

After visiting her in June (and consequently my best friends Mark and Bonnie), I was so inspired by her new European lifestyle, like how she slimmed down, eats food measured in the metric system, and can sleep in the sun under a skylight. I even think she barks in Dutch now, with a lot of throat sounds and extra vowels, like “baark” or “van woouf.” Did I want to move to Amsterdam now? Did I want to bike everywhere? Was I prepared to get yelled at by Duolingo on a daily basis?

These are all questions I asked myself on the seven-hour journey back home as I drew Ego living her new life in the style of traditional Delftware, like the ones I saw at the Rijks Museum.

Ego Delft (Process)

I spent 2 weeks in Amsterdam and this is what I was able to come up with, representing the quaint, Dutch life.

For reasons, most likely related to what I went through with the Cats of New York pattern, I let this sit on the shelf for a couple months. It wasn’t until on my flight to Albuquerque did I decide to try to refine it.

Drawing Ego nine times was easy. I’m “obsessed,” after all, the thing I had the most trouble with were the flourishes. Should they be simple and minimal, or ornate and flowery? And making sure the Dutch scenes weren’t culturally insensitive was another concern, but I’d be upset if museums didn’t allow dogs into their halls, honestly.

Ego Delft (Process) v1.1

Using Procreate’s new feature where it can reflect what you draw in quarters, sixths, or eighths made this question much easier to decide which direction I wanted to go in. Sure this new round of tiles is super ornate, but perhaps gaudy and distracting from what you’re supposed to look at: Ego.

And plus, if I was going to redraw each tile from beginning to end without duplicating the corners nine times and only filling in the center circle, my hand would fall off. So late in October, to get in the Halloween spirit, I watched Beetlejuice for the first time and began painting simple corners.

With a future return trip to Amsterdam to see Ego just a month away, I needed to finish these quickly so I could send them off to print onto tiles so I could gift them to her for Thanksgiving. I watched Youtube tutorials to get the painting technique right, studied pictures I took from the Rijks Museum and from Google, to get the color and shading right, then used the Luna Display and went in.

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When I’m back in the Netherlands for Thanksgiving, Maybe I’ll go to the city of Delft and do a painting course to see how close I got with digital compared to physical, and maybe I’ll do a tile of Pinot, and maybe people will finally recognize that I’m obsessed with both Ego and Pinot. It’s dialectical.

Latest Project: Cats of New York

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Back in March 2018, a couple months into a new phase of my life, one without Ego and seeing the Pulaski Bridge cats on my morning commute, but instead with Pinot and seeing Brooklyn Library cats on my evening commute, something struck me to draw a bunch of cats of New York.

This diary entry is going to take you on an odyssey, so please grab a snack and buckle up.

I started at Grey in 2014 and one of my favorite things about the office was the wallpaper in the meeting rooms. Sure ad agencies are quirky, but this wallpaper was cool because it’s a modern take on toile du jouy featuring something I’d heard about just months before. Since then, I always wanted to try my hand at a toile pattern, especially after the Museum of Art and Design had a 3D version of one.

Chinatown Toile  by  Dan Funderburgh  Seen at Grey New York

Chinatown Toile by Dan Funderburgh
Seen at Grey New York

Fast forward back to March 2018, I came home from my walk home and started thinking what felines are present in New York City. Bodega cats, of course, they’re the best. The New York Public Library lions. I really racked my brain on this one. Maneki-neko? Yeah, definitely.

Anyway, I started drawing them out in Procreate.

Cats of New York (Process)

Every now and then I’d open up the file and try to noodle around and figure out how I’d fit these cats together in a toile de jouy style and it was just really difficult in the Procreate app because I was mentally shackled to how Photoshop works. In June, during my seven-hour flight to Amsterdam, however, I was determined to figure it all out. Except I started missing Pinot, my roommate/best friend/business parter/Albuquerque native/cat lover’s cat. It’s a weird feeling of infidelity knowing that you’re flying across an ocean to see a dog you missed so much while also missing a cat back home a lot.

JJ, one of my best friends in elementary school, grew up with both a cat and a dog and that blew my mind. I read Garfield with my brother as a kid and it was always truth that dogs and cats cannot cohabitate. I’d always wanted a dog growing up and the only cat experience I had was a neighbor’s cat who’d hang out on our driveway. But Pinot was exactly the animal I needed as a transition with Ego living on a different continent.

