After nearly 4 years of working on the Google doodle team, I’ve quit to become an independent illustrator and cartoonist. Here’s an actually pretty small fraction of what I got up to during that time.

Doodling was my first full-time job after graduating from RISD in 2010, and I learned so much. If it seems like a fun job to you, the team is hiring!

Now that I’m going solo, what will I do? I have several comic book projects lined up, and I will (hopefully) do lots of editorial illustration, animation, zines, games, and printmaking.

I’ve updated my portfolio websitetake a look – if you have an interesting project in mind, please email me at sophiafosterdimino@gmail.com.

Special thanks to my talented teammates who were far and beyond the best part of this job: Jennifer HomMike DuttonSophie DiaoMatt CruickshankKevin LaughlinKaty Wu, Mark Ivey, Leon Hong, Ryan Germick, Greg Capuano, Brian Kaas, Corrie Scalisi, Kris Hom, Liat Ben-Rafael, Jonathan Shneier, and (now fellow) doodle emerituses Willie Real and Betsy Bauer.

I’ve been making these zines for a little over a year now. Here’s #4. I brought 80 copies to SPX this past weekend and gave them to my dear friends. As a bonus I hand-colored all the covers for some bizarre reason

SPX was wonderful as usual. Congratulations to the Ignatz nominees and winners! I picked up a ton of books & zines, and I’ll enjoy reading them over the next few weeks.

The first 3 Sex Fantasy zines are tagged here, so you can read them if you missed them the first time around.

I made these three tiny PS1-themed zines to give away during GX2 in mid-July. I sold them online shortly after for $1 a 3-pack, and then sold out of them completely at San Francisco Zine Fest last weekend, so now I’m putting them online, here you go.

These are single-sheet zines, quick and painless, drawn in like two days, and Rookie has a good single-sheet zine tutorial if you want to give it a shot.

Thanks everyone who said kind words about them at GX2, thanks everyone who bought a copy, thanks Brian Crecente for writing about them on Polygon, thanks thanks thanks.

Did you know GX is returning next year? The GX3 kickstarter has a little over a week left to go, support them!

Finally, this is my 100th post on this tumblr. Thank you for following me.

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Here’s more stuff from instagram. Bigger pieces soon, promise.

The Godfather illustration is for another Bright Wall / Dark Room article, the traffic jam is for The New Republic, the lady on the phone is for The New Yorker.

The cuties at the bottom are for a GX2 badge; speaking of which, the GX3 kickstarter went up recently and if you like inclusive gaming conventions you should certainly support them!

So happy to be able to contribute to Future52, my friend Alex Griendling's speculative illustration blog. Lots of cool folks have participated also, take a look!

Thanks for the invite, Alex!

P.S. Two years ago I contributed to Future52’s previous incarnation, Raygun52. Here’s my piece for that. What a blast from the past ha haha h a

I’ve been learning after affects (with varied results)

Every week or so I do a weird thing and post it on twitter, here’s a roundup.

uhhanduhh said: Hey Sophia, nice job, I really enjoy your work. How are you creating your animations if you don't mind me asking?

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A bunch of people have asked me this over the months, so instead of just linking to tutorials I’d like to go a little more in-depth.

My process for making animations has changed a lot in the time I’ve been doing them. I used to work almost exclusively in Flash (for animations like lighthouse ladyfish manbusy girltrain folks, and rock roller) with a little bit of Photoshop basically just for post-processing (tweaking colors with adjustment layers). I should note that when I’m animating geometric shapes I almost always make them in Illustrator, and then import them into Flash.

When I upgraded to Photoshop CS6 and then CC, I found that the animation functionality had gotten much better, so I tried it out (see beach girl and crying person). Alex Grigg’s photoshop animation tutorial, as I’ve mentioned, was invaluable here.

For some other recent animations I’ve done a hybrid approach – making geometric shapes in Illustrator and animating them in Flash, then bringing them into Photoshop to apply texture to the shapes and also do any hand-drawn animation. See "help computer" and this NYT piece.

Unfortunately, Flash CC has actually removed a lot of the features I depended on for animation (the motion editor, and inverse kinematics) so I am finally taking the plunge into learning After Effects, which I’ve been putting off for forever even though it’s industry standard. I expect it will change my approach a lot.

Before I get into the weeds with a specific example I wanna shout out Ric Carrasquillo, who has mentored me with a lot of animation stuff and is a phenomenal artist and all-around nice guy!

