Tuesday, August 30, 2011

From Start to Finish: River Habitat!

Hello hello!

Here are some snapshots I took as I worked on the River Habitat piece for Project #4. If my client is happy with it, we might just sign a contract to do a whole book! Woo hoo!

Initial sketch...


Done Inking


Basic Colors

Deepening of Colors

Allllmost there!

and the final scan...

I don't have the graphic elements painted, like the little not or photograph of the Bald Eagle, but those will be done separately. But I'm happy with it! I'm curious to know... what do you think? (Kind criticism is welcome.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Chairry Cake!!!!

Hello Readers!

Check out the LAST CAKE EVER of 2011! Classes are starting and I've got projects to do, so we went out with a real bang with this last cake of the year... Chairry from Pee Wee's Playhouse! Pee Wee was also cool enough to Tweet to the whole wide world about it, and to wish my pal Brook a Happy Birthday! And there are a ton of "Likes" on Facebook now, How awesome is that?!?!

My photos aren't as pretty as Brook's, but here they are, taken just minutes after I finished piping it. :)

To see more cakes, for the fun of it, go here. Thanks for visiting! :D

Monday, August 22, 2011

River Research

Drawing something new takes lots of sketching and practice! Especially if it needs to be scientifically correct. Here are the sketches I've drawn, and later pieced together, to create the River Habitat:

Why I Love to Draw and Paint

Got this in my Inbox this morning, from the SCBWI New England email list:
"Hello to all you illustrators,
The protagonist in the middle-grade novel I'm working on loves to draw. I'd love some input from you who draw and paint as to how creating a scene, person, animal makes you feel?
Thanks to any and all who can give me a glimpse into your passion for illustrating.
Joyce A. Stengelwww.joyceastengel. com"
             And here's my answer...

You know why I like art?

Because when I'm drawing or painting, I'm the boss of what I do. No one can tell me that I'm doing it wrong, because art is subjective, and a creative process. I can choose any color I want just because I love it, any topic I want just because I love it, and draw it in any way that I want just because I love the way it feels to draw. People can try to tell me otherwise, or wonder why I chose to do the things that I do, but they can't change the fact that I did it, and I LOVED doing it, and that I'm proud of it. And in the end, I always win them over anyway, because in the whole wide world of hobbies and talents and things to do, this is my circus and I'm the ringleader, (and we've got the funniest clowns).

So teachers can try to lead or admonish you, and parents can "tut tut" or ask "what is that supposed to be?" and your friends may scoff at you for drawing purple bunnies instead of toads, but you can bet those will be the best darn bunnies they've ever seen. Because when someone really truly loves what they're doing, it shows in their work.

In art, Love  is no longer just ethereal, it become visible on a page. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Very Own Picture Book :)

I've been sharing with you little tidbits here and there about my picture book project (SuperSecretProject#1) since last year, and I realized today I never shared with you the coolest part- the finished art! So here it is...

Except you'll probably notice, it still isn't finished, and I'll tell you why:

Throughout the Book Dummy course, I had a mostly-drawn the entire picture book, edited the text and story a few times more, and began to do some pages of Finished Art when I had realized I didn't like the style in which the art was being done. No... let me rephrase that. I didn't think the style fit my story's energy and humor.

I really liked the art I was coming up with, and the gazillion steps it took to get me there, but it still felt like my story had a different energy... a different feel to it. I could easily point out what style I think would fit my story with a few examples of books here off my shelf, but to create it in that way I would have to almost start from scratch!

So I put the project aside to give it some breathing room. I had been working on it consistently for a solid year now, so I thought this would be a good idea. And it turned out it was a good idea, because I took this book dummy with me last Spring to the NESCBWI conference where I had a critique with Mr. Harold Underdown. It was super informative and helpful, and quite encouraging! He didn't have a lot of negative things to say; rather, he was quick to tell me the things I had done right in my story. He did tell me, however, that there needed to be one specific change, which in turn would change a lot of the art in my story.

So my MS needs a bit of an overhaul... I know what I've got to do to change it and how, but I think I'm just dragging my feet a little. I had been so happy to finally get to the painting stage, I really just wanted to get the thing finished! Writing and editing and more editing and drawing and more drawing and then painting... that's a ton of work! (Anyone who says creating a picture book is easy... well, they need to wake up!) And I'm okay with work, but I still needed a break from that particular piece, so I've been working on other things, like my portfolio and Client work.

