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1. My client’s online presence

By Jan Willer

Social media and other technologies have changed how we communicate. Consider how we coordinate events and contact our friends and family members today, versus how we did it 20 or 30 years ago. Today, we often text, email, or communicate through social media more frequently than we phone or get together in person.

Now contrast that with psychotherapy, which is still about two people getting together in a room and talking. Certainly, technology has changed psychotherapy. There are now apps for mental health issues. There are virtual reality treatments. Psychotherapy can now be provided through videoconferencing (a.k.a. telehealth). But still, it’s usually simply two people talking in a room.

Our psychotherapy clients communicate with everyone else they know through multiple technological platforms. Should we let them “friend” us on social media? Should we link to them on professional networking sites? Is it ok to text with them? What about email? When are these ok and not ok?

Social Media Explained (with Donuts). Uploaded by Chris Lott. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

Social Media Explained (with Donuts). Uploaded by Chris Lott. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

Some consensus is emerging about these issues. Experts agree that psychotherapists should not connect with current or former clients on social media. This is to help preserve the clients’ confidentiality. Emailing and texting are fine for communicating brief messages about the parameters of the session, such as confirming the appointment time, or informing the psychotherapist that the client is running late. Research has shown that emotional tone is frequently miscommunicated in texting and email, so emotion-laden topics are best discussed during the session.

How do we learn about new people we’ve met? In the past, we’d talk directly to them, and maybe also talk to people we knew in common. Now everyone seems to search online for everyone else. This happens frequently with first dates, college applicants, and job applicants.

Again, contrast this with psychotherapy. Again, two people are sitting in a room, talking and learning about each other. When is it ok for a psychotherapist to search for information about a client online? What if the psychotherapist discovers important information that the client withheld? How do these discoveries impact the psychotherapy?

No clear consensus has emerged on these issues. Some experts assert that psychotherapists should almost never search online for clients. Other experts respond that it is unreasonable to expect that psychotherapists should not access publicly available information. Others suggest examining each situation on a case-by-case basis. One thing is clear: psychotherapists should communicate with their clients about their policies on internet searches. This should be done in the beginning of psychotherapy, as part of the informed consent process.

When we’ve voluntarily posted information online–and when information about us is readily available in news stories, court documents, or other public sources–we don’t expect this information to be private. For this reason, I find the assertion that psychotherapists can access publically available information to be more compelling. On my intake forms, I invite clients to send me a link to their LinkedIn profile instead of describing their work history, if they prefer. If a client mentions posting her artwork online, I’ll suggest that she send me a link to it or ask her how to find it. I find that clients are pleased that I take an interest.

What about the psychotherapist’s privacy? What if the client follows the psychotherapist’s Twitter account or blog? What if the client searches online for the psychotherapist? What if the client discovers personal information about the psychotherapist by searching? Here’s the short answer: psychotherapists need to avoid posting anything online that we don’t want everyone, including our clients, to see.

Ways to communicate online continue to proliferate. For example, an app that sends only the word “Yo” was recently capitalized to the tune of $2.5 million and was downloaded over 2 million times. Our professional ethics codes are revised infrequently (think years), while new apps and social media are emerging monthly, even daily. Expert consensus on how to manage these new communications technologies emerges slowly (again, think years). But psychotherapists have to respond to new communications technologies in the moment, every day. All we can do is keep the client’s well-being and confidentiality as our highest aspiration.

Jan Willer is a clinical psychologist in private practice. For many years, she trained psychology interns at the VA. She is the author of The Beginning Psychotherapist’s Companion, which offers practical suggestions and multicultural clinical examples to illustrate the foundations of ethical psychotherapy practice. She is interested in continuing to bridge the notorious research-practice gap in clinical psychology. Her seminars have been featured at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and DePaul University. 

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2. The Australian Graphic Supply Collective: Tuts and Type

In my journey towards becoming somewhat of a graphic designer, I’ve gone through many bouts of chocolate-fueled rage, cursing when I can’t figure out how to line up my beziers correctly, or how exactly to create a seamless repeat pattern. Although there are loads of tutorials online, the Australia Graphic Supply Company is set to become the “square one” learning source for budding designers and typographers of all types (pun not intended).

