Monday, August 28, 2017

A Crash Course in All Things Art

I've been wanting for years to design a course to help make it easier for people to learn art. Unfortunately I didn't have time to set anything up, and I didn't want to rush making a half-baked course. So what do I do? I make a half-baked post about art!

You are not going to be a master artist overnight. I was in an art gallery the other day. Someone asked the artist how long it took him to create a painting. "Thirty-five years." was his answer. "Thirty-five years and a couple of hours." It does take a long time to master the art of painting. The good news is that your current years of experience in life are applicable in art.

What to Draw:

For those of you creating your images you are going to want to start with a strong story. Here are some helps if you don't have a story:

Okay get your manuscript in hand and separate it into scenes. Every time your environment changes there is a new scene. From there you can divide it even further into different actions and reactions. You need at least 24 pages for Smart Dummies, so divide your manuscript into at least 24 segments.

If you remember the story of Little Red Riding Hood there are some obvious scenes you would want to illustrate. Some of these are: Little Red setting out to see grandma, the wolf impersonating grandma and the woodsman saving grandma and Little Red.

Text is obvious and you don't want to just illustrate what's in the text. Illustration should be more of a bridge between pieces of text. Imagine what happens in between the words to get more ideas of what to draw. Let's do some "what ifs?" to find what else can be drawn. What prompted Little Red to see grandma? What did Little Red do before she left the house? What things did she see (other than the wolf) on the way to Grandma's house? What did Wolf do on the way to Grandma's house? Why doesn't the Wolf just hunt down a rabbit? What did Grandma, Little Red and the Woodsman do after the Wolf was out of the picture? Asking yourself "what if?"should give you lots of ideas of what to draw.

Now that you have an idea what to draw you should work on thumbnails and character design.

Alison's post

Good design is key when you go to create your images. A good drawing can easily go bad if you don't have a good layout. I feel like this article is a good crash course in design: There are also many books that have good information. One of my favorites is the Graphic Design Cookbook This can't be found in most bookstores, but you can find similar books at  your local bookstores.


Alison Kipnis Hertz created a wonderful post about sketching and doodling for Smart Dummies in 2015. You can visit her post and download a template for creating your own thumbnails. 

Basically you want to use these thumbnails to plan out where everything goes in your image. These are made purposely small (around 1 x 1.5") so you don't spend a lot of time planning out the image. You just want to get the basic idea of what's in each picture. You might also want to write out a description of your picture to help you remember all the important elements.

Character Design:

I wrote out a short post about character design in 2015. This will give you some basic ideas of how to create your character and how to make it look the same in every picture. Joy Steuerwald had some lovely character images in her post:

OMG the post is over and I STILL
don't know how to draw!

I will make another post about creating images either tomorrow or Wednesday. I'll give you a few easy (inexpensive) techniques you can use to make nice images.


  1. Thank you for sharing and giving insight and helpful info on how to prepare for illustrating/writing a dummy book. I'm new to this and am reading everything I can before it begins!

  2. I just love the links and the reminder that drawing us about practicing. Thank Dani!