Friday, September 13, 2013

Tips for Drawing Child Characters

I think we've all seen illustration where the children or babies look like miniature adults? Of course sometimes, like in this medieval painting, that can be a stylistic choice but other times it can just look downright creepy.

I have definitely had times where I have had characters look 10 when they needed to be look 5.  Sometimes it can be hard to figure out why a character looks the wrong age and even harder to fix it.  Here are some pointers and things to keep in mind when changing the age of your child characters.

First of all, you need to consider the size of the face.  Look at photos of babies or, even better, draw babies from life (you'd better be quick - they are squirmy little suckers!)  But you will soon notice, that compared to adults, their chins and noses are quite small.

So, one of the easiest things you can do is move the face lower on the head.  Even a smiley face can look younger when you shift the eyes down and make the chin and mouth smaller.

The smaller you make the chin, the pudgier the cheeks will appear. If you look at the profile of a real baby sometimes you can't see their mouth or chin because their cheeks are so round.

Another thing you can do to make your characters younger is change the size of the head compared to the body.  A real adult is approximately 7 1/2 heads tall, a real 5 year old is about 6 heads tall and a real infant is about 4 heads tall, but depending on your drawing style those proportions might not look right.  When I draw kindergartners they are usually about 4 heads tall, the same proportions as a real life infant!

In the above diagram, all the figures have the same head placed on the same body.  The body is just smaller each time (I also made the neck a little shorter each time.)  By the 3rd figure, the body was getting too narrow, so I widened it a bit. But you can see by just changing the head/body proportions you can go a long way to changing the age of a character.

When you pair that with the facial changes discussed above, you can really alter the age of characters. I hope this helps.

Good luck and happy drawing!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Gluten-Free Birthday For Me - Website

There is now a companion website for the new picture book, A Gluten-Free Birthday for Me! written by Sue Fliess and illustrated by me. Check it out for free downloadable coloring and activity pages, gluten-free resources, and information about author appearances and other events.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Art at the Library - Progression

My gazebo image moved along a lot quicker than I expected today.  This is the piece I'm submitting to the "Art at the Library" show at the Lunenburg MA public library.

Here it is with the colors roughly blocked in...

And here is the final image.  This is the gazebo in the center of Lunenburg, they host band concerts there on Monday nights during the summer.

Art at the Library Show - Piece Progression #1

Starting my piece for the "Art at the Library" show at the Lunenburg public library. This is the first time I've ever submitted a juried show.  I've only exhibited in 2 other shows (not counting high school!) I was pleased that they were receptive to having digitally painted art.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

First Day Jitters

The first day of school is always a little scary, especially if it's a new school.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Illustration Friday - Rescue

I'm using this image for rescue because this is a portrait of a little kitty named Beverly that it at the rescue shelter right now waiting for a home.  I'd take her home myself but she doesn't get along with other cats.  I just love the expression on her face.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Drawing From Life

It's a little hard to drag the Cintiq around to paint things so I sometimes end up doing little warm-up paintings of stuff that is laying around on my desk. This is a portrait of one of my Breyer horse that I've had since I was a kid. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Gluten-Free Birthday for Me! is now available!

Having dietary restrictions are never fun and it can be especially hard for children.  Which is why I'm so excited about this new book. A Gluten-Free Birthday for Me! is written by Sue Fleiss, illustrated by yours truly and published by Albert Whitman & Company.  The book deals specifically with gluten intolerance but will resonate with anyone that has an allergy or food intolerance.  It's currently available for order from most online book sellers including, Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

iPad and Procreate for sketching

Been trying to do some sketching with my iPad this summer. So far I've found it pretty useless to use outside in the sun as you can imagine. I may experiment with making some sort of hood for the thing.  But I really like it for sketching in the evening where using regular paints really would be difficult. I've downloaded a bunch of different apps and have been bouncing back and forth between then but so far my fav is Procreate.  I also am really liking the nomad brush stylus when I sketch. I just can't just used to using my finger to draw and the rubber tipped stylus is OK but it tend to grab onto the glass.  I like the fluidity of the brush better.

It's also fun to take on a long car trip. Just make sure someone else is driving!  These were done on the highway some where near Albany, NY.  I get car sick if I try to read in the car but luckily doodling doesn't bother me.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blog Book Tour

I was tagged by my friend Sue Fliess to participate in a blog tour.  Sue is the author of a soon-to-be-released book that I illustrated called "A Gluten-Free Birthday For Me!"  Sue tagged me about a month ago and I've been busy busy busy.  But hopefully "better late than never" still applies.

Here are the questions that I am suppose to answer...

1 What is the working title of your next book?
 I'm really excited about my next two books.  The first is called The Ice Cream Shop.  It's being released by Scholastic next summer (2014) A second book called The Sea Monster is scheduled for the fall.

2 Where did the book idea come from for the book?

 A couple of years ago, in lieu of sending out Christmas cards, I sent out mini Christmas comic books featuring two characters named Steve and Wessley.  Those two guys have decided to stick around in my head and worm their way into several more stories.  The Ice Cream Shop and The Sea Monster are the first two being put to paper. 

3 What genre does your book fall into? 
This is a level 1 early reader similar to my other book, May I Please Have a Cookie?

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, they would definitely play themselves as it would probably be an animated short film.  John Lasseter are you listening??

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Steve learns that reading signs can be very important.

6) Who is publishing your book?

