Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chu Teh-Chun

This is my all time favorite Abstract Painter:  
(beautiful, no???)

Chu Teh-Chun

He was born in 1920... I couldn't find any info saying he died, so if he's still kicking around, he would be 93 years old now.  


(this is probably my fav)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

YSYS: Title Page

This isn't the COVER page, it's the title page.  The one you see when you open the book, after the publication info, (which will belong there on the left).

So here we are!

The book begins with Hippo getting read for his fav activity - a nice dip in the water.  
Until.................. !

Monday, January 28, 2013

YSYS: Lightning Bug vs Hippo

You probably want a dance that's new.
Here's the perfect prance for you.
Spin and spin and spin around
until your feet float off the ground!
Spin spin! Like me!
You should, you see.
You should! You should!
Spin spin like me!

I should?
But I...
Okay, fine.

Beat the Cold, Build a Bear!

This is my fav way to beat the cold weather!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

YSYS: Flamingo vs Hippo

When you walk, try this you see.
Throw your toes up high and free.
Lift your chin and stretch your wing.
A walk like mine is just the thing!
You should! You should!

The Process: Textures & Croc vs Hippo

Many have asked about my process and how I get my digital paintings in photoshop to look traditional. First, I learned all I know from the man, Will Terry.  (and Adam Munoa gave me a quick lesson one day one on one - Thanks Adam) And my first recommendation is to learn from him through his new digital painitng videos at

1. Make your own texture

Keep in mind the point is to create or find a surface with peaks and valleys, something that isn't smooth.
Will Terry takes a smooth surface and covers it with layers of acrylic paint and gell medium, making his own texture with large paint brushes and letting them dry.  Then you separate the peaks from the valleys using a medium.

This can be done two ways:
1.  Make the whole thing dark, let it dry, and carefully paint the peaks white.
Or 2.  Make the whole thing white, and carefully make the peaks dark.

I decided to take watercolor paper (11"x14"), and gently rubbed the surface with charcoal, only coloring the "peaks," being careful not to darken the "valleys."

(Try new things and make your own - experiment!  Use brick, wood, dirt, cardboard, carpet!)

Next I scanned it in a larger scanner at school.  Then I took it to photoshop and used the clone tool to make it all as even as possible until I was satisfied, and played with the "brightness and contrast" as well.

Photoshop has plenty of it's own textures to choose from as well - you can experiment with those and see if you like any.

Meet my texture:

Next you need to "load" your texture as a pattern.
Open the Brushes window:

Click on the long blue bar with the arrow in it.

You'll see this drop down window:

Click on this: 

See the option "Load Patterns?"  Click on that:

Now find your texture wherever you saved it, and it should then show up in the list of patterns.  Now you can click on it and it'll show up in this little window, ready to adjust and use:

Next you need to know about the "Mode."  
See it in the middle there below?  This shows the mode on "Subtract."  I switch between "Multiply" and "Subtract" quite a bit, but have come to prefer it on "Subtract" most of the time.  

Multiply makes the valleys dark and the peaks light.
Subtract switches it, making the valleys light and the peaks dark. 

Also, above, you can see a slider near the top.  This is where you can make the texture bigger or smaller.  (so the "spots" can be small and dense and close together, or really huge)  I am constantly adjusting that slider as I paint.

Hope that made sense and can help you!

Now, for MY process of how I do things...... at least this time around!

First, the drawing on 11"x14" paper:

Then I use one of these:
(wacom tablet - intuos 4 - good prices on amazon)

I clean it up with the erase tool.  When I erase INSIDE the drawing, pulling out hightlights I set it at about 20% opacity:

Then a shocking realization that I forgot to cross hatch their shadows!  I'll use my texture...
(don't pay attention to the colors there... they were an accident when I forgot to switch layers once)

Now I set up my layers!
I keep every layer on "normal" (see the drop down menu on the top where it says normal?)
Except I keep my drawing layer and color layer on "Multiply" which will allow these layers to blend into all the other layers.  Meaning the drawing can still be seen while the color still shows through.

I think more artists don't keep their pencil drawing in their work as much as I've been doing... but I personally like seeing the line work in art so I've been trying to preserve my drawings.  Most artists I think usually end up painting completely over it the pencil.
Above you can see all my swatches I created for myself on the lower half.  You can name each swatch by double clicking after you place it there.  So I have color swatches saved like "hippo toes" "Hippo highlight" and "possum feet" etc.

