Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Ahoy! It's Friday again and this week I'm meeting my self-imposed deadline at a more respectable time than last with another fun-filled piece of children's book-type art! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... Tag! My tribute to what seems likely to be the first game of human civilization. Who among us doesn't love a good game of tag? (full disclosure: I actually didn't care for the game much myself between the spring of 1979 and the summer of 1981 as I was constantly "it" on account of my being an awkward lad with a big head and short legs making it nearly impossible for me to catch my opponents. Overcoming these obstacles, I did later regain my love of the chase.)
Based on another book concept that I have, this piece was a lot of fun to finally bring to life. Initially I didn't have any ideas for the finished look of the illustration but I knew I wanted it to be somewhat different from most of my other work. The one word that came to mind was "texture", so I tried to bring in more textures than I usually do. At my day job I've been doing more work with colored line work rather than black (for some reason people associate black lines with "cartoony" which apparently adults think is bad, even though we produce things for kids, who love cartoons. That's a whole 'nother post.) So I did it here and I really liked the result.
In other news, I spent a lot of this week trying to figure out my next promo mailer.I was planning on just putting together a small packet with a few color copies, maybe some postcards. Then I was listening to the fantastic Big Illustration Party Time podcast (hosted by Kevin Cross and Joshua Kemble) episode 39 in which the hosts, along with Thomas James of Escape from Illustration Island (an equally fantastic podcast that I have mentioned before) were discussing, among other things, possible alternative revenue streams for illustrators to pursue. Kevin Cross had mentioned the idea of printing up some quality art books that could be sold to fans but could also do double duty as a portfolio that could be sent to clients. This got me thinking about maybe doing something along those lines but on a smaller scale. So what I'm working on now is a small, printed book, digest sized with maybe four pages in it. While it would still be just a few samples it might be a more cohesive, well designed package as a book. That's the theory anyhow. I had hoped to have something to show, but I'm still designing it.
I'm thinking about doing them through maybe a print-on-demand outlet like Ka-Blam (as mentioned by Mr. Cross on BIPT) or finding somewhere I can do a short print run at a decent rate. If anyone who happens across this page has had good experiences with any of the various printing resources out there, feel free to drop me a line.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Back on track! For the most part, I'm about a half hour shy of midnight, but it's finished! This week's piece is a mocked up cover for a book concept I had the other day. The title of the book, in case it's hard to read on this low res version is, "Chicken Nugget: The Greatest Dog in the World Ever by Chicken Nugget". Without giving too much of the plot away it's basically the autobiography of a little dog named Chicken Nugget who is so full of himself that he really thinks he's the greatest dog in the world. Judging by the expressions on the faces of the townsfolk, his is not the majority opinion. I don't usually place type on pieces like this but I think the composition would look really odd with out it, as it's kind of central to the whole thing. As always, any crits and comments are welcome.
For the week ahead I plan on continuing sketches and prep work for the next Princess Candy book as well as dive into some much needed self promotion. Hopefully in next week's post I can share what sort of sample packet I'm working on. It's my intent to send a decent package to some publishers that I'd really like to work with. I'll let you know how it all goes down.
For now, it's totally bed time.
Thanks for reading!
Sunday, November 08, 2009
When I decided I would start doing this weekly exercise to build my portfolio I told myself that I would post something even if a particular week went awry. I said to myself, "Self, if we're going to do this, we've go to do it warts and all... good, bad and even ugly. 'Cause that's how life is self... it aint always pretty. You an' me gotta keep it real."
When I had this discussion with myself, I didn't actually think this was going to happen on week two.
I could go in to some litany of excuses, but who wants to hear that? The one legit reason I have is that paying work has to come first and that's basically what happened here. I had some gigs that I had to work on and I didn't have enough time for this image. So, when I had some computer issues, I didn't have the time to recoup and bust this sucker out.
That's why I blew it on Friday.
As to what happened this weekend, I have no idea. I've been trying to get this thing done and colored up but I just haven't been feeling it. So after many false starts and missteps on the colors I'm deciding to pack it in and call it a night. Doing so gives me that slammed with a 90 mph dodge ball in the gut feeling too, but sometimes it's not worth slogging through a piece just to get a crappy result when you can get back to it later with a clear head. Sad but true.
The above image is of the finished inks and represents the last phase of the project in which I looked at it and thought it was ok. When I get it finished up I'll post it.
