Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Year-In-Review: 2012

I can’t believe 2012 is almost over! I’ve been thinking a lot about how the year has gone, what I’ve accomplished, and where I’m going as 2013 approaches. It’s been a year filled with both failures and successes. I thought a large post in honor of 2012 would be fun and informative, while also helping me map out my goals for the coming year. I might have to make this a tradition (if I even remember to do this next December!).

So here we go…

Art I Made

Stuff I Wrote

Wacom Cintiq 24HD Review
iBooks Author Review
Sketch Card Process
Hourly Comics Day
Dropbox Review
Professional Quality Artwork and the iPad
Kids Read Comics Recap
Art Supply Review
Jot Touch Review
A Guide to Posting Artwork on Pinterest
Nice long FAQ page filled with advice and stuff.

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Star Wars Uncut

A few weeks ago, my sister showed me the website for Star Wars Uncut. It is a fan remake of the film created by hundreds of different people. They sign up for a small snippet of the movie on the website and remake the scene however they like. The final movie is cut together from these snippets. The first movie was released a few years ago and even won an Emmy. The second film for The Empire Strikes Back is currently in the works and open to submissions.

My sister told me she already chose a clip and signed us up.

So anyway, you can view our finished product now on the Star Wars Uncut website. It was quite a fun challenge because neither of us are trained in animation and have never done anything like this before. We had to hobble our way through the process, but it was fun and I like how it turned out. Let us know what you think!

Please LIKE Us!

The most popular clips get put into the director’s cut of the finished film, so we’d like as much support as we can get. Please take a moment to like, comment, and share the clip if you enjoy it!

May the force be with you!

Hourly Comic 2012

Yesterday, I was reading my internets and started seeing all of these diary comics being posted by a bunch of different artists. Apparently, February 1 is Hourly Comic Day. On Hourly Comic Day, artists are encouraged to sit down and draw a comic for every hour of the day that they are awake. I was a bit disappointed that I missed it, but then I was like, hey I’ll do one anyway!

So here it is, a day late. Forgive the messiness – these are very very quick sketches and I did minimal cleanup and editing.

Web Presence Revamp: Back to Basics

It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that my life as an illustrator is changing. More than ever before, I am being bombarded with things calling for my attention, whether it be a growing freelance workload, more ambitious personal projects, miscellaneous websites, and life outside of my job. On top of it all, social networking is more confusing, spread out, and demanding as ever. I am, quite frankly, wearing thin.

So I have come to the decision to scale back. I am going to put my emphasis into what I think matters most for my needs and goals and get back to basics.

My plan:

Reduce social networking

My social networking philosophy so far has been to TRY EVERYTHING. This has been a great strategy for me over the past several years and I don’t regret it. I’ve learned so much about promotion, technology, and the internet and I’ve gotten to know a whole lot of interesting and talented people.

But this strategy isn’t going to work for me anymore. I’m no longer a newbie looking for ways to get out there. And also, social networking is growing fast. It’s no longer possible to do everything and keep up. The farther I spread between them, the thinner my presence becomes in each.

I am going to continue to use Twitter as my main social outlet. I’ll also keep my Facebook page (which is really just an extension of my Twitter feed). I’m dumping everything else, or vastly decreasing my dependence on them. These include Tumblr, deviantArt, Ustream, Flickr, and Google+. Some I’ll get rid of completely; others I’ll keep for only posting occasionally or to follow other artists.

Back to Blogging

I’ve let blogging take a backseat while I’ve been trying out this newfangled social network thing. It’s time to bring it back! Twitter is great for small snippets of info, but after so long it starts to drain you instead of help you. On the other hand, maintaining a blog is something that really helps me keep my creative momentum going. I create more, learn more, and teach better while I am blogging because it forces me to come up with meaningful content rather than shooting out random bits of info and links.

So prepare for the triumphant return of my blog! I will try to post more artwork, process, tutorials, videos, advice, and other random thoughts. Subscribe to stay up to date on all my latest posts.

Some Unfortunate Necessities

Schedules and strategies for other various projects are also going to go through an overhaul. My weekly webcomic, for example, will suffer temporarily. It is definitely not going away by any means, but I am going to try to be smarter about it. This means I will not put it back on its regular schedule until I have the next volume completed.

