Tag Archives: Resources

I Love Dropbox

This is kinda a shameless plug, but also a very good tip for all you freelancers and working artists out there.

I signed up for Dropbox a couple years ago, and it is one of the BEST investments I have ever made. If you are unfamiliar with it, Dropbox is an online storage and syncing service. You set up a folder on your computer, and everything you save to it gets automatically synced to the site. If you have it installed on multiple computers, the files will also sync to each device.

I cannot emphasize enough how useful this has been for my illustration business. I didn’t really understand it at first, but I signed up because I heard good things about it. It wasn’t long before I had upgraded to a pro 50 GB account. Just recently I upgraded again to the max 100 GB because I was using it soo much.

I use my Dropbox folder to sync all my current projects, and archive my most precious artwork. As soon as I save a file on my main computer, it gets uploaded online and to my secondary computer. If I want to take a break from my desk and work on an illustration on my modbook, I don’t have to think about it – the most current version is already ready and waiting. I don’t have to worry about moving files, finding a thumb drive, or keeping recent versions synced across both my computers. It’s just there, everywhere. I also have the app for my iPhone and iPad, which is handy for quickly viewing files or emailing them to a client.

Dropbox is also integrated into a lot of third-party apps and services. Lots of iPad apps, for example, use it as a file management system. It is my favorite way to move my iPad sketches to my computer.

And on top of it all, Dropbox is a great backup system. Dropbox keeps files safe online, and also saves several versions of each file. Dropbox has saved my behind on numerous occasions where I have accidentally saved over the wrong file or deleted something I shouldn’t have. For that alone, it has been worth it’s weight in gold for me.

I apologize if this sounds like a huge sales pitch, but there is genuine love behind every word.

Dropbox recently announced that they are giving away more free space for referrals, and I am not ashamed to admit that it is partially the reason I was driven to write this post. I have been eating my Dropbox space like a maniac – I want free space!

If you decide to give Dropbox a try and want to help me out too, please click here to sign up. If you use this link, both you AND I get some free space (1 GB for me, 500 MB for you). A 2 GB account is free. If you decide to get a pro account, I can personally attest that it is worth every penny.

Sign up here.

New Video Series Available at Folio Academy

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I’ve created a new video tutorial series called Five Quick Photoshop Tricks for Illustrators and it is now up on the new site Folio Academy.

About Folio Academy

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Folio Academy was co-created by fellow children’s illustrator Will Terry. It contains “online art lessons for everyone” and features video tutorials for everything from acrylic painting, pottery, cartooning tips, and digital art.

I LOVE this concept – easily accessible art instruction from working professionals and art professors, and for cheap! Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for a college or community class, you can grab one of these series for $20-$30. It’s great if you want to learn new skills or simply brush up and see another artist’s take on a subject.

And one of my favorite potential uses for these videos is for kids. If you know a young child who is interested in art, what better way to fuel to that potential than to learn from today’s pros?

You can check out all the courses here. More will be added as the site grows. I plan on making other videos in the future also. If you have a subject you are particularly interested in, let me know in the comments.

Links:

Folio Academy Home

My Videos

Other Available Courses

Folio Academy Blog

Introduction to Folio Academy by Will Terry

About “Quick Photoshop Tricks”

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The video series I created is Five Quick Photoshop Tricks for Illustrators. I chose this subject because while I see a ton of Ps tutorials out there on the web, hardly any of them have any real application to illustrators. They’re either highly specific or simplistic or ridiculous (e.g. How to Create Flaming Text for a Web Icon!).

The five tips I outline in this video series are skills that I use on an almost daily basis as a working illustrator. They can be used for almost any style and involve skills/needs that just about any illustrator can use when they’re working on client work.

The videos include:

1. Preparing Sketches – How to take a scanned sketch and get it ready to color. I outline several ways to do this, including how to clean up the scan, colorize the line, and delete the “whites” from the drawing.

2. Spots and Masks – How to use layer masks and clipping masks to help you make spot illustrations. Easily cut out the shape of an object, or isolate the shape of the image before you start painting so you can easily compose a vignette illustration.

3. Smart Objects – Do you need to compose several illustrations for a book or magazine? I show you how I use smart objects to manage multiple illustrations at once, while also keeping in mind the general layout of the entire spread.

4. Adjusting Color – I’m always changing and experimenting with color while I’m painting in Photoshop. This video outlines several ways that I do that.

