Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year, New Goals!

Oh it’s been far too long!!!

I don’t know how I manage to do this at the end of each semester, but I always end up fizzled out and don’t catch up on my blog posts. And then Christmas comes…well, we all know how that is. So I thought it would be nice to do some catching up today, since I’m stuck at home with a head cold and I’m pretty much useless to doing anything else.

Anyway, a friend of mine posted on her blog today about her yearly ritual of writing herself a New Year’s list of goals. It helps to keep you accountable, and have reference to all the stuff you’ve completed. This also reminds me of the one that I did two years ago, in the Business of Art class, where we set up goals based upon our long term goals. I think it’s time for me to do another one! But first, I need some chocolate to “gather my thoughts.”

(Moment of silent munching.)

So, for 2012 here is my list of goals:

Daily/Weekly Stuff:
1)     Get into a daily routine of exercising and working. You know, that balancing act I’m so bad at!
2)     Post on my blog every Monday.
3)     Continue with the work I’ve been doing in my PiBoIdMo Journal, and come up with a new picture book idea every Friday.
4)     And if/when I’m not already busy with a project, come up with new sketches using the Illustration Friday/Artlibs method.

Backed Up Blogging Stuff:
1)      Post about the last project in CBook3
2)      Post about my latest batch of marketing materials.
3)      Post about the Little Raindrop fan mail (wait til you see it!!!). And reply to the fan mail...

Bigger Stuff:
1)       Prepare my portfolio for the Winter SCBWI conference in NY, which I am attending in January.
2)      Send out my Winter mailers. (Which also doubled as my Holiday postcards this year.)
3)      Learn InDesign. I will be this awesome program to layout Little Raindrop’s book, and all other subsequent book dummies, so with every chance I get I’ll be watching videos and reading tutorials and tooling around with it. I’ve already started this process, and I’m liking what I’m learning!
4)      Layout, draw and finish Little Raindrop, book one. The author and I have discussed the possibility of a trilogy, and we will eventually talk about pursuing that later on.
5)      Put together my next book dummy for submission to my targeted agency. Submit it!
6)      If the agent I’m hoping for doesn’t bite, then I’ll submit my story to a few more agents prior to sending it off to a publisher.

I’m sure there’s a TON of stuff I am missing, but even this post has taken me wayyy too long with this Medicine Head, so I’ll leave it at that for now. Instead, I’ll go watch some InDesign videos on Adobe TV and catch up on some reading…maybe fit in a few cat naps!

Stay Happy and Healthy for Two Thousand Twelvy! :D

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Red Panda :)

This little guy is from my next project! Will be posting more soon! :D

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Brian Lies Visits!

So last week, our Children's Book Illustration III class got quite a treat: a visit from Brian Lies! He is the author and illustrator of the NY Times' best selling books Bats at the Beach, and Bats at the Ballgame and my favorite, Bats at the Library! (To see more of his books, click here!)

Brian Lies! And there's Dede to the left! :)

Stunning work not put to justice by my dirty cell phone camera lens!

Brain was kind enough to share with us his working process, including the corresponding original art, starting with his sketchbook, his mini dummies and book dummies, how he re-works his pieces, and all the way through the steps he takes in painting with acrylics. He shared with us the book dummy for his newest book, More to be available next year. He does his finished acrylics on heavy weight vellum paper, using teeny tiny brushes and ink for his foundation line work. And his finished pieces... Absolutely gorgeous!

Brian shared some useful tips, such as writing paint color recipes for future reference, and to be sure to really layer the darks because they brighten in the scanning process. He said some things that rang true in my own creative process. It was heartening to see that like I do, he also draws in blue pencil to break in a piece of fresh white paper "because it doesn't feel like permanent final art." And he hates to erase (just like I do), so naturally he ends up with piles of paper (like I do), though he actually has storage for his piles, unlike myself! He also shared that he prefers painting animals with smaller eyes to avoid the "mass market" look in his work.

I've been so inspired, I think I might try my hand at working on paper instead of canvas with my acrylics. Just to see what happens. :)

It was a spectacular visit! So much so that my friends have blogged about it too!
Cheryl Kirk Noll (She had a real camera and got nicer photos than my cell phone did!)
Marcela Staudenmaier

Here are some links to interviews with Brian Lies, as well as Bat Conservation:

Thank You, Brian, for visiting us! :D
And Thank You, Emilie Boon, for inviting him!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Holiday Card Finished!

Hey there!

I finished and delivered this piece, and the family loves it! Woo hoo! Another successful commission! It's for their custom Christmas cards, and it has a touch of Hanukkah with the "menorah" of candles on the mantle. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Three Halloween Kittens, Finished!


Just popping in to say I finished the kittens, and here they are!

Pretty happy with it, and I'm glad it's done! Onto the next project!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Three Halloween Kittens!

Our latest project in Children's Book Illustration III was to pick a short story provided and illustrate a full page bleed and it's opposite text page with a spot illustration. I chose the story of the Three Little Kittens, (you know, they lost their mittens, and they began to cry...).

My first question was this: why were the kittens wearing mittens?
Because it is Halloween, of course, and the mittens are part of their costumes! And I went with the happy scene after they found their mittens and put them back on. :)

Just as we did with the last project, we did three double spread layouts, character sketches, and a final image. I'm not fully finished painting the piece, and I also will touch it up with colored pencil, but I'll share what I've got so far!