Next I put the background, which is important to keeping the colors in harmony as I paint the rest, as well as keep track of values (lights and darks).  I used the eraser tool set with a texture and at about 20% opacity to make it lighter behind the characters:

Next I paint on the "color layer" which is set on multiply.
Also important to know that "multiply" will usually make your colors slightly darker.  I paint this layer with OUT the texture setting, at full 100% opacity:

Then I painted on the "highlights" layer set on normal, using the texture tool!  This is where it starts to look good:

Very last, I paint on the layer I set on the very top, which is set on normal.  Meaning this is the only layer that can cover up the drawing when I paint.  I use this for the finishing touch highlights.  This is where I was able to paint the green glows in Hippo's face.  The drawing was too dark in this area for it to show up on the other layers:

So there you have it!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Formatting Your Children's Story for Publishers

I attended WIFYR (Writers and Illustrators for Young Readers) this past summer and was able to learn from Trudy Harris many wonderful things about writing children's books.  I received a copy of another author's story formatted the proper way to send publishers.  I followed it's format, and thought I'd share mine with you.

"Illustration notes":
Illustrations notes belong in brackets [ ] and are to say only as much as needed.  Do not go into full detail about what you want it to look like, (hair color, setting, how many trees, etc) unless it's important for the story to make sense. The illustrator needs freedom and room to do their master creative work.  Their job is to enrich the telling of your story even more, if if they're good, will add even more to it than what is written.  (for example, I will have a little lizard doing random things that isn't in the written story at all)  Because in this case, I am the illustrator, I was free to include even more detail here than may have been necessary otherwise.

Page numbers:
Standard children's books have 32 pages (it's true... go pick some up and start counting pages) and usually don't begin until page 4, so plan it all out from page to page.

Hope this helps!

Please comment if you have questions!

Also, this is the latest revision of my story.  I'm still open to feedback and suggestion for editing, because there are still a couple places that bother me a bit... rhyming is harder than you think!

Feel free to follow by email in the link on the upper right of my blog so you can keep up with the process!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

YSYS: Possum!

"You shouldn't do THAT. (swim)
Instead, you should climb this tree
and dangle upside-down with me.
It’s very fun, don't you agree?
This is the way that you should be.
You should! You should!"

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

YSYS: Monkeys and Birds!

Hello there friend. You like to sing?
We'll help you sing the sweetest thing.
Breath in deep and shout with glee:
You should! You should!

Hello there friend. You like to sing?
We'll help you sing the sweetest thing.
Breath in deep and shout with glee:
You should! You should!


You look hungry. Come and eat!
You should peck-peck-peck this treat,
instead of your loud messy “CHOMP.”
Go on! Peck-peck! Like me. Don’t chomp.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

YSYS: Giraffe vs Hippo 1

You should you should not wear that spot!
Take it off, you REALLY ought!

I ought?

You ought.


But what?

But I cannot!

Not gonna lie... this painting stuff is hard.

But I am in love with the process.  
This is digitally painted in photoshop.
(and this isn't finished...)

Oh.  And by the way, digital painting is back on!  :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Like My Facebook Page!

Hey all!

I usually send my facebook friends to my blog, but I never thought of going the other way around.  Some of you who look at my blog don't know about my fb page.  So I invite you to like it!

Here's the link:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Official Declaration on Cleaning My Room

I hereby officially give myself permission to NOT clean my room until this book is done! If any cleaning gets done, I attribute it to the necessity of not going completely insane. I am allowed to sit down and work without feeling guilty. I am allowed to leave my door open when I leave and not worry what my roommates are thinking. I am allowed to be surrounded by clothes and make up and sketch books and shoes, coats, dishes, a bed unmade, and continue to work work work on this book until the work is finished!!!!!

I may still clean... but if not.... it. is. o. kay!!!!   

Sunday, January 13, 2013

SPEED DRAWING: Giraffe vs Hippo

This is my very first time-lapsed speed drawing movie!

Drew this last night, part of "You Should! You Should!"  Hope you enjoy.  :)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Familius Internship Kick-Off"


Christopher Robbins
(yes that's his real name!)
First, no, I'm not an intern.  I was generously invited to attend the Provo Library to meet with the publisher of my upcoming book, You Should! You Should!, Christopher Robbins (in person for my very first time!) from "Familius" and his team, as they held an internship kick-off with students and graduates interning as editors, designers, and film-makers. There were about 16 of us all together.  I learned a lot, and am super grateful for the invite.  Chritopher Robbins is awesome, and so is his team!