5. Texture – Quickly add texture to an illustration, or create a textured “canvas” that you can paint on.

The videos in total are about 70 minutes long. I don’t go in super detail about the inner workings of Photoshop, so I recommend at least a passing knowledge of the software before you begin. However, the tips are pretty simple, but still powerful and versatile.

You can check out more info and sample video here.

Will Terry’s “How to Illustrate Children’s Books” Video Series

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Any aspiring children’s book illustrators out there? Here is an invaluable resource for you:

Award-winning illustrator Will Terry has put together a superb series of videos that goes through the entire process of illustrating a children’s book. He covers everything from storytelling, design, and submissions. Here’s an overview of the topics covered:

    1. Book design

    2. Storytelling with pictures

    3. Character design

    4. Illustration design

    5. Rendering

    6. Working with color

    7. Success in the marketplace

    8. Submitting your book

Will has about two decades of experience, and a lot of this info is what he teaches his students in his college courses. The full series of videos costs $29.99 – a LOT better deal than paying a semester’s tuition!

Check out all the info about the series here. You can watch the third lecture – Character design – for FREE.

Want to win a free copy of the entire course?

I am currently holding a contest to celebrate the launch of The Illustrated Section. Find out how to enter here.

The Illustrated Section – Coming Soon!

UPDATE: The Illustrated Section is officially going to launch on Monday January 24, 2011. Mark your calendars!

I am happy to announce an upcoming website I’m making called The Illustrated Section.

The Illustrated Section is going to be an online store for digital books featuring art and illustration. That includes comics, picture books, sketchbooks, and illustration tips and tutorials. It will feature works by many different artists, and will be open for submissions by all independent creators.

Why The Illustrated Section?

Remember this blog post I wrote awhile back about digital comics? I have been a big supporter of the digital age and what it could mean for artists. However, I’ve been frustrated by a number of things:

    A confusing number of formats.

    Difficulty in creating those formats.

    Lack of content.

    Lack of audience.

    Difficult or confusing submission requirements by ebook stores.

    Limited options for creating/selling/reading illustrated books.

Since there is no great, overarching solution yet, I have experimented with selling my digital comics on my own website, and I’ve seen several of my artist friends doing the same. It has worked well, but not as well as it could be. With the digital comics only popping up here and there by random artists in many different places, they can be difficult to find. That means less exposure and less sales and more difficulty for buyers to get used to the new format.

And that is why I’m creating The Illustrated Section. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a central store where all these cool artists could post their books so buyers could easily browse through them and people like me could fill their iPads with awesome stuff?”

And then my next thought was, “Hey, I can build that.”

The Details:

The Illustrated Section will be an online store. You can purchase and download books instantly.

All the books will be PDF format. That means you will be able to read them on your computer, iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Nook, or just about any other electronic device. PDFs are compatible with a large number of devices, apps, and software. They are also easy to make if you’re a creator.

All the books are by independent artists. It will not be tied to a publisher or act as a publisher. It will simply be a marketplace.

The site will take submissions. If you have digital content or have been thinking about experimenting with digital content, now’s a good time to think about selling it in The Illustrated Section. There will be more details on the website once it is up.

It will reside at theillustratedsection.com. Bookmark it! For now, you can keep up-to-date via the News page.

When will it launch?

Soon. I am in the process of gathering content as I write this. As soon as I have enough goodies to launch the site, I will make it live to the public. I am hoping this will be sometime this month.

If you’re a creator and have questions about the site or submitting work, you can contact me at theillustratedsection@gmail.com.

And comic/art/story fans, be prepared. We’ve got some talented artists and writers already lined up with great content for site launch.

Stay tuned!

zero2illo Community Super Sale

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Jonathan Woodward, creator of the fantastic motivational blog for illustrators at zero2illo.com, recently relaunched the website with a fresh design, new articles, and plans to provide even more resources for artists and illustrators in the coming year. To celebrate the launch, Jonathan is holding the Zero 2 Illo Super Sale, which includes my PDF 10 Ways Artists Can Improve Their Online Presence.

The Super Sale is a collection of ebooks, audiobooks, kits, etc. about art and illustration. If you are a beginning artist trying to set up an illustration career, or a veteran looking to revamp your business, check this sale out.

The whole package, normally costing $250+ is for sale for only $47. You will not find such a goldmine of information and advice for such a great deal anywhere else.

