Category: Illustration

Two stacks of Optimations business cards



Sandy Rao focuses on branding starting with logo design, research, wire-framing, design and website development. This show reel gives a glimpse of some of her work.

Video - The Green Fly is a story of a firefly.



The Green Fly, a frame by frame short animation is one of the arduous tasks. This animation was created using 170 frames for approximately 40 second video. The animation has hints of color to make it more interesting. The lunar surface you see at the end of the movie is true to the map. Instead of just creating an animation, the effort was made to send a message through the firefly. The frames were created in Illustrator and the frames were imported into Photoshop. Thus animation was created as gif. The next big task was to add audio that fit the time duration. Using Adobe Audition the audio was edited to time the video length.

Infographics - The Future of Graphic Design. Caption says "Everyone is a graphic designer."


Infographics is what I enjoy doing most. I got this opportunity in my Design Honors class. Several weeks of research, brainstorming for ideas on how it should work out, incorporate several ideas in one icon is what I strived to achieve with this.

The FUTURE OF GRAPHIC DESIGN is what most of us in the Graphic Design field are worried about. This was my best opportunity to find out what mine and my fellow graphic designers’ future look like. Problems and solutions are both given. It is left to the Graphic Designer to make the best use of this infographics and themselves competitive. There is also an article that goes with this infographics that talks in detail about what is depicted here.

The Future of Graphic Design - Infographics


The Future of Graphic Design: Should you be worried?

Introduction and a brief history

The history of Graphic Design dates back ever since cavemen painted pictures on the wall of the caves.The invention of printing press in the 1400s contributed towards its “renaissance”. The concept of graphic design has been morphing into an industry in the 1600s, as Graphic Design not only focused artistic look but also into layout and typography. The industrial revolution of the 1890s, abhorred mass publishing of books giving rise to arts and crafts movement. During this movement, individual expression and craftsmanship were revered. Consequently, elevating the graphic design profession. Trade relations with Eastern nations such as Japanese art influenced Art Nouveau towards the end of 19th century (1880-1901). Designers looked for a new way of expression. New typefaces, minimalistic design (influenced
by Bauhaus) were state of the art. The World Wars augmented Graphic Design usage with bulk production of propaganda posters, advertisements and pamphlets providing a strong foothold leading to its use in corporate America. In 1957, a new Swiss font, Helvetica, known for its clarity, influenced Graphic Design industry for almost two decades. Helvetica became a statement and a new standard in typography.
“Good Design is Good Business” was the motto at that time as quoted by Thomas J. Watson Jr. the second president (1952-71) of IBM. Corporate identity encouraged simplistic design.
Post Modernism (1975-1985) influenced graphic design to use different material and media to express design ideas. The advent of computers in the 1980s and internet in the 1990s revolutionized graphic design towards the digital media.
Stepping into the 21st century, how does Graphic Design look like now?

Current Trend:

“Everything is Design” – Paul Rand

While mixed media like juxtaposing photography with digital design or hand drawn illustration is the trend, mixing forms like animals with humans could also be seen. Simple minimalistic design with no constraint on size (unlike print) is the new trend. The printed form has its limitations on the length of the text copy. People are directed to the website to seek more information.

Like the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”, imagery has taken the place of typography. With print media disappearing, so is large blocks of text. Photography and videography with audio is all the rage. Animation and interactive design is catching up.
Branding got simpler. Powerful, repetitive imagery, clean design, limited use of typography strives to deliver a powerful message of a business. When a brand is refreshed, the part that is an outdated design is discarded, keeping or modifying what is still relevant.

Social media is the new advertising platform. Every company now has to design for print, web and social media. The best way to publicize their brand while reaching most age groups and demography, is through social media.
What’s next?

What constitutes a graphic design in future?

Considering how internet is defining everything around us (Internet of Things), internet profoundly revolutionized graphic designers and the Graphic Design industry. Internet demarcates how design manifests to influence its viewers.

How will computer generated graphic design look?

Internet has shaped graphic design aesthetics. Gathering the historical facts and current data, Smart Data Analytics will permeate into the design field. There will be apps for designing logos, posters, brochures, books, stationery inclusive of all print forms. The computers are fed the algorithms of principles, organization, standard layouts, typographic rules and trending designs. The computer then generates random design for poster, brochure, web, social media and other media. Images will reduce blocks of text to a bare minimum. Minimalistic approach will go retro or even as far back to stick figures in hieroglyphs. Here’s an example of how computer generated graphics looks like:
courtesy: http://thiswebsiteisunderconstruction.com/FUTURE-OF-GRAPHIC-DESIGN

Computer Generated Poster Design

Other attributes that factor into Graphic design are:

Animated GIFs will be generated by computers.

Iconography will replace standard words, just like texting replaced “laugh out loud” to LOL, to an emoticon with tears of joy in the eyes.

Identity at the Rudimentary level: Not just big ones, every organization at local level even though insignificant will have its own logo and branding. Every person will have their own website, logo and branding.

Additional colors like metallic, infrared will be part of the color palette. Typography will be
rendered in perspective and three dimensionally.

