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This is the place for news, illustration friday and other miscellaneous stuff.
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26. Illustration Friday - Fluid (Color)

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27. Illustration Friday - Fluid

6 Comments on Illustration Friday - Fluid, last added: 5/24/2013
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28. Illustration Friday - Future

10 Comments on Illustration Friday - Future, last added: 5/21/2013
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29. 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....

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30. 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.

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31. 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.  

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32. 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.


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33. 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. :)

2 Comments on Love Birds, last added: 2/9/2013
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34. Illustration Friday - Tree

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35. Illustration Friday - Shy

Sometimes parties can be tough when you are feeling shy.

1 Comments on Illustration Friday - Shy, last added: 11/30/2012
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36. What Do These 2 Books Have in Common?

Both of these books came out this fall and I illustrated both of them.  I don't think I've ever worked on two projects so drastically different at the same time before, but it was an interesting experience. Each book definitely used up a different area of my brain and when I was frustrated with one the other was a nice change of pace. BTW, I did not illustrate or design the cover for the Innovation book.

A page from "It's Halloween Night" written by Jennifer O'Connell...

A page from "The Dawn of Innovation" by Charles R. Morris....


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37. FREE Halloween coloring page

Only 5 more days until Halloween!! I can smell the candy corn already!  Here is a free coloring page to download to get you in the mood.

And for more Halloween treats please check out the new Halloween picture book, "It's Halloween Night" written by Jennifer O'Connell and illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris.

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38. Illustration Friday - Haunt


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39. FREE Halloween Dracula Coloring Page

Only 9 more days until Halloween!  Here is a FREE Halloween coloring page to download in the mean time

And for more Halloween treats please check out the new Halloween picture book, "It's Halloween Night" written by Jennifer O'Connell and illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris.

1 Comments on FREE Halloween Dracula Coloring Page, last added: 10/25/2012
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40. FREE Halloween Witch Coloring Page

Only 16 more days until Halloween!  Here is a FREE Halloween coloring page to download in the mean time

And for more Halloween treats please check out the new Halloween picture book, "It's Halloween Night" written by Jennifer O'Connell and illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris.

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"It's Halloween Night!" is on the Reading Rockets Halloween book list.

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42. Free Halloween Paper Dolls!

Here's a little Halloween treat, a free paper-doll download.  These paper dolls coordinate with the new Halloween picture book, "It's Halloween Night!"  written by Jennifer O'Connell and illustrated by Jennifer Morris.  Don't forget to dress up the puppy! Download the full, three-page paper-doll PDF here.

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43. Illustration Friday - mirror

I'm playing with Sketchbook Pro on the iPad and having fun with the mirror option.

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44. Seagulls Everywhere

A new summer illustration for the IFK August postcard mailing.

2 Comments on Seagulls Everywhere, last added: 9/20/2012
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45. Illustration Friday - Burst

The bad thing about gardens is that sometimes they don't grow.  The other bad thing about them is that sometimes they do.

This family is bursting at the seams with kale.  

5 Comments on Illustration Friday - Burst, last added: 9/22/2012
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46. Jim Doran Art

I love little boxes and tins.  I have always held on to TicTac containers and Altoid boxes much longer that an normal person should.  I have an iPod box on my desk right now that I can't throw out.  I just can't.  Don't ask me to.

I'm saving these things because I want to do something cool with them. At least that's what I keep telling my husband as I pick through the recycling bin.  So you can imagine that I'm loving the art of Jim Doran. He's giving me so much inspiration.  I think I need to start making something...

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47. Alfie review on Amazon

"...My children have even acted this story out for us as a play--it is that charming."
Wow! That just gave me a warm fuzzy inside! Thanks Katie, who ever you are, for the wonderful review of "May I Please Have a Cookie?" on Amazon.  Alfie is also ranked at #36 in Children's Literature on Amazon at the moment (holy alligators Batman!)

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48. Pinocchio Puppet Instructions

How neat! Here are directions for making the original Pinocchio puppet built buy the Disney model department.  Fun to see their techniques.  I'm always curious how people are able to fabricate stuff like this.  I would love to try making one, but alas I know I will probably never get around to it.  

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49. It's Halloween Night - Scholastic Book Club

The new Halloween book I illustrated, "It's Halloween Night" written by Jennifer O'Connell, appeared in the Scholastic Firefly book club flyer for September.

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50. Illustration Friday - Mirror

What am I going to be for Halloween? 

This is a spread from the book I illustrated entitled "It's Halloween Night" by Jennifer O'Connell.

9 Comments on Illustration Friday - Mirror, last added: 10/11/2012
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