And most importantly, the sale will only last for 48 HOURS.

The sale is open from 9 AM EST on January 10, 2011 until 9 AM EST on January 12, 2011. Get it while it lasts!

Here are just a few of the products joining 10 Ways in the Super Sale:

    15 Steps to Freelance Illustration by Thomas James – A step-by-step guide to starting an illustration business. (I’ve recommended this before. I can’t praise it enough.)

    Art Licensing Beginner Basics Teleseminar Replay by Tara Reed – Learn the basics about art licensing from one of the best in the field.

    The Artist’s No Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion by Alyson B. Stanfield – “Go after your career with gusto” with one of the foremost experts of art marketing.

    Jonathan’s own zero2illo 12 Week Challenge Kit – Ebook, templates, tutorials, and resources to help set up an illustration business.

    and many more. Go check out the full details and contributor list here.

Jonathan has proven himself to be a fine contributor to the artistic community and a generous teacher, helper, and innovator. Even if you are not interested in the sale, please check out zero2illo.com, Jonathan’s artwork, and the great crew of artists/contributors he is so nicely promoting with this sale.

NESCBWI 2010 Conference Workshop

I’m happy to announce that I will be teaching a workshop at the 2010 New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference this coming May.

Momentsofchange

This year’s theme is “Moments of Change” and will concentrate on the ever-growing role of technology and social networking in the life of authors and illustrators. I have considered doing a workshop for the past couple years, and when I heard about the theme for this year, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. After all, the internet has played a huge role in my career thus far, via blogs, Twitter, Ustream, etc. If I was ever going to teach a workshop, this would be the year to do it.

My class is titled, “10 Ways Artists Can Improve Their Online Presence“. I am going to walk through some specific tips for illustrators who market themselves on the internet. I will cover basic website portfolio tips, social networking, and multimedia tools. If you are familiar with me and any of my online projects, you have a good idea of what I might talk about.

The workshop will be on Sunday May 16. Registration for the conference goes live on February 8 at NESCBWI.org.

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On a sidenote, the 16th also happens to be the day of the Illustrator’s Intensive workshop. I attended this last year and highly recommend it. The class goes on all day (four hours total). As much as I would love to see you at my class, if you are an intermediate/advanced illustrator and have to choose between the two, I will not be offended if you go to the intensive instead. In fact, I’m kinda sad I can’t go myself. ;)

If you have never been to a SCBWI conference before, I highly recommend it. It is a great chance to learn some great stuff about the children’s book industry, network with fellow authors and artists, and meet with editors/agents/art directors. The annual New England conference is especially noted for being a good-quality, yet close-knit event. If you have any interest at all in the children’s book industry, attending this conference is a good place to start.

Send your questions!

As I spend the next several months preparing my presentation. I would love to hear any questions, comments, or feedback about web marketing or social networking that you may have, whether you will be attending the class or not. I will be sure to post some tips and info here on the blog as well. Leave a message in the comments!

More info:

Hire An Illustrator!

Hireanillustrator

Several artists have noticed that I have a profile on a site called HireAnIllustrator.com, and have inquired about its service and quality. This post is meant to answer a lot of those questions.

What is Hire An Illustrator?

Hai! is a portfolio website service for artists, created in late 2007. The artist pays a fee to the site, and in exchange is able to post their work to an online gallery. If you are familiar with sites like CreativeShake.com (formerly Portfolios.com), ChildrensIllustrators.com, or theispot.com, then you have a general idea of how this site works. They are not an agency or representative, and do not take commissions from the work you gather there. They merely collect the artists and put them in a place that is easy for art directors and potential clients to browse through.

The site is run by a guy named Darren Di Lieto. He used to work as a freelance illustrator and designer, and is best known as the creator of another website called the Little Chimp Society, an illustration news portal.

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Book of the Month: Making Comics

This book is several years old and tons of artists and websites have recommended it already, but I’m going to put in my two cents anyway in case you happened to have missed this gem.

Making Comics by Scott McCloud is just what the title suggests – a book about making comics. What makes this book especially fun is that entire book is written and drawn in a comic format.

Even if you’re not interested in drawing comics, it still has a lot to offer about storytelling and basic art principles. Any illustrator can learn a ton from this book. McCloud explains all the topics simply, yet interestingly, and includes different exercises and techniques to help the reader absorb the concepts along the way.