***

I am sharing all these thoughts to give you an idea of what goes on in the mind of this illustrator. I am always making plans, mistakes, and even more plans. This job is a constant balance of artistry, business, promotion, creation, and timing. Even those of us who have been at it for a few years still struggle daily.

What strategies have you used to manage your web presence? What’s worked? What hasn’t? How is it evolving as the internet landscape changes?

iPad Art

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I have been having a TON of fun lately drawing on my iPad. I’ve had my iPad for about a year now, but I’ve only used it to doodle occasionally. I finally decided to sit down and really see how far I can take a painting on this device. I’ve been very happy with the results.

Here’s a few more drawings I’ve made so far:

[flickr id="5956661962" thumbnail="small" overlay="false" size="large" group="" align="none"] [flickr id="5956100761" thumbnail="small" overlay="false" size="small" group="" align="none"] [flickr id="5956093539" thumbnail="small" overlay="false" size="small" group="" align="none"]

I started a Flickr set where I can keep all my iPad paintings. You can go there if you want to see all my drawings so far, and others I may post in the future: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvnJPN4
Read on for my answers to iPad art FAQs

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

Howtoillustrate 1 Books2

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.

Make Stuff (or What I’ve Learned By Creating Comics)

I was chatting with some fellow artists while painting on my Ustream show, and some interesting points came up. There was a lot of talk about self-publishing and strategies for independent creators. It’s got me thinking about my current work habits and what I’ve accomplished over the past year.

At the end of last 2009, I decided to make a comic. It’s not something I’ve done before and it’s still an industry that is very new to me. There are certain attitudes and strategies that are very different from my home in children’s illustration, and I have benefited greatly.

The most important lesson I’ve learned by creating comics:

Make stuff.

Comics are driven by independent creators. Artists in this field are constantly writing and drawing their own stories, printing them, taking them to conventions, and distributing them on the web. They don’t wait for publishers to acknowledge them or an agent to pick them up. They go out and create and make an audience for themselves. They make stuff in spite of day jobs and lack of money and hectic schedules. There’s a passion for creation that comics creators have that I don’t see very often in other circles.

I’ve never had such a rush of creativity and productivity than what I’ve had over the past year. I launched an ongoing webcomic (My Sister, the Freak) and made a short story (Frosty the Gourdman). I’ve come up with new picture book ideas and brushed off the old dummies that were collecting dust in my files. Making comics gave me the itch to make more stuff, and for that I have progressed farther than any other period in my career thus far.

My experience in the picture book industry was always an attitude of struggle. There’s constant talk of how to find an agent, what to put in a query letter, how to find the right publisher, wondering if the economy and technology is going to kill the industry altogether, etc. etc. I think children’s artists can take a page out of the comic artist’s book and concentrate more on the content.

No marketing trick is going to help you if you have nothing to show people. No publisher will pick you up if you don’t have a quality product. No amount of social networking saavy is worth anything unless you’re a creator that people want to network with. And the industry isn’t going to get any better if no one is making art and stories that the public can connect to and be willing to shell out hard-earned money for.

I’m definitely going to continue with the momentum I’ve got going, make more comics, and take what I’ve learned into my picture book goals as well. And for all you creators out there, I want to see more quality stuff being made. For that, you only need two rules:

1. Make stuff.

2. Show it to people.

The end.

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Digital Comics

Mstf on the Ipad

A Call to Comic Creators!

My iPad is way too empty. :(

I love my iPad, and I’ve got to say, it is the PERFECT device for reading digital comics. However, I’m having trouble finding the kind of content that I want to read, and that’s frustrating.

I’ve been experimenting with selling digital comics in my store. I want to see more comic creators jumping on board to do the same thing because 1) most of favorite comics are independently made webcomics, and I want more stuff for my iPad and 2) there are some serious problems with how digital comics are created and sold, and I think this is the first step toward fixing them.

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Mail Me Art

Mail Me Art 2
logo-mma

Darren Di Lieto, the guy behind the illustration news portal the Little Chimp Society and the portfolio site Hire An Illustrator! is currently running a project called Mail Me Art. In it, artists around the world draw and paint original art on envelopes or packages, and then send them directly to Darren through the mail. The image above is my contribution for it. It was drawn with ballpoint pen, watercolor, and white gesso on a 6″x9″ yellow envelope.

