Archive for the ‘Making Art’ Category

Nothing should hold you back. Drawing with flaws.

Monday, January 28th, 2013



Many future artist/illustrators hold themselves back by feeling that there is some great deficit in their skills. If you have ever said, “I can never be an artist because I can’t even draw a straight line”,  please get someone to kick your butt for me. Who cares about straight lines?  I sure don’t!  You can’t draw perspective? So what! Wacky perspective is fun! The most important thing is to relax and be your old weird drawing self.

Here are some of my “weaknesses”.

First, I can’t draw a whole scene. I have to put it together in pieces.

Second, I can’t draw figures facing to the right. They always have to face to the left. No problem. I just scan it into Illustrator and make a mirror image. I can actually think of a dozen ways to correct this problem without using the computer.

Third, my perspective is pretty weak.  So, I just get it close enough, and people think it’s charming.

So there, no more excuses.  Just draw.

And, by the way, the illustration above was made using pieces of the sketch below.  This is my extra special art secret, so don’t tell anybody.

New Postcard

Monday, January 14th, 2013

 Well, it’s time for a new postcard. 

I had an idea that I wanted to go with, which is  of a cat-loving little girl with an annoyed cat.   I wanted the girl to be totally ecstatic. I wanted the cat to look like that if given the chance he would murder the little girl, and for fun, everyone else in the world.

 Now, there is nothing wrong with this sample postcard above but it wasn’t extreme enough.  My drawing style is very controlled in this image. (Oh, and thanks Charles for letting me know that whatnot is one word.)

So, I tried to relax.  I still knew I wanted the girl in particular to be much muchier, and chubby.  As I drew I started to see a character developing that enjoyed.  

In the final image I opened her mouth to add to her ecstasy in having a kitty.  Instead of inking in the drawing I scanned in the pencil sketch.  I tried to not clean it up too much.   I think it works.

I would like to thank my sister and my daughter, former love-that-cat-to-death children, for their inspiration.  Not to fear though, my adult sister and daughter are now loved by cats far and wide.

How to draw characters.

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Let’s begin by getting your mind and psyche in the right space.

If you use my tutorial I want you to:

  1. Sketch a little bit everyday, for at least a month.
  2. Allow the sketches to be crappy.  In fact, I give you permission to make crappy drawings.  How’s that!
  3. If you are sensitive about your work then don’t allow anyone to see your practice sketches.
  4. Repetition is more important than perfection with my tutorials.
  5. Use bold long pencil strokes and give yourself permission to lose control.
  6. When you let yourself lose control you are actually pushing your boundaries.  You are learning new things.




Here it is super quick:

  1. You know those generic cartoon expression images  in “How to Draw Cartoons” books?  Copy them over and over until you’ve got them memorized.  Be able to draw them without looking at your samples. ( You can find a bunch of sites on-line that have these cartoon expressions.)
  2. Now collect images by your favorite artist and copy them over and over.  And, while you’re copying ask yourself questions like:  What makes this character  so cute?     How does this artist handle eyes or hair or the body?     How does this artist show emotions with his/her character’s face and body language?  Study the art!

      3.   Draw your favorite artist’s characters over and over until you can draw them by memory.

       4.   Now play! Sketch and sketch.  Make cute images, silly images, and sad images over and over. Don’t second guess yourself.  Allow yourself to make horrible drawings.  Use idea’s you’ve seen in other peoples work.  Or maybe start with another artist’s character and change it.  Morph it into your own charater. Got a stupid idea?  Draw it.  Wind up drawing something you like?  Save it but keep drawing, and drawing, and….

If you do these exercises you will learn a lot about the vocabulary of character design and at the same time teach yourself what you want to see in your own characters.          


Here are some of the people I have learned from:

Hyperbole and a Half – (This site proves that you don’t need to be the most realistic artist to be awesome)

Patrick McDonnell

Bill Watterson – (He doesn’t seem to have an official site)

Peter Reynolds

Looney Toon Cartoons.  You can find many of them on YouTube.

Here are some of my favorites:

What’s Opera, Doc? – (Sample )

Witch Hazel – (Sample)     (Sample)

Drip Along Daffy – (Whole Cartoon)

The Unfinished Tiger. How to loosen up your drawing style.

Monday, November 12th, 2012

A lot of artists/illustrators wish that their style was looser and more fluid. They want their characters to be expressive. I might be able to help or at least let you know what I do to add life to my art subjects.

Draw from memory. I know that sounds scary but it works.

Let’s take the tiger I am currently working on. I’m still not satisfied with him but he’s getting closer to having the right feel. I first started by studying photos of tigers. I do some basic sketches so that I understand what a real tiger looks like. Second, I study how other artists have handled their ideas of what a tiger is. Have they drawn their tiger with a big forehead or little?  Small eyes or large? etc… When I think I understand which characteristics I might like to have in my tiger then I start drawing without using any reference except what I have collected in my brain.