You can get a good idea of the format of the book on Scott’s website where he has posted a small sample, called Chapter 5 1/2. It expands upon Chapter 5 in his book “Tools, Techniques, and Technology”. It includes a tutorial and notes that cover optimizing color art for the web.

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Book of the Month: Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel

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In 1936, Ted Geisel wrote his first children’s story, called A Story That No One Can Beat. But he had trouble getting it published.

Twenty-seven publishing houses rejected Geisel’s story, deemed “too different” for children’s books. Frustrated and fed up, Ted started walking back to his New York apartment and decided to return to his career as a magazine humorist and cartoonist. He planned to burn the manuscript when he got home.

That’s when he ran into an old colleague from school who just got hired as a juvenile editor three hours earlier.

A Story That No One Can Beat was subsequently published as And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, the first in a long list of children’s titles from the legendary Geisel – aka Dr. Seuss – a list that includes The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hears A Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Along the way, he completely transformed the face of children’s publishing and became the best-selling author in the field ever.

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Book of the Month: The Art of Kung Fu Panda

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This month’s recommendation is The Art of Kung Fu Panda because I am so excited to see the movie this summer. I don’t really have a lot more to say except nerdy stuff like the character design is really cool and the animation looks awesome – two good reasons to look into getting this book, which is set to be released on May 13.

The movie itself comes out on June 6, and you can be sure I will be there opening weekend – hopefully in an IMAX theater. I haven’t been a fan of some of the recent Dreamworks movies, but my hopes were kindled by early praise from animation expert Jerry Beck, who shares some of my opinions.

Links:

“Prepare for awesomeness!”

Book of the Month: Creating Characters with Personality


Like last month’s recommendation, this is one of the few books that have caught my eye in the sea of art books that are available. This book is unique because it features not only sketches from the author, but also interviews and images from other artists from a variety of fields. You will find snippets from such people as Glen Keane, Peter de Seve, and Jack Davis.

The author Tom Bancroft works in the animation industry and founded Funnypages Productions along with Rob Corley. He is most known for his work in Disney’s films Mulan and Brother Bear, and the Veggie Tales. You can see examples of his artwork and sketches at the Funnypages Productions Blog.

View Creating Characters with Personality on Amazon.com.

Book of the Month: How to Draw and Paint Crazy Cartoon Characters

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There are tons of drawing, painting, and cartooning books out there, and only a handful of them really capture my attention.

Well, I just ordered How to Draw and Paint Crazy Cartoon Characters. It contains tons of great artwork and includes tips, history, and advice that will truly help all you animators, children’s book illustrators, comic book artists, and caricaturists out there.

The author Vincent Woodcock has worked in the animation business as an animator, director, and character designer. His credits include films such as Space Jam and The Tigger Movie.

Buy on Amazon.com

Book of the Month: 100 Days of Monsters

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I just ran across Stefan Bucher’s 100 Days Of Monsters. Stefan runs a popular blog called Daily Monster where he draws, you guessed it, a monster a day. The best part is he records the making of each one in a series of very well-done and fascinating videos.

Along the way, the Daily Monster started to attract fans and many of them created backstories and histories to go along with his monsters. The extra participation has made Stefan’s little project widely popular. Now, his book featuring 100 of these creations and their stories is being released at the end of the month. Included is a DVD with all of the corresponding videos, plus some cool extras.

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Book of the Month: Dream Worlds

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When my sister was looking for a Christmas present for my other sister on Amazon.com, she ran across Hans Bacher’s Dream Worlds: Production Design for Animation. Neither of us had heard of it before, but upon reading the description we decided it would be a good present for our sister, who is a big animation art fan.

Hans Bacher works as a professional artist and production designer. He had a major influence in such films as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Mulan. The book spans his work in these films and more.

When I finally got to look at a copy of this book, I wasn’t disappointed. I’m a big fan of “Art of” books, and it was great to see great artwork from a variety of different films in one volume. And in the text, Bacher delves into the role of a production designer specifically, which you can’t really find in any other book out there. You don’t have to be an animator to appreciate this stuff either — his views on color, design, decision-making, and research are useful for anyone loves to draw, paint, and sketch.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the “Unproductive” section near the end, which highlights a bunch of funny doodles that he and his co-workers made during boring meetings. What artist can’t relate to that?

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Book of the Month: Elfis

Elfis

Looking for a great holiday gift? Try Elfis, a great Christmas picture book that was digitally illustrated using many of the techniques outlined on this website.

