Friday, May 6, 2016

Let's Talk Coloring Books - Digital Hardware and Software Notes

I'm posting this today because I realized that I'm just not going to be able to get to this information in my presentation. This is more technical information than you may actually need. I have my thoughts on the software first, and underneath is information about hardware. While this is originally intended for my Coloring Book Presentation it's something that may be of interest to illustrators getting started in digital art.

Photoshop is great for creating digital images – it's arguably the best Program for creating digital images but not necessarily the best for coloring books. I do highly recommend it for illustration, but it's not necessary to buy if you are only creating coloring books or black and white art.

Illustrator - takes time to get use to if you've never used vector software. Like Photoshop: It's great if you are creating certain color images with a certain look, but not necessary for coloring books.

Painter – Best for creating digital paintings that look like traditionally created paintings. The software crashes a lot (I own painter 11), but is nice when it runs smoothly.

Gimp – Free Software. I'm only including it on this list because it's free. Useful and is similar to Photoshop. I feel like I have one arm tied behind my back when I use this.

Inkscape- Free software like illustrator

Krita – Free Software like Photoshop

I have not used Krita or Inkscape personally (other than a few minutes each) so I can't tell you how well they work. There interface is nice and for no money, it's worth it to download these and take a look. These free programs may not have all the same options as the programs they are meant to copy, but they can still be used professionally.

Manga Studio/Clip Studio – My personal favorite. I own EX4. I like the inking feature in this because you can come back an manipulate the image easily even after you save the image. The inking feature is much like illustrator's in that it's done in vectors. Unfortunately you can't save your image to work as a vector image (.eps in illustrator but you can save the ink lines as a layer and use it in Photoshop or other program to color your backgrounds. Don't buy this full price. Smith Micro often has great sales.

InDesign. - The best and easiest program for laying out a book. It takes a bit of work to get use to, but if you know how to use Power Point (or any Adobe software), then you can learn how to use this program. It is actually more intuitive than Power Point, and with all my years in computers, I find using InDesign easier than Power Point. If you are thinking of having a book printed of your work, you must get this software. The bonus is it's the easiest software for your local print shop to use, so they should be able to print your work fairly easily and quickly.


Processor – Intel is important. AMD always gives me problems. Get a reasonably good processor. This will help the speed of your computer.

Hard Drive (Storage not to be confused with memory) – Up to you. 1TB is the norm and should be enough for most people

Graphic Card: Go with NVIDIA® GeForce® if you are going with color and possibly black and white. Go with the best graphic card you can afford. If you are 

Memory allows multiple programs to be open, helps your computer to run faster and allows you to work on large files. Get at least 8GB of memory. Most people don't know that it takes 2GBs of memory just to run Windows (it may be more with Windows 10). Memory is important so ideally get more (12-16) if you can afford it!

Printer: Inexpensive printer. Don't go with a photo printer. Often photo printers wont let you print (or scan) if all you haven't replaced an empty cartridge. If you are making high quality prints go with your local print shop. Because of the high cost of ink print shops are still cheaper than printing from your own printer.

Scanner: Epson with a large bed is best, but you can get by with a lower quality scanner.

Tablet: Wacom tablets are the best. Bamboo is okay, but it works basically like a mouse. The Intuos pro is very nice and likely the tablet you'll want for your work. The Intuos mimics the pressure and tilt of drawing traditionally.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Magic Mask

At the end of last year I was commissioned to do some illustrations for Pamela Stadnyk's book "The Magic Mask". This story follows Jade in a magical undersea adventure. It is a lovely storybook with amazing illustrations. (What, I'm not biased!)

I loved this commission because I got to work with an underwater theme and I love creating underwater art! I selected for you a few of the illustrations that you will see in the book. You can pick up Pamela's book here. While I do not get commission for this book I do encourage you to buy this so that I can work with Pamela on her next book! 


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Vengeful Half by Jaclyn Dolamore

I received this lovely post card in the mail a few weeks ago. I told Jaclyn that I'd post it when I got the info in the mail, but it got lost on my desk! Sorry Jaclyn. Here are the cards:

I was going to black out my address, but if you want to send me mail, then I won't deny you. Love that she added a couple drawings of characters from her book. I love getting drawings in the mail!

If you want to find out more about "The Vengeful Half" or any of Jaclyn's other books then check out her blog here: 

Also be sure to follow her on Twitter! I've been following her since the beginning of time and she always has something interesting to say: @jackiedolamore  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Let's Talk Coloring Books!

