Monday, June 4, 2018

SCBWI NJ Conference 2018 + Art Contest Image

Had my first NJ regional SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) event this weekend. Great time ... especially seeing old faces and meeting many new people.

My 11" by 17" entry image for the NJSCBWI "WONDER" art contest

The first thing I think of with the word "wonder" is outer space. Just staring at the stars creates a sense of wonder for me. So I knew I wanted that element in the image. I considered doing a closeup of a child's face inside a toy astronaut helmet, and in the helmet's reflection, the moon and other planets would be seen. But then I thought, instead of outside, have the moon appear inside floating over a child's bed.

The original pencil sketch concept for the SCBWI art contest

• I wanted the child dressed up in astronaut-like pajamas with a toy space helmet, but then realized there would be no personal interaction or expression without seeing the child's face.

• I wanted a question mark shape for the cat's tail in the lower right corner but I also wanted the cat to peer into the room, showing curiosity to what was happening. I had to compromise with limited spacing in that area.

• The lighting was another hurdle. Originally, I wanted a green glow, for a more mystical look. But knowing this would print out on my printer  -- green is a fickle color to control from monitor to paper. Then I re-considered, the moon usually gives off a blue light in night skies. So I saturated the coloring with blue, leaving only the reddish highlights to accent the bluish hues.

Color variation: The original base colors with white light highlights
To be honest, this image is not complete. I wanted to add more details to the room, such as a basketball, bookshelves, car toys and a ragdoll astronaut. The area above the moon was going to have a night sky filled with stars. But I was running out of time to print, cut and mount the image in time for the conference.

In this version, the foreground color was muted, white light highlights dropped, and the moon's size was increased.

RE: SCBWI Conferences 

I've gone to several SCBWI Winter NYC Conferences in the past, but I stopped going several years ago feeling it wasn't for me. The SCBWI Winter and Summer conferences are HUGE, with keynote speakers representing the top bestsellers in children's literature. It's entertaining and inspiring, but that atmosphere seems best for those already established in the market. The NJ conference is more personal and is a gathering of the people I see and know the most. Comparing the two, I feel that the NYC conferences are grander, but the NJ regional conference seemed more helpful. 

One problem I had at the conference was I could not find the rooms for the workshops in the hotel. The map provided did not help. I found just walking around reading every sign was the only way I could find the assigned rooms (of which two were relocated, which REALLY didn't help.) That never happened to me in NYC, which is about 5 times larger than the North Brunswick Hyatt hotel.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Daily Quick Sketch: Charli Bean Travel Mug

Created this concept for my wife, who loves coffee, has an Icelandic lineage and is a redhead. So I decided to make her a coffee travel mug using

The original concept image I though for my wife mug
Now available to the public, if interested here's a link to find it below:
What the product should look like, it should arrive next week
The original pencil sketch was done in ArtRage Pro 5

The final artwork that was sent to print the travel mug

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Mermay 2018: Octo-Tail Mermaid

This is the first year I'm doing the annual #MerMay online event where artists submit daily images of mermaids. Here's this week's image, the Octo-Tail Mermaid.
Rotated the image by 90 degrees, blotted and cross-hatched the background

Original pencil sketch
Cleaned up the pencil line with digital penciling
Laying down the base colors before adding highlights, shading, and details
The original "final" image of my #MerMay2018 Octo-Tail Mermaid
I wasn't happy about her ink at that bottom - so a change was made as seen above

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Daily Quick Sketch: Pirry W. Kracker. the giant pirate parrot

Today's quick sketch was done in pencil, brush pen and Copic markers. It is a supporting character for a little picture book story I wrote called Pirate Dreams. Pirry is a huge parrot, abnormally huge, and he ALWAYS wants a cracker. He is part of the ship of misfits lead by the main character.

Pirry, the Pirate Parrot from Pirate Dreams. Pirry stands about 6'2" and weighs nearly 300 lbs. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Mermay 2018: Shark-Tail Mermaid

The second image I did for the online event MerMay2018, where artists submit their mermaid illustration during the month of May.

My final version of a Shark-Tail Mermaid with various shy neighbors

The original color background before changes to make the main character "pop" more

The original sketch in pencil

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Daily Quick Sketch: Picture Book Character Mash-up

I had purchased new brushes for Photoshop last week, looking for brushes that give a more natural feel than the current brushes available in Photoshop. Grut brushes are pretty impressive because most of the brushes are not cookie cutter stamp and repeats.

