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.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Author Visit in Milford NH

I'll be in Milford NH next weekend at the Toadstool Bookshop.  If you are in the area I hope you will stop by and say hi.  Below is a blub about the event.  If you know anyone that might be interested, please pass it on.

Bring the kids for a fun-filled story time.   

Saturday June 7, 2014 at 2:00pm
Toadstool Bookshop, Milford NH
Award winning children’s book author and illustrator, Jennifer E. Morris will be reading and signing, “The Ice Cream Shop,” the first book in her silly new Scholastic Reader series featuring Steve the opossum and Wessley the rabbit (approx. age 3-8).  Then join us while we make our very own rabbit or opossum ears, complete with face paint whiskers! 

Jennifer is the author and illustrator of several children’s books including the best-selling, “May I Please Have a Cookie?” also published by Scholastic. Visit her on the web at

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lots of Free Coloring Pages

I have been doing some spring cleaning and have found lots of activity/coloring pages that I'm putting all in one place and making available on my website.   There are word searches, mazes, dot-to-dots and all sort of stuff. All of these images are free to download and distribute for non-commercial use.

Most of them relate to my book titles, like this little cut-out for "May I Please Have a Cookie?"

But some were just for fun, like this easy-to-make dog hand puppet.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Painting from life

Painting in the yard today. Some with iPad and some with these new fangled things called water colors.