Self-described “pixel-wranglers,” Dave and Laura Coleman are a husband-and-wife team working out of Sydney, Australia, focusing on a wide range of visual services from photography and branding to illustration and tattoo design. While Laura mostly manages operations & finances, Dave handles the creative side of their shared business–and both of them share a serious passion for design, photography and lettering.

They host a selection of their own client work on their website, but the primary focus is on their community and growing tutorial section. What’s neat to see is that their tutorial aesthetic matches up perfectly with that of their professional projects–the aim is clearly to give the viewer proper insight into the process of creating high-quality design and typography while simplifying the process down to layman’s terms.

One of my favorite tutorials was Creating a Hand-Lettered Logotype from Beginning to End–I’ve included some screenshots and a video below.

Dave and Laura were briefly living and working abroad in Oviedo, Spain, but are now in the process of returning to their home base in Sydney. To follow along with their adventures, check out their travel blog.

I’ve also included a couple links to my other favorite tutorials below:

No Pain, No Grain (How to Create a Seamless Vector Wood Grain Pattern)

So What’s the Big Deal with Horizontal & Vertical Bezier Handles Anyway?

I can’t wait for more exciting tutorials and developments from the AGSC. Thanks so much to Dave and Laura for sharing their knowledge with us! Follow along with them on theirwebsiteTwitter, and Pinterest.

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3. Invisible Man: My Sketching People Book in Progress

Things are going pretty well on the new book, although the garden studio is officially closed now (sigh). I would SO much rather be outside in all this glorious weather than sat at my computer, with the blinds drawn against the sunshine. Hey ho.

The sample spreads I am producing ready for the Frankfurt presentation are going to be:

Sketching on trains (2 spreads)
How to sketch with colour first, then line (2 spreads)
Drawing eyes (1 spread)

These were decided on by the publisher. They know what the US co-edition publishers will be looking for. My art director has done sample designs for me to approve (which I'm afraid I don't think I can show you yet) and I have written all the text. 

I have chosen all the sketches for these sections too. Unfortunately, all my sketches are scanned at low-res for general sharing, so the ones for the book all have to be re-scanned at 300ppi. I have set John onto that task and he has done the lion's share now.

One of the train sketches had to be redone, because I tinted it digitally, originally at low res (duh). I was experimenting with digital tinting in 2010. Above is the original pencil drawing, done in a 3B: my tool of choice back then. I used a very basic drawing tool in Photoshop and a limited palette to re-created the coloured version I did at the time. Below is the final tinted version.

The weird image at the top of this post is the coloured layer, separated out, which I thought looked rather fun and funky, but also helped you to see how the digital version was created.

Right - enough chatting to you guys: it's back to work for me!

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4. Designer and Typographer Kelly Thorn.

In writing these Art Crush posts, I’ve found that I’m usually late to the party. Meaning, of course, that literally everyone else has known about these illustrators already before I stumbled across their work, since I’m probably an unhip grandma. But in this case, I’m kind of excited–Kelly Thorn is an up-and-coming junior designer at Louise Fili Ltd. and generally amazing typographer and illustrator, and she’s already blossoming on the scene.

I stumbled upon Kelly Thorn’s work by way of Friends of Type, a “typography sketchbook” of sorts started by Erik Marinovich and a few of his illo-designer buddies. Kelly’s command of linework and her gorgeous color choices immediately drew me in. Her pieces demonstrate a solid understanding of design and composition, but still leave room for illustrative experimentation and expression. Lovely.

A 2012 graduate of Tyler School of Art’s Graphic & Interactive Design program, Kelly now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

[collaboration with Dana Tanamachi for Nibblr]

You can follow along with Kelly on her websiteTwitterDribbble, & Tumblr. I can’t wait to see more of her work.

