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© 2001 Ivan Soudek

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This document is provided for cyber travelers–including search engine robots–who rely on information presented exclusively in text form. A link at the top of the section can be used to return to the main graphic portion of the presentation.

Ivan Soudek is a Canadian painter, illustrator, and graphic designer. His illustration and design work has appeared in both electronic and print media, and includes computer-generated digital graphics and images created using more traditional methods.

The artist resides in the city of Kingston (Ontario, Canada), centrally located within the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal triangle of major Canadian cities. New York, Boston, and Buffalo are some American cities in relatively close proximity.

As the title–the ILLUSTRATED PAGES of Ivan Soudek–readily implies, the content of this Web presentation is primarily graphic. The main portion uses frames, and is organized into twelve pages. A set of buttons, located on the screen's left, allows the user to display one page at a time on the screen's right. Each page is accompanied by one or more illustrations, and there are buttons within some pages that link to other documents or start an animated image sequence.

The titles of the twelve pages are Quick Tour, Contact Information, Studio and Technology, Biography and Goals, Client Profile, Distance Working, Illustration Process 1: Vector Graphics, Illustration Process 2: Raster Graphics, Illustration Process 3: Animation, Illustration Process 4: Blockprint Style, Traditional Paintings, and Other Interests.

What follows is the complete text from the main graphic portion of the presentation. Links embedded in the text have been retained, but references to links in the form of icons should be ignored.

Quick Tour

[Frame 1] My name is Ivan Soudek, and I divide my creative time between freelance illustration and traditional landscape painting.

[Frame 2] This is Kingston (Ontario, Canada), the city where I live and work. As you can see, my neighbourhood has a historic character.

[Frame 3] A leading furniture manufacturer and a major financial institution use learning materials that I created. Fine illustration from my studio has been utilized in other projects.

[Frame 4] My illustration work usually employs at least one of four processes. Click on any icon:

Vector graphics are built up from shapes of flat colour. The resulting appearance is clear and precise.

Raster graphics are really mosaics of coloured dots. Through image editing, a wide range of effects can be produced.

Animation creates the impression of movement by displaying a series of still images in quick succession.

Blockprint style refers to my own hybrid illustration technique, which simulates the look of a fine woodcut.

[Frame 5] The principal graphic applications I use are Illustrator®, Photoshop®, and ImageReadyTM from Adobe Systems Incorporated.

[Frame 6] The map below shows Kingston, where my home and studio are located. Click on the letter icon to send an email message.

Contact Information

My home and studio are in Kingston (Ontario, Canada). To send an email message, click on isoudek@kingston.net or the letter icon below.

If you are wondering how to say my name, you can listen to the preferred pronunciation.

Kingston is an old and interesting city... this is what my neighbourhood is like.

Studio and Technology

Strong coffee is brewing. Through an open window, the clatter of horses and drivers' excited shouts can be heard.

So begins another day at the studio.

Horses did clatter through these streets once, and would hardly seem out of place in the neighbourhood today.

While I cannot claim it takes up a whole city block, I do think of my studio as a kind of factory. Orders come in, product goes out. Machines hum all day long and sometimes into the night.

The machines at my studio are:

  • PC with 192 Mb of RAM
  • flatbed scanner
  • black & white laser printer
  • CD writer

I work in Windows®, relying mostly on Adobe Illustrator®, Photoshop®, and ImageReadyTM graphic software, and use Microsoft Word® for word processing.

Biography and Goals

If you suspect the truth is being stretched a little, you are right.

The pictorial truth, that is. What a smooth ride the studio vehicle offers since its wheelbase was digitally enhanced! But now the garage door will not close.

My next confession ought to be that I came to all this a bit late.

I was once an economics student with a bright future, then, an investment fund salesman, with a future still, if slightly lacking in lustre.

One day at work, someone said "we have this image editing program on one of the computers–maybe you'd like to try it out?" I didn't think it would do any harm to try it just once. Yes, that's the true story of how I became... a Photoshop junkie.

The story, though true, is slightly oversimplified. I may not have started out as an artist, but I subsequently did spend two years in art school, wrote articles on art and design, maintained an interest in landscape painting, and made and sold blockprints.

I came to illustration by two converging yet different paths. My blockprint work led to some esthetic assignments using that medium, while a job as creator of learning materials provided opportunities to practice a more technical approach.

That, in a nutshell, is the biography part.

As for the goals, they are to weave together two related careers, in digital illustration and traditional painting.

One is project-focused, uses contemporary technology, and involves teamwork. The other investigates the whole natural world, uses traditional methods, and requires a sustained individual effort.

If asked which I prefer over the other, my unequivocal answer would be "both".

