Monday, March 25, 2013

YSYS: "Theee end"

(but not the END by far)

This is how the last page turned out:

First there was the drawing which I scanned in:

Then there was the color composition:

And then the final which ended up different from the color comp actually.  The color comp suggests light figures on a dark background, and the final ended with dark figures and a light background, with bright highlights.  I think it worked out well.

Art tips:

Always decide how you want to plan your paintings: dark on light, or light on dark.  It helps the viewers be able to see images better.  You need to think in terms of black and white... if you switched your peice to a gray-scale, would your figures and characters pop our or are they hiding because behind them is too dark or too light?

Second, when you have a bunch of characters to paint together, think in terms of SHAPE.  Grouping things together to make one large basic and fun shape is very pleasing to the eye and helps readability.  It helps your painting looks much less scattered and busy and overwhelming, and instead helps it feel clean and simple and delightful, especially if your "shape" is interesting.  It allows the eye to focus on the pretty parts you intended to look nice and be noticed, instead of be distracted by the busy-ness of things everywhere.

I wanted hippo's face to be the focus and was worried about the monkey in front of the moon, because that's where this painting actually has the most contrast.  The lightning bug's yellow/orange against the blue/purple (orange and blue are complimentary colors by the way which helps a lot with bringing attention too) is on Hippo's face so that brought our attention back to Hippo.  But ALSO, there are many other animals who also help lead our eye back to Hippo.  The tales curl and lead us back in to Hippo.  The giraffe's neck bends down and his eyes take us back to Hippo.  the flamingo's beak curves and points back down to hippo.  The monkey in front of the moon is looking at hippo so we look at hippo, plus his face doesn't have much detail so we can't be too distracted by him.  Even lizard is rowing toward the shape instead of away, taking us back to Hippo.  He's our star, and he needs all the focus especially on this last page.

Alrighty, I'm expecting a pdf of the sample book from my book designer, David, very soon!  I'll let you know!!!

Remember to....

Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

For my birthday, I will be:

1.  Finishing the book
2.  Finishing the book
3.  Finishing the book

4.  Going on a road trip with a ton of good birthday friends to celebrate lots of March birthdays!!
Finally I get to play. 


Finished the above last night around 1:30 am.  I slept over at Lee and Ty's house so I could paint forever then get up and start painting the very last one!

Here's my color comp:

This isn't the end, so you know.  Familius only needs these done so they can make a "sample book" for sales purposes, and then I"ll spend the next month reworking all the paintings and fixing all the things wrong with them (I have a looooong list of things to fix).

I'll let you see all that stuff too.

Oh!  And then I'll make a book trailer and put it on youtube.  :) :) :)

For those who read this far...

This is what I want for my birthday:

Comment and tell me your favorite children's books as a kid, and your favorites as a grown up!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

2 More Paintings: Hat and Walk

"I like your walk but that's for you.
I have a walk that's my own too."

Finished this one (above) around 1:00 am last night.  
I forgot to watermark it with my name so... no stealing please.  :)
I'm pretty fond of this one, I won't lie.

"Good bye old hat that mother made,
I guess I found a better trade."

I forgot to post this one when I finished it a while back actually... sorry!
I have a few important changes to make on this one still.  Mountains need to be lighter.  Etc

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

YSYS: I like my spot! I like my hat!

Three paintings left now..........

No time to chat!!!!!

Due Friday night!!!

Go go go paint paint paint!!!

I accept cookies and late night donut deliveries.  Even from Malaysia.....   ;)

P.S.  I haven't had time to reply to your wonderful comments, all of which I appreciate, but please know I read them and take everything into account, and it does help me feel inspired and supported and encouraged.  Thank you so much for all the help and support.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I'm going to show you what I just went through trying to figure out how to put this break dancing hippo page together....

I have different examples of him dancing, so I didn't worry about a detailed background (with leaves n trees n such n such)

So at first I did this:

But felt the background was too distracting.... especially next to the page it's next to in the book.  
(I'll show you that in a sec)

So then I switched to this:

But that felt too plain.

So I gave them colorful shadows:

I liked that a lot.

I was about to move on... but I was worried about how the bug doesn't "glow" because he's not against anything dark.  I remembered that previously I had painted the bug page like this:

So then I was like, "Okay, I better stay CONSISTENT to retain CONTINUITY (remember when we learned about that?)

So now I have this:

I'm about to go in and add the fun highlights and make it nice.

By the way, it's a good idea to paint your images next to the image that will be next to it in the book to make sure colors aren't clashing.

Like this:

Alrighty, thought I'd let you learn from my learning. 