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5. Illustrator: Josh Courlas

Article by Oli Rogers








Have you ever awoken in the morning with a lingering feeling that’s something like queasy wonderment, with fading images of strange, unearthly places bobbing at the edges of your consciousness before sinking forever into the cloudy depths of forgetting? Well, what if at that moment you were able to hook up your dream-addled brain to some fantastical art-machine that had the power to transliterate the fevered firing of your synapses into psychic Polaroid snaps? The result might be something very much like the art of Josh Courlas.

This New York illustrator’s fantastically atmospheric work is filled with mysterious figures lurking in shadowy halls and trudging through foreboding, misty landscapes or worlds of nightmarish, geometric architecture. In quite what manner of quests these cloaked somnambulators might be engaged remains always arcane, but that’s all part of the appeal. It’s as though those crazy dreams of yours had something to do with those dog-eared copies of HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe sitting on your nightstand…

See more of the products of Courlas’s magnificent, spattery 1970s airbrush of gloom over at his website.

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6. Comic: Another Advantage Of Print Books

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7. Illustrator: Michelle Thompson

Michelle Thompson

Michelle Thompson

Michelle Thompson

Michelle Thompson graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1996. Her techniques include mark-making and photography. She also combines traditional collage with digital technology, often working with found materials. She has worked internationally most notably collaborating with Vaughan Oliver. Michelle Thompson’s clients include Royal Mail, BBC and the Guardian amongst many.

You can see more of her work on her website or her facebook page.

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8. One the drawing table: MANY bears and a tortoise!


0 Comments on One the drawing table: MANY bears and a tortoise! as of 6/27/2014 5:05:00 PM
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9. eBook, pBook and aBook: Time for New Terminology?

"Watership Down with Armadillos"

An immigrant's story!



Author Jerry Weinberg recently posted this on a listserv and gave permission for folks to use it. He asks a provocative question about how we refer to books.

A pet peeve of mine:
Because books (usually) made of paper have been around for hundreds of years, they have captured the name “book” as their exclusive property.

Because electronic books have been around for about one generation, they have a different designation, “e-books,” which makes them sound like they’re not real “books.”

I’ve started distinguishing between the two types by calling the old type “p-books.” P could stand for paper, or print, or perishable, or whatever you choose.

The e in e-books could stand for electronic, easy-to-use, enduring, elastic (for their ability to change dynamically), or whatever you choose.

Both p-books and e-books are equally “books,” not “real books” and some “johnny-come-lately pretend books.”

And who knows, maybe there will be other types of book – x-books, for any number of x’s. (like a-books for books delivered in audio format)

I’m encouraging my friends and colleagues to use this nomenclature, rather than “e-books” and “dead-tree-books” or some other clumsy attempts to bring e-books to the same stature as p-books.

From now on, I’m using the term “book” to refer only to the contents, not the form. If I’m talking about a paper book only, I’m using p-book.

If you’d like, feel free to join the campaign. Thanks for listening.

Please leave a comment–do you think pBook is a good term for print/paper books? Does aBook for for audio books?

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10. New Dragon Slippers Cover Art

I was asked by Bloomsbury Publishing to create new covers for a reissue of Jessica Day George's "Dragon Slippers" trilogy. This is the art for the first book.

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11. I need computer magic...

I guess there's no turning back for me & my wacom since I tend to get frustrated using real paints.  Just a few dabs will do me... then I need computer magic because I'm spoiled - or something.

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12. Endpapers: Now in Glorious Technicolour!

I finished off all the digital finishing-work, on the inside illustrations and on the cover for Swap! before the Easter holidays. It felt like I was nearly done. I thought I would be able to rattle off the endpapers and be ready to send it all off to the publisher pretty soon after getting back to work this week.

I don't know why I thought that: it was very silly.

front endpaper illustrations

I wasn't really taking into account the fact that, not only are the illustrations different on the front and back endpapers, but there are six independent illustrations on each, every one of which is fiddly. Also every illustration features Lucy, whose head is a very similar pink to the pink of the paper I use, making it a bit of a technical nightmare to cut free.

back endpaper illustrations

The illustrations will be put into a spot repeat pattern across the double spread of each endpaper:

I thought that, because the illustrations needed to be different - a sort of 'before and after' - I would use the same lilac coloured background for them both, to give some unity.