And then I did an ink under painting, and then watercolor painting...

checked my values via desaturation...

...and then I got nervous about covering the whole thing in my dark blue for the night, 
so I tried it out on Photoshop first...

And thank goodness for Photoshop! I went back and worked in the darks, and now I'm finishing up on the watercolors before I begin any colored pencil. 

Whew! I think it's time for bed now! I'll post ya laters, gators!

Holiday Card Sketches

Hi Again!

I am also working on a Christmas card design that includes all EIGHT of the client's pets. (The newest kitten has not yet been drawn.) Yep, home certainly is where the fur flies! Here are my sketches of the animals, plus I tooled around with colors and layout ideas. I'll show you the rest once I ink and paint the piece!

Modeled after the real fireplace in their home.

And some color compositions... 

 I personally like the last one best. The first one isn't bad! But it's up to the customer what they want on their card, so we shall see which style they pick!

Alrighty then, off to the next project...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Feelin' Sketchy!

Hullo Hullo!

Been SUPER busy working on multiple projects at once! With homework, and commissions, and Little Raindrop stuff, I haven't been staying on top of my blogging. But it's too late at night for my weary eyes to mix colors and such, so here's what I've been up to:

Little Raindrop, Ocean Habitat Sketching:

Little Raindrop, Chapter One Sketching:

And in my next post I'll share with you my Holiday Card commission! Yay! (See you in 5 minutes!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Little Raindrop: Character Art

Hi there!

Today I focused on narrowing down Little Raindrop's character design. The author and I are deciding whether to use the big round eyes or the little oval pupil thingies for the final character. This was a good exercise for me anyhow, because it gave me the opportunity to explore LR's emotions, and I also found a great little animation blog that features some excellent character art.

So these were my original LR sketches:

And these are what I came up with today:

I'm sure you'll notice it took me a bit of time to loosen up, but I finally did and then that's when LR started to have a mind of his own! I'm also working on a few more characters that LR interacts with, but those aren't nearly as developed, simple as these characters are.

And I don't know if I'm just slow, or if this is normal, but those sheets of characters took me 3 hours! However, those hours are worth it for a solid character foundation. :)

Off to sketch some more! Ttfn!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Hi there!

I'm betting you might have noticed the new little badge in the upper left hand corner of my blog! :D

You haven't?
Well, that's a bummer...

Because it's almost time for Picture Book Idea Month! PiBoIdMo! When an artist comes up with a new picture book idea a day for 30 WHOLE DAYS!!! And 2011 marks my very first time participating, even though I have less time than ever to do pretty much anything. (But that's my fault- I'm an artist, not a day planner.)

So if you want to learn more about it, go here, (because there's no need to re-type the whole thing) and you might as well sign up while you're at it!

Welp, I've got raindrops to draw and homework to re-work, so I'll post ya later! ;D

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Little Raindrop's Social Network

Hi There!

Today I spent a crazyyyy amount of time putting together some marketing tools and social networking sites for my client's book, temporarily called "Little Raindrop's Big Adventure." Little Raindrop now has his very own blog, twitter account, facebook account, and even an email account! Now I'm totally tuckered out, (back, neck and brain included), but it will be worth it in the end to have gotten a head start. And you're probably wondering Why is the illustrator doing all this? Because I'm used to doing this sort of thing- it kind of comes naturally, and the author is learning it along the way! Plus, I put it in the contract, as a bonus for signing with me. ;)
So take a gander, "like," follow, and add Little Raindrop to your favorites folder!
Twitter: @LRaindropsStory
(and Facebook is acting funny today so I'll fix it and get back to you!)

And on a separate, side note...

I'm signed up for the NY SCBWI 2012 Winter Conference! Yay!!! I hope to see some of you there as well! I'm very much excited about it, but thankfully time flies during the school year and the holidays, and it will be here in no time. Plus, in the meantime I'll need to get my portfolio in order, submit a piece of work to the Tomie dePaola Award, and print up more business cards and new postcards, so I'll be super busy as usual!

Keep on creating... I'm off to do some laundry!

Friday, October 14, 2011

T-Rex Commission Finished!


Today I finally completed the T-Rex painting I had been commissioned for by my aunt and uncle. They really liked my original T-Rex (found below) and hired me to paint one for a baby gift!

The baby's room is light blue, with red and orange accents, so I wanted this piece to have a lot of color and warmth. I chose to work with acrylic and caran d'ache crayons, however I struggled for a long time how to work out my lines in this style, so I had put the painting away for a bit while I thought about it.

Anyhow, successful or not, this is how I solved my problem:

I'm pretty pleased with the results, and it's one of those pictures that make me happy, so that's a plus! It's neat to see my style change, but it still looks like my own art. My only drawback is that I'm still undecided whether to include the "Rex + Tree" carving in the bark. I feel almost as if it's a tad too much, but I'll see what my artist friends think!

Thanks for reading! It's super rainy out today, and I have to go run errands in it! Yuck! :P
See you soon!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Children's Book Illustration 3: Project 1, Part 3

Well I finished the Final Piece tonight! *yayyy!*
But I haven't finished all my character art yet. *booo*

Oh well. Anyhow, here are my painting stages (all images are copyright Melanie Linden Chan):

My original line drawing...

...transferred to canvas paper and painted the values in...
...figuring out my colors...

...cooling down the snow...


...checking my values...


"Snow Dog" by Melanie Linden Chan