Making a beer label: Start to Finish

Sour ales have starting becoming more and more popular recently, and certain breweries like Wicked Weed have opened specialty serving houses to distribute these rare and exotic beers.  My last post talked about the emergence of the craft beer market, and some of the styles becoming prominent in label design.  Over the last week I’ve made a label for a sour ale, and wanted to show my process and my passion for this type of design.

I’m a college senior, and soon will be graduating hopefully heading into a promising career in graphic design.  Recently I’ve been focusing on stepping up my game and refining my style to show off what I can do, and the process of creating this beer label allowed me to do just that.

When I started the project I knew that I wanted to incorporate one of my illustrations, and have the rest of the product be themed around it.  Pen and ink illustrations my favorite thing to do, particularly expressive faces and characters.  I had several cartoons I considered using but ultimately decided to go with the one seen below.



Immediately I thought this face would look great on a sour beer.  But I wasn’t sure where I wanted the overall theme of the label to go.  I started my drafting process by taking this image into illustrator, and manipulating the color schemes.

Using the paintbrush I created three layers of color, and was then able to easily change the color scheme by simply selecting new colors for the individual layers.  Below you can see some of the initial draft ideas.


To help myself and other visualize a more complete color scheme I next added a background layer.



At this point I started showing peers and friends my ideas to get some critique.  Most people liked the green and light blue colors, but thought the darker schemes took away took much detail from the illustration itself, which is the core of the design.  I decided to go with skin tones on the face and just use color in the background and text.


The next step was adding the details the make the make the illustration a label.  I created a document with the dimensions of beer labels I had measured.  I created a grid system to use in the background of my workspace so that all of the content would line up perfectly.  After researching the legal requirements for my label, and what the content was going to be, I ultimately produced the label below.


Soon I’ll be printing and mounting this label onto 12.oz bottles, creating versions for growlers, six-packs, and pint bottles.  Once those are done I’ll photograph the whole set and upload the images to my new online portfolio  I’ll be continuing to refine and enhance my style through drafting and practice by making more fun crafty beer labels.


3 Creative Design Sites to Keep Your Art Fresh

In the world of each artist there is something that exists which I refer to as “The Wall.”  At a certain point, we all find ourselves mindlessly staring at our work, and asking what to do next?  In times like these I’ve found it’s helpful to turn to outside sources for some new inspiration and challenge.  This post will discuss three blogs that I’ve found that provide inspiration and keep my designs from getting stale.


Abduzeedo has two basic benefits: inspirational material, and tutorials.  But they cover an immense amount of content, across all types of art and design.  The various collections on the site provide an immense amount of inspirational material for readers.  For designers looking to add some handy skills to their resume, they offer tutorials in Photoshop, Illustrator, and several other software programs.

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Additionally the site has links to interviews with artists active in the world of design.  They post news articles relevant to design and designers, everything from web design awards to book reviews.  Abduzeedo also publishes lists of weekly top sites to keep readers aware of what their peers are producing.


The blog Wallpaper* is an interesting site to browse around.  Really it’s more of a culture blog with a design trend, but none the less its a great place to go for some mental refreshing.  They do offer an entire section dedicated to design, but not limited to graphic or web design.  There are tabs for art, travel, fashion, lifestyle, and jewelry as well.

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This site should be considered more for its use as a mental relief.  I find that when I get stuck in a project, it’s less often due to lack of know-how and more often due to dissatisfaction with the direction the piece is taking, or simple lack of inspirational ideas. By taking the time to look through news across fields of design and art, you can give your mind a breather and possibly come across an element of design you can use.

Cool Hunting:

The last blog I want to discuss is Cool Hunting.  Which is, by the way, very cool.  The main reason this site makes the list is just because of how fun it is to navigate.  The layout and interface of Cool Hunting is really an impressive piece of web design on it’s own.  Most of the content on Cool Hunting is links to external articles, but they offer material on everything you could imagine.  Scrolling down the page I see headlines for videos discussing threads from Sri Lanka, Nordic Skiing, and tips for traveling the world cheaply and uniquely.

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Whether or not you find an article to inspire you towards completion, Cool Hunting offers some seriously interesting stuff.  If you need some ideas as to setting up your own site, go play around on Cool Hunting and see how they’ve laid out their sections and the search menu.

Design Blogs: What You Don’t Know

We’ve been following several blogs in my Writing for Visual Media class for the last couple weeks to try to get a better sense of both what resources are available to us, and to be more aware of our own online presences. What I’ve come to discover is that there really is no one proper way of writing or presenting a blog, perhaps part of the medium’s allure. We read an article highlighting 20 distinguishable types of blogs and articles, and their various purposes. This post will discuss some of the articles I’ve come across and what they can provide for their readers.

Web Design Dev:

One website that I’ve been following is The website and blog obviously focus most heavily on web design, from adobe tutorials, to CSS, to WordPress layouts, the site has information on everything a web designer might need. The site is what would be defined as a “list” blog, meaning most articles on the site are titled “top ten X” or “45 most popular Y” etcetera.

While some may find this a bit cliché, it’s actually incredibly useful when it comes to web design. Sites like this often provide quick how-to knowledge, and downloadable materials that expedite design projects.   The article I read was titled “10 More Illustrator Tips, Tricks, and Tools.” (

Graphic Design:

Another site I’ve been looking at is simply called, easy to remember. This site takes on a very different tone than the previous one. This site’s focus is information, on all things related to the industry of graphic design. The site contains a number of resources that provide readers with knowledge on all currents goings-on in the industry as a whole. On the homepage, readers can find a collection of blog posts, upcoming design contests, major design events, and trending articles. The site also has it’s own job board, firm directory, and school directory.

Providing some tutorials, the site also has instructional qualities, but this does not appear to be the main feature. However as far as keeping up with business trends in the design world goes, this site will do the work for you. The article I read here was titled “Norway Unveil Stylish Passport Design Illustrating the Country’s Identity.” (

The Design Blog:

My next blog is less serious, and has a much lighter tone to it. The Design Blog is an inspirational blog, meant to provide its readers with content of the highest quality to give young designers something to aspire too. A young designer, Ena Bacanovic, who seeks to give her peers something to aim for in their career, and to spread her passion for design with those who share it, curates the site.

In my mind these sites prove useful by popularizing graphic design and creating an greater appreciation for the practice. By increasing demand and knowledge of graphic design we increase it value. The site has very few articles, but an enormous amount of visual resources. (


The last blog I want to discuss is called Gurafiku. This blog is a collection of visual research, qualifying it as a research blog. This site stands apart from the others though, because it’s focus is on the history of graphic design in Japan, and to compare Japanese design to western design.

This site again doesn’t post a great deal of reading material, with the vast majority of it’s content being image based. However by simply studying the designs, we begin to see the differences in style between western design and Japanese design. The curator of the blog, Ryan Hageman, categorizes posts by type of content and also by type of artist, making the search for inspiration somewhat easier. (