He told us some fun stories, introduced his family of 9 kids,

(son Taylor, top right, joined us for lunch later - I head some great stories about his Grandma!)

 and let us get to know him a bit.  Then he talked about Familius' Mission Statement a bit.  I loved what he said:

"I am convinced that the family is the basic central unit of society.  If we want to fix the problems in society, we have to fix the family.  Forget Legistlation, forget everything else... if the family is successful then so is the world."  (basically something like that... he probably said it a lot cooler and more eloquently, but I loved what he said and completely agree!)

Something interesting and unexpected.... he said the "ebook" market is plateauing and reports are showing that the people who were buying ebooks, are now buying more books in print than ebooks again.  (I was afraid the world was going totally digital.  There's just nothing like holding a book in your hand.  Ya know?)

Shared Secret from Christopher Robbins:  "Everyone is making it up as they go along."  When anyone asks, "Can you do this?"  Always say, "Yes."  You can get online, research it, figure it out, and do it.  He came back to this concept a few times.
David Miles
Design Director... etc... or  something cool like that

Break Out Session with David Miles:  Cover Design

I am going to design my book with text and layout, so I got a chance to hear from the Book Design Director (um... or whatever his actual title is) David Miles.  He raised my interest because he'd written and illustrated a children's book of his own once, Mrs. McFig and the Very Big Wig - (beautiful illustrations!)

We discussed two elements to why people buy books:

1.  Tangable Benefits

~Learn to cook
~Become a better parent
~Enjoyable, suspenseful, highly rated, entertaining

2.  Intangible Benefits

~Learn to bake fresh break like Mom's kitchen
~I can do it!  I'm worth something!
~Toilet train kids... thank goodness

If we understand what makes a product important to the consumer, we can use that information to design something that matches.  We use elements such as font, color, white space, images, etc... to match the overall feelings and benefits we want to portray.

Lunch at Brick Oven

I was even invited to join them all for Pizza at the Brick Oven afterwards - YUM.  It's 7:30 pm and I'm still full.  This was when I finally was like, "Oh yeah, I should take pictures!!"

So here ya go:

Mmmm... PIZZA!
Chrisopher Robbins is there on the left.  His neice on his left and we can see David Miles' nose on his right.

Apparently the blonde dude on the end with the glasses... is named Sam and will be helping me with my book editing and layout!  I didn't know he was "the dude" until after he left.  Welp, Sam, looks like we'll be friends and I'll be talking with you soon!  :)

I left feeling VERY inspired, excited, and full of even more ideas.  I rushed home to get back to work.  First I lied on my bed and cried because I was hit a huge stress head ache and that typical, "Holy smokes... This is a lot to do!!" And then I said, "I'll worry about it out later, right now I gotta work!"  And I sat down to work.  Here's what I've been doing today:

Friday, January 11, 2013

YSYS: Finalizing Sketches!!!


I know, I haven't shown you any artwork for "You Should! You Should!" for a little while.  I talked earlier about switching to digital and then not being able to go digital and well... now it's back on.  Long story, and I won't really wanna share it here.  But anyway!

Here's the thing.  I LOVE drawings.  I'd rather look at sketches and drawings and pencil/line work than paintings, MOST the time.  Some people know how to paint in a way that catches my eyeballs, and some drawings don't really do it for me either.  Sometimes my own drawings aren't doing it for me!  Anywho... I want to make the drawing a main part of the artwork in my book.  So I'll scan these in, and take them to photoshop.  And experiment some from there.....  I have an idea of what I'd like it to look like.  I'll show you later some paintings I'm super inspired by.  For now, enjoy my artwork!

I'm starting with the spot illustrations (meaning there will be white behind them, no backgrounds), to get the characters fully designed and developed before I begin putting them into backgrounds interacting with each other.

All below images are copyrighted and may not be used without permission.

I know artists are good at killing the joy by exploiting the problems.... but we're good at if for a good reason!  It makes us better.


  • The drawing "style" is slightly different throughout some of the drawings.  For example, some have more lines, some less.  Some focus more on shapes, some are more organic.  Some have hard bold lines even in lighter areas, and some portray a realistic shadow better using variations of light thin lines AND heavy dark lines.

  • Some of them still need the ground shadow below.

  • Hippo looks ALMOST like the same hippo from page to page... probably close enough to pass.  But in the future I'll want to make sure to pay more attention to keeping his look similar from page to page, angle to angle.

  • Anything else you notice?

(not guaranteeing I'll change these, but it doesn't hurt to point them out for learning and future improvement purposes)

Also since I jump to, and focus on, the problems so quickly... you're welcome to remind me there are positive things happening here too!