Almost finished the line work for the “Round” Book

I mentioned earlier I was working on a picture book called “Round” by Shervonne Taylor. At first it was going to be a picture book app, but now it’s a picture book. It’s about Olivia, a round little girl who wants to be a ballerina butterfly in the school play. I now have all the rough pencils finalized and I am working on the finished line work. I usually do this in charcoal pencil on paper. Even though I color digitally, I like to do my line work in charcoal pencil and scan it in. I feel I can get a more expressive line working this way. For this book I’m trying something different, I am working with a digital charcoal pencil on my new Wacom Cintiq. page1WPpage11WPpage5WP It always tickles me when people say, “Oh you work digitally, so it isn’t real art work.”  I do my line work, just like anyone who is getting ready to do traditional watercolor. The difference is, when the time come to color it in, I use a computer. This way I can make changes, which clients always want to make after the color work is finished. When I used traditional watercolor or pastel, I would have to start all over again. Now I can move figures around and change background colors without destroying entire piece of art. It takes the same skills as traditional watercolor or pastel, it is just more flexible. Computer painting programs like Photoshop and Corel Painter are only tools, in the right hands there should be no difference in the final product. It takes me just as long to do a digital painting as it does a traditional media painting. This book has taken 7 months so far, I probably have another 3 to 4 more weeks work. Illustrating a 27 illustration children’s book takes time. I work closely with the author to illustrate a book they will be proud of.

Vacation is not a good time to work on illustrations

Round_rough_illustrationsOnce again, an illustration job is taking longer than I expected. This time I must take some of the blame. I have been on vacation for the last 17 days. I took everything with me and intended to work on the illustrations while I was gone. I thought working in a warm place by the pool would be more fun than working in a cold place looking out the window at snow. But vacations are supposed to be…well a vacation. Even though I love what I do, I still need a vacation away from working once in a while.

My vacation was over before I knew it. I am now very much behind schedule. There is still snow out my window. I have a deadline of May 9th. Which sounds far away, but I am also putting together the iPad App for this book, so I have to allow time for that process.

All 31 of the rough pencils are done, I need to do the finished line work, then start on the color work (my second favorite part after the character studies). All illustrations must be done in layers with any moving parts for the App to be on separate layers. It will take a lot of planning.

2014 Caldecott Medal for outstanding illustrated picture book goes to…

LocomotiveBrian Floca, is the 2014 Caldecott Medal winner  for illustrating the most distinguished American picture book for children: “Locomotive,” The book was written by Brian Floca and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Three Caldecott Honor Books also were named: “Journey,” written and illustrated by Aaron Beckerand published by Candlewick Press; “Flora and the Flamingo,” written and illustrated by Molly Idleand published by Chronicle Books LLC; and “Mr. Wuffles!” written and illustrated by David Wiesnerand published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

 John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature: “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures,” written by Kate DiCamillo, is the 2014 Newbery Medal winner. The book is published by Candlewick Press.

Congratulations to all the winners.

The Winner of the 2014 Tomie dePaola Award

Every year the SCBWI and Tomie dePaola have a competition for illustrators. The theme for this year was the poem “Sneeze, A sneeze Is a breeze In Your Nose. Square format illustrations, for a young child’s book (2 months to 2 years). Before I entered this competition, I thought long and hard about the poem and how best to illustrate it for a young child. My idea was to use an elephant, who else has spectacular sneezes? In Tomie dePaola’s introduction, he mentions that there were far too many elephants. I guess I was not very original. He also mentioned that there was too much “stuff” flying out of nostrils. Whoops, my bad again! Visit the SCBWI website to see all the runners-up.

winner 2014 Tomie dePaola awardThis year the winner of the Tomie dePaola Award is Akiko White for a wonderful creation in “cake.” Congratulation Akiko! Your illustration is perfect, I love it!

