Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

Children’s Picture Books: Facts About Writing & Illustrating.

Friday, December 27th, 2013

PIGS_Final_

Rules and Specifications on writing and illustrating a Children’s Picture Book.

1. Children’s picture books are 32 pages long.  Minus the first couple pages which are for copyright stuff and other things.

2. Illustrations for picture books should be design to fit  8.5″x 11″  either horizontal or vertical.

3. The action in a picture book should move left to right.  Try thinking like the character is going to walk from the first page of the book to the last.

4.  It is said that a children’s picture books should have no more than 1000 words.  But, I’ve met a lot of publishers that want the word count to be less than 500 and preferably under 300.

5.  Writers do not choose their illustrator.  You don’t need to find an illustrator for your manuscript. The publisher will do that for you.  AND, there is a very good chance that you will have NO say what-so-ever regarding the illustrations.  Writers just have to submit their manuscripts.

6. Your book’s main character should represent the child reading the story. Try to think, “What would a child do?”

7. Don’t do a message book.  Any message should  be secondary to the story.  By book-with-a-message I mean morals of any kind. Why?  Kids don’t want to be told what to do or how to think.   It’s not fun.

8. Rhyming is harder than you think so think twice about trying it.  Many publishers will not look at rhyming books anymore.

9.  Currently author/illustrators are in vogue.  Not to long ago this wasn’t so.  Will it stay this way?  Who knows.

10. Illustrators generally will get paid more than writers.  The pictures make the book.

11. Your story should represent a very short period of time, not days and days.

12. Try to include all kinds of people/children in your stories.

13.  Writers should cut anything from their manuscript that can be illustrated. Such as “It was a sunny day”, which could easily be illustrated.  Save your words for the real story.

14.  You will find exceptions to all of the rules above.  You can ignore these rules if you a).self publish  b). are really famous for creating children’s books   c). or, you create something that is so frickin’ awesome that people just have to publish it. (please don’t aim for this, it can be very tough).

The reason that I felt like writing about this right now is this great article, which you should read:

Buzzfeed: How to Write a Picture Book

PLEASE read the Buzzfeed article, it’s great.

March’s Free Embroidery Pattern! The folk art design: Heart in Hand

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

 

   March’s free embroidery pattern is an old symbol that I am very fond of.  It’s called Heart in Hand.  You’ve probably seen it before.  Lot’s of folk-art crafters use this symbol.   It’s been used to identifly the Odd Fellows organization.  It can be seen in cemeteries on headstones of past Odd Fellow members often with the addition of a three link chain underneath it.

 

 The Shakers used it to symbolize  charity given with an open heart.  I have also seen it used in old handmade valentines. 

 As always, click on the pattern above for a larger view and to print out.

 

You won’t believe it! A NEW free embroidery pattern!

Friday, February 15th, 2013

You know, you guys have put up with a lot from me over the years.  First, there was Oil-Painting Andrea, then Craft-Girl Andrea, Stupid-Story Andrea and now Children’s-Book-Illustrator Andrea.  What can I say?  I wear many hats and some of my hats are wee pointy things with glitter on them, but I digress.  I vaguely remember promising to give you, my loyal minions, a new free pattern every month (what was I thinking?) and that seems to have disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of my life.

But guess what!  A free pattern has snuck in! Right under my nose too (it’s probably because of me having a cold).   And it’s topical!  That’s right, it is!  It’s an Easter Bunny.  Can’t you just image him hippity hopping into your house on Easter night and depositing his eggs?  Oh the joy.

So go ahead and have your way with him.  Make me proud!

You can click on the pattern above for a large view.

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.

Let’s play a game.

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)    http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/

Patrick McDonnellhttp://muttscomics.com/default.aspx

Bill Watterson – (He doesn’t seem to have an official site)   http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/

Peter Reynoldshttp://www.peterhreynolds.com/dot/

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

Here are some of my favorites:

What’s Opera, Doc? – (Sample ) http://youtu.be/KTYQmHr9Myg

Witch Hazel – (Sample)  http://youtu.be/gYtgsLnEl38     (Sample)  http://youtu.be/Wej1LoOzaLY

Drip Along Daffy – (Whole Cartoon) http://youtu.be/FhS-n9qpWRI

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!