Client Profile

Clients I have done illustration work for include:

  • a developer of web-based learning materials serving the financial industry
  • a prominent furniture manufacturer
  • an award-winning graphic design company

In the future, I expect to work mainly with organizations such as developers of learning materials and design firms, and not with end-user clients directly.

These organizations can best provide effective project leadership and client liaison.

My own ability to perform either of these necessary functions from Kingston (Ontario, Canada) is admittedly somewhat limited.

Distance Working

It's not really that complicated.

Between the Internet and affordable compact disc writers, the world has become smaller, yet again.

Small files are easily exchanged by means of email. Whether you are in the next office or half way around the world hardly seems to matter.

Large files, or entire file libraries, used to be a problem, as was storage media compatibility. The compact disc and the CD writer have apparently resolved both.

Most distance working difficulties are not technical. They usually have to do with interpersonal communication, in my experience.

Absorbing office news around the water cooler does not work well over distances. Communication must be more precise and deliberate, even to the point of redundancy.

When in doubt, always send that extra email message to clarify, provide feedback, or suggest an alternative.

Illustration Process 1: Vector Graphics

Computers express graphic information in two fundamentally different ways. There are vector graphics, and raster graphics.

This is an example of a vector graphic. You can tell because only shapes of uniform flat colour make up the image. There is no shading or gradual transition from one colour shape to the next.

In vector graphics, a computer remembers the location, colour, and geometrical definition of every line or shape found in the image.

Vector graphics offer certain advantages, but they also present drawbacks. The use of flat colour shapes can produce a crisp, graphically bold image. But to accurately describe complex light and textural effects using vector graphics is difficult.

An advantage of vector graphics is their ability to be scaled without loss in image quality. Contours of the shapes that form an image remain smooth, regardless of changes in image size.

Most display and output devices are raster-based. Vector graphics normally require conversion to raster format prior to viewing.

Computer applications that generate vector graphics are often called drawing programs. I use Adobe Illustrator® for my work.

Illustration Process 2: Raster Graphics

My favourite subject, canoeing... I mean, raster graphics.

When I look at these raster images of great places to canoe, a voice starts to ask, "what are you doing in front of this computer, why aren't you out there paddling?"

The voice has a point. But we need to get through this page on raster graphics first. Maybe later we can devote an entire page to canoeing, and call it, euphemistically, "Other Interests".

Raster graphics, you will recall, are the other way that computers have to express graphic information.

(Another name for "raster graphics" is "bitmap images". These terms can be used interchangeably.)

Instead of defining entire shapes and assigning them location and colour, as in vector graphics, raster graphics divide a picture into many square-shaped dots called pixels.

Each pixel is assigned a specific colour, and when assembled like a mosaic, the pixels form an image.

The more pixels there are, the more convincing and precise the image appears. Of course, more pixels also require more data.

Raster graphics excel at conveying a sense of tangible, natural reality. They literally mimic how we see the world around us, with all its subtlety and ambiguity.

The way my mind wandered earlier attests to the evocative power of raster graphics in illustration.

Working in a raster environment involves skillful and imaginative editing of imported information. The available editing tools are powerful and can be exciting to use.

Computer applications that produce raster graphics are called painting programs or image editors. I use Adobe Photoshop® for my work.

Perhaps raster graphics is my favourite subject after all, as fond as I remain of canoeing.

Illustration Process 3: Animation

Those Web ads are simply everywhere. At least this one isn't promoting the newest laptop computer. Go ahead, take a look, and make our sponsor happy!

It's true. I am not an animated media oriented person. I don't even own a television set–by choice.

While comfortable working in the animated GIF format, I prefer to leave Flash (SWF) animation to others.

Don't get me wrong. With its efficient bandwidth utilization and smooth movement, the SWF format is an improvement on the GIF.

But it also requires a different way of working and thinking.

To me, using Illustrator®, Photoshop®, or a real brush and paint from a tube are variations on the same mental process. When I tried Adobe LiveMotionTM animation software, it just didn't feel like my kind of thing.

Judicious use of animation can focus interest and add a new dimension to Web-based communication. But animation can also needlessly complicate the Web and make it less interactive.

Too often, I find, animation is incorporated into Web-based communication merely because it is possible, because it says "cutting edge".

As a user, I value the Web's interactive quality above its multimedia capability.

That's my rant against the excesses of animation. When it's well done–and not overused–Web animation can be wonderful, of course. For the most part, I am content to leave its creation to others.

Illustration Process 4: Blockprint Style

What I call the "blockprint-style" illustration process makes use of a hybrid technique, which evolved directly from my work in printmaking.

