Dead Anyway: Stories From the Zombie Apocalypse
is now available for pre-order! I am delighted to have been invited to participate in this incredible collection of zombie stories.
Dead Anyway, Stories From The Zombie Apocalypse is a zombie graphic novel with comic stories about zombies by award winning illustrators and comic artists.
Pete Mitchell has always had a strange fascination with the previously dead. He has seen almost every zombie movie, has written songs about zombies, he draws them constantly, and thinks about them in the shower. When he met Bryan Ballinger, and saw his equal obsession with drawing lifeless characters, he knew they had to do something bigger, better, and deader.
So they decided to gather some of their buddies from across the globe in order to make a big collection of rockin’ comic zombie stories. This motley gathering of professional cartoonists, comic book artists, children’s book illustrators, concept artists, animators and designers produced the graphic novel anthology, Dead Anyway. And the world will never be same.
Highlights For Children, October 2012
Before My Bedtime
Before My Bedtime
Highlights For Children, October 2012
National Fire Protection Association
I am now selling limited edition prints of original digital works. They are all high quality Epson 160lb cold press giclees. I can do custom sizes but at the moment I am offering these as either 11 x 14 for $35 or 8 X 10 for $25, shipping included in the US. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to purchase any of these! firstname.lastname@example.org
Owls in Blue
Owls in Pink
Owls in Yellow
Lately I've been exploring my darker side in my development pieces, but that doesn't mean I've quit doing the lighter work. I've had several assignments for Highlights lately and have used my digital technique with a great deal more fluency. I'll do a quick tutorial on one image from a series I did for the upcoming June issue.
I had to revise part of the image before I had the go-ahead for final so I pieced it together in photoshop, nudged a few other elements until the composition worked and allowed room for the call-out type. I had scanned it at 600dpi (Epson Perfection V500 for the geeks out there). Once I opened it in Photoshop (again, Geeks - an elderly CS5 on a Mac Power PC OS5, Wacom tablet) I hit command-L (or Image-->Adjustment-->Levels). In the dialog box I select the white eyedropper, set white point as:
I touch it to the sketch in a grayish area and that will set that as my lightest point. I play around with it a lot, select the black eyedropper, set black point and touch that to a dark point on the sketch, move the gray slider on Input Levels until I like the balance. Hit okay. I like to convert it to grayscale at this point also.
After that I clean up the sketch using my favorite sandy textured brush. It is not essential that it is perfect - I continue to tweak that layer throughout. At this point I change the image size to 400DPI.
Now double click on the background layer:
when the New Layer dialog box comes up I rename it "Line" and change the mode to multiply:
With me so far? Now you have your line on an editable transparent layer. Next I add two layers below the line layer. One I name Background and fill with white (or sometimes a color or texture or gradient, but to keep it simple we'll go with white now). The other layer I change to multiply (I always name these Multi). Now I get out my good sandy brush and do some quick value block-in on the multiply layer. Like so:
My mental bandwidth is returning. I just finished my sixth year of coaching Odyssey of the Mind. This year my two high school teams both made it to the State Finals last weekend. They both did extremely well, but did not place for World Finals. I am so proud of both teams!
Back to our previously scheduled program.... I have a couple of art shows coming up in June. I will have limited edition giclee prints so I've been creating images just for that purpose. I'm also exploring the medium (pencil with digital color) and expanding my approach, rethinking my place in the market and the culture.
I'm not quite ready to pull the trigger on this and say DONE, but close.
This is the most overworked/loose piece I've ever done. The downfall and the delight of working digitally. The "twins" are inspired by Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. I borrowed the name from the Bunker twins - the famous original Siamese twins that retired to raise families (!) here in North Carolina after their career on the road. They are buried in our Oakwood Cemetary. Waaayyy more creepy stuff than you'd ever want to know about them can be found here
For the last four years I have been trying to bolster my children's illustration work by doing samples that are more and more mainstream, more cute. I have now mastered adorable. But it didn't really help my career as much as I hoped it would.
At the beginning of the year I sat down with several abandoned stories to reassess whether they were worth pursuing. I kept a few for further revisions, shelved one indefinitely. A few weeks ago I did the Zombie Tea Party
piece as a parody of all the cute stuff I've been doing. I was reluctant to show it, but I did, because that's what artists do. I had no idea that it would resonate with people (and by people I mean editors at big publishing houses) the way it did, and almost instantly.
So the story I put away is now quite active. This is a sample spread that is being submitted, like now. Like for real. Was all that time pursuing cute a detour? I don't think so. I'd like to think that I have come full circle. This art is not something I could have done four years ago when I wrote the story. And I think I needed to be a bit desperate to take the risks necessary to allow myself to do this.