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I don't actually write a manuscript.  My first drafts are story boards.  This one went quickly.  It took me about 2 weeks.

 8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
These two guys follow a long standing tradition of bungling duos, Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, Frog and Toad, George and Martha.

 9) Who or what inspired you to write and/or illustrate this book? 

Easy reader books can be, dare I say it, dull.  What I hope to do is create books that I think are funny and that just happen to be easy enough for a child to read themselves.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? 

These books are very character driven and I've been spending a lot of time thinking about Steve and Wessley's personalities and how they will be drawn.  Here are some character sketches and some 3-D models that I created.

 Check back soon for another author illustrator to link to in this blog tour....

Friday, April 05, 2013

What's Inside a Wacom Intuous Pen?

I went to use my Wacom tablet yesterday and the little white nib on the end of the stylus squished down inside of the pen.  It was sort of like when someone takes the little spring out of a regular ballpoint pen.  I emailed Wacom tech support asking them how I could fix it.  They sent their condolences along with a link to where I could order a new pen for a mere $69.95.  Thank goodness I have an extra pen I can use. Not being able to work for several days because I had to wait for a new pen would be bad.

But anyways since my trusty pen appears to be trashed, why not take it part and see what's inside.  It was easier to get apart than I imagined. And this website really helped.  All you do is pry the button off with your fingernail.  Then unscrew the little collar that surrounds the nib and slide off the rubber grip.  Once you've got the grip off, you'll see a ridge between where the button goes and the eraser end.  This is where the pen pulls apart.  Pull the two sections apart.  Be careful it pulls hard. There is a skinny little circuit board in there so I wouldn't twist, just pull it straight out.  Also there is a teeny tiny spring in the eraser end, careful you don't drop it like I did.   And tada! this is what it looks like inside...

I fiddled with the nib but really couldn't figure out what was broken.  There were no springs and nothing looked broken.  So I put the whole thing back to together and guess what, it works now!  I'm guessing that maybe the spring on the eraser end got knocked out of place and was not keeping tension on the nib like it should. I don't really know why it started working again, I'm happy happy it did.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

A Gluten Free Birthday For Me! Available for Preorder

A gluten-free birthday for me and a new picture book for you!  My latest book, "A Gluten-Free Birthday For Me!" is now available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indie-Bound. Written by Sue Fliess, this is a sweet story about an all to common situation where one party guest feels left out because of their dietary restrictions.  Anyone who knows someone with celiac disease, food allergies or any other food sensitivity will be able to relate to the characters in this book.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Love Birds Tutorial

I haven't done a tutorial in a long time so I thought I'd share some of the newer Photoshop tricks and techniques that I've learned lately.  Here's a piece that I did for the Illustration for Kids February promotional mailer. 

For this image, I knew I wanted to make two love birds so I downloaded a bunch of reference photos of love birds and created a rough pencil drawing.

It was pretty messy, so I redrew it on tracing paper.

I scanned the pencil drawing of the birds into Photoshop and cut and pasted it into a new photoshop document, making sure this new file was the size of the final artwork and in RGB color mode.  I made sure I included all the necessary bleeds, so there weren't any surprises later.

Then I created the heart shape in Adobe Illustrator and cut and pasted (paste as pixels) into the Photoshop file. Then I erased the parts of the heart that should be hidden by the birds. I also sketched in the rest of the leaves on the end of the branch.

For this illustration, I wanted everything in the image outlined in a grainy pencil line.  To do that I could have created a new layer in Photoshop and traced the image using the brush tool, but I haven't found a pencil brush in Photoshop that I'm completely happy with. So I decided to print the image out on drawing paper and trace it with a soft graphite pencil.  But before I did that, I made some modifications to the image.

I selected the layer with the birds and clicked on Image->Adjustment->Levels.  I then adjusted the level sliders in order to make the whites whiter and the pencil lines darker.

Next, I wanted to make the whole image a pale blue color, sort of like a non-photo blue pencil.  To do this I made sure I was on the topmost layer of the file and I created a new "Hue/Saturation" adjustment layer.  In the Adjustments window I checked the "Colorize" check box and moved the hue slider to a cyan blue color and increased the Saturation and Lightness until I was happy with the results.

Next I stuck a sheet of Strathmore drawing paper in my inkjet printer and printed the image.  I then traced over it with at 4B pencil.

Then I scanned it back into Photoshop, adjusting the Levels as needed to make the whites white and the darks dark.  It wasn't bad, but I had a few places where I didn't follow the lines exactly so I had some light blue lines showing through.  

In order to get rid of these blue lines I went the the "Channels" window.  By default Photoshop makes all three color channels visible (red, green and blue)  By clicking on the little eyeballs next to each channel I could turn each one on and off.  I could see that the blue lines show up much more on the red channel but not so much on the green and blue channels.  I took advantage of that to get rid of those pesky blue lines.

To do so, I clicked on the blue channel while holding down the CTRL key.  This selected everything in the blue channel, actually this selected all the white areas in the blue channel. By clicking on Select->Inverse I was able to select all the dark parts.  Then I created a new layer in my file, made sure my foreground color was black and press ALT-Backspace to fill the selection. Tada! now I have a new layer that is just my pencils lines an nothing else.  

Phew! I think this is a good place to stop for now. Next time I'll go over how I colored the artwork.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Love Birds

I just finished this piece for an Illustration for Kids postcard mailer and it also ties into this weeks Illustration Friday topic, "wings".  I guess I killed two birds with one stone. :)