You can follow the progress of Swap! (as well as Baby Goes Baaaaa! and Bears on the Stairs) from my first sketches and plotting sheets, through pitching the idea to publishers, creating artwork, as well as all the miriad issues that have arisen during the book's life so far, by clicking the Swap! label, or other relevant label, on the right of the posts.

You can watch me create a piece of the original pastel artwork from Swap! in a short film here.

1 Comments on Endpapers: Now in Glorious Technicolour!, last added: 4/5/2013
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13. Gemma Robinson Illustrates For Educause Review

US based Educause Review commissioned me to illustrate three stories in their March/April issue. Educause Review is an award-winning magazine which takes a broad look at current developments and trends in information technology and how they may affect colleges and universities. All three stories were in some way linked to the impact technology has on higher education.

Disaggregated Accreditation by Gemma Robinson
The first story was about accreditation and the need to view higher education institutions as fragments rather than a whole in our rapidly changing world.

We Love E-Books by Gemma Robinson
The second story was titled 'We Love E-Books!' and focussed on the need to increase the availability of e-books at libraries.  You can read the story here.

Gateway To The Universe by Gemma Robinson
The third story was about the disruptiveness of technology within higher education which, if embraced, can expand the classroom beyond the limits of four walls to encompass the whole known universe. Full story here. 
Check out more of my illustrations on my website or Behance portfolio.

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14. Swap! - Text Overlays for Foreign Editions

When it comes to the digital 'finishing' work on my books, it's the cutting out that's the real chore but, once that's done, I feel as though I have finished. Not so! There's the final, fussy job of doing the text overlays. Sigh...

All text has to be created separately from the main artwork, because of translations: you can't have English words embedded in the illustration and then hope to sell the book for foreign editions. This goes for all wording, but I am not talking about the regular text you can see above, but the little, incidental details: can you see the word 'DOG' on the bowl? 

There are quite a few more on the spread below:

Most illustrators don't have to worry about the text overlays - the design team at the publishers sort out all that, when they place the other text. However, because I am daft enough to create my artwork in pastels, the bits of text which are intrinsic to the images don't work very well if they too are not in pastels: the wording sort of floats above the illustration.

It's not practical to do the text overlays in actual pastels, so I do it digitally, in 'pretend' pastels, using an old version on Corel Painter, which does a pretty good job of emulating the marks of my pastels, particularly after I have scanned in a sample of the actual paper I draw onto, so the texture matches. This is the text from the classroom door.

It's a boring and fiddly job, but looks much better. Of course, when it comes to the foreign translations, I have no control, so they just bung on ordinary text. Hey-ho - there are times when you just have to let go... 

For the children's dance studio below, I've done the whole sign as an overlay, including the little drawings of the kids, because foreign translations can take up more space than English text. This way, it allows for the little figures to be removed if necessary, to fit in a more wordy name - clever eh?!

Anyway, I am now done, done, done (hurrah!) and a DVD of all the finished artwork has been sent back to my Art Director, who will be busy this week, dropping all the text into its final position and sorting out the final bits of design work (spine, title page, dedications, blurb, bar codes...).

The next stage should be the colour proof. That's the truly exciting bit, when it all looks real!

8 Comments on Swap! - Text Overlays for Foreign Editions, last added: 5/8/2013
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15. Library Mural: Designing the Layout

A while ago I mentioned a mural project that I am doing, based on children's drawings created during an illustration workshop, focussing on characterisation and movement. The wall I have to cover, at Wakefield Library, is over 13 metres long, but only 2 metres high - very long and thin - so the idea is to create a chase scene along it, as if the children's animals are running through the library.

I let the teachers take the drawings back to school with them, for the kids to finish off. Unfortunately, instead of posting them a couple of days later, as promised, it took them 6 weeks and repeated hassling, so I am only now getting down to it.

