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Viewing Blog: Sean Ashby, Most Recent at Top
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1. Longform stories from Storybird

I have loved the idea of Storybird ever since I first heard of it. If you haven't, it's essentially a site where illustrators could contribute a number of images, whatever they liked, and users (mostly kids and students) would get on and write their own stories using those illustrations. That, in and of itself, was a big hit with educators.

Then, Storybird made it possible for you to create printed versions of the stories you made (the illustrators receiving a certain royalty) which was also cool.

Now, the good folk at Storybird are introducing a whole new concept—not just to their site, but to the publishing world in general—longform books.

I happen to be fortunate enough to participate in their initial go of it, and have been working on illustrating a fun YA mystery by Eliza Osborn called "The Mystery of Dogwood Cross."



Four chapters are up now, with more to come!

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2. My new book covers

I'm pretty stoked to finally be able to show off a project I've been working on for the last several months. It's hard to keep a secret about something you're excited about. Almost as hard as pronouncing Idina Menzel's name.

I had the pleasure of working with Enslow Publishers on designing and illustrating the covers for a new series of middle grade books called "The Baseball Geeks Adventures." They're about a trio of best friends who (obviously) loooove baseball, and the various and sundry shenanigans they get in to. Loads of fun to work on,





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3. One that got away...

A while ago, I started working on illustrating a story from Kipling's "Jungle Book", but then the company went under, so I never finished it. Bollocks. I'm hoping to make it an eBook myself maybe (if I can find the time). I even went so far as to design this faux book cover, which would be the opening screen (minus any navigation buttons).


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4. Old school circus poster

About the only thing I love as much as illustrating is typography. And root beer.


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5. My zoo map in finally finished...

What seems like forever ago, I started working on creating an illustrated map for the Oklahoma City Zoo. It was a fun project, certainly, but time consuming. Very... time consuming. One of the tougher jobs I've had, really. But, thank Odin for the internet, iPhones and Google Maps.

I started by doing a lot of research of what was already out there as far as these kinds of maps go. See what works, what doesn't.


Seemed straight forward enough. But when it came right down to it, even though I'd been to the zoo a million times, I kept needing more and more references. So me and my iPhone took a LOT of photos and short movies. The panorama feature was especially helpful.


That's only a very small sampling. I have hundreds of photos. Did I mention it's a big honkin' zoo?


Yeah. It's freaking huge. (And there's more to come in the near future...) Anyway, like a fat man at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet, I slowly made my way through the whole thing.


One of the hardest things to do was throw reality out the window. Because some areas are fairly compact and others are pretty spread out, you have to tweak the spacing, and so one. You also spend a lot of time trying to decide what's important and what you can leave out. Here are some close-ups...





And no, I most certainly did not sit and draw every single tree and bush. If I were working in Illustrator I probably would have made use of symbols and the symbol sprayer tool, but alas, my stoopid style requires me to work in Photoshop. So I made just a handful of trees and bushes that I just duplicated. If experience is any guide, now that I'm finished, someone will probably tell me a much simpler way I could have gone about it.



Before I ever started working on this, I got an itch to see what it would look like if I recreated the zoo logo in 3 dimensions, as if made of natural materials. Turned out to be handy, cause I used it on the cover of the map.


All in all, I'm pretty happy with the way it came out.







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6. Founding Mothers: Martha Washington

The other week, I happened to catch an interview on NPR with Cokie Roberts, who was promoting a new children's adaptation of her book Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation. It's called Founder Mothers: Remembering the Ladies and it's wonderfully illustrated by Diane Goode (you can check out some of the art process from start to finish here).

Anyway, for some strange reason, the concept just clobbered me over the head like... like, well, like I would clobber someone over the head if I were pillaging and/or plundering their village. I couldn't help but think what a cool project that would be to work on.

So, just for funzies, I took some of the text from the book and illustrated/designed my own version of Martha Washington's introduction.