Next week, something completely different. (ie. a finished piece and maybe more coherent thoughts)
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Using my "kid in a bee costume" character again (cooler name forthcoming), I decided I would turn him into something of a young superhero-type starring in his own series of middle-grade graphic or possibly prose novels. That's a market that I think the type of work I like to do fits well in. The above image would be the cover illustration to one of his harrowing adventures. I'm thinking about some black & white images for the interiors that would accompany the text, if the book were to go the prose route.
Process stuff... My process isn't really anything revolutionary but I always like to see this stuff from other artists so perhaps someone may enjoy this part.
1. Thumbnail - This rough image is about 2.75" x 3.5". I just drew it up quickly one day, thinking about situations to put our hero in. Didn't spend a lot of time on it, just tried to get a sense of the composition.
2. Pencils - I worked at my intended final print size of 6" x 8.25". I would usually work at least a little larger than the print size. These were only supposed to be slightly tighter roughs, which is why I worked smaller, but I kind of got into the drawing and finished them up. I scanned them in at 600 dpi so I could blow it up to the size I would have probably drawn it at when I converted it to a print friendly 300 dpi.
3. Inks - Technically there isn't any ink involved here since I do the line work in Adobe Illustrator. I place the pencils on their own layer and set it to dim the image 50%. Then I start an "inks" layer where I use a combination of the pen tool to trace some of my lines as paths and my Wacom tablet and some customized brushes for stuff like the woodgrain. I'm using it more for the other lines as well, but I'm still learning with it.
4. Flat Colors - After the line work is done I create a layer under the "inks" layer and label it "colors". I do all of the flat color this way, using the pen tool creating shapes. It's probably time consuming to do it this way, but I've been doing this since art school where I was more comfortable with Illustrator and vector art than with PhotoShop. It's weird but I just like to do it this way. Anyhow, you'll see that the color isn't totally flat as I did put some shadows on the figures. Part of the aesthetic that I'm going for is a cell shaded Saturday morning cartoon kind of feel where the somewhat flat characters pop off of a more painted looking background. Which brings us to PhotoShop.
5. Painting and Texture - After I've finished the flat color I export my Illustrator file as PhotoShop document, preserving all the layers. I then open the file up in PhotoShop and start adding textures and painting some shadows and highlights (mostly on the background elements). This piece doesn't have much of that , just some painting on the ship, some texture on the sail. I used a scanned paper texture that I placed over the flats and adjusted levels until I got it where I wanted. I also used the gradient tool in the sky to throw some color variations in there.
That was about it. I'm pleased with the results. If anyone reading this has any comments or critiques please let me know. Feel free to give an honest opinion, I can take it. I'm always looking for ways to improve things and sometimes there can be glaring problems that the artist can't see because they're too close to the piece. So fire away.
Next week I'll hopefully have another new piece. I say hopefully because I'm getting started on paying work, which obviously has to be the priority. I think I can fit something though, so look for that on Friday.
Thanks for stopping by.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Unless, of course, you're our intrepid hero at this particular moment.
Here's a little sneak peak at a work in progress. This is the pencil drawing I did for the piece that I'm going to have finished for Friday.
I hope you love it.
Thanks for looking.
Friday, October 23, 2009
So hey, internet, we're just gonna forget about September, ok? Between a new baby, two older kids, a full time job, finishing up Princess Candy book 3 and the inability of my brain to put together any coherent thoughts during that time, September and most of October were a bust as far as regular updates go. Not what I had hoped for this little experiment, so I'm going to try to get back into the swing of things now.
In the time between finishing the third Princess Candy installment and getting started on the next I've been trying to update my portfolio site, work on new pieces for said portfolio and build a contact list for an upcoming mailing. 2009 has been pretty busy so these have all been things I unfortunately neglected. I've also managed to do some writing for a web comic project that I'll probably be announcing early next year. Anyhow, I haven't just been sitting on the ol' duff.
You can see some of the fruits of my labor here at my portfolio site, updated with a smattering of newer images and a bunch of golden oldies.
Since I'm focusing my attention on the children's market one of the best resources that I'm using to build my mailing list is the 2010 Children's Book Writer's and Illustrator's Market book. If anybody out there is reading this and has any other suggestions please shoot me an email or comment below.
As for new pieces, I'm trying to finish some up before I start on the next Princess Candy book but honestly, I've been in a bit of a rut. I have plenty of sketches of pieces that I need to get moving on but I'm over thinking them, wondering if they're the right pieces to market myself with or if I need to change up my style a bit. Consequently, I end up paralyzing myself with these considerations and don't get much accomplished. At least that was the case, until yesterday when I was listening to Thomas James' fantastic podcast, Escape from Illustration Island and he was interviewing Jonathan Woodward who runs the blog Zero 2 Illo. Jonathan has been using Zero 2 Illo to document his transition from a freelance graphic designer to a freelance illustrator, putting it out there as a resource for other aspiring illustrators. During the course of the interview, which was great (as always, Escape from Illustration Island is a phenomenal show), Jonathan explained that he blogs about his work schedules and posts deadlines for himself because if he didn't, he might not get the work done. Hearing that, I decided that some self-imposed deadlines would be just the thing to get me to pull the trigger on these illustrations.
