Monday, 2 April 2018

A new aesthetic for The Tanya Tales using digital art

Afternoon lovelies! I'm really excited about today's post because it marks a huge point in the progression of this blog. I've been blogging for years now, as I started officially (on and off) when I was in Year 12. I had just started A-Levels at a new school and I wanted somewhere that I could forget about all the studying I'd been doing for years and years. So I made this blog, started talking about books and later, while I was at university, started giving my opinions on all sorts of things and now we're here. I would say I started properly while in my first year of university, so that's roughly just over 3 years of properly blogging. I've gained a lot of new readers, I've made a blogging Instagram account and Facebook page. Up until very recently, my blog wasn't actually much more than a personal sphere for my own benefit. But I've slowly started to expand it into something more and with that comes... branding.


As I'm sure you can see from my new banner, which I've rolled out onto here, Facebook and Twitter this afternoon, I have made some new branding! By branding I literally just mean putting together an aesthetic for my blog. Something that reflects my personality as well as the kind of blog I would want to scroll through myself. I have a lot to talk about on here - films, books, movies, clothes, fashion, lifestyle, advice. There is just so much content I'm constantly thinking of writing. When it comes to encompassing that in a single, memorable aesthetic it actually proved to be quite difficult!

For years now I've wanted to have some kind of digital art sketch of myself as a logo for my blog. I considered paying someone to do it for me, but then I was always apprehensive about not liking the final product and not having enough creative input in the design. I have very clear visions about what I want with things, so I've done most of the design on my blog on my own.

Now the reason I'm talking about all of this, is because I was informed about a competition that DLM are running for bloggers. DLM stands for Direct Letterbox Marketing and they are a company that specialises in leaflet distribution. The competition invites bloggers to create an advertising leaflet for their blog, to be in with a chance of winning some advertising from DLM themselves. You're probably thinking exactly what I thought when I first read the email. Who even looks at leaflets anymore? Well I actually looked at a leaflet just today. And I look at leaflets on a monthly if not weekly basis. Leaflets that are stuffed through my letterbox or handed to me in the street. I may not keep them, but I've seen them, read them and made a decision on whether I am interested and I bet you have too.

The main things I want to know when reading a leaflet are these: what the company is called, what it does and where I can go to find out more. I don't want to know everything about them all at once. In fact, it's in both their interests and mine that they keep their information as sufficient as possible. This encourages me to go and seek more details and gets them views on all their socials as a result. I just want something quick, easy to take in and of course, memorable.

I honestly wasn't too sure that I would be able to create the right kind of branding for my blog. I didn't think I had the tools or the time or even the ability to pull it all off. So at first, I was really apprehensive about even giving it a try. But as with everything, my sister who is pretty much my number one fan in life, told me that it would be a great opportunity and that if I didn't take it, she would take it for me.

So, I decided to do it. My thought processes were as follows. First of all, what visual things do I think represent me? Books and notepads are always top of my list. I love writing, I love reading, they both go hand in hand. But, it just somehow didn't feel right to advertise this blog using an image of a book or a notepad. Those are the images that describe the me that writes stories in her free time and reads books like Hot Milk by Deborah Levy, because it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and she wants to be a better storyteller all the time.

The side of me that shows on this blog is a little bit more vain, I suppose. It's fun and colourful. It's actually nothing like the stories I write, which are all very dark and depressing. So the few things that really stand out whenever I think of The Tanya Tales are more like the colour pink, bold lipstick, handbags and oddly enough, my hair.

Let me explain.

Firstly, I just love pink. I think I spent so many years trying to avoid the colour pink because it invited images of pretty, vain girly girls with no intelligence. No offense but, it is the archetype. But then I just thought, who the hell cares? You can love pink and still be intelligent. I have a ton of pink stuff, plus great grades to my name, a Bachelors degree and my brain is constantly ticking wanting to learn more and expand my knowledge of things.

Secondly, bold lipstick. I like changing my lip colour up most days of the week. Deep brown lipsticks and nude glosses are some of my favourites, but the browns can age me and the nude glosses can get a bit boring. So my favourite bold lip to wear is... surprise surprise... pink! I have the most shades of pink in my lipstick collection than any other colour. A bold lip isn't always a red. In fact, although classic, I think red is overdone and a little bit boring.

Finally, my hair. Now I don't mention my hair to say that it's amazing and extremely unique because it's definitely not. Although, it is one hundred percent my favourite asset and I would not feel like myself without it. Like I could never see myself wearing a weave or drastically dying it. Call me boring but I just feel comfortable and happy with it the way it is. The only reason I think my hair defines me so much is because I literally wear it the same way every single day. My signature hairstyle if you will is half up half down. If it's not half up, half down, then it's up in a bun.

Considering all three of these things, I felt like the best way to represent myself was as follows. Firstly, to make sure I did it all myself. That way I would have full control over everything. Secondly, to present it all in the way I have done below.





I'm not going to lie to you, getting this right was not easy. I worked on the image for a good 6 or 7 hours. I was playing around with layers, colours, trying to get my brows and lashes and lips exactly the way I wanted. My lips I chose to make a deep purple/pink because it's one of my favourite colours. I tried to give myself pearl (ish) earrings, but I'm not a digital artist and getting all the textures and reflections of a pearl exactly right was a little bit out of my depth! I thought about changing the top I was wearing to something with a collar, but again that was a little bit out of my depth given the angle I've drawn myself at. In any case, I love anything with a high neck and pretty detailing - collars, frills, bows.

Below I've added some layer by layer progressions of the sketch, including the original image I was working from.


The selfie


The original sketch of the selfie

Added some lashes and some lipstick
Added some brows, some pupils and changed the shape of my lips!


I am honestly so pleased with the end product! And I'm even more proud because I drew this all on my phone (Samsung S7) with my finger. My finger guys. I had to zoom in so much to get any kind of precision and kind of just hope for the best. At the recommendation of my sister, who works on digital art daily, I used an app called Autodesk SketchBook. Working from a base image which was a random selfie, I made a basic sketch and then used layers to add more and more detail. It was particularly challenging using a small phone screen and my finger but I think it turned out really well.

I wanted to keep that sketchbook feel because it just suits my style. Everything on this blog is made using my own ideas and my own writing so I wanted it to have that sort of homemade feel. That's why I used fonts that resemble handwriting and kept the main image in a sort of pencil sketch style. I also used to be really into art and I have sketchbooks filled with drawings that I did as a teenager. And before you start wondering, no they actually weren't too shabby! They weren't incredible, but they were decent. I never used to add any colour to them either, just a bit of shading here and there. I wanted to reflect that with this, obviously including a bold lip as we've already discussed. 

After about 50 layers, I was finally happy with the image. So I exported it into a Pixlr Online document, added the text and I was finished. I wanted to keep the writing as succinct as I could. Blog name, logo, a few sentences and then all of my social media handles. I use Pixlr Online to make all of my blog banners by the way. It's free and really easy to use if you're looking for a programme that allows you to get creative and produce very professional looking content. 

I just want to stress that starting and even improving a blog doesn't have to cost any money at all. We live in a time now where you can literally buy anything. You can buy likes and followers on Instagram. You can buy yourself a url, sponsorships and promotions on Facebook and Twitter. But there are loads of free templates and programmes you can use to create pretty much anything you want. And you can grow a following just by going back to square one and improving and improving until more and more people like what they see.

As a final thought, leaflet distribution is probably one of the most back to basics ways of promoting anything. I'm really pleased to be involved in this and if you were looking to create any type of logo or aesthetic for your brand/blog, then I hope this post has been a useful one for you!


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