Case Study: J.R. Schmidt Exclusive Inspiredology Poster

Take a tour of J.R. Schmidt’s Exclusive Inspiredology poster. We look into his challenges, key points, and in process shots when designing and making this one of a kind poster. Get the scoop.

We bring you JR’s transcript (editing for language and grammar):

Getting Started

“When I was approached with the idea of an exclusive poster for Inspiredology, I knew I wanted to create a world [environment] of some kind; because I love landscapes, maps and microcosms and I have always enjoyed making these types of work for as long as I can remember.

I started with a usual geometric sphere (to match the polygonal style the Inspiredology team requested), using a subdivided icosahedron to be precise, and decided to turn each facet, or polygon, into a different scene or subject. Sorry if you’re having a tough time following along, its 3d lingo. Every piece of the illustration was based on something that inspires me—movies, video games, food, something from my childhood, anything.

Majora’s Moon and other Challenges

Without getting too technical, I had one major problem to solve before any real work was going to start happening. I needed to figure out how to build each scene, or source of inspiration, on each polygonal facet while keeping it oriented on the sphere properly. Naturally, I wanted it to be on a flat surface in order to model and manipulate it—makes work a heck of a lot easier, right?

The other important thing with color, that many artists forget, is to never use 100% black; always use a dark, slightly colored gray…

I ended up making a system of constraints that let me quickly swap the position of each facet (below) so I could work on it while it was on a flat surface, preview it, and then see how it would fit in with the rest of the composition. You can imagine a lot of previewing, editing, previewing, etc, as the cycle built.

Once I started building out my scenes, you can’t forget how important color is in making the scenes not only look good but be recognizable. It is easy to get lost building out each facet, adding details, etc.

Adding Color and Constraints

Color is obviously a really important part of my work, but it was only fairly recently that I began to realize it. Typically, I treated color as an after-thought, since most of my interest was in form.

…I like to impose a set of constraints upon myself. In the past I would become paralyzed by the many different directions I could take with an illustration…

Then, after playing around with color more and more, I find that (sometimes) making haphazard color choices yields really pretty results. So I’ll put a little light blue in the tree trunks, a little pink and yellow in the grass, and so on, and I get a really great final piece full of vibrant color. The other important thing with color, that many artists forget, is to never use 100% black; always use a dark, slightly colored gray—these simple color variances will make the world of difference. Make sure to have fun and continually experiment with color.

One more thing: a lot of the time when I’m working on an illustration, particularly something as open ended as this, I like to impose a set of constraints upon myself. In the past I would become paralyzed by the many different directions I could take with an illustration. Eventually I learned that I could be more creative if I set a few rules.

You can really see this at work with the Lego New York wallpaper (above), where I only allowed myself to use one or two pieces of geometry (duplicated many times).”

What do you think of the process and the poster? On Wednesday we sit down with JR for an interview. JR talks about his inspirations, workflow, and more about his unique style. Here’s a snippet of the interview:

Can you briefly describe your workflow? Work type of computer do you work on, software do you use, and why?

My process is pretty free-flowing. I try not to let “inspiration-finding” be an actual step in my workflow. When I start thinking about it too much it never works for me. Instead I try to be inspired by things all the time, whenever I come across them…

Make sure to check back on Wednesday for the full interview!

J.R. Schmidt is a 3D artist who studied at RIT. He has crafted a one-of-a-kind poster exclusively for Inspiredology, if you want your chance to win the poster he talked about above, enter here:

Want to see more of J.R.? See other works and web portals here.