Anyhow, now you know why those pieces haven't been finished, and I still plan to at least make them portfolio-ready even though they won't make it in the final story. Or perhaps I'll change my mind again and they will, who knows? You'll at least be able to say one day, as you read my published book, "Hey, the artist worked really hard on this story! She has come a long way from that unfinished art on her blog. What a gem!"

Hahahaaaa, well, maybe one day.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy Client... Happy Artist!

Hi There!

Well, I did end up sharing the line drawing with my client, (before I start inking it), and he is very happy with it! There are a few more things I need to tweak and add before I can do the final finish, and I'm hoping to do that tonight. I can't wait to color it!!!

Oh, and here it is...

© Melanie Linden Chan 2011
I'll keep you posted on the rest! Thanks for reading! :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New! Project #4 has just begun!

Here I am again, as promised!

So this new project began when I was contacted by an Author, (we'll just say for the sake of privacy, instead of his real name) who found my work in the SCBWI Illustrator's Gallery. He was looking for an artist to illustrate a book he plans to self-publish, and my style fit his story perfectly!

So the story is an early reader/chapter book geared toward third to fifth graders, and it's about the water cycle! Very educational and fun, and the main character is cute too. I'm extremely happy drawing from nature, though with my cutesy (I guess that's the word for it) flair and a comic-y graphic novel touch, the project will be super fun to work on!

Author and I began with a copyright contract to protect our work, and then he shared some of his manuscript so that I could come up with a few sketches to see if our stuff would match. Here are my Sample Art sketches, though I omitted the text:

Character Study, © Melanie Linden Chan 2011

Cover/Title Page, © Melanie Linden Chan 2011 

Chapter Opening,
© Melanie Linden Chan 2011

Sample comic spread,
© Melanie Linden Chan 2011

What I sent was really rough, (it obviously needs lots of work) but we were both pleased with the direction in which it was going. And we've decided that markers are not the way to go- pen and ink will be much nicer. Now I am working on what I call a "Sample Finish," which is a fully colored and finished double-page spread that I illustrate without much influence from the Author other than his manuscript and illustration notes. It is due in about 10 days from now, and only then will I reveal it to the Author. (Actually, I might show him right before I ink it, just to be sure.)

I think this is an important step because it teaches me what questions to ask before I draw, thus saving time, and it also helps the Author to trust my artist's instincts and perhaps it will create for an even smoother partnership. This Sample Finish may or may not be included the final edit of the book- there are always many things that change over the course of a book's creation. However, it will show the both of us the results of our combined efforts to prove whether our talents are compatible or not. (And so far, it looks like they are from where I'm sitting!)

Once I complete the Sample Finish, I will come up with a price quote for the entire books project based upon the time and amount of work the illustration needed, and I will submit both to the Author. He will review everything and if both the price and the art are what he is looking for...
then, my friends...

...then we sign a contract and I've got myself an illustration job! (tee hee!)

Of course I am calling it Project#4 because that's the next number in the lineup, but it is currently my Top Priority. And if all goes well and I do get the job, I won't be able to share every single bit (in order to protect the story from Story Snatchers), however I plan to post regular updates and snippets and fun things!

I'm really excited, though I know not to count my chickens before they hatch... so, would you all cross your fingers for me? Because I can't... I need mine for drawing!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Koala Cake!

Has it nearly been a month already since my last post? Sheesh!

Well I've got stuff to show you from my new client, but that will be in my next post. (Got to stay organized, you know.) Let me share with you the latest cake- though I doubt it's the last. Classes don't start until September... I wonder who else will weasel in a cake order before then? (This isn't an invitation for new orders, I am just musing!)

Anyway, this particular cake was made for my sister's college graduation party. She's smart, creative, and fabulously fun to be around, and now that she has a teaching degree for Elementary Education, she's even cooler in my book! I combined her favorite animal and color, and there ya go...

PS. This character design is of my own creation... although it's not super inventive, I'm still fond of it and I'd rather you not copy it. Thanks :)

© 2011 Melanie Linden Chan (The files are doing that wacky thing again,
rotating without my permission.)

© 2011 Melanie Linden Chan

© 2011 Melanie Linden Chan

© 2011 Melanie Linden Chan

© 2011 Melanie Linden Chan

Okay! See you again in a little bit... off to type up the next post! :D