I am currently spending my time on Photoshop, trying to work out how to lay things out. It's so massive, and such a weird shape, I'm working on a one-tenth, low res mock-up, into which I have placed scans of all the animals, so I can move things around and re-size them, until it looks OK. Then I'll re-scan everything at the right size, as the final artwork will be created digitally (in sections and at one quarter size, so my computer doesn't blow its brain).

Although my initial chase idea sounded simple, I soon discovered that, if I don't want to end up with just a 'procession' of animals, in a long, uninteresting line, I will need to draw in incidental props, like bookshelves for animals to climb onto, or chairs for them to jump over. I might need to do some graphic things will colour in the background too (like I did with the cover of Swap!), to divide up the space. Not sure yet.

Right: back to it...  

6 Comments on Library Mural: Designing the Layout, last added: 4/26/2013
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16. The Diamond Street App

Rachel Lichtenstein is an artist, archivist and writer. She is the author of Rodinsky’s Whitechapel and co-author, with Iain Sinclair, of Rodinsky’s Room.

Diamond Street is the second in a trilogy of books by Rachel on London streets. On Brick Lane was the first and both will be followed by a volume on Portobello Road, also to be published by Hamish Hamilton. Find out more about Rachel by visiting her site.


After receiving the fantastic news in 2012 that my application to the Arts Council to produce a digital app to coincide with the paperback edition of my latest book Diamond Street: the hidden world of Hatton Garden had been successful, I have spent the best part of a year working in collaboration with an amazing team of experts in the digital media, film, design, literary and historical fields to produce this new media project. 

The development of a digital app may at first seem like an odd choice for a non fiction writer with absolutely no experience of or skills in this type of medium but from the first time I heard about GPS technology being used in locative apps, I immediately recognised what a great tool this could be for me. I have always worked in a very multi-disciplinary way, having trained as a sculptor before becoming a writer. My creative practise currently involves writing of course, alongside walking, intensive archival research, photography, audio recording, painting, site-specific art installationsand making short films. The multi-media capabilities of a digital app seemed to offer a good way for my readers to experience my work not just as a printed text but also through digital space, new media and in real time.

Before starting this project I spent a long time imagining what a digital app could offer that a printed book could not and how new technologies could be used not to replace but to enhance and support a book.

I wanted the app to offer new insights for my readers into both the stories in the book and the places and people I have written about. I’m really pleased to say that after a lot of hard work I really do believe this has been achieved. Mainly due to the exceptional team I have been collaborating with who have made this magic happen.

Work on the app began with paper plans, budget discussions and meetings with Simon Poulter, Metal Culture’s digital arts officer who was co-producer of the project. We brainstormed on my original idea: ‘to pick up on traces of the history of the place as you wandered around, with images, audio and text being activated by geo-technology.’ We literally ripped the printed book apart and imagined these pages being scattered around the Hatton Garden area, transformed into different digital media, which would then beactivated as users passed by specific locations. The idea was to develop an experimental drift through an area, rather than a guided, chronological linear walk. 

Ripping the book apart
Ripping the book apart – September 2012

From paper designs formulated during this process we developed the rough outline for a design for both the virtual (armchair version) and the GPS on location versions of the app.

The next stage of the development involved intensive meetings with Phantom Production who produced and mixed the extraordinary sound files for the app. Phantom consist of an amazing team of audio producers headed by the multiple-award winning sound artist Francesca Panetta, who runs the Guardian’s audio team. Francesca was one of the first to work on this type of GPS activated app (Soho Stories App). Her knowledge and expertise has greatly enhanced the project and through Francesca I was introduced to Calvium, app developers based in Bristol, worldwide leaders in the field of GPS activated apps.

Before working on the back end of development I spent a considerable amount of time storyboarding the app. I found this a painful process, after five years of researching the area and its history and a book’s worth of material gathered and more, it was hard for me to cut this down. I eventually decided on 12 different story zones, which take you through the story of the historic quarter of Hatton Garden, from its time as a medieval rural monastic landscape in the Fleet Valley, to its transformation in the nineteenth century into a jewellery quarter and the contemporary story of the place today. 