It's almost too late to announce this, but I will be doing a Coloring Book presentation on May 7th at the Creative Ink Festival in Burnaby, BC! In honor of this I have a coloring page below that you are free to download and color. The Creative Ink Festival is an event to bring Writers, Artists and Readers together. Last year they were a 1 day event and it was fantastic!

My presentation, "Let's Talk Coloring Books", will be at 10:00am in the Grand Villa 2.  I'm working right now to get this presentation perfected for the event. I'll be talking about the popularity of coloring books, tools you'll need to create your own coloring books and ways you can use coloring books to promote your business. I'll leave 10-15 minutes at the end for questions. If you have any questions or comments about coloring books please comment below!

I also will be on a couple of panels for the event. May 7th at 1pm I'll be on the "Creating Your Ideal Workspace" panel. May 8th at 9am I'll be on the "What To Do When The Creative Well is Bone Dry" panel. I will also be available for coffee -- just let me know before the event.

The event runs May 6-8 at the Delta Burnaby Hotel. To find out more about the conference go here: There will be 68 presenteres at this event and so many fun things to do! 

Delta Burnaby Hotel & Conference Centre

4331 Dominion Street
Burnaby, British Columbia V5G 1C7 Canada

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Coming Back is Hard to Do!

I've been away much longer than I wanted. Times have been tough. You may know that I have two kids now instead of one. This leads to some pretty crazy times. Let me tell you about them!

First off... you wouldn't believe how hard it is to get a baby to grow a mustache. It's almost impossible, but it is a Duck tradition. Sometimes you have to scratch him on the head to get him to see reason.
Taking care of two kids is hard. Especially hard because kids really never listen to their parents. True, their parents aren't as interesting as their hands and that's a problem. The thing is... what was I saying? My hands are so awesome.
I remember. I was going to tell you that I'm working on bringing my blog back to life. It's going to take a lot of time and a lot of coffee. Mostly just a lot of coffee. I've got some cool stuff to show and tell all of you. I just was looking at my hands and forgot everything!

The point is I'll be back soon. Believe me when I say: My blog will be great again! 

Would I lie to you?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Goals, Goals, Goals!

You may or may not know that I had a little one January 30th. His name is Michael Allen Duck. He's been keeping me pretty busy the last few weeks. I also have a crazy 5 year old named David. I'm getting back into the groove of things. Michael is much easier to take care of than my oldest, so I am so antsy to get back into drawing and writing. I want to take this moment to write down my goals (while baby is sleeping).
1. Win the 12x12 I've done the 12x12 (12 picture books in 12 months) for years now.  I've still never written 12 picture books in 12 months. I'm going to rectify that this year. It is a great community and has helped me become a better Writer and Illustrator. There is still a little time to join:

 2. Create More Dummies I'd like to create at least 2-3 picture book dummies this year. It will be tough, but I think it's a reasonable goal.

3. Refine Current Dummies I need to edit the dummies I have currently. So far they haven't been picked up for publication. I have some strong ideas for these, and I believe the stories are strong enough to spend the time refining them.

4. Make Some Coloring Books I want to try my hand at a few coloring books this year. It should take less time than a PB dummy because the images don't have to be in color.

5. Submit Work to Magazines I've severely been lacking in this. I want to have some of my work printed in magazines this year.

6. Secure an Agent or Art Rep I feel like this is doable this year, so I'm doing it!

7. Send out Art to Editors I haven't done this, so I need to get my art submissions in gear.

I will be continuing Smart Dummies this year. I already have a few people interested as guest bloggers. I'm hoping to have even more prizes this year and do a lot more prep work. It should be a great year!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Time to Make Those New Year Goals!

I had wanted to post my goals for the year today. That was before I gave birth to an 8 pound 15 ounce eating machine at 2:20am December 30th. Now I have reset that goal making for Chinese New Year (at best). 

If you are able today I would suggest making goals for the year today. Stay away from New Year's Resolutions as these tend to be a pass/fail situation. You don't want your plans for the year to end in January when you mess up!  So make some long and short term goals now and forgive yourself when you mess up.

This is my little Michael Allen. 
He woke me up last night to talk. 
Maybe he woke me up so he could look around. 
He definitely woke me up so he could pass gas. 

Either way eating was the furthest thing from his mind. 
Either way eating is the only thing on his mind. 

I'm sore and I'm tired. 

My son squeeks when he wants something so I can't refuse. 

Happy New Year Everyone!