Highly recommended, with over 300 brushes for just $20. The site even has a free sampler for you to try: Grut Brushes Link

Playing around with two of my picture book characters: Bladimir Blarfarg and Little Boo
And yes, Bladimir is the one going to the bathroom in the lake

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

YouTube's The Cozy Chair reads Bobby's Biggest Bubble

Special thanks to Rebekah of YouTube's The Cozy Couch for reading Bobby's Biggest Bubble!

She did an absolutely great job. She is also doing a bubblegum bubble contest. The best bubblegum bubble photo sent to her email ( wins the book and gum! Wooo!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Daily Quick Sketch: RokSok, Son of Mudsok

Haven't drawn an underling in some time. These are characters to an underground world in a children's book I wrote a few years ago. The story is far from being polished. But I like to go back and add a few details here and there. I not only want the story to be fun, but also educational. Mixing non-fiction with fiction.
Roksok, the youngest son of King Mudsok. Image inked using a Kuretake brush pen.

The original pencil sketch
To see his dad, go here: LINK

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

D-Bot: Developing a Main Character for a Picture Book

Those who see my work on Instagram might recognize this character. This is D-bot, the main character in its self-titled picture book story. The look of D-Bot has changed quite a lot over time.
A pencil sketch of the latest version of D-Bot
In fact, D-Bot looks nothing like it's original sketch from several months ago. As seen below, it was simply too ordinary and had no expressive features. The story of D-Bot is about self-confidence and self-worth, which needs to show emotions to truly work.

The original 1st sketch of D-Bot

But that first sketch did lead to the 2nd and 3rd versions of the character. Each molding towards the latest design. Take what works and drop what is weak.

2nd sketch of D-bot showed more expression

I like this 2nd version, very playful and simple . . . but I still wanted to explore the character design

Image from a video that was posted on my Instagram account

The character was merging into something I could see starring in its own story. I want a robot, but I also want a character to show emotion. A character too robotic usually has a dead stare, and the #3 design didn't have pupils, (which doesn't help the character connect with others.)
Seen here are version #3 (left) and #4 (right) of D-Bot. #3's eyes were too dead and cold.
Below, I broke D-Bot down to all his parts to help analyze and remember how to draw the character. Now, I'm considering using a similar image as a repeat pattern inside the end pages of the book.
Anatomy of a character: breaking it down into small components

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

UPDATE Daily Quick Sketch: Cap'n Billy Buttons

So what's a pirate character without a parrot? I originally had a parrot on his shoulder, but really dislike the way it looked. I like this new little guy . . . introducing Cap'n Billy Buttons and his parrot companion, Pockets.
A new update: changed Mr. Buttons' colors slightly and added a new parrot, Pockets 

The original pencil sketch for Pockets the parrot
- - - Originally published on 4/7/18 - - -
Here's a character design for my picture book manuscript, Pirate Dreams. His name is Cap'n Billy Buttons, one of the supporting characters that join the main character in the story. He's is a kind soul that is trying to live up to the role of being a pirate.

A digitally colored version of the Cap.n Billy Buttons sans parrot
Cap'n Billy Buttons isn't taken seriously by other pirates, mostly because of his name. So he runs a crewless ship. Because of no crew, Buttons has to do everything on the ship, including the laundry . . . (which apparently he knows nothing about as you can see from the shrunken clothing he wears.)

Hand inked version of Cap'n Billy Buttons with (eech!) parrot (that needs to be revised)

Friday, May 4, 2018

Mermay 2018: Flying Fish Mermaid

This is the first year I'm doing the annual #MerMay online event where artists submit daily images of mermaids. I don't have the time to submit a new image every day, but I will be doing images at least once a week.
The final color image including a school of flying fish, created using Photoshop

My idea for these images is to create different types of mermaid based on their "fish-ancestry". I've more ideas for octopus, shark, whale and lantern fish mermaids . . . ( this is probably going to get very weird as I go on . . . )
The original pencil sketch sans fish
I'm thinking of doing this polaroid concept for all the mermaid images

Monday, April 23, 2018

Arrrggghhh! It's Another @#$% Quick Sketch Video: Spider-man Swing!

Posting this old time-lapse video of Spider-man swinging I found recently while cleaning a few hard drives. Created in ArtRage Pro and video edited with CamStudio and MovieMaker.