Even though I had already conducted hundreds of hours worth of audio recordings of people who work in the Hatton Garden jewellery trade, it was decided these needed to be re-recorded. The quality of my recordings was just not high enough for the project. So I contacted a number of people who had been involved in the book, from Iain Sinclair, to geologist Diana Clements, to orthodox diamond dealers and sewer flushers and then BBC broadcaster India Rakusen re-recorded my interviewees. These recordings were then mixed with bespoke soundscapes and music to create 12 beautifully produced and extremely high quality sound files, which really form the core of the GPS experience. As you walk around with your smartphone in your pocket and your headphones in your ears the secrets of the streets around you are revealed. Have a listen to some of the sound files we used on the Diamond Street App here. 

After spending a lot of time in different archives, deciding on which images to use in the app and editing down some of the text from the book, we had all the content ready to go. The next stage got a lot more techy! In November 2012 Simon Poulter and I attended an intensive training day with app developers Calvium learning how to use Calvium’s specially developed platform for GPS located apps.

In collaboration with Phantom Production and Calvium we decided on location zones and then placed the sound files and images within these zones. A period of intensive testing ensued, with extensive notes on any issues on site (such as leakage of sound files from one zone to another, or places where sound files overlapped) being taken and then reported back to Calvium who made continual adjustments to the back end of the app. There were many small problems to iron out and a lot of testing was needed before the app was working well. Most of the testing took place throughout the coldest winter on record and I can’t say it was all an enjoyable experience, but hearing those stories come to life in place as I wandered around was undeniably really exciting, a very contemporary way of conducting pyschogeography in place.

I really did jump into the deep end with this project. I had to learn a whole new language fast, as developers and digital artists asked me questions about ‘front ends’ and ‘back ends’, ‘story zones’ and ‘location zones’. To try and explain what I mean, below is a screen shot of the ‘back end’ of the app in development.

Appfurnace build (back end), showing the sound and location zones of diamondstreetapp. The diamond icons represent sound files

Alongside intensive testing on location we began to develop the designs for the armchair version of the app, which eventually became a swiping timeline through the stories in the book, with embedded text, images, films and sound.

I’m delighted to say the Diamond Street App has now been published and is available as a free download both in the iTunes store and for the Android market. I’m really excited about the project, which I hope has achieved its aim of giving readers a much deeper, interactive, dynamic and live experience of the locations, people and stories described within my printed text.

For me, working for the first time with these new mediums has completely altered my outlook on digital publishing and the potential of using new media to connect with new readers and audiences. I’ve found the collaborative multi-media way of working both really exciting and really challenging and whilst I’m looking forward to some quality time alone with my computer, cracking on with my next book, I can certainly imagine working on more digital app projects in the future.


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17. [PR] Viz Manga Titles Coming to a Kindle Near You!!

{Ed. I’m excited about this.  It’s so much easier to click the buy button on Amazon, compared to over at Viz.  One click, and there’s your manga.  How simple is that?  Probably too simple for my wallet!} 



The Largest And Most Diverse Digital Manga Collection, With More Than 1,500 Volumes Across 160 Series Is Now Available!

San Francisco, CA, October 1, 2013 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest publisher, distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, has announced the availability of its entire digital manga (graphic novel) catalog for Amazon Kindle devices, including Kindle Fire tablets and the new Kindle Paperwhite, beginning today. Users of the world’s best-selling e-reader now have instant access via the Kindle Store to an extensive digital library featuring over 1,500 manga volumes constituting more than 160 different series.

Volumes are available for purchase and immediate download in the U.S. and Canada from the Kindle Store for generally $6.99 (U.S. / CAN) each. New series as well as updates to numerous ongoing titles will be added each week. VIZ Media has also synchronized its digital publishing schedule so that future Kindle Store manga titles will have near-simultaneous domestic digital release that coincides with their print counterparts.