Now, most people, I'm sure think of the older, Barbara Bush looking version of Lady Washington, but I can't help but wonder if, in an effort to make the important women in history feel more relevant to today's young girls and women, it may be more beneficial to represent the younger versions.

At any rate, it was a hoot to work on, and who knows maybe some day I'll get the chance to do something similar.

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7. Beer label illo & design

Just thought I'd share a recent project I did. It's a beer label for one of my favorite clients, Choc Beer Company. It's one of their older, long-running standards, a light beer called "Miner's Light" (get it??? yuck yuck yuck...). The founder of the company was himself a miner back in the early 1900s, hence the theme.

Here's the only image I could find of the original label:


Yyyyeah. For my version, I decided to reduce the imagery from a bunch of miners (they're screened back on that purplish background, which you can't see) to one guy, front and center. And since we're talking about coal, I used a palette of dark grays, with a bit of light gold for an accent and to highlight to guy's headlamp.




While I also wanted to keep it looking old fashioned, I didn't like the idea of using any kind of "cowboy/western" font, and instead got to use a couple that I found a while ago and have just been waiting for the chance to use. Can't wait to see these on the shelf!




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8. Adventures in Oz

A number of things I've been working on of late I can't post about quite yet, but this one thing I actually thought I had already shared.

It's yet another design for the Oklahoma Children's Theatre annual fundraising event, the Fairy Tale Ball. This year has a Wizard of Oz, which was a really fun subject, not just in terms of illustration, but design and typography as well. Here's the invite...






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9. Powerpuff Girls fan art

Wow, been a long time, eh? All I can say is I've been keeping busy, but unfortunately am not allowed to post (yet) anything regarding what I'm working on. Soon, hopefully.

Having discovered, though, that this is the 15th anniversary of the classic toon "Powerpuff Girls", I managed to find some time to squeeze in some fan art.

Bonus trivia: They were originally named the Whoop Ass Girls. Now you know. Amaze your friends at parties.


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10. Crab Bee Hoon

In between getting caught up on various television series and trying to avoid spoilers, I managed to squeak out another recipe for They Draw And Cook. Always fun. (Click to embiggen.)


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11. My new color book

Check it out, this kid's story and coloring book I did recently for Will Rogers World Airport just came back from the printer. Not my usual style, but I think it turned out alright.




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12. Sometimes it just doesn't work out

As the title of this post suggests, an unfortunate number of jobs never see the light of day. Occasionally, that's a good thing (stuff I'm not exactly proud of), but for the most part, it's pretty depressing. All that work, and no one will ever see it. Well, thank Odin for the internet.

This job is a good example. It was a logo for a start-up Mexican restaurant that would operate out of malls initially. They had seen one of my recipes on They Draw and Cook and wanted something with a similar feel.

Sigh... Woulda been cool, but what are ya gonna do?






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13. Life of Musashi

I had the pleasure of designing a web site for a local Japanese restaurant called Musashi's. They take their name from the legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest swordsman to ever live (my kind of guy). He's also know for a book he wrote called "The Book of Five Rings" which saw a surge in popularity a few years ago among corporate elite who are always looking for the next big business leadership fad.

I also got to do a handful of illustrations for it, primarily in the section that tells the story of Musashi's life. The site is still in development, so nothing's live yet, but here are a few screen caps.





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14. Life of Musashi

I had the pleasure of designing a web site for a local Japanese restaurant called Musashi's. They take their name from the legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest swordsman to ever live (my kind of guy). He's also know for a book he wrote called "The Book of Five Rings" which saw a surge in popularity a few years ago among corporate elite who are always looking for the next big business leadership fad.

I also got to do a handful of illustrations for it, primarily in the section that tells the story of Musashi's life. The site is still in development, so nothing's live yet, but here are a few screen caps.





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15. More Sleepy Hollow portraits

I liked how Ichabod turned out, so I thought I'd go ahead and knock out a few others. (It's difficult to draw all of these characters in a way that's distinct from the classic Disney animated version when the characters are so clearly described in the text.)