For those who know about scratchboard, let me add that this is the same general idea. The materials used are quite different, however, and to some extent, so is the look of the finished product.

This process is a hybrid of drawing by hand, then colouring digitally.

A drawing is made on an inked surface by scraping away some of the black ink with sharp tools. The effect, at least in my hands, approximates a traditional wood engraving.

I think my process benefits from a somewhat freer approach to mark making than either wood engraving or scratchboard.

With the drawing scanned, the application of colour takes place. I use Adobe Photoshop® to do that, and find the available tools work quite well.

Images produced by the blockprint-style illustration process are perhaps best suited for print publishing.

The monitor screen is not always kind to the method's fine detail work. And the overall esthetic effect suggests a view toward the past, not the brave new world of the Internet.

Traditional Paintings

Anyone interested in going unplugged for a while?

Working in the digital world is fine, but sometimes you want to put away the technology, roll up your sleeves, and get your brushes dirty with real pigment.

So that is exactly what I do.

I have been interested in painting, and particularly landscape painting, for some time. It is primarily a sense of place that I feel a need to address and express.

When painting, I was making a number of conflicting demands. The effect was to be spontaneous, yet highly finished. There was to be an atmospheric transparency of watercolour, with the substantial modeling of oil.

The results were not always harmonious. But I stayed with it, sometimes exhibiting, though more often not.

How I paint has evolved, and now my work resembles that original inner vision more closely than ever before. I paint in watercolour, but this may not be immediately apparent to the viewer.

Painting occupies a prominent place in my life and I expect that one day it will become the main item on my agenda of creative work.

Other Interests

That's me out doing fieldwork for more landscape paintings. The canoe is still the most practical mode of transport for this, at least around here.

Whether I really want to be a professional landscape painter, or a professional canoeist, is not entirely clear in my mind.

The canoe provides an efficient way to gather images of the water, rock, and trees that make up much of this land. But every new painting is also a great excuse to pack up and head for the nearest river or lake.

Do I paddle so I can paint, or paint so I can paddle?

Whichever way it is, the canoe is important to me, both in my creative work and as an enchanting aspect of life that stands very well on its own.

"The perfect machine", it has been called, though one hardly thinks of it in mechanical terms. The perfect shape, perhaps? It surely is the perfect way to move yourself and just enough gear to be truly comfortable.

The next few paragraphs are for people who have experience with canoes–and maybe just a small subset of those.

As you saw in the picture at the top of this page, I paddle a solo open canoe with a double-bladed paddle. It is not something I invented, but I did work out, on my own, how best to do it.

The rationale is to retain the flexibility and comfort of the open boat, and combine it with kayak-like solo paddling efficiency.

Where I live, absolutely no one paddles this way, or has even thought about paddling this way, apparently.

Over at our neighbours' to the south, some people do paddle this way. I have personally met only one or two, but then, I don't get out in the southern direction as often.

About a hundred years ago, paddling open or partly decked solo canoes with double-bladed paddles was commonplace. So, what happened?

If you paddle a solo canoe and use this style, I would enjoy hearing from you. How, where, and why?

(Traditional "Rob Roy" and "Wee Lassie" boat designs, and more modern ones like my 14-foot Jensen, all qualify.)

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© 2001 Ivan Soudek. All rights reserved.

About These Pages

All illustrations, text, the overall site design, and HTML code are my work.

Mouseover script was created using a program available on the Web–see the relevant source code for the name of the author and program.

Some graphics incorporate previously existing images, including contemporary (colour) photographs and heritage (monochromatic) advertising art and photographs.

Three of the contemporary photos are by others; the rest are my own. Any heritage artwork used appears in a reworked form, but its origin should be fairly obvious to a knowledgeable viewer.

My blockprint-style illustrations mimic heritage illustration techniques, but are recently and entirely created by me.

The ILLUSTRATED PAGES are my personal Web statement. An early version fulfilled the requirements of a course in HTML, while later additions and improvements came as explorations in on-line publishing and graphic methods.

Aside from shedding light on my work and interests, these pages are about manipulating digital images. With that in mind, don't take everything you see here as completely literal truth.

A solid-looking picture frame was pasted together from multiple copies of a section of moulding featured in a brochure. Photos that appear "real" were in fact assembled from elements found in several different photographs. I think you get the idea.

The goal is not to mislead, but to demonstrate–to myself and to the visitor–a little of what is possible in the digital environment.

No goods or services are offered for sale here, and none of the illustrations were created on a commercial basis. If you require the services of an illustrator or graphic designer and my work interests you, I suggest you contact me directly by email for more information.

Finally, it is my hope that you enjoy your visit to these pages, and feel informed or amused by some of what you see.

Ivan Soudek

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