It looks like icing  or Sculpy to me, but the SCBWI announcement says cake. The subject of the winning illustration is surprisingly–an elephant! I really like the composition and the colors. The surface texture and lighting  are wonderful. The mouse stopping the sneeze is priceless.

nina_goebel_smFirst runner-up is Nina Goebel. Her illustration is applique on a vintage handkerchief. Tomie didn’t like the lace edging on the handkerchief. Loved the bi-racial family and the simple imagery. You really should see all 5 of the runner-ups on the SCBWI website, there is a short critique for each one. Alice Ratteree was 2nd runner-up, Anne Dawson was 3rd runner-up, Jacob Grant was 4th runner-up and Lisa Cinelli was 5th runner-up.

It is so generous fo Tomie dePaola to take his time to have this award each year. It gives all illustrators a chance to work on an assignment and see our work with some of the best in the business.

SNEEZ_SMThere is another website set up showing ALL the entries for 2014 that the illustrators choose to share, winners and non-winners all together. What a great opportunity to see a lot of creative work. You can even leave comments on each entry. Thanks to Diandra Mae for all her work.

My entry, not a contender, also shows an elephant. He has “stuff” flying out of his nose which Tomie say this is a real no,no, considering flu season and all. I really needed to take more of a risk on subject matter and technique. It’s fun to see what other artists come up with. Next year I will go all out.

Thanks for the opportunity Tomie

In a few weeks the 2014 winners of the Caldecott Metal will be announced

hatI’m so happy there is the Caldecott Metal for illustrators of children’s books. So often writers are given all the attention and press. In picture books, the illustrations are very important.

Last year’s winner for 2013 was Jon Klassen for This is Not My Hat, which he illustrated and wrote. Visit the ALSC website to learn more about the Caldecott Metal 

2013 Honor Award Books included:

Creepy Carrots, illustrated by Peter Brown and written by Aaron Reynolds. See pictures click this link.
Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen and written by Mac Barnett. See more images click here.
Green, illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. See a YouTube Video click here.
One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small and written by Toni Buzzeo. See a YouTube review.
Sleep Like a Tiger, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski and written by Mary Logue. For details about this book see this link.

All these books are wonderfully illustrated and certainly deserve their honors. I am especially impressed with Illustrators who also write their books. Jon Klassen with This is Not My Hat and Laura Vaccaro Seeger for Green. I think that picture books are especially strong when one talented person controls the process from concept to written word to finished illustrations.

In a few week the Caldecott winners for 2014 will be posted. I can’t wait to see who wins. I have heard people, who know a lot more than I do, are making predictions. I think I will wait for the final word from the 2014 committee.

Snowed in & Working on Pencil Sketches for Children’s Picture Book App

I love being snowed in. When everyone else is trying to shovel their way out and fretting about being stuck at home, I’m happy. My studio is now in my home so I always have so many fun things to do. Today I worked on some full size pencil roughs for the book “Round” by Shervonne Taylor. I will be doing a picture book app first, then a printed picture book with the same art. So all the art must be made larger than it normally would for a picture book application for iPad. When I do the final illustrations everything will be on different layers, so the characters and backgrounds can move separately.Illustrator_pencil_roughs

I worked out the character sketches and the dummy earlier, so I know what each character will look like and what happens on each page, but it is so much fun seeing the main character doing her thing in each scene.

I love working with Children’s book authors. Each book is so different and so much fun to illustrate.

Once Upon a Sketch is BAACK!!!

Logoonblue_OUASAfter Wilson Williams Jr suddenly passed away last August, there were questions as to what would happen with the popular blog. Norm Glock was looking for a new partner or partners. Norm has found six wonderful illustrators to share the website’s workload and to add their unique perspectives.

The new blog posts are by: Donald Wu,Jennifer Zivoin, Mary Reaves Uhles, Jannie Ho, Chris Jones, Kevin Cross and Norm Grock.  The topic is:
Visit the once Upon a Sketch Website. It is a very fun and informational blog site for anyone in the children’s publishing business.

