Death by Committee: Application Security Illustration Round 2

Sooner or later, if you create commercial art, you'll have your best work rejected by committee. It's part of the job. This is one of those projects. I'll be going back to the drawing board, but I wanted to share this work as is.  

I'm very proud of this solution – It represents some of the smartest conceptual work I've ever done.

The Project

I was tasked with "updating" the following graphic. This graphic is the foundational concept behind my client's entire business. In other words, it's been used to sell their services for years. 

Application Security Tiers

At first glance, there seems to be a lot of information being presented. What you don't see is any real clue describing what's happening. Without the assistance of paragraphs of text or a salesperson, the viewer is left to their own devices to derive any meaning.

The application "stack" is represented by icons that tell the viewer very little. And the accompanying text identifiers are equally amorphous.

You'll also note a variety of graphic elements that are meant to clue the viewer in to a larger idea, but all of these elements largely fail to create a cohesive visual narrative for anyone trying to decipher the graphic.  

My Solution

The solution I arrived at solves these issues — I created visual metaphors that accurately depict what literally happens at each tier. The simplicity of the imagery and design affords a viewer with no prior knowledge of the basic concepts a means of "creating" a narrative for themselves without the help of accompanying text. 

The "isometric" grid underlying this illustration helps create a plane for the tiers. I added flags at each level to help draw the users eye through the entire illustration. Once the basic art was created, I made a few slight adjustments to accommodate the text for the next two graphics. 

 Application Security Tiers Revisited

Application Security Tiers Revisited



In layout

Overall, this is a highly successful piece. That it was a casualty of "committee" is just a consequence of opinion. It happens. 

Stay tuned for the next version. 

How was it created?: Craft CMS 3 Installer

Process is everything, even when drawing digitally. The Craft 3 Installer illustration was drawn entirely on an iPad using the Apple Pencil in Procreate

Procreate on iPad w/Apple Pencil

Pencil sketch

I plotted the general concept/layout by blocking in shapes on tracing paper using a fat blue marker. Once I had the general idea down, I took a photo of the page, imported it into Procreate and began drawing the individual shapes. 

In Procreate, I worked at approximately 2.5X the size of the final illustration to make sure the resolution would hold up for retina displays —This illustration measures: 28" x 14". 

Blocked in shapes for layout and detailed pencil sketching on tracing paper

Progress views

The following samples show the illustration in various stages of completion. One of the tradeoffs for the portability of the iPad as a drawing studio is layering. When I drew this piece, layers were limited to 15. In total, this illustration comprised at least 100 layers. In order to finish the illustration, I had to draw a quadrant, duplicate the file, collapse the previously drawn layers and start a new file with a fresh set of layers. In all, I saved out the file six times. The fourth image shows the variable content box and the dotted line — I pulled the illustration in to Adobe Illustrator to create the line, then in Procreate shifted around the individual images to accommodate the variable content area and the dotted line. Final tweaks to object placement were made in Photoshop.

I saved each version as a PSD and exported each to Dropbox or Airdropped the files for safe keeping and/or import into Adobe products. 

The finished illustration

Final illustration 

Working with the iPad

The iPad is a marvelous drawing tool. But it does lack some of the drawing power of a Cintiq or tablet-based computer. No, the iPad doesn't offer you the ability to work directly in Photoshop or Illustrator. And you shouldn't care. End of story. You'll figure out a process that works for you. No other drawing tool can match the feel of drawing that the iPad offers. And no other tablet is anywhere near as portable. 


  • Get a simple foldable stand (don't draw on a flat surface) you can easily carry with you. There are dozens of options. I'm using the Steklo stand and cut down the prongs that hold the iPad using a Dremel tool. 
  • Buy a finger cushion. The one you see on my pencil is by Ergo. Thank me later. 
  • Get a matte screen protector — the slight texture will provide enough resistance that it will feel like you are drawing on paper. 
  • I also use an artist's glove to help prevent goobering up the drawing surface — you can make one yourself. I'm lazy.


The latest latest illustration for F5 Labs IoT Report.

F5 IoT Report Cover: The Growth and Evolution of Thingbots Ensures Chaos


[From the report] "The world is just now catching onto how useful IoT devices are; the industry is in its startup phase just scratching the surface of its future potential. If you follow the “diffusion of innovations” theory, we haven’t yet crossed the chasm of IoT potential, or mainstream global market adoption. 