Design of Things, Design for Things:

A cup of cappuccino will be served with your picture printed on it. Movies and Televisions already have three dimensional vision. Soon Graphic Designers will have to render designs in 3D for all screen sizes including mobile devices, billboards, as every surface will act as a screen. Smart watches will be able to project designs on to any surface. A design will be created from all perspectives (360 deg) as 3D printers will be the norm. These challenges beg the question, what constitutes a graphic designer of the future?

How do you stand out as a graphic designer?
People talk about “time is money”. To beat the clock graphic designers churn out average designs for the clients. In the future, a designer not only has to beat the clock but transcend computers.

With the advent of iPad, free design templates and photo editing capabilities are available with a swipe on the touchscreen. Virtually, every one is a designer. Consequently, graphic designers will lose their importance. What a computer cannot steal is their intellectual property.
If a designer needs to survive in the future, they must go with the motto… Every design is unique. Design should not be a standard template. It helps a designer to listen to the client, discuss several revolutionary trend setting ideas, add different perspective, use handwritten text versus computer generated, and implement the design backed by research. Critical thinking results in creative thinking. Create an experience by adding fourth dimensional functions such as auditory and tactile. Be a trend setter not a follower.

Graphic Designer Education Level:

Though a Bachelor’s degree in a related field is a current minimum requirement, future designers will require a Master’s degree to get her/his foot in. The skills necessary will not be limited to static designs like posters, brochure, billboard advertisement but flow into interactive design like motion graphics, 3D rendering to add perspective.

Essential Skill set:

To be part of a team, a graphic designer should be creative, manage projects, network, communicate, copy write bodies of text, proof read, fluently use social media and most importantly find solutions to problems. To work as a designer she/he should know everything about graphic design, interactive design and a little bit about gaming. The tools required to design a project in the future is use of touch pad like Wacom® Tablets, other than computers and stylus pen. Knowledge of 2D & 3D design (using CAD) and animation, 3D modeling for games, photography, multi media art and animation, audio and video editing, website design and development will be an essential part of designing. Additionally, operating a drone to shoot videos will be preferable.

In conclusion, to be competitive a Graphic Designer, in future, called as Interactive Designer, will not just be an artist but a digital Guru requiring varied technical skills and high creativity. It is the survival of the best & most creative!

Work Cited:

History of Graphic Design: http://www.tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/302294/History-of-Graphic-

Design-Timeline/#vars!date=12993 BC-08-02_04:31:25!






Blendspiration, The Idea Generator App - Mobile App Design.A group project, we created this mobile app design for artists who are stuck and need inspiration to generate ideas. Here’s an introduction…

Given just a small set of parameters, BLENDSPIRATION uses the power of the internet to bring you a unique combination of ideas and inspirations to put your brain to work.

Through imagery, Blendspiration will give you a set of unexpected random results. It’s up to you to take these results and turn them into something great. If further information is needed from these images, a simple tap will take you to the source, where you can learn even more about your randomly generated idea.

Illustration of Hercules the Porcupine


PORCUPINE: ANIMAL CHARACTER – AAF Nashville 2016 Student Gold ADDY Winner in Single Illustration Category.

Porcupine - Animal Character 2016 Student Gold Addy in Single Illustration

The challenge here was to come up with an animal character that does human acts. I had to combine several ideas into one. This resulted in Hercules, The Porcupine, using his own quill as an arrow, being a medieval character with helmet and a knife. Making the animal stand on two legs holding bow and arrow was a feat. Even more, was making each quill and painting them with two colors, once in white for the tip and then again brown for the rest of the length of the quill.


Phone - Word Play IllustrationEVOLUTION OF PHONES

A challenging yet fun word play illustration in which the illustration has to mean the word Phone. Hand drawn and finished with Acrylic paint, this project depicts how phones have evolved over more than a century. The project was designed in the Fall of 2014 even before Apple watch was launched. A Children’s Book was designed with these illustrated letters to educate them while providing fun facts about telephones.

Tour bus with the Green Lizard in red and green illustrated on the side of the bus.


Look at the Design Process ⋙

Tangible Colors Album Promotion Campaign
The Green Lizard illustration is done with acrylic paint using only complementary colors and the combination of the two with white. Here I used red and green being the complement of each other. This whole process of drawing, underpaint and painting took more than 64 hours to complete.

To incorporate this illustration in Graphic Design, I designed TANGIBLE COLORS album cover, created a background story by blending fact with fiction, and built a whole campaign to promote album record tour.

Story created and written by Sandhya Rao

In his 14th Album, Sir Elton John, sends a powerful social message about apartheid. The country of South Africa, evolved from apartheid to it’s present social tolerance. People were segregated into four major groups as White, Black, Colored and Indian. People of mixed race with black and another race (comprising of Indian, Chinese, Malay, or White) fell into colored category. Due to segregation, members of the same family would fall under different categories and were treated differently. These people had to live away from their families in a separate township. Forced to lead a life in a different part of the town, being not allowed to meet with their family, they received inferior education and lower grade jobs.

Sir Elton John, met those “colored” people that were separated from their families. He was touched by the stories and decided to create awareness about this injustice done to a lot of families. The songs in this album he wrote is to tell the stories of families, their lives and social stigma attached. He continued to work on this cause for the people of South Africa and meet with the leaders of western countries to abolish the segregation until he saw an end to apartheid.

This album is dedicated to all the people in the world that fought against segregation, injustice, and giving their lives for such a cause.