Yes I know the texts are different sizes.  The size will be like the page on the right, don't pay attention to the one on the left.  Yeah yeah I know... you're seeing my lazy artist mistakes showing through.  Also, if you're smarter than me, you would have had this background thing figured out before you started painting the final image.  

So go make art smarter than me!  ;)

But first watch this 3 year old prodigy paint a ninja turtle:

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Painting painting painting painting painting painting painting painting

P.S.  It's REALLY nice outside.  Six more days and I'll be out playing frisbee n such!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

YSYS: Sing Hippo! Sing!!

"I prefer my la la la!
Not oo oo, ee ee, ah ah ah."

Someone peel my off the floor please.  This was the most complicated painting yet.  Do you realize there are FOURTEEN living creatures in this painting???  AND a background?  Which by the way I learned the key to painting the "golden hour" (about 5:00 pm).  The trick is long high contrasted shadows and orangey/yellowey colors :).  Did it work?  I remember the days I was painting 2 characters and no background except some nice colorful spotty things.  I was like, "Dude I'm gonna finish this book so fast if this is how easy it is!"  Hahaha.... so naive I was a few months ago.

This still isn't finished finished.  Trust me there's plenty more to do here.  But good enough for now!

Six paintings left!  Six days!  Here we go!!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

YSYS: "STOP!!" Digital vs Acrylic

So.  Back when I was trying to do this book in acrylic paint and hating life, this is what happened:

Acrylic Painting
(back when Hippo was gonna be blue)

Not too bad.  But definitely needs work.  Definitely not finished.  Aaand, this is what I painted today:  :)

Digital Painting

Hmmm.... I have to say, seeing them next to each other helps me see things I want to change on the digital one.  I think I can lighten up the chin area and either make the inside of the mouth a little lighter or the back of the throat darker.  Or both.  Oh and I can definitely things up inside his ears!

Edits come after all paintings are done.  So... on to the next painting!!!

“When you take the time to actually listen, with humility, to what people have to say, it's amazing what you can learn. Especially if the people who are doing the talking also happen to be children.”
~Greg Mortenson

Monday, March 11, 2013

YSYS: Break Dancing Hippo

"Spinning does not help my feet.
My feet dance to a different beat...."

Haha!  Surprise!  Didn't know Hippo could break dance, didja?!?

I originally planned to make him a tap dancer.  (here's my earlier post of dancing hippo)  But I was talking to Lee while I was here drawing his dance moves and she was like, "That would be cool if you could make him break dance.  But it probably wouldn't work with his little arms and huge body."  I was like, "Oh my goodnes... I'm gonna try it."  I googled lots of break dancer images and came up with these!

I'll arrange them in photoshop on a page and figure out how to put them together nicely before I paint them, but these are the drawings!

I just realized... now that he's not a tap dancer, "My feet dance to a different beat" doesn't work so much.  Gonna have to rewrite that line I think...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Happy Sabbath

Wow, I can testify of that.

On that note....

Today is Sunday!  :)  I can't tell you how much peace the Sabbath day has brought me.  Ahhhh, how nice to take a weekly break from work and painting, guilt FREE.  A day to focus on my Father in Heaven, the worth of my soul and those around me, and important matters of the heart, is something I need.  Had a heart felt phone conversation with a dear eternal friend in California today who shared with me some great trials and sacred moments.  I need you to all know that many miracles and tender mercies are what make all my work possible with my art and this book.  And everything else too.  I'm far too weak and afraid and selfish to have made it this far on my own.

Here's to a Happy Sabbath to each of you!

More art to post tomorrow.  :)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

YSYS: Last of the Drawings.... Phew

This little guy is going to belong on the page where croc trashes hippos hat (rude!) and puts that frilly green thing on his head.  I'll photo shop him in.

One of my favs of all the drawings... probably is my fav.

second fav :)

I had to redraw this.  This is the first one I did back in the day when I first decided to switch from acrylic to digital on this book.  The drawing style didn't match the one my style evolved to, so I erased and redrew.  Much better now.  :)

Theeee end.  :)  (3rd fav)

Okay okay... between us, I still have one more page I drew that I haven't posted... and I'll post it tomorrow.  It's a surprise and deserves it's own post!  So stay tuned....

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." 


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Keeping Continuity

I met with Don today and laid out all my latest drawings in a row for him to look at.  He approved of the art, then took anther walk through saying, "Okay, now to look at continuity."  He pointed out several things I totally forgot about/missed!  Which is funny because just last night I realized several things I'd forgotten til near midnight, I realized I only drew croc with his bandana maybe twice and forgot the bandana on all the rest, and a few other things.  I thought I had everything til this morning when Don says, "Uh... how come the monkeys on this page aren't wearing ties?  Where is the lizard in this page?  You forgot flamingo's bow-tie here..."  Ha.  Oops.  Looks like I still have more drawing/editing to do before I can scan.  So, I thought I'd take a second to talk about the importance of continuity.