The drawings I do are fast, but clear. I only work on one pose at first. I don’t worry about different angles or poses, because I am just getting to know who my character is. So I draw and draw and draw, the same pose over and over making minor changes. Because I am drawing the character over and over my pencil lines become more relaxed. My pencil knows where to go.

So far I am not satisfied with my tiger. Sometimes it only takes a couple pages to get what I want, but ones like this tiger I ‘ve done at least 20 pages of sketches. Often I get tired and can’t “see” the character in my head anymore so I take a break. I will also review what I have already created and it’s not uncommon for me to spot things that I like in early sketches. I will try to incorporate anything that I liked into my next sketches.

Once I have gotten the character just the way I what it I will continue to draw he/she several times to memorize every detail. By this time my lines just flow with confidence! It’s time to start drawing the character in various angles and positions. But by now I really have the character’s image deep in my mind and it’s easier for me to feel that they are real.

Does this work for “realistic” work?  I think so.  Instead of relying on tracing paper to copy and redraw a image, try just drawing it over and over.  Make changes as you go until you get what you want. Because you’re getting to know your illustration so well your sketches will show increasing confidence.  Increased confidence will create fluid lines.  Fluid lines give life to a character or scene.

One last tip.  Spend some time drawing from memory with NO model at all.  Draw a person, a room, a toy,  etc…  It doesn’t have to be perfect, just keep drawing it over and over making corrections.  Keep trying to draw from your memory and see how much you can remember.  Two things will happen, first you’ll be surprise at what you can tease out of your brain. Second, your work will take on a look that is true to your personality.  Pretty awesome!


It’s Weasel Time!

Friday, September 16th, 2011

One of my favorite steps in children’s book illustration is charactor design.

First I collected realistic images of weasels. 

 Then I collected cartooned images of weasels. 

I study both to get what I need.

See the weasel circled above?  I really like him but he is not too child friendly. I will save him for my Adult weasel book.

This weasel is suppose to be young.  And you know what that means,  Big Head Time!

Okay, getting close.  The first one looks like an alien, but the second one Pure Magic!

Oh Yah,  almost there.

Adorable and cranky!  Success!

FACT: I took me about 150 sheets of paper to get to the final drawing.  Front and back.

TIP:  Don’t hold back.  Draw EVERY idea that comes into your head.  It doesn’t matter if they’re good or not.  You learn something with each drawing.

Two Bird Quilt

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve done any needlework.  This piece is not really a quilt.  At least I don’t think it is. You see, it’s doesn’t have any batting.  It just has a top and a bottom.

This piece is a combination of applique and embroidery.  The appplique is hand done with no iron-on webbing.  I believe I used only two embroidery stitches, the running stitch and blanket stitch.

This piece is approx. 20″ x20″.  All layout was done by eye.

You’re such a card.

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Go-Go Paperarts

 I was visiting San Diego today and I stopped by a fantastic little shop called, The Grove.   I was looking though their yarn, books, crafts and fabrics when I came upon on a lady working in a little nook up to her eyeballs in papery goodness.

Go-Go Paperarts

 Her name is Jo Madden and she is Go-Go Paper Arts, located in The Grove.   I don’t work with paper myself but I can see how there can be a addition similar to a fabric addiction.  Jo had all kinds of fun stuff that she uses to create her cards.

Go-Go Paper Arts creator, Jo Madden

I was drawn to her cards featuring little birds.  Her birds weren’t cranky, but I’ll forgive her.

Go-Go Paper Arts

 She had quite a few dog cards which I almost bought, but then I spotted some birthday gift cards and I snatch ALL of them up.

Go-Go Paper Arts

 See that pink bag (kind of in the middle & a little to the left).  Jo has been making bags but she is having a fight with the pink paper.  It’s not cooperating.  I believe the paper is evil.  I hope Jo wins.

Go-Go Paper Arts

 If you are in San Diego try to stop by The Grove and visit the lady in the back having a knock-down drag-out fight with some very evil pink paper.

Jo Madden:

The Grove 3010 Juniper Street, San Diego, CA / (619) 284-7684

My store decor.

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Artwork by Andrea Zuill at Leaping Lotus, Solana Beach, CA

   Now that I have this small retail store (at Leaping Lotus in Solana Beach, Ca) I have to decorate it.  This is hard for me.  I don’t decorate.

Artwork by Andrea Zuill at Leaping Lotus, Solana Beach, CA

   What I wound up doing is creating faux frames by designing, printing and cutting  frames out of paper to cover my already framed pieces.  I used 3M ‘s double sided sticky tape to apply everything.  The tape is low tack and comes right off when it’s time.  I tested it before I did all this work.  I have these nice frames under the paper frames and I didn’t want to ruin them with adhesive.