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16. More Sleepy Hollow portraits

I liked how Ichabod turned out, so I thought I'd go ahead and knock out a few others. (It's difficult to draw all of these characters in a way that's distinct from the classic Disney animated version when the characters are so clearly described in the text.)



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17. My version of Merida

After seeing a ton of great fan art of Merida, the princess from Pixar's "Brave", I've been wondering how I could go about creating that fabulous hair in my scratch board look. Over the weekend, my curiosity got the better of me, and I ended up putting a number of chores on hold to make this thing.




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18. My version of Merida

After seeing a ton of great fan art of Merida, the princess from Pixar's "Brave", I've been wondering how I could go about creating that fabulous hair in my scratch board look. Over the weekend, my curiosity got the better of me, and I ended up putting a number of chores on hold to make this thing.




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19. Alas, Poor Ichabod

You may recall me mentioning on here the idea to take the Sleepy Hollow book cover I did and turn it into an actual, illustrated book. It's kind of hard to work it in to an already tight schedule, but I've managed a little bit of work on it.

Namely, I've gone through the story and planned a bit of what I want to illustrate and design, etc., and done some sketching to flesh out what the characters look like, but up until the other day, I haven't had a chance to actually illustrate anything.

I plan on having a sort of portrait of each of the main characters as they're introduced, starting of course with Ichabod Crane. Good place to start, right?

So far, I like where this all is going.


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20. The Night's Watch

Soooo, yeah. I have finally succumbed—I joined the rest of civilization and started watching "Game of Thrones" (I'm only one season in, so don't ruin anything). And after cruising the ol' interweb getting an eyefull of amazing fan art for the show as well as the books, I couldn't resist spitting one out myself.

I think Jon Snow's character is probably been done to death by fan artist's, but there's just something cool about the dude, and well, there's also something about the whole atmosphere of the frozen north that appeals to me. Go figure.


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21. Pajama Girl gets her own website

I've really been having such a good time using Adobe Muse to build web sites, I decided try throw one together for my Pajama Girl (and Blanket Boy) eBooks.


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22. My contributions to Atomukk Pizzeria



I finally got around the other week to finishing my second contribution to the fabulously grotesque Atomukk Pizzeria, and only just now realized I never posted them here. Rest assured, a number of my thralls where severely punished for the oversight. (And by punished I mean forced to watch a "Real Wives of Orange County" marathon on Bravo. No mercy, that's my policy.)

If you're not familiar with it, what in Helheim is wrong with you? Do I have to do everything for you? Odin's beard....

In a nutshell, it's "a perfect blend of ingredients from the mutant culture of the 80's and 90's," which is every bit as awesome as it sounds. As for me, I decided to give one of my favorite childhood toons the mutant treatment because, let's face it, it would have made a much more entertaining show.



Entry number deux:



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23. Alas, Poor Ichabod

You may recall me mentioning on here the idea to take the Sleepy Hollow book cover I did and turn it into an actual, illustrated book. It's kind of hard to work it in to an already tight schedule, but I've managed a little bit of work on it.

Namely, I've gone through the story and planned a bit of what I want to illustrate and design, etc., and done some sketching to flesh out what the characters look like, but up until the other day, I haven't had a chance to actually illustrate anything.

I plan on having a sort of portrait of each of the main characters as they're introduced, starting of course with Ichabod Crane. Good place to start, right?

So far, I like where this all is going.


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24. The Night's Watch

Soooo, yeah. I have finally succumbed—I joined the rest of civilization and started watching "Game of Thrones" (I'm only one season in, so don't ruin anything). And after cruising the ol' interweb getting an eyefull of amazing fan art for the show as well as the books, I couldn't resist spitting one out myself.

I think Jon Snow's character is probably been done to death by fan artist's, but there's just something cool about the dude, and well, there's also something about the whole atmosphere of the frozen north that appeals to me. Go figure.


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25. Pajama Girl gets her own website

I've really been having such a good time using Adobe Muse to build web sites, I decided try throw one together for my Pajama Girl (and Blanket Boy) eBooks.


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