Dan Johnson

Corporate Christmas animation

I just finished a little project recently. If you have perused my work before, you may recognize this illustration. It was done years ago as the cover of a corporate Christmas card. Or should that be ‘Holiday’ card? Anyway, I was quite pleased with how it turned out and the client like it as well. A few days ago, I was asked if I could turn it into an animation. First it was supposed to be an animated GIF, but they finally decided on HD video. That’s great. No need to rely on technology that’s 25 years old anyway. I’m talking to you, everyone who loves animated GIFs these days. I don’t know why those are coming back in vogue. Oh yes, I do. It’s because Apple mobile devices like iPads and iPhones are doing a good job of killing true Internet video. 
The animation was done in Photoshop using my original layered PSD. Photoshop’s animation tools and timeline are very much like After Effects, so it was easy to do. I then exported it as video directly from Photoshop. Another artist created the final video with the music and text at the end. I think it looks pretty good. What do you guys think?

A little update

It’s back to work as usual, which means looking for more work as well. Recently, I finished up some matte painting and plate fix work for a small film called Arthur and Merlin, currently being filmed in England and scheduled to be completed next year. I enjoyed doing VFX work again and it was a fun little project to do. When the film is done, I may have something to add to my demo reel.

My first webinar for Netcom Learning is done and it went well. Close to 100 people joined in to learn a bit more about Photoshop. When I had finished, I answered a few questions that people had. It was recorded and can be viewed simply by visiting Netcom’s website. 

First webinar tomorrow: Working Non-Destructively in Photoshop!

My first webinar with NetCom Learning is tomorrow. It will start at noon, Pacific time (GMT-8) and last for about an hour. After the topics covered, there will be time for Q&A. Here is what I will be demonstrating:
  • History and overview of smart objects
  • Transforming smart objects
  • Creating smart objects in Photoshop vs importing them from Illustrator
  • Comparing image adjustments
  • Benefits of adjustment layers
  • Layer masks and clipping masks to limit the effects of adjustment layers
  • Smart filters and masks
  • Editing Smart Objects and practical applications

It’s free to register. If any of these topics sound interesting, join up. It should be fun.

Free webinars with Netcom Learning

I haven’t been teaching for a while, but it looks like it’s time to get back to it again. I have given 2-day training courses for Netcom in the past and they have recently scheduled me to give some webinars in the upcoming months. I’ll be giving instruction on using Photoshop and illustrator in November and December. Be sure to check it out. It’s free, so what better deal is that? After each session, there will be time for Q&A, so that could be very helpful. The first one will be in Photoshop on the 4th of November. Click the links below for more detailed information.

Working non-destructively in Photoshop, 4 November
Full list of webinars on the Netcom Learning website

Back to freelance illustration

My contract at 2K Games is over for the moment, so I am back to the usual: freelance illustration, consulting, teaching, and looking for new projects. One of my first little jobs was this image here, done for packaging. I had a good time doing it and I’m pleased with the results. I had actually been thinking about how to render shower tile for a few years and this was the perfect opportunity. Plus, reflections are always fun to do. Two versions of this image were done; one showing the application of the product, and the other was a final scene with water coming out of the shower head.

A new little side project

I’m back to freelancing full-time right now, so that also means looking for more work and new projects at the same time. I’ve competed some new illustrations, so I will post them when I am able. But I recently worked on a little personal project for family. My wife’s aunt has needed a headstone for her grave for a couple of years now and her family asked me to prepare an image to be used for a bronze plaque to go on it. I worked up a couple of ideas based on some very generic specifications, and I tried to show how the image might look as the final bronze bas-relief. We decided on one, so they will probably move ahead with the final plaque soon. Here is the favorite design.

A personal digital painting

I have been doing a lot of texture and similar work recently, so I decided to get back to a personal painting. I saw a bit of Alien 3 on TV a while back and was struck with some of the interesting sets and dramatic lighting. It seemed like it would be a fun image to paint, so I hunted down a similar image and started to work during some down time on a recent family vacation.

Here is my take on it. It’s pretty close in terms of architecture and lighting, but I had to come up with some of my own details. And because the image from the movie was practically monochromatic, I decided to add a bit of color variation for visual interest, and so it wouldn’t be as much of a direct copy. Anyway, it was a fun little project. I’m freelancing and looking for new projects again, so I may have time for some more personal projects that have been on the back burner for a while.

Back to posting

It has been a long time since I have posted anything, but things have been busy for the past few months. Early in the year, I started a contract with 2K Games, working on the upcoming NBA2K15. Initially, I was creating facial and hair textures for the Create a Player feature that is a big addition to this version of the game. I also created shoe textures and quite a few in-game pricing icons. My contract was extended twice, but last month we finally hit the hard deadline and got everything working. The game should hit stores next month, so if you are a basketball fan, look for it. My work is in there, along with hundreds of other artists and programmers, of course.

More Adobe Certification

Everything Adobe is Creative Cloud now and it was time for me to recertify as an ACE/ACI. As usual, I procrastinated until almost the end. After the tests are available, you have 90 days to recertify. If you don’t, you have to take the full proctored test again. Having passed it once, I never want to do it again. With the CC versions, it’s hard because updates come automatically and if your version of CC isn’t the latest one, it won’t have the new features. It’s hard to know unless you really look into it. The lab where I’m teaching Illustrator now is running CC, but it’s not the latest build, so there were tools and features I didn’t know. 
So I had them install the latest version, did some quick practicing and studying, then took the test with only a couple of days to spare. As usual, it was awful and I was down to the last few minutes as I worked on the last questions. The questions were obscure and difficult, some answers were poorly worded, and at least one question was based on a false premise, so how could I find a correct answer for that? I was told once by someone at Adobe that the people that write the exams don’t actually use the software, and each time I take a test, I am convinced of that more and more. But I did pass and am now up to date as an Adobe Certified Expert and Instructor in both Illustrator and Photoshop. For now.

Good news, everyone!

I had been putting it off for a while, but the deadline is coming up at the end of the month. I finally took and passed the Photoshop CC recertification exam. So I am now an Adobe Certified Expert in the latest version of Photoshop. It actually wasn’t that hard, although it had the usual obscure questions and answers that didn’t quite seem to fit. But it’s over and now I have to worry about the Illustrator exam.
In other big news, I am now being represented by Way Art in New York. This is pretty exciting and something that all illustration students talked about in school: getting a rep. I am also in the Workbook directory for artists. This is through my association with Way Art. Hopefully, the coming year brings lots of new work for larger clients. The links to portfolios I created specifically for these sites can be seen at the links to the right.