Monday, December 31, 2018

Monday Montage!

My friend Christy (@chrstyilstrates  on Twitter and https://www.instagram.com/christyillustrates/ on Instagram) and I are doing a new series! The series is called Monday Montage.

Every month we are going to create one full illustration due the last Monday of the month. Even though we are only posting one final image, every Monday we'll be posting process posts. We will be sharing these images with you on our blogs and social media. Christy's blog is here: https://creativejourneycafe.wordpress.com/

YOU CAN JOIN US! Just make a post on Mondays and use the tag #mondaymontage on your post. This will help us find your posts and comment on them. I'm also hoping to set up a few things so that we can all grow our audiences!

Are you in?

The first prompt is: Goals 

You can interpret it as you'd like. January 7th (The first Monday in January) will be our first post. I'm thinking I'll be doing some character drawings first. What are you planning on creating?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

New Year's Goals!

The holidays had me really busy! How about you? I got really sick just before Christmas, yay? I've got tissues, and will be typing my goals between blows.

I make goals every year instead of a Resolution. I've gotten off resolutions because they are pass or fail. I tend to make my goals higher than I can achieve so it pushes me to work harder.

My 2019 Goals


1. Redo My Portfolio

I've redone my portfolio so many times. I've got a few great digital programs now and it's time I go to town on this goal! I really need more work that's kidlit infused. My last redo was focused on Fantasy art, but too many adult characters! I'd also like to do more backgrounds (indoor and outdoor) and more comic/graphic novel looking work.

2. Send Work Out to Editors/Art Directors (Early in 2019)

I've had some interest in my new digital art style. I need to make it a habit to send out new art every few months. I don't have anything new completed right now, but I'm hoping to change that soon.

3. Win the 12x12, Storystorm, Smart Dummies and My New Writing Challenge

Sign up for Storystorm is open now! https://taralazar.com/ The 12x12 is a challenge to get 12 picture books written in 12 months. http://12x12challenge.com/ Smart Dummies will help you get your Picture Book Dummy done in September. More info coming on the writing challenge soon!

4. Blog More (More Info Tomorrow)

My friend Christy and I have come up with a fun illustration challenge that we'll be starting January 7th. More info about this and how you can join tomorrow!

5. Create at Least 2 More Dummies 

I have one dummy that's fairly solid. I'd like to have 2 more so I have more work for agents to see! Once I have 2-3 dummies finished I'll start submitting to agents.

6. Rediscover My Love of Writing

I don't write enough anymore. I'm really seeing it in the things I do write. While I will be working to complete the 12x12 this year I'm hoping that this will include strong stories that I can easily take to dummies.

7. Find More Ways to Include Family in My Art 

I will try to spend more time with my family, but I wanted to change this to something that relates directly to the business side of my art.

My husband helps me a lot already with my work. I've been creating some comic style art lately and he has read a lot of comics, so his feedback is invaluable. I've read a lot of comics too, but it's great to get more feedback from someone close to me.

For my kids it will probably be taking pictures of them doing kid things, turning what they do into art and seeing what they'd like drawn.

8. Asking For Feedback on My Art

I almost didn't include this, but it's important. I don't ask for enough feedback on my art and serious mistakes (that could be avoided) are causing me issues. I need to ask early in the sketching stage, because that stage is the most important for the whole piece.


What are your goals this year? 

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I didn't get all my 2018 goals finished. Let's see how I did:


1. Win Storystorm I did this! 
2. Win the 12x12 Challenge I'm still working on this. I finished last year, and I hope to do it again.
3. Look for Freelance Illustration Work I had some offers that I had to turn down.
4. Finish 2-3 Picture Book Dummies I was only able to finish one dummy this year, but it was an awesome one.
5. Submit at Least 6 Different Manuscripts to Editors/Agents I had some health problems and it derailed me a lot, but I did have an art director interested in my work!
6. Spend More Focused Time on Social Media Oh I focused more on social media, but not in the right ways.
7. Spend More Time With Family I think I did this. I know for a fact that I did this more around the holidays than previous years. Gave me time to relax and catch the toddler's cold.

While I didn't get everything done on my list I had a few surprises happen! I took Dr. Mira Reisberg's class. The Craft and Business of Illustrating Picture Books is top notch! Check out the Children's Book Academy here: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/ and make sure to sign up for the emails. An Art Director from a great publishing company loved my work and I made that contact through the Children's Book Academy Class! I hope you look into this and take a class as well!



Thursday, December 13, 2018

My Christmas Wish List #4: Rebelle 3 -- Digital Art Program

My Christmas Wishlist #4

This year my Christmas Wish List includes Rebelle 3 from Escape Motions. You may know that I already have Rebelle 3 on my computer. So why include it on my wish list? Right now I don't have full capability of the program right now. It

To read more about the program you can go here: https://www.escapemotions.com/products/rebelle/ There is both a downloadable demo, and an online demo for this product.
Created digitally with Rebelle 3's  pastels
and inked with Clip Studio Paint

I like Rebelle 3 for many reasons. I have used Photoshop extensively. At this point I cant afford to buy a subscription for Photoshop. I'm not sure that Photoshop is right for me anymore. I'm use to using traditional methods for my art and Rebelle 3 seems to be the best at mimicking watercolors. If you are talking about oil painting Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter are decent digital substitutes.

