Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Doodles For My UVU Class

I gave the assignment to my Imagination & Visual Literacy class at UVU to create a lizard character. But before they started drawing they had to answer as many questions about their character as time permitted. I posted this list as a starting point. In order to draw your character you need to know your character.

My character is an old gecko tax collector from the 20's who really likes his job.

How old am I?
What gender am I?
What am I wearing? Why am I wearing it?
Am I well kept or unkempt?
Am I fat/skinny? Small, med, large, XL?
What time of year is it?
What era am I from?
What temperature?
What clothing is appropriate?
What is my occupation or responsibility?
What clothing and/or props will make my job easier?
What has happened to me?
Do I have any injuries or scars?
Have I developed any special abilities or powers?
What are my weaknesses?
Am I good, Bad, Neutral?
Am I healthy or sick?
Do I carry any weapons or tools?

Monday, January 12, 2015

I Love Drawing Cute...Sometimes...

I was trying to analyze why I like to draw cute things...I think it was that I really enjoyed my kids when they were babies - I used to love to kiss those fat cheeks...I was thinking about that yesterday after beating my youngest at ping pong and he was somewhat frustrated...and then I remembered him when he was a baby...and so I drew this.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Why I'm Glad I Didn't Get Free Money!

Have you ever had a situation where you desperately needed money but didn't know how you were going to get it or where it was going to come from? I did. In this video I explain why I needed it and why I'm glad I NEVER got it!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Just A Little Doodle Today

With all the work that I've been putting into our children's book class I haven't had time to write extensive blog posts. I love blogging but there's only so much time in a day. Looking forward to having my 200 page PDF manual finished!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Answers To Illustration Questions From Other Artists

I get a lot of questions from fellow artists. Sometimes I answer them with a short message. Sometimes I send them a link to a video I already made covering the topic they asked about - And sometimes I save their questions in a word doc and answer them in video form - like this one...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Get "Posing Characters" class FREE - with our upcoming children's book class

Jake and I didn't have room to include the material for this new class in our upcoming "Illustrating Children's Books" class at www.svslearn.com - so we recorded it separately last night and put it in our store. As a bonus to those who already bought any version of the Children's book class - Live or Video only - we'll send out the links to you for this new class for free today! It's our way of saying thanks for trusting us! Thank you for sharing our website and thank you for your enthusiasm for what we're trying to do! It's time to level up your skills for 2015!

For anyone thinking about buying "Illustrating Children's Books" before Dec 31 we'll also send you the links to this class for FREE!

Check out the details on this new class or the children's book class here.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

My Interview with William Joyce - Children's Book Illustrator

Pinching myself this week! I got to interview THE William Joyce along with Jake Parker about his career. William Joyce is an Emmy and Oscar winning children's book illustrator, character designer, feature film producer, Story app creator, and Co-founder of Moonbot studios. In this podcast episode we discuss his career, many projects, and life filled with passion and creation for children's stories. What an inspiration! I've followed his career for many years.

Monday, December 1, 2014

What Is It Like To Attend CTNx?

A few weeks ago I snuck away to CTNx in LA...this is a small portion of what it was like. I met so many amazing artists - the talent rich environment is almost overwhelming...it's at least whelming!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Few Sketches From CTN

I'm at CTNx right now in Burbank and what a weekend! Aside from total retina melt down from seeing so many of my hero's artwork and hanging out with legends in the business I got to co-teach a class with Jake Parker for SVS - How to get a traditional look in your digital work.  It's so important to hide some or all of your process. Your "paint alchemy" fosters curiosity and intrigue...being multi faceted keeps your audience tuned in and guessing.

I watched a bunch of panel discussions and talks by animation pros - the Reel FX team that produced THE BOOK OF LIFE was the highlight for me - what a charismatic group! Great movie too! Here are some of my doodles...can't wait for next year!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Using Different Light Sources In Your Illustrations

Creating strong light sources can add interest and drama to your images. When I critique illustration work I often notice the lack of a planned light source(s). Understanding light and how it behaves is one of the first steps in creating powerful illustrations.

