A little insight into how I work on client projects while traveling around!
As most of my followers have probably noticed on Instagram, I love traveling! I'm a very hard working person and sometimes I work 24/7, because I really love what I do. However, hard work makes you feel stressed out and sometimes our body needs a little break to come up with new ideas and inspiration. Traveling is my favourite way to clear my mind! Especially warm and sunny countries with beautiful nature, palm trees and sandy beaches attract me every-time I have to choose a new destination. Depending on the workload and deadlines, I sometimes work week for week without a break and then it's hard for me to calm down on a day off. I just can't switch from work mode to relax mode that easily.
The past months have been very exhausting and full of work for me and I remember, always when I tried to take a day off and just relax- I just couldn't! I kind of felt bad for not being productive and it also felt like I'm wasting my time. In my head I started to go through my Do-Do lists and that really stressed me out. Don't get me wrong, I really love my job and it's a free decision of me, to work every weekend. Nobody forces me to do so and if I wanted, I could just go with a regular 40H/week Job and be off on weekends. I have chosen myself to not do so!
Maybe let's first talk about what my current Job actually is.
Some of you might know, that I studied 3D Animation & VFX. I have worked in a studio for Product Visualisation and also worked freelance on 2D and 3D projects from home. Today I'm teaching different subjects in the field of 3D Animation and Character Design at a school in Cologne. I'm currently teaching 4 days per week. The rest of the week, I work on client projects from my own little studio in my apartment, which is in a smaller town close to Cologne. I had been a full-time freelancer for a couple months, which was great, no question. But I kind of missed the socialising part, having coworkers, leaving my apartment and going to a different place. I don't want to go too much into detail here, cause this would actually be a blog post on its own! So with that said, I currently teach 4 days a week at a school and 3 days are open for commissioned work.
I wouldn't even need to work these 3 extra days, as I could live from the salary I get by teaching only. However, I received lots of great commission requests, which made me work the other 3 days of the week without a break. I took my last vacation in January 2019 and traveled to the Maldives, which was perfect to recharge my energy. Being almost alone on an island is perfect to calm down. So it was time for another trip, since I'm working constantly! I'm more that kind of person who likes to go to sunny places as soon as winter is coming to Germany. So I thought I do a longer vacation during our winter-time. For September I booked a holiday in Greece.
Choosing a destination.
The island Crete is located in Greece. During that time it wasn't too hot there (around 30°C), so it was perfect to relax and do some sightseeing. Sometimes I like to just hang around the beach, listen to the sound of the ocean and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, which is such a great way to recharge my battery. But places like Crete are actually perfect to rent a car and drive around the island exploring amazing places! So I like to mix my vacation with exploring new places and spending some time at the beach.
How I illustrated a children's book remotely on the iPad Pro.
I stayed at the Sea Side Resort & Spa which is located in Aghia Pelagia in Heraklion. The hotel is placed on a cliff, right at the sea, which gives you stunning views from every angle of the hotel. The picture above shows the room view from my balcony. Pretty nice, right? I could work with a view like that forever!
I had to think of how I plan my day, since I was working on illustrations for children's book. The book has a very tight deadline, as the publisher wants to release it during fall. It's a Christmas story, so it needs to be done before winter!
To be able to work remotely, I brought my iPad Pro (3rd Gen.) and the Apple Pencil. I use Procreate to draw digitally on the iPad. Children's Book illustrations and most other client works need a very high resolution (for print 300 ppi), so the iPad and Procreate do have a limit in terms of layers. I had 27 layers per double page illustration. Pages always included at least 2 human characters and 4 animal characters, plus a background.
When I work on client projects, I prefer splitting every little detail into layers, because it's way easier to make changes, in case the client wants to change things like the color or even move objects around. So 27 layers are awesome when working on personal art, but with that type of client work it can get really hard. I had to think of how I manage everything.
At the end, this technique worked best for me: I drew the background in 27 layers. Then I duplicated the entire project and merged all background layers into a single layer. Then I used the other 26 layers to paint the first character. Again, I duplicated the project, merged character and background and used 26 layers to paint the second character. It might sound confusing, but in the end, I had 3-6 Procreate Projects including layers for each Character. So basically when coming back home, I could create a new Photoshop file and import all single layers of each Character or Background and make them into one project.
It's a little more extra effort, but at the end this worked really well for me and I hadn't had to struggle with layers all the time. The great thing of Procreate is, you're able to send files via AirDrop to your MacBook and decide what file type it should be (PSD, Procreate etc.). It makes my workflow so much easier.
Creating a well planned schedule for each day.
Well I was on vacation, so I wanted to make sure I'll be enjoying my time on Crete and get to see as much as possible. I wanted to use my time wisely without missing great things due to the work I had to do. So I need to create a great workflow and daily schedule.
While being on Crete, I woke up pretty early every morning. Seriously, I'm super tired every morning I have to get up to go to work at 6:30 AM, but in Crete it was so easy to get up at the same time!
