Tag Archives: Reviews

Jot Touch Quick Review

Top, my Jot Pro iPad stylus. Bottom, my new pressure-sensitive Jot Touch.

I just received my Jot Touch in the mail yesterday, and I am super excited about it.

The Jot Touch is an iPad stylus. It is unique in that it is the first pressure-sensitive stylus to come out for the iPad so far. It works over a bluetooth connection and is made by the company Adonit. I was very glad when they announced development of this stylus because I was already a big fan of their work. Their standard iPad stylus is one of my favorites (and believe me, I’ve tried a lot of styluses).

In between freelance projects and prepping for my Kickstarter project that I’m launching tomorrow, I don’t have much time to do a full review with images and stuff. However, I thought I’d throw out this quick review for all you inquiring minds out there.

Click for the full review!

Is It Time to Buy a Modbook? – UPDATE

Modbook Front

For some reason, I’ve been getting quite a few comments and questions about the Modbook recently. (The Modbook is a Macbook computer that’s been modified into a tablet computer. They are sold by a company called Axiotron.) Not sure why I’ve been getting so much renewed interest and curiosity lately – maybe a lot of artists are contemplating tablets with the release of the iPad. But anyway, I thought it was about time to post an update about my opinions and advice about the Modbook and clear up some things that I’ve said previously.

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An Artist’s First Impressions of the iPad

Ipad

You’ve heard the hype and now you want to know – what’s it really like to own an iPad?

I have been fortunate enough to be able to order one for myself and it finally arrived last weekend. Here is a super-sized blog post with all my first impressions and reviews. If you don’t want to read it, here’s a summary: It’s freakin’ awesome.

From what I’ve been hearing from you fellow artists and tech nerds lately, many of you have doubts, concerns, and criticisms and I try to address them all here. While I try not to sound like a complete Apple fangirl throughout this entire article, I do think some of the common crits that have been made about the iPad are making mountains out of molehills. Yes, the iPad is missing a few features; however, I believe the strength of this device lies in what it CAN and WILL do for creatives and their various industries. So yeah, I gush a lot. You have been warned. If you have further questions, please feel free discuss in the comments section.

Here we go…

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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

Drseussmrgeisel

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

Artofkungfupanda

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

Crazycartooncharacters

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

Dailymonster

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

Dreamworlds

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

Goodblogs

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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Book of the Month: Too Many Cooks

Ratatouille - Too Many Cooks illustrated by Nate Wragg

On June 29th, Pixar will release its latest motion picture, Ratatouille. Tons of promotional material are being put out as a result. This book, called Too Many Cooks, especially caught my eye.

I am a children’s illustrator, so children’s books always draw my attention. Plus I’m a big animation fan. Unfortunately, most books and promotional material that come out for animated movies are often less-than-stellar and feature mediocre illustration. Much to my delight, the makers behind Ratatouille seem to be taking a bit more care in this regard.

Too Many Cooks is a children’s counting book and is illustrated by Nate Wragg, who works as an artist for Pixar. I am a big fan of his work. Nate recently put out another book along with some fellow Pixar artists called The Ancient Book Of Myth And War. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I would suggest that you do. I recently bought myself a copy and can tell you personally that it is a great art book.

If its advertisements, art, and studio’s past success are any indication, Ratatouille is set to be a great movie. You can be sure that I will be in a theater somewhere on opening day later this month.

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Book of the Month: Crumble Crackle Burn

Crumble, Crackle, Burn by Von Glitschka

Crumble, Crackle, Burn by Von Glitschka is set to be released later this month. I am so looking forward to getting my hands on this book. I love the idea behind it…Von has put together a team of artists and given them each a different texture. Each “spread” in the book features a picture of the texture, and the illustration that utilizes it. As a bonus, the book will also come with a DVD of the texture files in high resolution so you can use them in your own work.

Recently, Von featured some sample spreads on his blog, which has got me even more excited. So, mark your calendars for May 16, or go ahead and pre-order it on Amazon.com.

To feed your appetite until then, here are some great texture links for you:

Update: Von has emailed me to let me know that those who purchase the book and email him a copy of the receipt can also receive a DVD with 30 additional textures! Also, keep an eye on texturebook.com, which will soon have more information about the book.