I created this image as a solution to an assignment I gave my UVU illustration class a few weeks ago but that's another story.

It's important to remember that illustration isn't photography. We don't have to play by all the rules of the natural world. We are creating an illusion. Our job is to communicate an idea -so bending and/or breaking rules is ok as long as it works and as long as we have a good reason. We can add atmosphere and lighting where we need it to set up a shot - similar to how it would be done in film. Have you ever noticed that night scenes in motion pictures often seem much lighter than they normally would? That's because it would be really boring to only hear sound while watching a dark, almost black night scene. Directors bend the rule of darkness by adding light from places where often there wouldn't be any light. Cheating? Of course!

I decided to use the 3 types of light sources you can have in an image. 1) On camera 2) On camera hidden 3) Off camera.

You can see below that using the candle alone creates a very dark mood. I wanted this illustration to be playful so one light source wasn't going to be enough. I wanted my viewers to see lots of items in the cave.

Adding a second light source behind the pirate helps by illuminating the right side of the cave. I envisioned this as perhaps a lantern that is below the pirate and objects in the foreground (on camera hidden.) These two light sources just aren't enough however to define the cave opening.

I had to add a third light source (the moon - off camera) that would shine down and reveal the cave entrance and the pirate ship on the horizon.

And this is what it would look like with only the two lesser light sources - moon and lantern. You have to have a primary light that helps create your focal point(s).

It's much easier to use one light source in your illustrations but in certain situations you can achieve the results you're looking for by adding multiple light sources as long as you make one your primary and the others secondary.

If you're looking for more instruction on Painting Color and Light we have a video course at www.svslearn.com that might be what you're looking for.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Which Tablet Monitor Should You Buy? Cintiq vs Yiynova

Have you thought about jumping to lightspeed from a drawing tablet like Bamboo or Intuos to a pressure sensitive drawing monitor like Monoprice, Yiynova, or the king of all monitors - Cintiq by Wacom? In this video I make the comparison to help you decide which is right for you.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Am I good enough to make it as an illustrator?

I get asked this question so often I finally decided to do my best in answering it. There are so many factors involved from what kind of illustration you want to do? what markets? what kinds of clients? how long you like to work on an illustration? Style? etc....

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Illustrating Children's Books - New Class at SVS

Jake Parker and I are very excited to finally announce our new class! We gave our first online children's book class about 18 months ago when we started www.svslearn.com. We were happy with that class but realized that we needed to take some time to create support classes before we could run it again. We knew that there were many people who wanted to buy that class but we took it down for a handful of reasons.

The biggest reason was that we wanted to create a more complete class that focused on the storytelling aspects of children's book illustration instead of all of the support material we had to include. In the past 18 months we have created a foundation series of fundamental classes that will support our NEW children's book class. In short there will be about 10 times the information in this new class - including business and marketing.

If you're interested please see the listings in our online store to see the details - if you still have questions please ask.

This class has been so fun to work on and we really feel that with the over 200 pages of PDF manuals and workbook - our students will feel that they received a lot of value.

***Update as of Nov 8th - we still have 7 out of 25 spots left for our live class - I'll continue to update here...

Monday, October 27, 2014

I'm Not Getting Enough Freelance Work

I've been getting lots of questions from artists who do really good work but aren't getting attention from art directors and editors at companies who hire illustrators. Hopefully my advice will give you ideas to focus on.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Thinking about getting a tablet or pressure sensitive monitor like Cintiq? I go over my thoughts on what worked for me and what didn't and what I'm using now...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Fantasy Couple - Justin Gerard & Annie Stegg

I really enjoy talking with some of the industries best artists and if you've been following my youtube channel you'll notice that I've been doing a lot of that lately. I'm inspired by greatness and Justin and Annie are a match made in fantasy heaven. Listen to them talk about what it's like to become some of the best artists in the Fantasy Art community. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Is Learning Illustration Hard?