Watercolor: Rebelle 3 has a fascinating way of creating realistic watercolors. It allows you to put water on the canvas and your colors to blend in a way that's very much like actual watercolors. You can pause the reaction with the water and instantly dry or wet your entire canvas. There is more of a chance for mistakes and fun discovery with this program compared to other programs I've seen.

Pastel: I think this is my favorite for black and white images. I don't use pastels much but I love how well you can build up the pastel color. There is also a blending tool that allows pastels to look softer and (of course) blended.

Ink: I like the options that you have for inking. Much like the watercolors you can use water you can blend the inks. With these digital inks (like traditional inks) the colors are fairly fixed after they dry. India ink is the same way, so if you want to be able to change the colors after the fact, then you'd go with watercolor rather than ink. If I could change anything about this I'd want a bit of a stabilizer for ink so its easier to draw using a tablet.

Eraser: This one is fun, because it basically reverts your paper back to normal! It's not that impressive when it comes to pencil, but when you have 15 layers of watercolor down it's kind of awesome to remove them and start back at the beginning.

Other Media: Rebelle 3 also has acrylics, pencil, markers and spray paint available for use. I have not used any of these extensively so will not comment at this time on their uses.


The "bad" thing about the program is it is very memory intensive (see website for more details on system requirements). You have to have a lot of RAM on your computer for it to run well. I have 8 gigs of ram on my computer and a decent graphics card. While it can run on 8 gigs, this program is best with 12 - 16 gigs. The amount of undos are limited to 1 with a 10.5" x 16.5" image with 4-5 layers (the size I use for picture book spreads). An 8" x 10" (or slightly larger) doesn't seem to have many issues. I'm hoping to get more RAM soon!

Edit: I also forgot to mention that with 8 gigs of ram it's not possible to run Chrome or other software. You can, but the Rebelle software is very likely to crash or have other problems if you do so. Often I'm running near the top of what my computer can handle without opening anything else!

Where to buy:

Both Escape Motions and Smith Micro sells this software. The difference I've noticed between the two is the availability of software download after the fact. With Smith Micro there are more sales, however the digital download is only available once with Smith Micro. An extra $13 is required to download the software for only 1 year. With Escape Motions you can download the software indefinitely so I strongly suggest ordering it through the company. For $90 USD it's not an expensive program!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

My Christmas Wish List #3: 12x12 Challenge

This was going to go much lower on my list, because it was something I felt like I was going to do for sure. Now I'm not sure if my finances can handle it. I believe I started in the 12x12 a year after it began, and I've been a member every year since.

The 12x12 is a year long program starting in January and lasting the whole year. The idea is to write 12 picture books in 12 months. How is that for fantastic? It is a challenge, but there are tons of winners. In fact there are prizes given out every single month!

Registration for this event will start soon! For more information and to sign up to Julie Hedlund's newsletter please go here: http://12x12challenge.com/

Here is some of what you get:

1. A huge community of people who help one another achieve their goals.

2. Wonderful webinars that teach and help keep you motivated.

3. A great forum to get feedback on your work plus industry information. There are people dedicated to helping you with the first 250 words of your manuscript and cover letter help is available! 

4. If there is a technical problem, or other question it gets answered quickly.

5. The 12x12 is getting to be well known, and something you can use on a resume.

6. There are so many success stories in this group that it will make your head spin!

For Gold Members: A chance to get past the slush pile for editors and agents! There are featured agents each month and detailed instructions on how to submit.

I was going to post this sooner, but I was creating this image of Cringer from He-Man for no reason whatsoever today! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

My Christmas Wish List #2: The Craft and Business of Writing Children's Picture Books

MY CHRISTMAS WISH LIST # 2

I have known Mira Reisberg for many years now. She has a love for teaching and wants those who create children's books and illustrations to succeed! Mira often has free webinars she hosts and these are packed with wonderful information!

I took "The Craft and Business of Illustrating Picture Books" from The Children's Book Academy earlier this year. I don't have time to post a full review of the course, but I'll give you some of the highlights! This is the writing course, but a lot of the main components stay the same.

SCHOLARSHIPS: DECEMBER 15th Deadline. http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/yuyi-morales-picture-book-scholarship.html There are diversity scholarships (and low income scholarships) for this course! There were not enough people applying for the diversity scholarships last class, so be sure to apply. Let's make the children's industry more diverse!

There is also a discount code on the page and that's good until the end of the week! Find the code here, but hurry, because it will be gone soon! Save $100!
https://wj168.infusionsoft.app/app/hostedEmail/1962074/8c7914e6987899c8

* Course Materials There was just so much information packed into this course! There were hours and hours of videos to watch. Techniques, tips and tutorials were discussed.