We must pay close attention to keep our characters, backgrounds, and details consistent.

 Important items to keep in mind when maintaining continuity:

~Make sure characters look the same throughout:

  • Clothing  (if your flamingo is wearing a blow-tie, remember to keep drawing the bow-tie on every page)
  • Facial features  (round eyes? slanted eyes? square face? big or small ears? pick one and stick with it)
  • Accessories
  • Hair/Fur
  • etc!!

~Behave the same

  • (eg: teetering flamboyant crocodile.... lanky awkward flamingo with high rising footsteps and snake-like long neck.... bouncy energetic monkeys who want to play.... pretty and sweet little bird... shy uncertain hippo whose head is often hung low... etc)

~Make sure backgrounds don't change

  • Make sure your clouds, mountains, trees, grass, etc are stylized the same through each page.  There are several ways to stylize a cloud - round soft and billowy, flat shaped, whispy with swirly edges, etc.  Pick one way and keep it.  Be deliberate.

Feel free to comment if you have more to add!  I'm still new at this ;) and learning as I go.  So basically, make firm decisions about everything in your illustrations, and once you make them be sure to stick with them.  My story got complicated and tricky because I've written 9 characters to give individual personalities and keep track of.  Which I love personally.  One of my fav characters is the little lizard who is seen throughout the story, but isn't actually written about in the text.  He just kinda follows hippo around and keeps showing up doing random funny things, providing an additional layer of humor to the story.  :)

Let's go make art!

Monday, March 4, 2013

YSYS: Lots More Drawings!

I found a short-cut to this drawing madness!!!

I remembered the school has a projector!  So AFTER I made these drawings on 11x14 paper....

(I know you've seen this one before... but I have to redo it digitally now that I switched to digital)

... then I started getting smart!  I perfected these very small drawings and took them to the school and put them in the projector, and traced them onto larger paper!  See?

At the very back of the classroom you can barely see behind all those easels..........

....this projector!!!

This small value study became...
...this drawing now ready for painting!

This is the tiny drawing I projected.... trace on this larger paper.

This is the tiny drawing I projected.... trace this on this larger paper.  I'm drawing on this one right now!  (except not NOW cuz I'm blogging for YOU lucky peeples...)

I have 3 more to finish before I can just focus on painting painting painting til this book is DONE!

My publisher gave me a new deadline SOOOO... I have until March 22nd.  My birthday.  Well... I sort of decided the exact day.  He'd probably give me a couple more days if needed but I've made up my mind!  I"ll have this done for my birthday!!!  Happy Birthday to me.  :)

I get more time after that, through May, to make all the needed touch ups and changes throughout the paintings, but the main art must be done this month so Christopher Robbins at Familius can print out an "example" book to display for sales teams in April.

So time to make more art!!!!

P.S.  I spent a long car ride on Sunday brainstorming my next book idea.........

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What Type of Relationship Are You In?

Hey there peeps.

A few months ago I got a burst of courage to add some more depth to my blog, by making it more than a place where people can learn about art and illustrating a book, but ALSO a place to talk about the purpose of my story "You Should, You Should!" Which included codependency and other mental health awareness, since that's what inspired me to write this story.  (see links under "therapy posts" in the margin to the right) I was learning things that blew my mind and helped me SO much.  I wondered who else in the world like me could benefit if I were to share a bit here and there.  I was pretty excited about it, and felt good about the response I was getting from the first few posts, but then I got one response in particular from someone close to me that scared me away from the topic for a while.

Well... I don't know if this is because of the mood I've been in this weekend or what, but I'm feeling the need to push myself out of the comfort zone again!  I've learned that when I'm feeling isolated and ashamed, that pushing myself to new boundaries seems to help.  Conquer the fear.  Kill the shame.

Recently I've discovered and studied something called "Dependent Personality Disorder" and brought it up with my therapist, quite worried this would be my diagnosis.  He confidently assured me I did not have the disorder.  Phew!  He said, "You have the tendencies, but not the disorder.  The difference between you and someone with the disorder is that you are aware, and uncomfortable in these frames of thinking and behaving, and you know it's not right.  You're not happy this way and making huge progress to change.  Someone in the disorder would be completely blind to it, and denying that they even have a problem, because in their mind that's completely normal."  He opened the manual and read the list of symptoms, all of which I'd already studied, and we discussed them.  Possibly a few years ago, had I talked to a therapist, they probably could have told me I had the disorder.  Thank goodness I can see it now!  You're welcome to google it if you're interested, but I want to show you something he showed me a few months ago.