Second step in illustrating a children’s picturebook

Picture Book Page Break Down

Breakdown2 I have spent three days trying to get the Ballerina book’s words and pages to come out just right for the dummy book. It’s not good to have too many words on each page, and the action must build before each page turn. This book will also be a printed picture book and a picture book app. for iPad, so the word count can’t be too long on each page to read at a small size. This book has over 2000 words which is more words than a normal picture book and has been my main problem.Dummy

The author also wants certain scenes to be illustrated, but they don’t always work out for the page turns. I know some pages will have to be all words without images, because the cost of doing illustrations on each page would be prohibitive.

Since this book will also be a picture book iPad application, each image will have some simple action, movement and/or sound that can be easily done on an iPad. I will be setting this up as I illustrate the story, so multiple variations will be needed for each image to show animations. I know I will eventually get everything to work, it always does in the end.

First step to illustrate a picturebook

Character studies:

This is my favorite part of the process. This is the part where I read the manuscript over and over until I  become completely familiar with each character. If I am illustrating directly for a self-publishing author, I also listen carefully to what the author says about the characters and scenes. If I am working for a publisher, the author has very little input, I work with the publisher’s art director. The book I am working on now is for a self-publishing author. It’s about a ‘Round’ little girl who wants to be a ballerina butterfly in the school play. Olivia, all the kids in her class who tease her, the teacher and her very wise grandmother are characters. I will also be illustrating Olivia’s grandmother’s garden, the school room and Olivia’s bedroom.




I wasn’t kidding about Illustrating ballerinas

The book I am now illustrating . . .

is about a ’round’ little girl named Olivia Catherine Amanda Mae Brown who wants to be a ballerina butterfly in the school play. It’s a darling story. She is so cute and ’round’. I love drawing her cute little shape. The name of the book is “Round,” by Shervonne Taylor Bonnell. I am now at the character development stage. I have Olivia’s grandmother, her teacher, the mean girls and other children in her class to create, as well as her grandmother’s garden and the classroom. I will then start the thumbnail dummy to see where all the spreads break in the story and what illustrations I need to draw. I just love starting a new book!


Finally Illustrations done, “Don’t be a Pig in a Panic!” picture book

After illustrating this book for the author Leila Leidtke for the last 7 months, I am happy to say it is almost finished. I can now draw pigs snakes and tigers with my eyes closed. I loved illustrating the pigs, what really bogged down the process were the jungle backgrounds. You can’t fake a jungle background. Regular landscapes can be a sweep of green with a few strategically placed trees, jungles on the other hand are very complicated. I started out with very complex backgrounds, but as I went along and the characters count increased on each page the backgrounds got more and more simple. I’d much rather illustrate pigs any day.

I’m ready to move on to the next project. . . Ballerinas anyone?

My contact information:

Just a few of the 16 full color spreads without the text in place.

PIGS_2-3_smPIGS_6-7_smPIGS_10-11_smPIGS_14-15_sm PIGS_18-19_sm PIGS_20-21_sm PIGS_24-25_sm

More illustrations for “Don’t be a PIG in a PANIC”

I’m moving along with some of the digital color now on these fun illustrations. Below is the pencil for the cover and the almost finished color. You can see my rough pencil in the background of the color version.  In the second illustration, I still need to work on the stripes on the pig’s shirt, they don’t look right to me. I have created the heading in Adobe Illustrator so I can get the letters of the word PIG exactly right and the curve of the other words. I’ve put them together in this last version.  Now I just need to clean up the jungle foliage and I will be done with the cover. This fun book was written by Leila Leidtke. Click here see my online portfolio.

Pencil rough for cover

Pencil rough for cover

Cover "Don't be a PIG in a Panic"

Almost finished

Almost finished

I’m Illustrating a picture book about pigs!

This gallery contains 6 photos.

I’m illustrating a book about three little pigs in the jungle to be exact. It’s called “Don’t be a PIG in a Panic!” by Leila Leidke.  I’m having a lot of fun and the pigs are getting easier and easier … Continue reading