Sunday, August 31, 2014

Steve and Wessley in Scholastic Seesaw Book Club

If you have a child in first grade, Steve and Wessley are in the September Scholastic Seesaw book club flyer.  Both books for $5.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happy Book Birthday!

Today is the official release date of the second Steve and Wessley Scholastic Reader book. This book is dedicated to the Lake Whalom sea monster who inspired the story and to Leo who doubted it existed!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

SCBWI LA 2014 - Recap

You know how when you go on the Scrambler at a carnival and your head keeps spinning for a few minutes even after you get off the ride? That's what it's like going to the SCBWI in LA.  I've been back home for nearly 48 hours and my head is just starting to slow down.  Family and friends keep asking if I had a relaxing weekend in California and the answer is a resounding No!  It was fun, inspirational, thought-provoking, chaotic, for a person used to spending most days alone in an attic studio, a bit socially challenging.  But relaxing? Nope.

I was really hoping to talk to more of the illustrators that were there. There were about 200 illustrator portfolios in the showcase, some of which blew me away.  I was disappointed that only 8 of those were recognized for awards.  Some really amazing work went without any recognition at all. Today I'm adding all the promos I brought home to my inspiration collection. 

Speaking of promos,  how cute are these little goodie bags that Debbie Ohi handed out? I'm a big fan of her work and I'm so happy to have met her.

Debbie Ohi Goodie Bag

I'm also a big fan of Marla Frazee and I was really excited to have a portfolio review with her. She gave me some very good things to think about.  Most of what she said I already suspected but it was good to have her validate my hunches and give me some confidence that I'm on the right track.  I was really happy that she complimented my use of color, which is something that I've really been working hard to improve.

Marla Frazee
I really enjoyed Judy Schachner's key note address when she talked about making character bibles for each of her books. Her character bibles are scrapbooks filled with inspiration and ideas for each of her books.  I can't imagine I would ever make anything as labor intensive as and wonderful as her character bibles but I can't wait to make my own version for the book I'm currently working on.

I also took away a great deal from Meg Rosoff's breakout session about accessing your subconsious.  She likened a mind to a horse (the unconscious) and rider (the conscious) and that the rider has to understand and connect with the unwieldy beast under her if they are going to be able to work together. I definitely need to work on my horsemanship!

Now that my head has stopped spinning and I have mostly unpacked my suitcase, I feel like I can move forward with a freshly charged battery and a sharp new pencil  Now I just have to roll up my sleeves and get to work!  


Friday, July 11, 2014

Writing Picture Books at Lunenburg Public Library

Storyboard for "May I Please Have a Cookie?"

I will be at the Lunenburg public library in Lunenburg, MA Thursday July 17th 7:00pm to share my process of writing and illustrating picture books.  Hope to see you there!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Creating Bleed and Crop Marks in Photoshop

I like to make sure my images are the correct size from the get go.  I hate having to go back later and fiddle around with adding extra bleed after the image is done.  So here is a quick and easy way to add bleed and crop guidelines to your Photoshop documents. If you don't know what a bleed or a crop mark is then you can read all about it here.  Otherwise, let's get started.

Let's say I need to create a 6.75"x 8.25" image with an additional 1/8" bleed all around. I could do a bunch of addition but that's a pain in the neck.  So instead, I'm going to create a document (File -> New) Make this new document the size of the final art.  Don't worry about adding the bleed yet.

Next, make sure your rulers are visible (View -> Rulers) and snap to document bounds is turned on (View -> Snap to -> Document Bounds)  Click on the top ruler and drag down to create a new guideline.  Drop that guideline to the top of your document. If you have Snap to Document Bounds set, the guideline will pop itself perfectly onto the edge of the document. Then click on the ruler again and drag a guideline to the bottom of your document.

Next click on the ruler to the left and drag a guideline over to the left edge of the document.  Again, it should snap itself to the edge of the document.  And, of course, we need to click and drag once more from the left-hand ruler to add a guideline to the right-hand side of the document.  So now you should have blue guidelines on each edge of your document.

Now all you need to do is open the Canvas Size windows (Image -> Canvas Size.)  Make sure the "Relative" check box is checked. and that the Anchor Point is in the middle.  Then set the width to twice the bleed amount.  Remember you need to add bleed to both left and right so this value needs to the be equal to bleed amount x 2.  So in our case 1/8" x 2 = .25"  Then also set the height to twice the bleed amount which would also be .25"  Then hit OK. 

And voila! You have your document set up with the proper amount of bleed and all of your crop lines marked.

Hope you found this useful!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Photoshop Brushes: Flow vs Opacity Part 2

This is a follow up to an article that I did quite some time ago about about the difference between "flow" and "opacity" using Photoshop Brushes.  This has become a very popular article and a reader brought up a point which I thought would be good to address.  If you haven't read the first article, I suggest you go back and read that one first because this is an addendum to that article.

In the last article I created a brush made up of lots of overlapping circles to show the effects of changing the opacity and flow settings.

A reader then made the following observation:

The effect shown for "opacity 100% and flow 50%" can be achieved with "opacity 50% and flow 100%" if you paint one overlying circle at a time... :)

Yes, the reader is correct.  If you set the opacity to 50% and the flow to 100% and make one long brush stroke it will look like the middle sample above.  But, if you make lots of small one-circle-long brush strokes, it will look like the bottom sample.  Why the heck is that happening?

In the example below, I set the opacity to 50% and the flow to 100% and the mode to "Normal." I then made 8 different brush strokes, which means I touched my stylus to the tablet 8 different times lifting it off the tablet in between (if I was using a mouse, I could have clicked my mouse button 8 separate times)

As you can see I have made notes where each brush stroke starts and stops. The opacity setting only governs the opacity within a single brush stroke.  Which is an important point to keep in mind.  If another brush stoke comes by later and overlaps it, it will change the resulting opacity in the area of the overlap. 

Hope this helps clear up any confusion.