So as someone who is constantly crippled by multiple forms of guilt, I drew out Pinot in most of the nicknames Casey and I’d given him.

Not pictured but should’ve been: Peanie Baby™

Not pictured but should’ve been: Peanie Baby™

And before I knew it, it was time to put our seat back and folding trays in their full, upright position. I was nowhere near finishing the Cats of New York pattern, but Cat of Putnam Avenue was in pretty good shape.

No fear, I still had a seven-hour return trip back home. And it’s not like there were more nicknames I could’ve put in Pinot’s piece. So I opened up the Procreate app and…instead began doodling Ego living her new Dutch life. I mean, it’s only fair. I had to get it all down while it was fresh in my mind. And then, of course, per FAA regulations, I had to put my iPad away cause I was back in New York.

This was all part of the plan, though, you see. In May 2018, I backed the Luna Display, by the people behind Astropad (an app that turned the iPad into a Cintiq), on Kickstarter. So I waited for my Luna to come in. And then it did. And then I just waited. And waited and waited.

I had another flight in September, this time back home to Houston, so I used that time to finally, finally work on the Cats of New York pattern. Except I also had the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man on, and I ended up watching that instead.

No fear, however, because there’d still be the four-hour return trip home. Except again…instead…I drew my friends’ pets who passed away.

The key to solve stress-induced procrastination, it turned out, was to put yourself in a situation where whatever you had to finish was much less stressful than whatever was happening around you. For instance, writing an article a day before deadline is stressful, yet somehow the apartment always seems so much messier at the same exact time. However, if you absolutely had to clean your apartment in an hour, there’s always an extra minute to fire off a really good tweet about your Lyft driver the other day.

The thing I had to finish (Cats of New York) was stressful because the end of the year was close and I still didn’t do my annual summer pattern. And the only thing more stressful than that and able to distract me back onto my work is the 2018 Midterm Election Night.

So with the returns up on the screen, I distracted myself with tracing the cats I drew on Procreate, in Photoshop via Astropad Studio.

My dinner on Election Night was a four-piece at Popeye’s. I ran out of Whataburger Spicy Ketchup back home so I had to stop by the bodega and pick up regular ketchup. Their credit card minimum was $5 so I bought ketchup, ice cream, some M&Ms, and these Arizona fruit snacks which were kinda gross, except their credit card machine wasn’t working so in a move that I’d never once experience in my entire time in New York, the bodega guy said, “Oh it’s fine, just pay me back tomorrow on your way to work.” An Election Day miracle.

My dinner on Election Night was a four-piece at Popeye’s. I ran out of Whataburger Spicy Ketchup back home so I had to stop by the bodega and pick up regular ketchup. Their credit card minimum was $5 so I bought ketchup, ice cream, some M&Ms, and these Arizona fruit snacks which were kinda gross, except their credit card machine wasn’t working so in a move that I’d never once experience in my entire time in New York, the bodega guy said, “Oh it’s fine, just pay me back tomorrow on your way to work.” An Election Day miracle.

First I had to test which brush was best for the desired effect, so I drew the library lion a few times and landed on Kyle’s Ballpoint Pen Brush.

For the next six hours, as the polls closed and races were called, I kept outlining, crosshatching, and occasionally looking up to see what the count was.

And just as the Pod Save America bros were wrapping it up, I finally put my pencil down. I finished the Cats of New York. It wasn’t exactly in the spirit or design of a traditional toile de jouy pattern I initially sought after, but gosh darn if I wasn’t proud of it.

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The next challenge was to make it into a seamless and tileable. In the pattern above, you can see the Cats on Broadway are aligned horizontally, but staggered vertically. Though the desired end result is visual randomness without seeing a clear seam of where things are repeated, it still has to function as a tile, if it were to be produced into wallpaper.

So as I had initially assumed on that first time I gave up, moving things around as a group was much easier in Photoshop. And that’s how I ended up with the 2018 pattern, Cats of New York.

Mission Accomplished.

Except then I realized I totally forgot about one more cat of New York that I never wrote down and so in a panic, a couple days later, I went through the whole process again: Draw the lion in Procreate, import to Photoshop, open up Astropad Studio, trace and crosshatch on Photoshop, and rearrange everything AGAIN, except this time with Escape from New York on instead of the ABC News.

