Giving back is fun

Sometimes I get fun little projects that give me great pleasure and a sense of fulfillment. The 3 projects shown here are just that. They are no miracles of design or illustration. Each serves a purpose by fulfilling community need.

The Bushel And A Peck logo is for a fundraiser to continue to fund a program that ensures grade school students in the Charlottesville City Schools have access to healthy snacks during the day.


The Evil Cell Tower is to support a neighborhood group lobbying to stop a cell tower from being constructed on a small parcel of land in the middle of their subdivision. The owner of the vacant lot - an absentee landlord - stands to make a substantial amount of money from this land lease. The nearby property owners are petitioning the HOA to consider their plight, based on environmental and decreased property value concerns.

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The UVA Neurology Running Crew Shirt is intended to encourage department staff to join the running crew. A portion of the sale of each shirt goes to the Epilepsy Foundation.

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Why I keep drawing

I attend a life drawing group once a week. As an illustrator and artist I think it is important to continue to develop basic drawing skills. I draw a lot of people in my work. I would be remiss if I did not keep my understanding of the human face/form sharp. First image is from the drawing group. The second image (not derivative from the drawing just an example) is a personal illustration.


I used one the model sketches from our life drawing group to create this image: The Human Machine Interface in a Time of War

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Ink to Digital - Adobe Illustrator

I developed this sketch on paper with a Sharpie. I was about to translate it into digital art by scanning it and use it as a template to draw the final piece with the pen tool. I decided to scan it at 600dpi and auto traced it instead (something I have been doing since Illustrator incorporated auto trace into the program in 1527 A.D.) I comped it up into a poster, gave it a catchy tagline and here is the result. It was a just for fun project.


Same here. This was a commercial project I recently finished. First a detailed pencil sketch. Then a cleaned up sketch. I drew the final with a sharpie and then followed the same process as above.



I have been attempting to add more techniques to my Adobe Illustrator portfolio. This one uses the some of the various Photoshop filters/effects available. I needed to keep the file as an .ai during production so any applied filters/effects would scale properly, and to keep the file from getting too large. The robot is for my grandaughter. She is into wild animals, dinosaurs and robots.

Describing Process

What do you do when the machinery and process you are trying to describe no longer exists? What if the machinery and the process were "invented" by a company and there were very few, if any, of the designers alive to fill you in on the details? These were the issues I faced when trying to illustrate a paper filter making machine. The client, author and I wanted it to be correct and believable. I researched the paper making business and soon realized there was plenty of reference online; but none of it matched the configuration and process I was trying to capture.

 I decided to focus on the process and use the illustration as only a reference. The three of us constructed more of a narrative than a technically perfect illustration. I broke the narrative down to make it easier for the reader digest. This is the state of things now. A long time ago I realized the creation of information graphics is an iterative process. I feel we are getting closer; but the final product will probably look quite a bit different. The important thing right now is we all feel we are on the right track



I was asked to create a series of illustrations depicting the fabrication, installation and testing of HEPA paper filters used in nuclear processing and power plant facilities. The illustrations were meant to be used in a business/technology development case study. The client was Flanders, Inc. The company invented the filter product fabrication and developed all the installation processes involved deploying a successful solution. At first, I considered an infographic approach; but because technical innovations and details involved in describing the product, I chose a more realistic style. The illustrations had to appeal to both a technically savvy and an informed layman's audience. I worked with the writer and the client to help them decide what illustrations were necessary. We reviewed my progress together. The process helped us to clarify information and provide visual ques to effectively illuminate the text.

I will post the whole set when they are approved and complete.

Mechanations- Continued

Watched over by machines with loving care:

Recently, I have been experimenting with my previously rendered technical illustrations.
They are "reincarnations" and some are published under "Illustration" on this website.

It seems everything we do is manged by machines. We cannot underestimate their presence in our lives. As machines get smarter and more predictable they will play a bigger, and possibly more emotional part in our lives. I like to think of them as beautiful things with endless capabilities. Windmills, power plant turbines, electric motors, automation control devices, automobiles, electrical distribution systems all depend on machines. We live in the machine age. Every computer keyboard connects us to a machine. From engineers to artists the machine plays a role in our lives. When their "intelligence" supersedes our own; I hope that caring will be built into their programs.

Currently, there are some of my illustrations displayed at 10 Flavors Studios, 333 2nd Street NE. Please feel free to come by and take a look.


Understanding Automation

I have had the great opportunity to work for one of America's largest and oldest companies - General Electric. Recently, (Probe Incorporated) upgraded the style of icons used in architectural diagrams. We are implementing a more contemporary infographic - like style. This makes for a lot less clutter in GE's diagrams and is much more colorful and stylized. I am using this style to represent major industry applications, as well, and so far we have all been very happy with the results:


Hundreds of old technical illustrations are sitting in file folders and moldering storage devices. I decided to try my hand at "reconfiguring" these illustrations into almost familiar other machines - An accordion composed from DCS factory control modules, a heavy truck with a magnesium casting machine and DIN-rail mounted terminal blocks, a steampunk-like submarine... CLICK THE IMAGE to see more machines

Ma.K. Fireball and Friends

I have been building and painting an old 1980's era science fiction kit. While I was at it I decided to make some figures and give the whole thing a bit of a setting. I started building the kit 15 years ago. Each time I picked up I thought "Nah, I am really not a SciFi guy". Then I needed a Guinea Pig to experiment on. I wanted to try some of the new scratchingtechniques that are quite popular; and to try using both paint and pastels to render flesh. The base is scratch built using polystyrene sheets and shapes. The numbering was scavenged from a Challenger 1 decal sheet. The dog is beautiful!

A logo by any other name.


Recently I had the opportunity to work with a colleague to develop a logo for his consulting firm. The logo process for me is very collaborative and Dan and I spent several meetings batting around ideas and looking at sketches. I made three presentations to Dan (numbered appropriately in the graphic below). Here is a summary of the comments that drove us through the process:

Presentation 1:
Dan: "I like it. What other ideas do you have?
Mike: "uhhhhh...."

Presentation 2:
Dan:  "I like them. Could we simplify things and make the mountains more stylized?"
Mike: "No!" (We were finally getting somewhere.)

Presentation 3:
Dan: "Nice!."
Mike: " I am glad you like it."

If you are interested to hear what Dan has to say about CIMA CONSULTING:

"I founded CIMA Consulting after beginning my career in the nonprofit sector. Through CIMA, I am proud to work with mission driven businesses and nonprofit organizations to develop and implement their strategic goals." - Dan Katz

or visit him at:

Information Science

I did an illustration of a scientific laboratory facility. It was meant to demonstrate the capabilities of the lab. The various structures and equipment are not necessarily to perfect scale. We adjusted things to make sure equipment stood out. Walls and doors were lowered to provide better visibility in the rooms. Below is a detail of one of the laboratories.

In order to render the pieces of laboratory equipment, the client gave me a PDF with pictures of all of them. Many were of very poor quality. I went to various manufactures, distributors and resellers websites to find better reference. I downloaded User Manuals and in one case contacted a manufacture to resolve an issue with the accuracy of one of the product photos the client provided. (the rep was nice enough to tell me that the client had provided a photo of an older model. He then directed me to some images on their website and I was able to render the image more accurately.)