Yes! - but a better question might be: Does Learning To Do Anything Well Take Hard Work? I'm often asked: If I take your classes at svslearn.com will I be able to illustrate a children's book, comic book, ebook, etc? There's no way to answer that question unless I want to be a complete sell out and say, "But of course...all you need to do is pay me your money and the world we be opened unto you!"

Unfortunately what you are subconsciously asking is can I be good at something without working hard? We all think we want that. I thought I wanted to be good at playing the guitar without working many hours to learn it so I could impress people and myself with an ability I did NOTHING to gain. But doesn't that beg the question: How can you impress yourself or anyone else without having gone through the hard work and sacrifice of learning? - AND - if you could magically attain such a level would it be rewarding? Wouldn't everyone be magically amazing at everything? If everyone was amazing at everything than would being amazing be average?

I've seen a lot of people try a creative endeavor like illustration only to quit after a year or two because they realized how hard it was going to be to reach a pro level. Then they pick up something else and try their hand at it only to realize that it's just as hard to achieve greatness. The truth is that if you love doing something it's going to take many years of hard work and practice to attain a high enough level to impress people and get noticed online.

Take a look at one of my first paintings (below) and the one I just finished(above). I rendered the one below when I was age 10. I remember this because my grandfather gave me an oil painting set on my tenth birthday. I was so excited I started painting right away. The new one (digital painting) was finished last night. There is a 38 year span between the two. There was no magic or sorcery in between these two paintings but there have been many years and many paintings that led to my ability now and many dedicated teachers and peers that have given me valuable instructions and pointers. Many of you know that I almost got kicked out of my University illustration program. My desire to create great art far exceeded my ability but with hard work and determination I was able to make progress and a career out of it.

There were many times where doubt crept in and made me want to quit but I beat back those urges and pushed through the hard times. I'm at a place right now that I wouldn't trade for money. When you reach a level where you can compete nationally or internationally I promise you will look back and thank yourself for not quitting. This is not to say that you shouldn't make lane changes but that no matter what lane you switch to you will have to start from scratch and work really hard to get really good. Learning is hard work but worth every minute!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Technology Improves Teaching - Cintiq Monitor

When I was in school in the Mesolithic Age we actually drew on this thing called paper with devices known as pencils. Now days art students often draw on electric tablets or monitors even though we encourage our students to stick with the paper and pencils for a while longer. But all of this technology has not only sped up the illustration process and made it much easier to make corrections - it's also made it much easier to teach!

The Cintiq monitor by Wacom or other pressure sensitive graphics monitors have enabled teachers to perform "draw overs". I just started doing draw overs last year for both my online and UVU students. In the past I had to do a little drawing off to the side of my students work - it was good but really doesn't compare to actually drawing on top of their drawing to show what decisions I would have made. If I had done that on an original drawing on paper it wouldn't allow for seeing the students drawing without my "drawover" - in other words the original drawing would be altered forever with my crappy drawover on top. The student would have had no way to continue working on their drawing after my critique.

It is amazing for teaching online because we're only dealing with sketches that have been scanned and emailed to us. We have to be able to show our students what we're talking about - so this technology has actually been a key factor in us being able to teach online. Above you can see some of my UVU students work (draw a polar bear / Viking) and my rough little drawover which doesn't go into detail but focuses on general construction. It makes teaching so much more satisfying and  - fun!...Thank you Wacom!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New Master Demo by Therese Larsson

I'm so excited to announce this new demo by Therese Larsson that's live in our SVS store now. She did a great job and I was so impressed that she was able to talk and paint at the same time. I have a hard time but she's a natural at explaining what she's doing while doing it. Jake Parker and I ask questions as she worked on this little fox character. Many of my students have had a hard time simplifying hair and fur so that it looks natural to the creature they are rendering. If you've struggled in the same way you may want to check this one out!

...and here are a few pieces Therese has completed over the years...her work is brilliant and she's quite busy with advertising clients all over the world. Therese lives in Stockholm yet works for many US clients which we briefly talk about during her demo. Check out her site!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Playing in Photoshop...