And now, at last, my 2018 pattern: Cats of New York.

Featuring:  NYPL Lion; Pinot as a Bodega Cat; Maneki-neko at a Chinese restaurant;  Cats  on Broadway; Bryant Park’s Le Carrousel cat; Lunar New Year Parade’s Lion Dance; off-brand Garfield Thanksgiving’s Day Parade balloon; Katz’s Delicatessen

Featuring: NYPL Lion; Pinot as a Bodega Cat; Maneki-neko at a Chinese restaurant; Cats on Broadway; Bryant Park’s Le Carrousel cat; Lunar New Year Parade’s Lion Dance; off-brand Garfield Thanksgiving’s Day Parade balloon; Katz’s Delicatessen

The end.

Latest Project: Cheeseburger Friday Newsletter

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

While I was at Leo Burnett New York, my friend started Cheeseburger Friday, CBF. Every Friday, we'd go to a new burger place. Even after I left LBNY, I'd join every now and then for a cheeseburger with my friends. We had discussions, rankings and a physical leaderboard.

Anyway, I imported CBF to Grey and it started off as a tiny thing cause Shake Shack is across the street in the park, but it grew into a bigger thing cause there were a lot of burger places around 23rd and 5th and now we have discussions, spreadsheets, algorithms, ranks and grades.

After an average-cheeseburger CBF, I visited my dear friend's studio show and was hit with inspiration and a little revelation: Cheeseburger Fridays isn't about cheeseburgers. It's about hanging out friends, co-workers and turning co-workers into new friends and we all just happen to be eating the same food.

I wanted to make a newsletter to let the people express their CBF experiences through art and copy that wouldn't have to be scrutinized by their boss or clients and could just put it out into the world.

I went home and immediately started to sketch out falling ingredients.

Before

Before

After

I don't know how these ingredients will be integrated with the newsletter, but I was messing around on Society6, and maybe it'll be a t-shirt, or curtains or something.

Why would anyone want curtains from Society6?

Why would anyone want curtains from Society6?

Next step if I was really going to put this pattern onto curtains for Society6 was to make it seamless. As it was, I could see the borders of the original image, especially if they were tiled. So I swapped the corners, shifted the ingredients around so it was still balanced yet random, overlapped tomatoes and patties between borders, and made sure they all lined up.

Now, if you want curtains or something stupid, like a backpack, that is now an option. If it were on Society6. But it's not. I'm sorry.

Cheeseburger Recipe, 2017. Digital

Latest Project: Summer Pattern 2017 (Birds and Bees)

Added on by Nathan Hoang.
A first pass at the nested cactus and also a  Damien Hirst  I guess

A first pass at the nested cactus and also a Damien Hirst I guess

I like to make a pattern once a year. It started off with the popsicles and big cats in 2015. Then it was the chameleons in 2016. This yearly exercise wasn't planned, but I guess two's enough to make anything an annual tradition, so…let's go summer 2017!

My friend friend Casey likes cacti because it reminds her of New Mexico and I find birds nesting in cacti so fascinating because I want to know how elaborate it is inside and if it's like an I Dream of Genie situation where it's extremely spacious and comfortable inside or what's going on in there? So I started off with a sketch on my iPad to plan placement and positions.

I didn't like what was going on here so I left it alone for months. Two weeks ago, I flipped through a CommArts Photography Annual and saw Craig Cutler's image of a bee on a honeycomb and I couldn't stop thinking about it. So I decided to make complementary patterns for 2017, birds and bees.

But not like that, weirdo.

After a year of drawing animals on Procreate, I wanted learn how to use other iPad tools, like AstroPad, so I did everything there (except for Adobe Illustrator work).

First step was to get the vectors down and try out some different patterns. As usual, the simpler the better.

The next stop was the transfer the vector layers to Photoshop and paint over all of it while watching Grand Designs on Netflix in the back and wonder how these people with normal jobs can afford such lavish, custom-made, three-story houses with a pool in the basement.

Then I pasted the different shapes into Photoshop, painted over it using  Kyle's Brushes . Then I went in and sketched out the placement of the bees, then painted the bodies, then the wings, then the antennae and legs, and then the shadows.

