Friday, February 27, 2009

Book Trailer - Part Two

Well I added about 15 more seconds onto my book trailer for "On a Dark, Dark Night". There's not much additional to say about it. I didn't do anything different than the last time. I just created a few more .jpgs and messed around the effects and transitions options in Movie Maker. When I published the movie in Movie Maker I think I compressed it to 4MB instead of 1MB so the image quality is a bit better this time.

Now I'd like to add more images to my trailer and actually try some really simple animation like maybe make the dog's tail wag or something but I'm not sure where to begin to do that. Can anyone steer me in the right direction?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Book Trailer - Part One

Okay I've seen all these great book trailers out there and my kids spend hours looking at silly videos on YouTube. So I figured it's about time I get with the program. I'm going to try and build a 30 second book trailer for my upcoming book On a Dark, Dark Night. On a Dark, Dark Night was written by Jean Cochran and illustrated by yours truly and will be released this fall.

I decided to use Windows Movie Maker for this experiment because it's already on my computer. First I created 4.jpg images to use in my movie (I used Photoshop for this because that's what I'm most familiar with). Three of the files are simply type on a blue background. The fourth is even simpler, just a light blue background - for a lightening effect.

I also downloaded a couple of sound effects from free sound effects websites and I found some music in the "samples" folder of my PC that I thought worked nicely. It took while playing around with the sound and the timing, and reading the Movie Maker help files. But I'm pretty happy with my first try. This is actually kind of fun. Steven Spielberg watch out!

The next step was to publish my masterpiece on the internet. When I was happy with the way it looked, I created a .wmv file by clicking "File->Publish Movie...". I compressed it to 1MB to save space an upload times, especially since this is only a test. Then I signed up for a YouTube account. Once my account was set up I uploaded my video to YouTube.

And then so I could show you my creation here on my blog, I embedded the video into my post. In case you're wondering here are the directions for how to do that.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Surprise Visitors

I was trying to get a bunch of drawings done for a work project this morning but when I looked out the window I discovered two white-tailed deer posing so nicely outside my window, I couldn't resist doing a few sketches. We humans thought this was a rotten winter with the ice storms and the below zero temperatures. But it simply amazes me how the deer and other animals are able to survive.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Festival of Authors and Illustrators

I will be appearing at the Festival of Authors and Illustrators in Derry, New Hampshire on Saturday, April 4th. There will be several authors and illustrators at the event. One of them is my friend, Jean Cochran, the author of "If a Monkey Jumps Onto Your School Bus." Kids and their parents will have an opportunity to meet the authors and also attend workshops on writing and illustrating. There will also be books for sale. The event is open to the public and geared toward children grades K-5. It should be a fun day. I will post more info as it becomes available.

New Portfolio Images

It's time for spring cleaning - of my portfolio that is. I get busy and sometimes forget how outdated my portfolio has become. I also procrastinate because I have a terrible time trying to figure out which pieces should stay and which ones should go. I thought maybe other folks have the same problems, so I thought I'd share with you which ones that I've swapped out and the reasons why. There will be more updates to come, but what do you think so far? Did I make the right choices?

I decided to get rid of the shopping owl. The image is rather flat and the owl has very little expression or emotion. We have not idea what this owl is thinking. I think it's cute but not great...

I replaced it with this recent Illustration Friday piece which has a bit more drama and mystery...

Egyptian woman is gone. It didn't really didn't show my style or tell a story. Frankly I'm not sure why I had it in there to begin with...

And I replaced it with this sign language diagram. I've done a couple of these sign language pieces. This piece doesn't tell a story exactly but making sure the signs are correct and then trying to convey those in the simplest way possible can be a challenge...

The last one I decided to nix was piggy bank girl. I already had an egg head kid in my portfolio and I didn't think she was adding much. I thought the composition was boring and I actually liked the pig better than the girl...

I like doing silly cartoon characters, but more often I'm asked to portray figures more realistically, like this piece for High Five magazine...

The last one to go was the boy with the gears in his head. This was for an adult magazine article about keeping boys engaged in class. I like the concept behind this piece but I think it's more of an editorial illustration than a narative illustration...

So does this have a lot of narrative? Well story-wise it's not really that exciting. But it does show my style and I do get a lot of call for these simple black and white spot illustrations...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Illustration Friday - Time

I've been working on a project this week that has me drawing babies. Which really makes me, as a parent, think about how fast time flies. Babies grow up so ridiculously fast. If fact, my baby is starting middle school next fall. (sniff sniff)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Creating a Halftone or Ben-day Dot Effect

This is a tutorial on how to create oversized Ben-day dots in Photoshop. Ben-day dots are those dots that are used to represent shading in comic books (ala Roy Lichtenstein) I used this effect in my Illustration Friday piece this week and thought I'd share how I did it.

I started with my image which was 2100x2100 pixels. The blue background is on a separate layer behind the figure. Since this piece has kind of graphic, comic-book feeling I thought I'd add to that by creating a half-tone pattern in the background.

First thing I did was create a new work file the same size as my original file (2100x2100 pixels). You will need to create a new file not just a new layer. You'll see why in a minute. In the new file I selected the whole image (CTRL-A) Then using the gradient tool, I created a gradient that goes from white to black as shown.

The next step is to change the mode of the my work file. So with my new work file selected I clicked Image->Mode->Grayscale. You'll be prompted to discard the color information. Click discard. (That's why you need to do this in a new file.)

Then I selected Image->Mode->Bitmap. You will be given a dialog box. My input resolution was 300 pixels/inch so I left the output as 300 also. Then I selected Halftone screen as my method and hit OK.

The next dialog asks for the frequency. You can experiment with this for different effects but I selected a really low frequency of 6 lines/inch with 45 degree angle and set the shape to round. When I hit OK I was left with something like this...

Next I selected my dotty pattern and copy and pasted it back into my original image. I added it right above the blue background layer in my original file.

I wanted the blue to show though so as a last step I set the layer's mode to multiply and set the opacity to 15% and voila!

Illustration Friday - Flawed

I'm guessing this guy may have some character flaws.

I went to see a band called Five O'clock Shadow this weekend. I guess the name of the band was my inspiration for this unshaven character. BTW I think the band is great. They are an all-vocal band but until I saw them live I didn't believe they didn't use instruments - it's really amazing. And I'm not just saying this because they sang happy birthday to me - thanks guys that was fun but really embarrassing!

Note: If you are interested in creating a halftone dotty pattern in Photoshop like I did in the background above, view the accompanying entry that explains the process.