So the most recent animation I’ve put on tumblr is this running girl. Let me tell you how this came to be.

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I have a folder on my computer called “style tests” that is filled with random scribbles, sketches, abstract color palettes, brush experiments, patterns, etc. When I feel like starting a random personal project, I peek in here and see if there’s anything that holds water. If it manages to keep my interest after wasting away in this folder for months, then it’s probably worth finishing.

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Apparently I started “runner” about a year ago, in April 2013. it was initially just an idea for a static illustration in a sort of printmakey style with a limited palette. I’m sure I was thinking of this scene from Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams because it haunts me.

Anyway, it stayed like this for basically a year, then in May of 2014 I decided to do something with it. I had been thinking of the scene again and thought it would be fun to animate a run cycle.

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I did rough pass animation in Flash because I find it faster and more intuitive when you’re working out timing.  The final animation is two 16-frame run cycles at 12 fps, so on the 2’s at 24 fps, basically. My first pass here is on the 2’s at 12 fps, so on the 4’s at 24 fps. I asked my coworker Matt Cruickshank for tips and he pointed out that it’s physically impossible to run with your arms and legs moving foward on the same side, which gives you fascinating insight into how little I know about this stuff

Second pass with all the frames filled out – this was sufficient for me to move to final linework.

I exported the animation from Flash as a .png sequence, then imported that into Photoshop as a video layer so that I could trace over it in a new video layer. This part was the most time-consuming and tedious, so I queued up Das Boot and had at it. Here’s a progress shot. Someone on twitter mentioned that her right arm (our left) was doing some funky stuff and he was right! I fixed it as best I could in the final. It still looks weird tho :C

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When I was done with the 16-frame cycle, I duplicated it and changed her facial expression in the second round so that it wouldn’t feel too repetitive. Next: color.

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Then I set up some Photoshop actions to fill in the flats. Some glitches occurred¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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When animating in Photoshop, you can create a cycling texture animation as a smart object and then clip it to a layer, video layer, or group of frame layers. This is what I did with her shirt. I made a Photoshop action to create a bunch of random blobby noise, ran it on 16 separate color layers, and clipped the resulting footage to the flat shirt shapes.

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I do variations of this all the time, with static illustrations too, just to add some speckle to a solid color.

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Then I spent a long time coloring all the lines………

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For the background elements, I went back to Flash, using some Illustrator-made vector shapes. The hill in the background is a giant rotating circle with alternating smooth and pointy ripples.

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The bush in the foreground is a spiky rectangle doing a tile tween. Both of these got punted to Photoshop as .png sequences in video layers, where I colored and textured them.

At some point in this entire process I decided to lose the spooky hand + shadow in the background (seemed too cheesy, I wanted something more ambiguous) and I also removed the kicked-up dirt, under Ric’s advice that it was driving home a point that the character animation had sufficiently made.

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The sky has some texture that was not procedurally generated, but scanned in (years ago) from some powdered graphite + alcohol experiments (I’m not being glib, you literally mix the graphite powder with alcohol). The texture files were huge and this led to some problems. Every single frame of that cycling texture was a very zoomed-in portion of a duplicated enormous 600dpi smart object, and it was bogging down the .psd. I rasterized the smart objects thinking that would solve the problem, but the thing is – Photoshop often lets pixels outside the canvas hang around in case you need them. I eventually solved the issue by cutting and pasting every single layer, so that I was sure it was only saving on-canvas pixels.

When everything was ready to go, I exported all the frames as flat .pngs and ran some actions on them to tweak the colors with curves layers and gradient maps, then piled them back into a .psd (File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack…)

Then I exported it as a .gif (because this was a limited palette piece from the start, this part was pretty painless) and posted it to tumblr, but not before redrawing it in unicode

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(the most essential part of my artistic process)

In all this animation took about two weeks, but I was only working for half an hour to an hour every day, in-between more pressing projects – as a way to relax and have fun.

Feel free to download the animation .psd and poke around. Please note that it will only work with CS6 and up.

I hope this was simple enough to follow. Again, I really recommend Alex Grigg’s Photoshop tutorial, it taught me basically everything I know. This Richard Williams book is also a big deal. I hope more people give animation a shot and make weird gifs – it’s fun and informative.

Instagram roundup. The top piece is for an essay on the film Ain’t Them Bodies Saints for Bright Wall/Dark Room magazine.

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For a piece on self-care in the NYT Sunday Review. Thanks AD Alexandra Zsigmond!