The launch list features the latest digital releases of ongoing fan favorites such NARUTO (rated ‘T’ for Teens), BLEACH (rated ‘T’ for Teens), BAKUMAN (rated ‘T’ for Teens), and ONE PIECE (rated ‘T’ for Teens) as well as recent bestsellers such as DEMON LOVE SPELL (rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens), MAGI: THE LABYRNTH OF MAGIC (rated ‘T’ for Teens) and many, many more. Kindle users may check out free previews for every series available.

“We are strong advocates for the continued growth of digital manga content, and are very pleased to partner with Amazon to bring the world’s best titles to millions of avid readers and fans in North America,” says Gagan Singh, EVP and CTO, VIZ Media. “We invite Amazon Kindle users to explore VIZ Media’s extensive offerings, one of the most current, diverse, and also historically deep manga catalogs available anywhere.”

For more information on VIZ Media digital manga titles on the Amazon Kindle, please visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_adv_b/?search-alias=digital-text&field-publisher=Viz+Media.

For more information on VIZ Media manga titles, please visit www.VIZ.com.

About VIZ Media, LLC

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, VIZ Media distributes, markets and licenses the best anime and manga titles direct from Japan.  Owned by three of Japan’s largest manga and animation companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media has the most extensive library of anime and manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. With its popular digital manga anthology WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP and blockbuster properties like NARUTO, BLEACH and INUYASHA, VIZ Media offers cutting-edge action, romance and family friendly properties for anime, manga, science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages.  VIZ Media properties are available as graphic novels, DVDs, animated television series, feature films, downloadable and streaming video and a variety of consumer products.  Learn more about VIZ Media, anime and manga at www.VIZ.com.

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18. Illustrating a Picture Book: Finishing Touches

Last week, the scans of my Jungle Grumble illustrations came back from the repro-house. Things have been a bit fast and furious: I've had just a few days to get all the 'finishing work' done, then Dropbox the final digital artwork back to the publisher, ready for everything to be put together and sent off to the printer. Phew.

There were three 'finishing' jobs for me to do in Photoshop / Painter: 

1 - text overlays

Children's illustrators never draw text onto their actual artwork, because of translations. All text, even wording that is part of the actual picture, is added afterwards, digitally. Unfortunately, because of the pastel texture of my work, ordinary, typed text 'floats', so I make my own text overlays, using Painter, which look like they are drawn in black pastel. Luckily there wasn't much intrinsic text in Jungle Grumble, only one lion roar and the Swap Shop sign, though that does appear a few times: 

2 - legibility issues

To keep things as clear as possible, it's easiest when a story's main text falls over areas of sky. That wasn't always possible in Jungle Grumble: in several places I had to use trees or bushes as backgrounds for text. But it was tricky to be sure precisely where specific lines of text would need to sit and, because of my style, it was hard not to include undergrowth textures which might be visually distracting behind the words. Once my designer got the scans, she was able to layer the two together so we could spot any places where things were slightly too busy or too dark to be sure of maximum visibility. I then used Photoshop to make subtle changes. Spot the differences to the bush bottom right:

3 - vignettes

Not all my illustrations are full spreads with illustrated backgrounds. Some pages feature smaller vignettes: characters against a plain background. My biggest digital job is cutting vignette characters off my pink paper. It takes ages because of the pastel edge, especially where the pastel colour is close to the pink of the paper, like Lion's roar:

He looks so much better on green, don't you think? For anyone who wants to know how I do the cutting out, here's a detailed 'masterclass' (though my version of Photoshop is old, so many things may be slightly different on up-to-date editions).

Most illustrators don't do this digital stuff themselves, but I prefer to, as the pastels make it quite a bit more tricky than usual. It's possible that I'm being a bit of a control freak, as usual, but after all that time spent getting the drawings done, I like to be sure that these final alterations are exactly right.

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19. Cougar Bay Crane Barge

Cougar Bay Crane Barge

Trying out some new techniques. This illustration is all digital, using the excellent Photoshop brushes made by illustrator Kyle Webster to replicate my analog paint-on-paper style. I used several of the big wash brushes and the gouache and detail brushes. I did modify the brushes that used a multiply mode in order to more accurately mimic how paint on paper would react. Looking forward to playing with these brushes more and experimenting with the flexibility that all digital allows. 

