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Tim OBrien
Italy iPad App
posted:

 Recently I was asked a slightly confusing question, would I illustrate an iPad app?
Talking to the various ADs at Conde Nast Traveler, it was becoming clear that while there was a general idea of what they wanted, a painting of Italy, what it would 'do' and how it would function was up in the air.  
They wanted me to paint the iPad app opener and under the map would be the architecture that would take you to the various places around Italy.  A nice navigation concept.
For me the issue was more complicated.  What they were asking for was throwing up red flags left and right.  An aerial map of Italy that showed all of the famous architecture and points of interest while eventually becoming a painting like the background of the Mona Lisa.  All I could think of was that it was going to look like a map one would find on a placemat in a small diner that showed the various shops and establishments in town.  Was I driving down the right street here?  Was it time to turn around?
I voiced my concern and showed them what I would do and luckily they went in the direction of NOT showing building and concentrating on realism and hiding the transition of aerial to horizontal.  It was going to be tough to be looking down on a map and at some point be looking into a vista of mountains in Northern Italy.
The piece went from more of an old map to a painting of a landscape the cheated as it move forward to be an aerial view.    To fit the request that it look like an old painting I painted a frame around the art.
This was my first iPad piece, it was a fun project and interesting to download the app and see it that way for the first time.
Is this like doing the cover of an 8 track tape or Laser disc or will apps be as timeless as a book?  Of course, nothing is as timeless as a book.

 

I was sent this image as inspiration.  A Poussin landscape, "Landscape with a Calm" 
People must fear that I will paint a brown painting unless they show me a full spectrum example first.  A hunch.
Here was another inspiration from the ADs on the assignment.  Robert Best said to consider the background of the Mona Lisa when thinking of the top of the painting.

When I first started, this is what I assumed they wanted.  This, plus a landscape thrown in.  I just needed a place to start rowing towards.

I found this great collections of parts of a map.  The way to design this was foreign to me so this helped me find some way forward.

A first, digital mock-up of what I might be able to do on this job.  The advice was to not make it so brown (I guess I needed the 'inspiration' reminder).
I had been lobbying NOT to have the architecture included and with my description of a diner placemat effectively delivered, I might have made the idea of little tower of Pisa and the Coliseum seem awful. 
At the same time we were working out an idea if it would actually animate into place.  Her is my clunky first attempt at how it might work...
With animation abandoned, we worked more on the final art.  No more planes or attempts at being a map.  It was now to be merely a landscape that shifted to be an aerial view that would fit exactly over a set map of Italy.  This made plotting out the painting more difficult but made it work seamlessly.

As artwork in a frame.  This sketch make the idea that it was artwork seem possible, thought the frame was too big.

This digital comp was getting closer but still they wanted more snowy mountains at the top.

This was the approved sketch thought I needed to intergrate the mountains more evenly at the top of Italy.  Sketch # 22.
The final art with the frame which they cropped off. If I could have those 4 hours back at the end of my life...



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