I recently decided to rebrand because I had three companies:

  • Trish Khoo Consulting / trishkhoo.com – my software testing consulting business
  • Transparo / transpa.ro – my software testing training business
  • Hogfish Designs / designs.hogfish.net – my graphic design business

That’s way too many for one person! I was going to combine them all under the name Transparo, but some friends suggested that the design business was still different enough to deserve its own brand. So I decided that the best approach was to combine the software testing businesses under the name Transparo, keep Hogfish Designs as its own entity, and then trishkhoo.com could go back to being a personal website.

This meant that trishkhoo.com had an important job of explaining why I have two different businesses and where to find the information that the visitor is looking for. I decided on a simple landing page that explains who I am, where to find my business information, and introduces this website’s content which is mainly my blog.

In order to emphasise that this is a website about myself rather than a business, a picture of myself was going to need to be on the front page. I was inspired by Angie Jones’ website which features a cute caricature of her using a laptop. Hey, what a great opportunity to show off my graphic design skills!

I use SketchApp for my vector design. It’s very similar to Adobe Illustrator. I’ve been using it for about five years now and it’s taken me about that long to feel completely comfortable designing vector elements. Keep in mind that I was already proficient in drawing and using other illustration tools like Adobe Photoshop before that and you get an idea of how long it can take to learn this kind of skill!

The SketchApp interface

I started by looking up examples of other character illustrations in a flat icon style. I like to steal like an artist, so I used the shapes of a few different elements as a base template. Then I got to work making it look like me.

I’ve done a few little self portraits before so I know there are a few basic features that make a picture look like me:

  • Huge mouth / smile
  • Pointy noise
  • Long face with pointy chin
  • Lots of dark hair

My experience in drawing manga style pictures prepared me really well for drawing in a simple flat icon style. One of the challenges in manga is to capture characteristics using very few lines. You’ll notice in the final image that I’ve omitted eyebrows, eyelids, hair details, lip shape, and a few other details that usually add to facial expression and help to make a person more recognisable.

For extra Trish style, I chose to dress my avatar in my favourite jacket which I often wear to conferences when I give a talk. It’s a black hooded jacket with gold embroidered leopard spot print.

As any artist knows, drawing hands is the absolute worst. I wasn’t in the mood to wrangle with them so I decided to avoid them by obscuring them with objects. I wanted the focus to be on the new objects anyway so I think it worked out for the best. Creating a laptop was easy – it’s just a skewed rectangle with a circle in the middle. Creating an easel and paintbrush took a little more work. To save time, I grabbed a paintbrush vector from The Noun Project as a template and created three layers from it to colour it.

Finally, the top of the website needed a little something so I used the same leopard print pattern from my jacket as a simple background with a dark overlay. There is enough happening on the page without a fancy logo competing for attention so I kept the “Trish Khoo” title simple and clean.

Do you like these icons? You can hire me to make a personal avatar for you too! Just reach out to me using my contact form.