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20. Hoarding Squirrel

The quail agree, squirrels are the WORST.

Another all digital experiment.

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21. Flood Water

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22. Honk! Honk! Honk!

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23. Bears Galore!

I've been drawing LOTS of bears lately. Fun to do -- as usual -- and this particular arrangement (for example only) feels a bit like a Richard Scary page... Bride Bear. Groom Bear. Burly Bear. Policeman Bear... :)

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24. A Bear and a Bug

This image is part of a two page spread that illustrates the change in hibernation patterns of Spanish bears in the Cordilleran Mountains. They are waking up too early due to warmer winter temperatures and often no food is available for them to eat.

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25. C2E2: Marvel Takes Digital to a New Level, Reveals Documentary Series in the Works

marvel-logoby David Fairbanks

Marvel’s House of Ideas panel at C2E2 2015 was hosted by Ryan Penagos and features Nick Lowe, Joshua Hale Fialkov, and Mark Waid on stage, focusing heavily on Marvel’s digital endeavors with brief mentions of the 75th anniversary of Marvel Comics, the Marvel Gaming Universe, and a new documentary series called Tales to Astonish.

 Joshua Hale Fialkov and Juan Bobilo will be bringing Amazing Spider-man: Who Am I? to the Marvel Infinite Comics lineup, but unlike titles like AvX and Wolverine, Who Am I? will be released in a batch on May 6 containing the first four chapters, with another batch of chapters to be released approximately a month later.

Who Am I? will focus on what someone with the powers of Spider-man will do without his background, as he awakens in a body with his powers in the midst of robbing a bank. He has all of the power and no understanding of the responsibility. Fialkov says he was told “not to worry about print” and that the series will take advantage of digital-only techniques, worrying about their print viability later if needed.

Ultimate Spider-man (animated) will have a free Infinite Comics debuting soon.

Mark Waid’s Daredevil: Road Warrior Infinite Comic is coming to print July 2014 as issue 0.1, bridging the gap between his two Daredevil volumes. Waid admits that they are reverse engineering the title to make it viable for print, saying “there are two characters in particular that loan themselves beautifully to digital comics; Doctor Strange, who I have ideas for, and Daredevil. For Daredevil: Road Warrior, we faded the POV from the way you see the world to the way Matt Murdock sees the world.”

Marvel has provided new updates to their augmented reality app, Marvel AR. The updated version promises to be faster playing, better functioning, and offering more content with the relaunch of Amazing Spider-man showcasing some of the new features.

Updates to the Marvel Comics Unlimited app were announced, including the implementation of audio soundtracks—described by Fialkov as “so well done, so interestingly done,” highlighting a particular Captain America issue that “had a Cap theme, a Bucky theme, and more” that had won over a once-skeptical Fialkov. Described as music in a video game, with seamless transitions and a theme for a given “stage” that could change and then revert back as the story progressed.

Marvel Comics Unlimited will also have video added to the app. Currently available on the first six issues of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers, there will be behind-the-scenes footage, interviews (one example was a discussion with Hickman on the design he created for the Avengers roster), and other miscellaneous footage.

Like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Marvel Gaming Universe is set to be intertwined. Penagos showed a brief preview that looked to be setting up a video game exploring the multiple realities that are colliding in the Marvel Universe thanks to Hickman’s current Avengers storyline, though he was unable to tell us what the video game is yet. Marvel’s video game staff are included in the editorial retreats to ensure that the whole of the Marvel Universe has a matching vision, with game scripts being written or supervised by comics writers to keep a consistent voice.

Finally, Marvel announced their Tales to Astonish documentary series. Directed by Emmy-winning Eric Drath (30 for 30), the first installment will focus on Civil War and clips featuring Joss Whedon, Stan Lee, and Tucker Stone were previewed. The series hopes to tie into the real-world events that Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko were experiencing and trying to bring into their comics. There has yet to be any announcement as to how or when it will be released.

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