This is actually Darren’s second go-around for Mail Me Art. In its first year, the project resulted in the publication of the book Mail Me Art: Going Postal with the World’s Best Illustrators and Designers and an exhibition, held in London.

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Multimedia Experiment

Animals Multimedia

Nowadays, almost all of my illustration work is digital. This has been a conscious decision on my part because I it is easier for me, and I think my work comes out better. However, I’ve recently been re-visiting a lot of traditional media, and I thought I would do a little experiment.

I made one sketch and finished it multiple times, using a different medium for each painting. I thought it would be a good way to see the unique qualities of the mediums, and help me get a sense of the advantages/disadvantages of each.

For more info about the paint and supplies that I use, check out my previous post Paint, Paper, and Pencils.

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Little Red Riding Hood Auction

littleredridinghoods

The original art from my recent Ustream drawing jam with writer and artist Otis Frampton is now up for sale on eBay.

On May 27 and June 3, Otis and I each drew our own version of the story Little Red Riding Hood, and then colored each other’s drawings. You can view the process for these illustrations here: Part 1 | Part 2

Both pieces are 8.5″x11″ and were drawn and inked on smooth bristol board. I colored Otis’ drawing with watercolor; he finished mine with marker and colored pencil.

The auction will run for three days, so bid fast.

Click here to bid.

You’re Invited: Special Ustream Broadcast Event

UPDATE #2: Thanks again to everyone who came by for part 2 of our joint broadcast. If you missed the second show, you can view it here:
http://www.danijones.com/ustream/littlered2.html

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who showed up for part 1 of the Ustream drawing jam. The next show will occur Wednesday June 3 at 9 PM ET. Hope to see you there! If you missed the first show, you can view it here:
http://www.danijones.com/ustream/littlered1.html

On Wednesday May 27 at 9 PM ET, I will be holding a joint Ustream broadcast with writer/artist Otis Frampton. The show will feature a live drawing jam where each artist will draw something based on a pre-selected theme. This will be part 1 of 2; the second part will be held next week, where we will color each other’s drawings.

This is sure to be a fun and unique event. Please come, watch, and chat.

For the event, Otis and I will each be broadcasting from our respective shows. You must have each show open in order to see both sides of the jam.

Because of this, I created a special page where you can watch and chat with each show simultaneously: http://www.danijones.com/ustream

However, if for any reason you have trouble viewing here, you can also open each individual show page on Ustream.

Otis Frampton Live: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/Otis-Frampton-Live

Dani Draws: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/dani-draws

Hope to see you there!

More info about Dani Draws Live: http://danidraws.com/dani-draws-live/

Ustream Update: Free Giveaways and Sketch Discounts

Danidrawslive Schedule

Show and Schedule

I have now established a schedule of broadcasting EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING AT 10 AM EST. Each show lasts about an hour. Come, watch, hang out, and chat. http://www.ustream.tv/channel/dani-draws

The show includes a mix of both digital techniques in Photoshop and Illustrator, and traditional painting. These traditional sketches are a part of my Daily Doodle goal that I have mentioned previously. They are mostly pencil sketches and watercolor stuff.

I have two major announcements concerning this traditional work:

Free Doodle Giveaways

Once a week, I am going to give away one sketch that I produce on the show. All you have to do is show up and watch.

090325doodle

Rules and Guidelines

  • One sketch will be given away EVERY FRIDAY.
  • You need to be in the chat room to participate. This means you must be watching via the Ustream channel page, not on DaniDraws.com or other website where the feed is embedded. You will not need to register with Ustream.
  • At the end of the show, one user from the chat room will be randomly picked to receive a free sketch. User must be present to win, otherwise another name will be drawn.
  • Winners will be required to provide a real name, email address, and mailing address via private message at the end of the show. This info will not be used for anything other than the purpose of the contest.

Hope to see you there, and good luck!

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Dani Draws Live uStream Update

Gourdman

Earlier this month, I officially announced my new uStream channel, which allows for me to broadcast LIVE while I am painting and drawing.