As much as I can I like to make time to doodle fun things that assignments don't have me doing to keep the skills fresh and advance my repertoire...enter the time traveling Viking!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Disney Artist Mel Milton - Interview - WOW!

Wow! I love talking to Mel - he is so positive and inspirational - I really hope you guys like listening to his words of wisdom as much as I did. We talk about money and art and all kinds of other tid bits along the way. I listen to a lot of pod casts as I work and thought that perhaps some of you will like this longer format as you work on your art.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Is Your Drawing out of Order?

Most of us jump into the details too soon! Building a foundation for the drawing is counter intuitive and the most common problem I see with up and coming artists...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Art Drop Day - Clues To My Painting! - FOUND!

I hid the original acrylic painting of the snowmen somewhere...if you know where the clue photo's lead you can go get it for free! This is Jake Parker's new idea for World Art Drop Day! If you get my painting please send me a photo of you holding the painting and I'll update my blog with it and share it on facebook and twitter! Hope you get there first!

Found!!! In a little over an hour! By one of my former student's kids...So much fun - hope you guys like it!

Monday, September 1, 2014

This was an image I created for a storytelling festival but it was placed on hold until next year...such is the life of an illustrator! I wanted to challenge myself to include 30 animals yet keep my focal point strong. I could never have pulled this off 10 years ago. I love my continuing education in the arts. Looking forward to learning more in the coming years! It's available as a print right here!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A few weeks ago you may have noticed that on my youtube channel I started interviewing other high profile artists about their work and a specific topic. I love getting to know other artists and as my passion for illustration is ever growing I felt this would be a way to help other artists - and fulfill my social needs. Below are my two latest interviews - might be something worth listening to while you work! I have many more planned out throughout the year so check back. Click here to go to my channel.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Afternoon Sketch Gone Too Far

Yesterday I started sketching for fun - a little line here- little line there - another character - wouldn't it look better with some value? - hmmm little more value....ok - I'm going to have to color this. So I lost a day (today) but had fun finishing this one! Available as a print here!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Jake Parker and I talk about his new BIG idea - World Art Drop Day - learn how you can participate and connect with people who appreciate art.

Monday, August 4, 2014

This One Goes Out To Art Teachers

This is a somewhat snarky post about those art/illustration students that exhibit behaviors counterproductive to improving their craft.  I've never had a student that's met all of the above criteria but a few that hit most of them. To set the record straight - I was this guy many times during my schooling in the early 90's. As school at the University is about to start in a few weeks I thought I would draw up this translator for teachers to get a laugh but more importantly to bring awareness to illustration students all over the world. We as teachers may not call you on your self destructive actions but know this: WE'RE THINKING IT!

I often start out my classes telling students what I think - when they do ________. It gets laughs and I see many of them squirm around in their seats realizing I'm not far off. I'm not the kind of guy who is going to call you out in class to embarrass you. I might make a light hearted joke to get my point across but I just don't have it in me to yell at you in class. Please don't mistake my lack of communication for ignorance, apathy, oblivious bliss, or that I'm unaware of what you're doing.

I've been around students long enough to know that when someone tells me how hard they're going to work on the first day of class it sends up a red flag. Too many of you who announce your future art victories have proven to be the laziest non producing students I've ever had. The students who sit quietly in the back are the ones that usually put up impressive work. There is a direct correlation between students who act the most defensive during critiques and the quality of their work. I get it - you're not ready to be taught. You're already feeling like you might not belong in this class so you go into defense mode. It's going to be ok. We'll work together to improve your artwork.

I'm hoping that my little comic up there might bring you to a level of awareness that will help us move forward. Just know that I know what you think I don't know about what you're doing. It's not fooling anyone - it's just delaying your education.

UPDATE - I got so many "why isn't there a positive slant?" comments, emails, messages that I decided to give them what they wanted! Here is the updated version below:

Monday, July 21, 2014

My Illustration War Stories!

In this video I share a few of my illustration nightmares working with clients over the years. There's no substitution for learning by experience - often sad experience :) ...sit back and enjoy my pain...