Yes, this book was illustrated by me. But it is the holiday season, this is a holiday book, and this is my website, so I think I’m entitled to some shameless self-promotion every once in awhile.

I really appreciate everyone who decides to buy this book, so to show my gratitude, I’m going to be offering a special gift this month only. If you buy a copy anytime in December (or if you’ve already bought the book), I’ll send you a signed bookplate for free. Please read on for full details.

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Book of the Month: Spiderwick’s Field Guide

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This month’s featured book is Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. (I also noticed there is a new edition, to tie-in with the upcoming movie, available to pre-order here.) I’ve chosen it because I just went to go see Tony DiTerlizzi’s show at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and it was absolutely amazing!

Tony DiTerlizzi is the wonderful illustrator of The Spiderwick Chronicles, a popular children’s book series. The Field Guide is a reference to an Audobon-like book that the main character uses in the story. It features illustrations and notes about such creatures as sprites, fairies, trolls, and brownies. The level of skill and detail that DiTerlizzi puts into the illustrations is sure to inspire you. And this book is chock-full of them, featuring pencil sketches, full color paintings, big fold-out pages, and more.

The Spiderwick Chronicles are being made into a movie that will be released next February. The Eric Carle Museum is showcasing the books’ journey “from page to screen,” featuring lots of great original illustrations, concept artwork, and movie props. It was a big treat for me, because I’m a huge movie fan also. The show runs until the end of January 2008, so if you are near Amherst, Massachusetts at all, you MUST go check it out!

Related Links:

Book of the Month: Starting Your Career as a Freelance Illustrator or Graphic Designer

Starting Your Career as a Freelance Illustrator or Graphic Designer by Michael Fleishman

As artists, we work hard every day to sketch and draw and paint so we become better at our craft. Sometimes, though, you forget that there is a whole different side to the illustration world called business.

That’s why you need books like Starting Your Career as a Freelance Illustrator or Graphic Designer by Michael Fleishman. I bought myself a copy a while ago, and I’ve been pleased with it overall.

The book discusses different subjects, such as:

  • Is art school necessary?

  • How to find potential clients

  • Creating a business plan

  • Organizing your finances

  • Choosing the right equipment

It’s hard to find really good books that delve into this creative business, but this is probably one of them.

Book of the Month: Spectrum

Spectrum is actually a series of publications that come out every year. I am taking a moment to highlight them because I just noticed that the latest edition, Spectrum 14, is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

If you are interested in science fiction, fantasy, or concept art and are not familiar with this annual, you are seriously deprived! Described as “The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art,” each issue is filled with work from the most elite artists and illustrators of the year. If you want to work in these genres, these are the people whose work you have to keep track of and live up to.

It is also a great opportunity to get recognition and exposure for your work. There is a Call for Entries every year if you want to submit your own work to be considered for the next annual. Submissions are usually taken starting at the beginning of October.

Links:

http://www.spectrumfantasticart.com/
Order Spectrum 14
Spectrum on Amazon

Book of the Month: The Art of Animal Character Design

Book of hte Month: The Art of Animal Character Design

David Coleman is one of my favorite artists that I’ve come across in the blogosphere. I absolutely love his animal sketches, and his book The Art of Animal Character Design is a must-have for your bookshelf.

David works mainly in the animation industry and currently works for Sony Pictures Animation. He has designed characters for major films such as Open Season and Surf’s Up.

One quick browse through his blog, and you will agree that he is a master at sketching and design. Check it out at davidcolman.blogspot.com. You can also find his portfolio website at www.davidsdoodles.com.

If that’s not enough for you, there is a wonderful in-depth interview with David featuring plenty of images courtesy of the Character Design blog. Read it here: david-colman-interview.blogspot.com.

David Colman - McSquizzy sketch

Book of the Month: Wreck This Journal

Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith

This month’s book recommendation, Wreck This Journal, is less of a book and more of a blank journal/activity book. Creator Keri Smith’s concept is quite unique — each page tells you to do something specific, like “Burn this page”, “Draw with your left hand”, or “Poke holes here.” The book encourages you to deface it in many strange and wonderful ways, sparking your creative process along the way.

So, instead of putting your cash down on a dreadfully expensive, hardbound treasure that you’re afraid to make the slightest mark in, give this sketchbook a spin. Do your best to destroy it — and create something beautiful.

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