So here's the skinny... each week I'm going to work on a new piece, and post it here every Friday as my Perpetual Motion report, column thing. I'll use that to go over the process, post sketches and whatnot, chat about other stuff I've observed along the way. Hopefully, the issues of style and marketing that I've been mulling over will work themselves out through doing the work rather than through all my navel gazing. Even if each image isn't star search material, I should end up with some nice additions to the portfolio. Sound like a good plan?
That's it in a nutshell. If you're still reading then I salute you for your tenacity and fortitude. In the future, there will be fewer words and most certainly more pictures. For now, I leave you with this space kid.
Friday, October 09, 2009
When you're skating really fast, it give you the sensation of flying. Ok, it's a stretch, but maybe these kids just used flying to describe how speedy they were, like, "Man, I was totally flying across the pond! It was wicked!"
That's what I would have said when I was a kid. Actually, I'll say that this winter when I go skating.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Finally had the chance to finish up this piece for my children's book, Yeti 4 Hire. (you can see the original drawing here. ) Ok, so it's not an official book yet, but this is one of the samples for the submission packet I'm putting together. I'm still working on the book dummy and tightening up the manuscript, so it will be a while before I get it out the door. I'll just keep making time for it between the paying work.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
This week I've gotten back into the swing of things a bit more and I've been getting more done. As deadlines loom I'll be cranking away on stuff for the next couple of weeks and I'll post stuff as I can. Right now though, I'm wicked tired so I'm going to bed before this post begins to ramble too incoherently. Actually that last sentence may prove that I'm too late already.
Here's one of my favorite panels from the current Princess Candy book that I'm working on.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Big news this week... My copies of the first two Princess Candy books arrived in the mail and they're wicked awesome. Just look at the awesomeness in the above photo and that's just the sweet, sweet hardcover. Seriously, they look great. The colors are vibrant and just jump off the page. I'm totally stoked. I don't think I've ever been happier with how my work looks in print. Plus the design of the book is great from the title page to all the back matter stuff.
I finished a bunch of pages for book 3 this week, which is still coming along nicely. My new Intuos 3 has been a big too, so I'm glad I bought it. I plan on putting in a lot of hours this weekend so hopefully I can crank out a few more. Now I'm off to color a couple pages before bed.
I did this sketch of my Yeti character last night. I've got some big plans for this dude.
See, no harpoons this week.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Not much to report this week, despite the fact that I'm a day late doing so. One would think that the reason it took me a whole extra day to write about my work week was that it had been a rather eventful one, but not so. I was busy yesterday, and most of today but not with work... more like husband and dad type stuff. You gotta do what you gotta do, and I'm a happier man for it.
Work continues on the new Princess Candy book and all is well on that front. I got me a new toy this week... a Wacom Intuos 3 tablet. It's the 6" x 8" one and it sure is purdy. I'm still breaking it in, but the bit that I've used it has been great. I did the first two books without a tablet as my old Graphire didn't like my iMac. Plus the graphire only had like a 4" x6" area anyhow and I never got very comfortable with it. I like the new one better already.
Ok, the work week must continue, so I should get back to it.
Next week, I won't use an image with a harpoon in it.
Friday, July 31, 2009
So, this week...let's see...it went by really freaking quickly. I'm not sure why, but it flew. I'm still making my way through Princess Candy 03. I had a page with a classroom scene, a lot of kids and a lot of desks. It took way longer than the average page, but it's done and I'm happy with it. I love it when the effort pays off and you can be proud of the finished product. The other cool thing this week happened two posts ago, The first two Princess Candy books are available online. I'm dying to see the final printed versions of these, so I'm wicked psyched that they're available. There are quite a few really cool looking books from Stone Arch Books in their fall catalog, so I'm excited to be a part of that lineup.