With much trepidation I put this image out on my Facebook page. I just wasn't (and still am not) confident in this. But it must have struck a nerve because the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I'm relieved and excited. And it may have already opened some doors I've been banging on for years. Who knew (my husband says he knew, as in "I told you so").
I've gone to the dark side....
I signed up for the #KidLitArt Dummy Challenge this year as a way to motivate myself to complete a few abandoned picture book projects. I started by spreading everything I had for three stalled projects on the dining room table, manuscripts, drawings, page break dummies, and comments from my critique group. I decided to shelve one indefinitely, put another aside to work on later, and pick one that stalled out for no other reason than that I began another one before I completed it.
The first thing I did was to read over the comments from my critique group - they are so wise! Then I looked over my story with fresh eyes. Very fresh. My last manuscript update was dated 2007.
It took me a while but I was able to immerse myself again and do some heavy revisions. There is still room for a little more but being primarily an illustrator I was anxious to get on with pacing the story. I made a grid for the page spreads on a large sheet of graph paper then I wrote each character's dialog on color coded sticky notes so I could move them around to establish the page breaks and turns.
Once I was fairly happy with where the stickies were I moved them to a mock up (8 legal size sheets of paper folded in half). I moved the stickies to the mock up and then with real page turns, I shifted things around until I was satisfied.
The next thing I did was to sketch out my characters without looking at the previous versions. I didn't want to just copy my old approach. I've sketched out one scene so far to see if it is going to work:
For comparison here is the original version: (so glad I got rid of the hat in the revise)
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My gal Maggie
pitched some of her artists for a chapter book series and I didn't have much of anything appropriate for the project, so I whipped one out over the weekend.
I was offered an opportunity to do a show with my husband at a downtown gallery. Not having any paintings did seem like a bit of an obstacle. After a year without touching traditional media I steeled my nerves, quashed my insecurities and dipped a toe back in. I now have three new works in watercolor.
Brothers, Watercolor, 9" x 9"
Metro, Watercolor, 9"x9"
Queue, Watercolor, 9"x11"
As an illustrator I can't let the idea of "story" go even in non-commercial work. That's why I chose this theme for the series. There is setting, mood, characters, and some implied action. By showing just feet and legs my aim is to allow the viewer an opportunity to create their own story.
2011 was a busy year and in spite of the personal and national economy, not too shabby. It was a year filled with art, music, and general and miscellaneous creativity for my whole family. Tim the Husband achieved some great success with his art and his bluegrass band The Hey Brothers. The High Schoolers immersed themselves utterly in marching band. The Odyssey of the Mind team went to World-Freakin-Finals. I started playing euphonium in the Town Band, had a great big birthday party with great friends and music.
Oh, and I did some art. I finally became fluent in Photoshop and my web portfolio is now completely digital. I did lots of personal development pieces and some very rewarding assignments. I can't wait to see what comes next. Shine on you crazy 2012!
In this month's issue of Highlights For Children, some of the art for How I Became a Halloween Hero by Sandra Breswetherick.
My newest developmental piece took an insane amount of time, a staggering number of layers, sketches, revisions, backtracking, and some of the bugs are still missing arms! But I am glad that I have finally done a line art piece at this scale. I never would have believed this was possible even just two years ago, thank you brush and ink, thank you Photoshop and Wacom.
Trying some textured and colored line. Eh, not sure if I like it.
I needed to draw to bring a little joy into my day and this is what I came up with...
So this is the complete page from that last very sad drawing I did. It really isn't any more uplifting. Welling up a bit here...but there is hope! This story doesn't have a sad ending!
And this is from earlier in the story. I found myself myself chuckling a bit as I worked on it; just one of the benefits that come with the job (but not paid vacation, 401K, health coverage, diversity days, sick days, maternity leave, dental insurance, or disability insurance, sigh...)
My phone doodle became a chef.
I've had the pleasure of doing a lot of work for the wonderful folks at the National Fire Protection Association for the ongoing fire safety awareness program featuring Sparky the Firedog. He's a real hero! I did much of the artwork for their new Sparky the Firedog Birthday Party Kit. They also have a fun interactive website for kids here.
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I was able to get back to this sample last week and finished it off. I always hated pen line art - too scratchy, too permanent - but a few years ago I discovered brush + photoshop. Oh brush, how I love you. Oh photoshop, you complete me.
It also seems I have finally surrendered and immersed myself in cuteness. I give up - I'm yours. I'm thinking about adorable insects for my next piece.
The run down: individual characters and backgrounds done separately in FW acrylic ink on Canson Vidalon with brush, scanned @ 600dpi, in levels set white point to eliminate shadow, set black point to crisp up, clean up, correct, and layer together. All together only about 8 hours for the finish.