I woke up between 6:30 and 7:00 AM, and sat outside on the balcony watching the sunrise while getting some work done. Between 8:00 and 9:00 AM I went to the restaurant to get some breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal to me. I might not look like a German Girl, but in terms of Breakfast I'm 100% German!!! If I don't eat well in the morning, I stay super tired all day long. So I had a good breakfast with lots of healthy fruits and went right to the Pool area. It was time to relax and catch some sun-rays since it'll be fall in Germany soon.
It felt so good to just do NOTHING. I enjoyed the amazing view I had from my sun-chair, listened to some music, had a couple tasty chocolate drinks, took a nap and read a book. I was reading "A brief History of Time", the Besteller from Stephen Hawking. I know it sounds weird, but I'm super interested in things about the universe and space travel. I had that book for so long in my book shelf and finally found some time to read it!
I went to the restaurant for lunch around 13:00 and 14:00 PM and had some good food (they had the best pizza in the world there). After that I went to my room, stayed there for half an hour, took my iPad and went back to the Pool or Beach. I used the afternoon to get some work done. The time Between 15:00 and 17:00 PM was great to work as the sun wasn't that high in the sky anymore. It can be quiet hard to work on the iPad when you have a cloudless sky and lots of sun. I got myself comfortable in the sun-chair and used an umbrella to stay in the shade, so I could see properly. Seriously this didn't even feel like work. I had such an amazing view and good drinks and also the sound of the ocean really makes you feel more relaxed.
Around 17:00 PM I usually went to the beach and took a last swim in the ocean. The beach is not as beautiful as the Maldives are, but since there are lots of stones under the water-surface, the water is super clear and you can see lots of fishes! So I took my goggles and did some snorkeling.
I went back to my room to take a shower and got ready for dinner. Seriously, I love the greek food! Everything is sooo tasty! I'm usually not that much into dessert, but this time I couldn't get enough of it! After dinner I went to the bar, which is located on the cliff with a stunning ocean view. Around 21:00 PM I went back to my room to get the last block of work done and then sleepy me went to bed around 23:00 PM.
Getting lots of inspiration from greek art history and places.
Greece is the perfect place to get inspired by beautiful historical art! Obviously I didn't spend every day like I described above! I rented a car and used a couple days to visit nice places around the island. I went to Knossos, europe's oldest city and visited the archeological palace which is seen in the picture above. The palace of Knossos eventually became the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. It was abandoned at some unknown time at the end of the Late Bronze Age, c. 1,380–1,100 BC. The reason why is unknown, but one of the many disasters that befell the palace is generally put forward.
Since the palace is so unbelievably old, there was not much left and sometimes it was actually hard to imagine, how things might have looked like back then. I took lots of reference photos and also fell in love with all the trees that surrounded the palace.
Right after the tour through the palace area, I went back to my car and drove to the city centre of Heraklion, where the historical museum was placed.
Before checking out the museum, I walked a bit through the beautiful city, got some food and drinks and visited Heraklion Harbour. After that I went back to the museum and took lots of reference photos. I loved how beautiful all the vases were painted and with how much effort they made their golden jewellery! Seriously, I felt like I was in the Disney movie of Hercules. I can definitely see where the animators and concept artists got their inspiration from.
Another trip to the beautiful city of Rhetymno!
The other day I visited the harbour city Rethymno. Rethymno was originally built during the Minoan civilization. The city was prominent enough to mint its own coins and maintain urban growth. One of these coins is today depicted as the crest of the town: two dolphins in a circle.
Rethymno was my favourite city of this trip. I fell in love with all the narrow alleyways, beautifully decorated balconies and colourful house walls!
I loved all these little shops selling cute kitchen utensils made out of wood. I had dinner at a nicely located restaurant at the old Harbour. I had such a pretty view from there! Sometimes I wish I had brought my sketchbook to draw some of these pretty places, but I didn't wanted to waste a second here. Time was too short and the day was over so fast. If you want to see as much as possible, it's hard to stay at a certain place and paint.
FUN FACT about Crete: Almost every city can be spelled in lots of different ways! For example, Rethymno can be spelled in all these ways: Rethimno, Rethymnon, Réthymnon, and Rhíthymnos!
When driving through Crete you will see lots of differently spelled city names. This can sometimes get confusing.
I also fell in love with all these beautiful door designs on Crete. I took so many pictures in front of doors!!!
My trip felt super short and I can't believe how quick time past by! I'm glad I was able to get some work done during the trip and I'm super grateful for all the amazing inspiration I received during my trip. Honestly, I feel so motivated to draw something inspired by greek art, but fist I have to finish all my client projects. Luckily I did lots of reference photos, so I'll be able to do that later! On my way back home I used the 3,5 hours on the plane to get some more work done. I hope you could find some inspiration from my blog post about Crete and I also hope that it'll help you to get some work done during your next vacation, in case you have tight deadlines! Feel free to leave me a comment! Meike