When food and design collide. Illustration and code

Always have a side project

Back in July 2013, I attended a Passion Projects talk by Jessica Hische. She spoke about side projects and how they can balance out your happiness with self-fulfilling work that improve your skillset. I strive to become a better illustrator, but often times my work doesn’t require it. That’s why I created One Item on the Menu to showcase my love for food, and to challenge my illustration skills.

One Item on the Menu is a recommendations site that highlights one thing (an appretizer, entreé, dessert, or drink) that you should get while dining at a specific restaurant. A single item is easier to remember than a barrage of many, which often happens when getting suggestions on what to order.

Simple and clean The layout is minimal in order to let the illustration and typography stand out.

Developing the illustrations

Finding the illustration style was a matter of trial and error. In the beginning, I went too literal and I was unhappy with the final result. To counter that, I added “sketch” elements, though that ended up being messier than interesting.

WTF to wow The final illustration style plays with line weights and a muted color palette.

Then it struck me — why was I trying to illustrate the food exactly like what was served? I should just invest in taking better photos if I wanted to go that route. Instead, I developed a style that used a muted color palette and thicker line weights to give it a sense of whimsy and hipster love.

Let’s eat out

There’s something about illustrating that I find incredibly fun and rewarding. It balances out the structured nature of code, and I love it. Here are more illustrations from the project:

Pixelated food porn From Michelin-starred restaurants to ice cream shops, I love them all.

And it’s responsive

Because of the simplicity of the site, turning it responsive was just a few extra lines of code. This included moving the illustrations to the forefront, and shrinking the titles just a tad. Super easy to present well everywhere.

Food recommendations on the go The site works and looks great on all devices.

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