The cell phone is the only IoT device type that has hit the mainstream market with adoption rates past 50% of the global population. When the majority of the world is online, smart homes with dozens of internet enabled devices and smart cities will be everywhere instead of only in the hands of the early adopters. At that point, IoT thingbots could threaten global stability if we don’t start doing something about it now."

Full Version and Cover Version


Concept Sketch

Pencil drawing presented to F5 for concept approval.

Loryka Logo and Branding

In the words of owner and developer Justin Shattuck, Loryka is "a platform and data pipeline that allows researchers to gain insights into the attacks we see [on the web]." His platform is revolutionizing the web security industry and I was entrusted to help design a logo that captured the essence of his vision.

 Final Logo

Final Logo


The Concept

The name Loryka is derived from the word "lorica", which is a specific type of Roman armor that incorporated an overlapping lattice of metalwork. My initial attempts to design a logo took this concept head on. And failed. 

After a few more discussions with Justin, he described his business as "a company that is taking PH readings of the soil." He went on to describe a data tool that didn't just look at the forest, but looked into the forest through a microscope to see the smallest ant on a leaf. 

The Solution

After numerous versions, I hit upon the idea of incorporating a few different elements 1) a PH color scale 2) a diminishing circle of dots representing the "data" cycle of life and 3) slightly overlapping letters to hint at the idea of armor and "connection".

 Final Logo Sheet with variations 

Final Logo Sheet with variations 

F5 Holiday Tips One-pager

Revisions are a part of any job. And sometimes you wind up doing a few rounds of major edits to arrive at a solution that matches the changing vision of your client. This "quick" project went through four rounds of substantial revisions before the final piece was approved — a handy lesson in streamlining your process to make changes as painless as possible. 

 Approved One-pager

Approved One-pager

The evolution of this artwork

 Round 1

Round 1

 Round 2

Round 2

 Round 3

Round 3

 Round 4 - Approved illustration

Round 4 - Approved illustration

Craft CMS 3 Installer

Last year, at the 2017 PEERS Conference, I floated the idea of updating the installer illustration for Craft CMS 3 to the head honcho and resident genius at Pixel & Tonic, Mr. Brandon Kelly. In addition to the fact that his karaoke skills will instantly remind you of an angrier, out-of-tune Henry Rollins from Black Flag, he's also a fan of good-ish drawering skills. I'd illustrated the installer screen for Craft CMS 1 years ago and it seemed to me that the impending release of the biggest update to his flagship product might be the perfect opportunity to update the installer artwork. A few months later, Brandon gave me a call. 

The Concept

Conceptually, he and his team wanted to explore the idea of "inclusivity" without getting too far into the weeds about how to broach a very touchy topic visually and do so without offending an equally touchy group of people (Please note: These are my words, not his ... But it's still 100% true. Deal with it). We eventually landed on the idea of exploring inclusivity through the locations where Craft CMS is being used around the world. Which, once again, brought up the specter of dealing with race and gender and all the baggage that comes along with that topic. It needed to be avoided like Coldplay. The question was how? The initial idea was to focus on landmarks from countries around the world which would have been interesting, but I concluded that the resulting illustration would have felt more like a travel advertisement than a representation of Craft.

After putting the concept through my brain's spin cycle, I expanded on the idea exponentially by including landmarks, mythical beasts and creatures from folklore, foods, and representative objects from specific countries. You'll also find a random assortment of web and nerd references to help round out the illustration for the tech crowd. The resulting piece is straight-up fun and successfully represents "inclusivity" without stepping on any social land mines. 


I created three different versions of the center area that literally plug into the open space to accommodate potential uses: 

In all, twenty-three countries and locations are represented (objects vary based on center art):

  • NYC - Lady Liberty, pizza
  • PNW (Seattle, Portland, Bend) - Sasquatch, pint glass, hop bud
  • SF - San Francisco is a city
  • UK - London Bridge
  • Germany - pretzel, brat on fork, beer
  • India - Airavata
  • Australia - Rainbow Serpent, boomarang
  • South Africa - flower with mountain graphic from national symbol
  • Canada eh - bacon, hockey stick
  • France - Eiffel Tower
  • Netherlands - wooden shoe, tulips, cheese
  • China - Chinese dragon
  • Spain - bull, olives, tomato
  • Singapore - lion fish
  • Japan - Kasa Obake, koi
  • Indonesia - flower, palm tree
  • Ireland - shamrock, pint glass
  • Norway - Viking helmet
  • Poland - brat, beer, bull (nothing unique about Poland's symbology)
  • Russia - Baba Yaga
  • Italy - wine bottle, wine glasses, olives, grapes
  • Saudi Arabia - dual swords from national symbol
  • Middle East - Bahamut
  • Nerds - Starship Enterprise, propeller beanie, alien ship
  • Bunch of other random and tech/web-related stuff

I had a blast creating this piece for Craft 3. It goes without saying that good people deserve good art. 