* Good for All Skill Levels This course contains information from all skill levels. If you are just starting out you can get a strong foundation for art. For more advanced students this class pushes you to do your best.

* Dedicated Staff  Like I said, Mira cares about the people in her course. The people helping out with the course are absolutely wonderful. They all take the time to answer questions.

* Golden Tickets This is the exciting part of the class! You can get your work seen by editors and agents (and art directors in the illustration class). 

* One on One
I kicked myself for not getting a one on one for the illustration course. These give you 1 hour with Mira Reisberg (Clear Fork Publishing) or Kelly Delany (Random House/Knopf). Their normal consulting fees are much higher than the $100 you'll pay, so this is very much worth it!

It takes a lot of work to catch the eye of industry professionals. The illustration class is absolutely what I needed to get to the next level in my art career.

The reason this class is #2 on my list is because I'm still processing what I learned from the past class. It's an ongoing experience, really. I have learned so much about my illustration and now I'm working on dummies and my portfolio so I can show what I can really do with my art! Even had said this, Mira's writing class is definitely in my future!

Want to know more about "The Craft and Business of Illustrating Picture Books"? Click here: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/writing-childrens-picture-books.html

Monday, December 10, 2018

My Christmas Wish List #1: "Make Your Marks And Splashes Course"

MY CHRISTMAS WISH LIST # 1

Okay, I've thought about it long enough and I'm starting on my Christmas Wish List. It's a bit late, but most of the things on this list will (hopefully) be things you can still get before Christmas!

I absolutely love Mark Mitchell's newsletter for artists. I have learned so much from his newsletter and his blog. I have a few of the posts saved and refer back to them often. If you go to his website check out the post 'Charging' up Your Watercolor. It just changed my life! You can help me with the number 1 thing on my Christmas list by signing up for the class yourself here: https://marksandsplasheslearning.thrivecart.com/make-your-marks-and-splashes/?affiliate=daniduck

Here are  reasons this children's illustration course is #1 on my Christmas list this year!


1. FREE INFO 

Mark gives out great information free on his website. No purchase necessary or expected. People who freely tell you useful information

2. EXPERIENCE

Mark is an experienced illustrator. He has illustrated over 20 books (20 from other authors, 3 he wrote himself and tons of magazines. This experience gives those who take

3. COURSE OFFERINGS

Everything is covered in this course from design and color to how to market your work!

4. ART COMMUNITY

There is nothing better for being creative than joining a good community of artists. I have tried creating art in a vacuum and my art suffered greatly for this. I have found being part of a good creative group is essential to being a great artist!

5. EASY PAYMENT

The cost of the course is really inexpensive for an all inclusive course. It's only $249! If you can't afford that much at once you can do a payment plan. My favorite thing is that you can use Paypal to pay. I love finding any excuse NOT to use my credit cards.


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Still not sure? Here is a preview of some of the things you'll be learning. Sign up to his FREE news letter and you'll receive 4 short videos and a .PDF lesson! http://howtobeachildrensbookillustrator.com/drawingsecret/


Things are tight this year. If you join the course using my affiliate link I'll be able to afford to take the class with you! Let me know if you are taking the class and I'll give you some extra bonus help and motivation!

If you use my affiliate link here: https://marksandsplasheslearning.thrivecart.com/make-your-marks-and-splashes/?affiliate=daniduck

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Count Down to the New Year - 22 Days Left!

Only 22 days until the New Year. What are you planning on working on next year? After Christmas I'm going to be posting my New Year plans. These plans are not a resolution. They are purposely made difficult for me to finish. I focus on the positive, so if I achieve any of my goals I'm doing well!


Prompts:

1. The one thing you don't want to receive as a gift.

2. The worst thing about winter.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Countdown to the New Year: Scholastic Book Fair

26ish days left in the New Year! Here is my book haul from the Scholastic Book Fair this year. Only book not here is "I Am Not a Chair" by Ross Burach. David's teacher is the lucky one who gets this book for her class!

The rest of these are Christmas/Birthday books for the kids!:


If you have access to a book fair, which books did you buy?



Prompt: What would you do if you were stuck overnight at the library?

Other than above, where would you like to be stuck overnight?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Countdown to The New Year - Let's Have Some Cookies

One of my favorite times of year for making cookies is December. What kinds of cookies do you make in December? I like making sugar cookies, but honestly they are so much work that I only want to do them once a year.

Prompt:

Create a scene/story with a baking mishap.

Write or draw a scene containing cookies (can be a continuation of the first prompt).

Monday, December 3, 2018

Countdown to the New Year - Day 1 Prompts

I have had the worst luck lately with being ill! I feel like doing some extra prompts and fun stuff to end off this year. 


You can use these for either pictures or stories. If you send them to me at smartdummies@hotmail.com I will post them here and give you a link back. Also you can send me prompts to share if you'd like!


1. Your perfect holiday scene.

2. How you feel about snow.