Since these videos are live, viewers can make comments (via chat) as I am working and I can respond to them. This past week, I have also started doing audio commentary for the first time.

I am going to try broadcasting daily at 10 AM EST. Each session lasts about an hour, during which you are welcome to come and go as you please. Should I add or cancel any sessions, I will also keep a schedule posted on this page: http://danidraws.com/dani-draws-live/.

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Watch Me Draw LIVE!

What is this video, you ask? This is my uStream channel. Here, you will be able to see me draw and paint LIVE!

Basically, this channel will contain the same kinds of stuff that I put in my podcast videos, but in real time. If you catch the broadcast live, you can post questions and comments in the chat window, and I will be able to respond to them.

Schedule

The next live painting will occur tomorrow, February 12 at 10 AM EST. UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who joined the broadcast! I will do some more live drawing soon. Please visit the schedule for future dates.

I have no regular schedule yet, but I will post future show times on this page: http://danidraws.com/dani-draws-live/. You can also keep track of me on Twitter.

Each session will be recorded so they will be available for later viewing should you miss it.

A few uStream basics:

  • If the uStream logo on the video says “Pre-Recorded”, the stream is not live.
  • If you see my name logged into the chat window (“danidraws”), I am available to respond to questions/comments.
  • You can view and participate in the broadcasts here, or view my main uStream page at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/dani-draws.

Enjoy! Hope to see you there…

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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Is it time to buy a Modbook?

Modbookpro

UPDATE: For a more recent update of my thoughts and opinions about the Modbook, go here.

During Macworld 2009 this past week Axiotron, the company that produces the Modbook, released an all new model of their product called the Modbook Pro. It has produced tons of hype and questions, so I thought I would give my thoughts and impressions as a current Modbook owner, in case you are curious or debating whether or not to get one for yourself.

The Modbook is a tablet computer built from an Apple Macbook base. I purchased mine in mid-2008 and have previously posted an extensive review. It is controlled using a pen with the help of Wacom’s digitizer technology. In short, it is great for artists because you can draw directly on the screen. It is also the only tablet computer available that uses the Mac OS, which I happen to prefer over Windows.

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2008 Year-in-Review

2008

The year is coming to a close and the holidays are in full swing. I will be running around gathering gifts, spending time with family, and getting last-minute projects done, so I’m going to take a moment to wrap things up here on the blog.

Join Me on Twitter!

Twitter Logo

I discovered Twitter several months ago, and I have to say I am loving it! I originally intended to use it to just share links and tidbits too small to dedicate to full blog posts. Now, I am also using it to chat directly with readers, ask questions, and keep up with fellow artists. This is the best way to keep in touch with me in between posts. You can follow me here: http://www.twitter.com/danidraws

Notable Posts of 2008

A list of some of the highlights from the past year.

Reflections on 2008

I have been blessed to work as a freelancer for a little over three years now. I don’t have the most experience in the world, but with what little I know I have tried to be open and giving. As a result, I’ve gained an audience here who is willing to listen and read and learn. This year has been especially hard on the industry and world in general. And so, as the year ends, I am going to contribute the little advice and words of hope that I can.

The hardest part of building an art career is not the drawing, the learning, or the business hurdles. It’s staying motivated and courageous enough to keep doing it – learning to support yourself in a fickle economy, getting past the stigma of a not-so-typical career path, dealing with rejection and criticism, all the while trying to get better and stay creative.

Whether you are a student just starting out, or a working illustrator who has already built a career, the down-times and the struggles will be prevalent. There are times when you will lose confidence and gain doubts. This year has been a great test for me and many artists, and may not get better any time soon.

And all I’d like to say is, don’t lose hope. Work hard while others sit idle, draw constantly even if you don’t feel like it, experiment with new markets and strategies, and stay positive even if the world around you feels like it’s crumbling. If you create great work, people will want it, and you can’t create great work sitting still, waiting for the bad times to pass. The worst thing you can possibly do in a time like this is to do nothing. So keep moving.

I wish you all Happy Holidays and a very joyous New Year! This will be my last post until 2009. Enjoy this time with your friends and family and be happy you are involved in this wonderful creative community.

All the best,
Dani