Thanks, Brandon and team Pixel & Tonic!


Bell Masonry Logo & Branding

A wonderful old client of mine from Atlanta referred me for this project toward the end of 2017. This was my last web design project for 16toads Interactive, but the logo and branding artwork fit nicely in with my new direction here at OddBurton, so I am including it as a sample. 

The Challenge

Bell Masonry is an family-owned company that has been operating in greater Kansas City for nearly 100 years. They were in the process of going through a corporate restructuring and wanted to overhaul their logo and brand for the future. Their team specified three primary criteria for a new logo: 1) Visually portray "masonry", 2) suggest the idea of a company that has spanned "generations", and 3) make it timeless. These concepts are difficult enough to pull of as individual elements, but all three, in a single mark? This is precisely the kind of challenge I love. 

After the initial round of concepts,  this is the first pass with the direction I felt was most promising. 


After doing a bit of research I found that two objects appear in 99.8% of all logos for masons: bricks (brick patterns) and trowels. These images are so pervasive that they can be found in nearly every possible design solution down to mimicking the classic Masonic fraternal logo. These images are pervasive because there are literally no other objects that could represent "masonry". My initial pass included bricks, trowels, and a couple terrible attempts to represent the Bell family business with a bell ... and a brick pattern. I threw out those samples almost immediately. And thankfully, my client listened to my rationale for not choosing a bell with brick pattern as their logo. 

The only other object that makes sense visually is an actual mason. After doing a handful of initial sketches, I hit upon the idea of drawing a mason from yesteryear to represent two things visually: masonry and generations. It worked. The initial icon was a realistic portrayal of a mason from around the turn of the century. My client liked the idea but felt that the rendering and fonts were a little too "elegant" for his clientele. Their portfolio was broader than the luxury home market and, consequently, he was leaning back toward the bell with brick pattern. I asked him to let me play around with the illustration as well as the fonts to address his concerns. 

Original icon and simplified version

Icon variations

Final logo sheet with marketing samples

A Flexible Solution

I'm drawn to logos that provide flexibility for use in different media. A logo that requires an icon to be understandable isn't a successful logo. Nor is a logo that can't be modified to work in both horizontal and vertical formats. The final logo sheet shows how the Bell Masonry logo can be adjusted to work in multiple formats. 

After successive passes, I chose a heavy, highly readable sans serif font and simplified the mason icon by removing nearly all of the detail. In the end, my client was absolutely thrilled with the final result. And I managed to create a logo that incorporated all three of the elements they requested: masonry, generations, and timelessness. 


Final, approved Bell Masonry Logo



The third volume of F5Labs's Threat Analysis Report was a blast to draw. My challenge for this issue was to create robots that visually represented the most common IoT devices exploited by attackers worldwide ... affectionately called, "Thingbots". What artist doesn't enjoy drawing robots?


How were the robots created?

Both robots were hand-sketched with a 2B pencil, then scanned, and imported into Procreate on the iPad. The drawing was then refined, flat color was added, then exported as a PSD using Airdrop. The final piece was modeled in Photoshop and placed in the report layout using InDesign. Easy peasy. 

Ballard Beer Co. Tee Alt Version

I was asked to create an alternate version of the "Pals" tee for the Ballard Beer Company with simplified text framed by hop vines. This is the result ... 

Kitchen Kraken

I was afforded the opportunity to create an illustration for a client who has a penchant for octopi and squid. Ultimately, this illustration will be painted on a tile backsplash in her kitchen. 

Final conceptual rendering

I plotted the illustration using a photo of the space. Ideally, I would have liked to get exact measurements but I knew going in that adjustments will need to be made on-the-fly to accommodate the space, size (dimensions) of the tile, and things like the electrical outlet. None of these things affect the basic concept. 

Pencil sketch

Turns out I did a pretty good job measuring. Very little adjustment will need to be made to the illustration to accommodate the space. 

Proof-of-concept Photoshop composite

Next steps will be selecting tile, researching paints, how-to-paint-on-tile techniques, and how to fire and/or seal the final painting. 

I'll be posting more about this project as it progresses.