Then I pasted the different shapes into Photoshop, painted over it using Kyle's Brushes. Then I went in and sketched out the placement of the bees, then painted the bodies, then the wings, then the antennae and legs, and then the shadows.

Though I couldn't get these tubes to work as an illusion like the honeycomb hexagons, I think it turned out pretty ok. Pretty. Ok.

Though I couldn't get these tubes to work as an illusion like the honeycomb hexagons, I think it turned out pretty ok. Pretty. Ok.

Apparently, a lot of birds like owls and lovebirds like to hole up in cacti. But I chose woodpeckers because of their red caps. It's cute. And some cacti have those red balls on top of them, so it made sense.

See you in summer 2018.

Save our honeybees!

Latest Project: Project Notebooks

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

I make a lot of loose projects for whatever stupid reason and sometimes, I need to go back into this stupid projects and make adjustments but when I open it up, there's all these tiny details that I forget about or adjustments like fonts and whatnots and I can't keep track because these projects are stupid and meaningless but damn it, I still care about them, so I made a project notebook to keep track of things like versions, layers, location it was saved and other stuff.

And whenever I've made enough dumb projects, I'll probably make more and print them out professionally instead of printing them at Kinko's and cutting them out myself at home.

These are those covers recycled from previous paintings that served no purpose.

See? Sometimes I need to go back to old projects and that's why I need a notebook for them.

Latest Project: Chameleons

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

My quest to better understand animal anatomy as well as the Apple Pencil while catching up on television shows continues.

When I'm on Photoshop, I often cycle through blend options, not quite understanding what each thing means. I mean…hard light versus soft light? So I made this chart, to wrap up my Friday night with chameleons blending in, while watching Girls.

Chameleons Blending Options, 2016. Digital

I started with a chameleon and copied it 17 more times.

Chameleon layers ≠ Chamillionaire

Chameleon layers ≠ Chamillionaire

And not one to pass up a rainbow opportunity, I made this as well.

Chameleons Hue Adjustments

Latest Project: Big Cats Pattern

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Big Cat Pattern, 2015

While trying to figure out which animals would go underneath my Giraffe, I sketched out some cats. I looked at it for a minute and decided it'd make a nice pattern.

Process of the tiger and other big cats:
1. Outline // 2. Base // 3. Watercolor fur // 4. Duplicated fur with stripes and details // 5. Shadows

Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah

Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah

After I painted eight unique cats, I laid them out in four different diamond arrangements to see which worked best.

After I painted eight unique cats, I laid them out in four different diamond arrangements to see which worked best.

Then I split the diamond up into four parts, moving each corner to the opposite, diagonal corner in order to make a seamless pattern.

Then I split the diamond up into four parts, moving each corner to the opposite, diagonal corner in order to make a seamless pattern.

big-cats_pattern_v1.6_lowres.jpg

Now there's a gift wrap pattern to finally to put to rest that the woman known as "Big Cat Lady" is actually into big cats. Not a cat lady who's large in size, nor a lady who's a big fan of cats. Either way, she's crazy, but this a much needed clarification for the neighborhood.

Latest Project: Popsicles

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Popsicles, 2015
Digital

My first attempt using Kyle's Photoshop Brushes didn't go well. In fact, it turned me off from painting with Photoshop for a while. But then I decided to draw them in Illustrator first and then use masks.

Left to right: Wide, Single, Double, Bomb

Left to right: Wide, Single, Double, Bomb

Then I made a palette for consistency in flavors across the different types of popsicles.

And that's how I ended up with the pattern of the summer.

Latest Project: Flock series

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Ever since I saw this gif, I've been wanting to paint these guys.

I mean, just look at them.

So I put on some TV shows in the background and began sketching them out.

IMG_0863.jpg

I was really pleased with how they turned out. They look so content.

I changed them from looking up and to the left to up and to the right. It's a weird thing, I feel like when they look left, they're ignoring me and being stand off-ish, but when they're looking to the right and upward, they look optimistic. Maybe it's just how I sketched it in the notebook.

Anyway, because of my time spent in advertising, I'm not content myself unless things come in at least sets of three, so I'm working on a couple more.

You can see the flamingos in paintings / otherthings, somewhere near the bottom.