There are three types of relationships:  
(well at least three that we discussed that day)

1.  Codependent
2.  Dependent
3.  Interdependent

He drew the following on the board to demonstrate what each looks like.  The "1" represents someone who is healthy.  The "1/2" represents someone who is broken and needs someone else to feel whole.

Dependent Relationship:

                   1/2     +      1      =  1 1/2     ....or in other words....
me     +    them  =    (doesn't work)
Based on neediness

In short:
In this situation, the broken person needs and clings to a healthy person in order to feel whole and will do everything they can to make the healthy person stay and be what they need.  The only healthy option for the healthy person in this situation is to get out of the relationship.  If they don't, there is a chance that the broken person will suck them dry like a leach, and drag them down and make them become also another 1/2.  Which then changes the dynamic to codependent...

Codependent Relationship:

1/2   +   1/2    =  1
me   +   them  =  I
Based on neediness

Two broken people need each other to need each other in order to feel whole.  These are the ones who say they can't live without the other, they are my other half, we do everything together, we can't exist or live or function without each other.... etc.  My therapist used his hands and arms to act as leaches as he said, "They are basically like two leaches who suck each other dry," his hands started eating each other at the wrist and moved up the arms, "until they've eventually both exhausted each other and have nothing left to give each other, then break apart and look for new broken 'hosts' to attach to."  His snake hands separated and seemed to be searching the room.  This is also a dangerous relationship... two broken people can make things messy if things get too dramatic, or if alcohol or drugs creep in.  This is why we see some miserable abusive relationships last as long as they do.  Because in a lot of codependent mind frames, they can't survive without the other.  See my post on very specific codep symptoms here.

Interdependent Relationship

1    +      1     =  2

me  +  them  =  us
Based on choice/agency/respect

Two whole people come together by choice.  They both have their own lives, interests, goals, friends, and feel good about themselves individually, allowing them to love each other simply because they love each other.  They then make room for and accommodate one another because they choose to.  They develop a need for each other because they love each other.  Instead of the other relationships who love each other because they need each other.

(Why no "independent?"  Because people do need people, and "independency" doesn't include needs at all.)

Then he said, "So how do we know what kind of relationship we're in?  Well we can tell by their symptoms."  He wrote on the board a list which included:

Codep/Dep Relationships:

  • Artifical Rules  (e.g. You must talk to me every night before bed... You must always sit by me... etc)
  • Control
  • Manipulation
  • Passive/aggressiveness
  • Punishments
  • Silent treatments
  • Guessing games/Pouting
  • Etc.

Soooooo.... what does this have to do with children's books and Hippos?  Often times children feel broken, unsure of themselves, and play out all these same scenarios trying to feel good.  With their friends, with their parents, with their siblings.  Here's the thing... we can't teach kids what we can't do for ourselves.  If we aren't "whole" then we're probably not taking care of ourselves.  We're trying to make someone else what we need them to be, in order for us to feel better.  But that is never, never going to work.  It's an endless road of countless difficult relationships and misery.  But the REAL KEY is to not only work on keeping our relationships with others healthy and killing the unhealthy symptoms, the real key is to work on our relationship with ourselves.

So, I've written a story of a large awkward Hippo who learns to stop depending on pleasing other people in order to feel loved and accepted.  He finally learns to take a stand and just be who he is, without apology.  To his surprise, his friends aren't disappointed at all.  More than that, they enjoy him more for being himself.  What matters most to Hippo though, is that he let go of needing and depending and clinging to their acceptance.  Had they not liked what he had to offer, he would have been fine!  Which is awesome!  He learned to validate himself, and that's what matters.

Friday, March 1, 2013


I'm feeling inspired by this kid!!!

"I feel...
I feel... 
I feel...
I feel... 
I feel happy of myself!

I know you can believe in yourself!!!
If you believe in yourself, you will know how to ride a bike!
 If you don't, you shall keep practicing!

"You will get the hang of it, I know it!
If you... if you keep practicing, you will get the hang of it
 and then you can get better and better at it, 
if you do it!!!

"Thumbs up everybody!  
For rock and roll!!!!"


Let's go believe in ourselves!
Let's write music!  Or books!  Or poetry!
Let's sing and dance like nobody's watching!
Let's live and love with all we have, no holding back!
If we're afraid, we shall keep practicing!  We will get the hang of it!!!   If we DO IT!!!!!