Category Archives: Thoughts & Advice

Build a Drawing Catalog

Cat

In a recent assignment, I had to create a sketch of a cat. In my short time as a children’s illustrator, I’ve had to draw many, many cats. At this point, they seem to come almost automatically. Say “Cat,” and I can have several sketches for you in a matter of minutes, without the need to research or look up reference.

The same goes for any number of animals – dogs, chickens, pigs – I’ve drawn them so many times, it’s easy to come up with several characters on the spot.

It’s a good idea for an illustrator to have a “catalog” of subjects that he knows really well and can draw from memory, especially when working in a specific industry like children’s illustration where you are asked to draw the same type of subjects over and over again. This kind of skill will give you a head start on virtually every assignment you receive.

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75 Artists You Must Know and Where to Find Them

Illustrators

Great artists educate you, influence your style, and inspire great artwork by setting a high standard. But how familiar are you really with illustration history? I asked myself this the other day and was ashamed to realize that my knowledge was a bit fuzzy.

So, I started to research some of the great artists that influence illustrators today. This list is the result. If you are a student, practitioner, or fan of illustration, I truly believe you should know all these artists by name and their work.

I am certain I’ve left out plenty of great artists that deserve to be on this list. If you know of any artist or link that I failed to include, please leave a comment on this post. Now…click away!

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How to Paint Faster

Faster

As an illustrator, the faster you can produce images, the better off you’ll be. It means you can fit more jobs into your schedule, which is more money in your pocket. It will also help you hit your deadlines more easily, which is absolutely necessary in this business. If you find you have trouble with this, here’s a few time-saving tips for you.

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How to Make a Sketch Blog People Will Actually Enjoy

Goodblogs

An art blog should showcase your work and keep people excited about it. Is it working? Or are you just boring everyone? To keep things fresh and interesting on my own sketch blog, I try to take a moment once in awhile to evaluate a few things.

Here’s a few guidelines I’ve come up with, so have them in mind before you put up your next post.

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How to Find Names for Your Mailing List

Mailinglist

When you start out as a freelance illustrator, the first thing you have to do is get your name out and make sure your work is getting in front of the right art directors, editors, and designers out there. But how do you find them and which ones do you send your samples, postcards, and proposals to? Here are various ways that I’ve used to gather names for my own mailing list…

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Question: What Are Your Favorite Artist Websites?

I just got done giving my portfolio website a major overhaul (you can check it out here: www.danijones.com). Whenever I go through a major design change like this, I’m always thinking about what I can do better and how I can improve upon my previous website design. Much of this pondering comes with a lot of visits to other artist’s sites; I look at what works, what doesn’t, and what kinds of things I would like to do on my own site.

So, the question I would like to ask you is:

Which portfolio websites do you like, and why?

Is there an especially outstanding site that you would like to share with your fellow readers? Perhaps you enjoy how the artist has arranged his portfolio. Or maybe the site has a spectacular design. Maybe the site just has unique features that you haven’t seen anywhere else. Whatever the reason, I want to know what’s catching your eye.

My Personal Favorite

I see a lot of great artist sites out there, but I always seem to go back to the website of LeUyen Pham (www.leuyenpham.com). She is a children’s illustrator and has had many picture books published. I normally don’t like flash sites, but I can put aside my bias for this one because of the fun concept and sheer volume of features and high-quality artwork.

If you have any suggestions…

…please leave the link in the comments section. If there is a particular reason you like the site, be sure to point it out. This post will always be open to additions. Perhaps the next time you sit down to redesign your website, you will be able to look here for some inspiration.

5 Things You Must Do Before Your Painting is Finished

5 Things You Must Do Before Your Painting is Finished

You think you are done? Sometimes the difference between a good painting and a great painting is simply a matter of a few more minutes work and a more careful eye. If you want to be sure that you have done everything in your power to get the best out of your piece, try implementing these steps before you finally declare your piece of artwork “finished.”

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How to Make Your Digital Paint More “Real”

How to Make Your Digital Paint More Real

I like painting on the computer. I think the Layers palette and the Undo button are the greatest inventions in the world. However, I don’t like to create digital-looking artwork.

By “digital”, I am referring to artwork that’s utilizes flat color, precise shapes and curves, and calculated effects. There are plenty of artists out there with this style, and some of them are pretty darn good at it, but I am simply a painter. I like all the playful messiness that it involves. You would probably understand why I don’t like working in Adobe Illustrator that much; I only use it to create some occasional line work. But the advantages of the computer are too great to ignore (not to mention there is a significant lack of clean-up time).

I am constantly working to make my digital paintings look better, richer, and more interesting. Here is a small list of tips that I’ve come up with on my continuing journey.

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