Comics, eh? It was about two years ago that I hung up my comic-making hat and decided to focus my artistic endeavors on the children's illustration market. I refocused my portfolio, started sending out samples and advertising in that market and within the last year it's really been going quite well. It's kind of funny then that I'd end up doing kid comics for a publisher shortly after giving up on my own comics. Well, I shouldn't say "giving up", just shifting them in the priorities list. I have to say, working on these books has really given me the itch to get back into my own titles. In fact, for the last couple weeks I've been dusting off some old concepts and doing some writing. My own comics are going to still take a back seat priority wise since self-published mini-comics don't exactly feed a family of 4 (soon to be 5 any day now), but I'm making some time for them between paying gigs. You won't see anything for quite a while, because I'm going to get them buttoned up story wise before I even start producing pages, but I'll keep you updated on the progress. I'm pretty stoked about getting back into them, at least on a part time basis. My main focus will still be on children's books because I just love telling stories, no matter who they're directed at.
Ramble, ramble. I'm very tired so I'm not going to go back and read this before I post it. It might not make sense. I've still got a long night of work ahead, so I better get to it.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The first two Princess Candy titles, Sugar Hero and Marshmallow Mermaid (painstakingly illustrated by me, artfully authored by Michael Dahl) are available on the Stone Arch Books website! If you have a youngster in your life who likes things that are awesome or if you are a kid at heart yourself, head on over there and order six. You can put them in the gift bags at those posh dinner parties you're so fond of throwing. Or just keep some out on your coffee table to show off your intellectual prowess. Whatever the end use, they're the perfect addition to any home, sprucing up libraries and living rooms the world over.
Friday, July 24, 2009
So I decided to start a little something on the ol' blog. Every Friday I'm going to give a report on my work week... the freelance stuff I've been working on, what I accomplished, what I had actually wanted to accomplish, what worked, what didn't, new projects that come up, new contacts, cool things I find out in the freelance world, maybe some ranting, etcetera and so forth. It's more or less a record for myself, so that I can remember things from week to week since my brain has basically become a revolving door of information rather than the inescapable steep trap it had once been. Of course I hope my loyal reader and any of you who may have wandered this way looking for explosives and sweet ninja boots will enjoy it as well. Maybe we'll all learn a few things on the way. Probably not.
Now obviously an idea this incredible couldn't have germinated in my little ol' noggin all on it's own. In fact, I decided to do this after getting hooked on a new (new to me anyway) podcast this week, Art & Story.
It's hosted by Mark Rudolph and Jerzy Drozd, two freelance cartoonists and illustrators who share a studio and drop lots of knowledge about their chosen profession. Thay talk alot about comics and the process of creating them. They aso have daily episodes called Art & Story extreme in which they discuss their work day and other topics. That's the one where I took the update Idea from, only I'm not going to do it daily since I don't share a studio with anyone and only a day's worth of update would be dull from just little ol' me. These guys are not dull however, they're really informative and a lot of fun to listen to while you're up into the wee hours working on comics.
Speaking of working on comics, I'm full on into Princess Candy book 3. I've managed to get a few pages done this week, the above little peek is from the first page. That's going to be the focus of my freelance work for the next month and a half. Once the fall hits, my schedule is pretty open, but I'm hoping that it fills up again like it did last fall. Things have been hopping since right after last year's local SCBWI conference. That's also coming up in September and I'm pretty psyched for it. I'm planning on attending, so if you're a member, maybe I'll see you there.
Oh, yeah...the San Diego Comic Con is going on this week and I'm sad that I'm not there.
That's all for now. Until next week,
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
So every summer there's one song that will capture my imagination force me to fall in love with it. It doesn't have to have come out that particular summer, but if I heard it during the summer and it got into my head in such a way that it crowds out love for other music, then it becomes the summer song. That one up there has the title for my 2009 summer song. It's "Parentheses" by The Blow. About three days into the summer, I knew this simple little pop ditty was it. I love her voice (I have a soft spot in my heart for female vocals, which is my explanation for my obsession with Karen Carpenter, which we shall now never speak of again) and the lyrics make me smile. The video could be better. I'm not too into the animation. None of the fan-made ones were much better, so this is what you get.
Past honorees of the hallowed summer song title have been "Where it's At?" by Beck, "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5 and Esquivel's "Mucha Muchacha."
Other music that has been getting me through late night drawing sessions:
Architecture in Helsinki: I didn't know I loved this band. I know that now. I also love this simple video.
Fleet Foxes: These guys are really awesome. They harmonize very well and the songs have an earthy quality to them. This video in particular kind of blows my mind.
There's way more, but this post is getting long.
I'm going to go eat.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Monday, July 06, 2009
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
I just finished penciling 3 pages for Princess Candy and I'm going to bed before 2 a.m. for the first time in quite a while. Yaaaay me!
Here's a little Spidey I drew at work the other day, waiting for a humongous file to save. I scanned it in last night and colored it up when I needed a break from drawing tales of middle school superheroes.
I totally love the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon. I never saw a full episode until recently when I got a dvd from the library and it's a lot of fun. A very pure incarnation of Spidey's world. It looks great too.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
So when my son wakes up in the morning on the weekends, the first thing he usually wants to do is sit down at the dining room table and draw with me. He has two recurring themes, dinosaurs and Super Mario Galaxy. I tend to like the latter better, so I usually choose Mario and we get to work. This past Saturday I managed to sketch this little portrait out between images of Mario squashing Goombas underfoot and the Dino Piranha from the Good Egg Galaxy. It's not anything special, but it was fun drawing with the crayons. We use the Crayola twistables or some such... they're great, because they are regular crayons, but in a plastic body and when you need more wax, you just twist them up, almost like a mechanical pencil. So I can draw with crayons without breaking them in my big doofy adult hands.
In other news, I'm working on a third Princess Candy comic for Stone Arch Books. It's a blast, and I think that there's a real improvement in the pages over the first two books. Of course, I'm in the beginning stages of the pencils so everything seems good. Later on the self-doubt will creep in and I'll be freaking out about every line I put to paper, but hey, such is the creative process.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
What kind of street fight is it anyway?
I don't know, but it looks like your friend and mine, The Professor, is ready for whatever it may be.
For those who are so inclined, a 16" x 20" print of this sweet image is now available via the internet. just follow this handy link.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
The books I've been working on that I've been so hush-hush about. Actually, I finished them at the end of last week, but I've spent most of this week catching up around the house.
So, what are these books you ask? 2 superhero graphic novels for Stone Arch Books about a character named Princess Candy. I'm not giving up any plot details, I'll leave that up to the publisher. I can say that they are sort of early-reader type books for kids about 8-12 or so and they were wicked fun to work on. The image above is one of my favorite panels from book 2.
Below are the two cover images.
In other news, I'm about to get back into the Yeti 4 Hire dummy and some others that I have planned. I'll post some stuff for that as it progresses.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Work continues on freelance job at break-neck speed, but I took some moments whilst my computer was doing other things (scanning, saving and copying large files from one machine to another) to squeeze out the above little thinger. It' was hastily drawn with an ultra fine point sharpie and I liked it so much I scanned it in and did me some quick digital paintin'. I've been drawing a lot of cute things lately and this old bag is decidedly un-cute, so it was a welcome change. Not that I have anything against cute things. Some of my favorite things in the world are cute... my wife, my kids, mini-cheeseburgers.
Speaking of mini-cheeseburgers, do not get the burger shots from Burger King. They are a deception of the evil one and will hurt you in the belly area. Hurt you bad.
That's your P.S.A. for the day.
Monday, February 09, 2009
I missed the blog's birthday again. I'm terrible at remembering dates and such these days. Sorry FWAKS. We'll get that pony next year, ok?
So yeah, three years and seven days of narcissistic self-indulgence. So how do we celebrate it? With a new picture. Do you love it, and by extension, love me?
I'm really looking forward to 2009, I think it's going to be a good year for me, illustration-wise. All of these jobs that came up at the end of 08 and that have flowed over into 09 have really jumpstarted things in a big way for me. Look for updates soon.
The above image is from the previously mentioned coloring book, which I recently finished. It was actually a part of a larger composition, and it was black and white. Coloring it for the book would have been mean, like handing it to the kid and saying "you wanna coloring book?" and he's be all, "hell yes!" and then I hand it to him and he opens it and it was all colored in already, and I was like,"PSYCHE!"
(apologies to my former english teachers for the atrocious disregard for proper grammar in the above paragraph.)
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
So here's a sampling of some images from a project I'm working on. There are little stories that go in the middle, each centered around a certain letter. The books they belong to are english workbooks for kids in other countries. There are 20 illustrations in all but these are a few of my favorites.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Happy 12th day of the new year. It should be known that I always wait at least 12 days to acknowledge anything new.
As I mentioned in my previous posts (I think I did anyway) I'm wicked busy. Seriously. I've got projects on top of projects. It's been a challenge but it's going fairly well. I'm tired, but my wife hasn't left me and my kids still remember my name. Ok, granted, they've taken to referring to me as that weird guy who draws in the basement all night, but that's close enough.
The above image is the cover of a coloring book that I'm working on for a client who wants to hand these out to the children of people who use their services. I had to move quickly on it but I'm pleased with the results.
I just finished a really big part of a workbook project that has been keeping me really busy, so I'll probably be posting some of those soon.