Showing posts with label tools. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tools. Show all posts

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Starting From Scratch in Your Sketchbook

At the 2014 New England SCBWI conference, I taught a workshop with fellow author/illustrator, Russ Cox. Our workshop was titled "Sketchbooks are Awesome!" 

Why? Because they are. 

Both Russ and I have had rewarding career experiences through sharing our sketchbooks and we wanted to stress how important it is to draw every day...How, no matter what, you should set a little time aside for yourself. You might not always make something worth loving, or sharing, but drawing in a sketchbook is like writing in a journal. "Getting it out" is both therapeutic AND a way to become a better artist. 


We wanted to encourage fellow illustrators and writers to use their sketchbooks again and assumed that the attendees signed up because they weren't and needed help. With that information we were able to put together a (hopefully) inspirational presentation, not without humor of course:

Photo Cred: Lisa Griffin

One thing I briefly touched on with to attendees was how to get over fear of the blank page by drawing light circles. I realized the best way to explain this was to film a demo of how I do it. Because that video is filled with blabbering on, I will not blabber on any more in writing... :)

Please enjoy! Let me know what you think or what you'd like to see more of in the comments!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

My favorite podcasts

TracyBishop sketchUpdate: 4/25/2014
It's been almost a year since I've written this list. I thought it would be nice to add some new favorites. I still listen to everything listed last year so it's still a good list.

Here are new podcasts that I've discovered in 2014:

  • Let's Get Busy Podcast hosted by Matthew Winner (twitter @MatthewWinner) - This podcast should be mandatory listening to anyone who wants to write and illustrate picture books. Matthew Winner interviews authors and illustrators about the process of creating books. Matthew adds on his perspective as an elementary teacher librarian. THIS is what makes this podcast so unique and priceless to me. I listen to a ton of podcast where you hear artists talking to other artists or authors talking to industry people. It is such a nice change to hear what teachers and kids think about books. I feel like I'm getting a masters education on picture book making by listening to this podcast.

  • Home Work - A weekly podcast for people who work from home. A lot of practical advice about the practicalities of having a home office. 

The one thing that I have to have while working is something to listen to. I find that my mind wanders and it just gets lonely if I try to work in silence.

I have two listening modes:

Mode 1-- Thinking mode
If I have to really concentrate to sketch out ideas or to work out a layout of a book, I need music. Not only any kind of music, but something droning and repetitive that I will loop over and over again. These days, the opening theme for Game of Thrones is my preferred song that I play on repeat. (Because of this my kid hums the Game of Thrones song. I keep on telling people that I don't let him watch the show.)

Coffivity - Another thing I listen to when I have to think is the coffee shop noise from Coffivity. It sounds really silly but it really works to help you focus.

 Mode 2-- Production mode 
When I'm painting for looooong hours, I listen to podcasts. I love listening to conversation and the idea that I'm learning things while working. Over the years I've collected quite a few shows so here's my list:

Podcasts about Illustration/Comics:
Podcasts about Creativity/Productivity
Podcasts about Tech Stuff:
Podcasts about Stuff:
I'm always looking for new podcasts to listen to so please write down any suggestions you have in the comments!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Planning your portfolio in InDesign

Conference season is in the air, so I thought I'd show you a quick way to plan out your physical portfolio using InDesign and Acrobat. I have to credit Tracy Bishop for this tip. I don't know about you, but I wasted a lot of ink and paper before I figured this method out. Doh!

In my last post I showed you how I organize my picture book dummies using InDesign. Planning a portfolio is pretty much the same process. I open a new document in InDesign creating pages the same size as my physical portfolio. For more details, check my last post here.

As you can see, I figured out how many pages I wanted and have placed my art already. It's really easy to click and drag the pages in the page menu to rearrange them. I can decide whether to leave blank pages or to group related pictures together. I can also figure out how big each image should be.

Once I have the art the size I want, I can click on each image to see what size it is and print it at that size in Photoshop. Easy peasy.

You can also export this as a pdf and load it on your iPad or other tablet. 

Here's my portfolio (for now). I'm using an 11x14 Kolo album. It's an inch too wide for the SCBWI National Conference this summer in Los Angeles, but I wanted my art as big as possible. I'll have to figure out something else soon.

With the Kolo album, you can get pages that you can print directly on. My printer doesn't cooperate, but maybe yours does. I print my images on Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster and mount it on the portfolio pages using StudioTac. Tracy also introduced me to StudioTac. I use the low tack version so that I am able to reposition things if necessary. It's so easy to use! You just put your image on it, burnish over the image, then adhere it to the page in your portfolio.

I wanted my name on the portfolio, so here's what I used as page one.

I consulted this post by Molly Idle to figure out the look of my portfolio. I like that she's creating a portfolio that feels like a real book.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tools for organizing your dummy

Creating a book dummy can be a daunting process. I welcome anything that makes it easier! I've found that InDesign by Adobe is the perfect tool for a project this size.

There are lots of other articles on creating dummies. Here, I just want to give you a peak at how I use InDesign in my process.

First, open a new document:

Drag to add pages in the Pages palette to your document.

I scan in my thumbnails, place them on the pages and adjust the size to fit the page.

Using InDesign allows me to then print out thumbnails of the entire dummy on one or two pages. This makes it easy to figure out text placement, flow, page turns, etc. I love this feature! It saves tons of time for me. I print at the 4x4 size which gets the whole dummy on two pages.

I also use it as a to do list of sorts to track my progress on a project. I check it off page by page as I work. As I complete more finished drawings, I replace the roughs. Later, when I'm painting, I scan and add each page as I go. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment as I see the finished pages multiplying and the book really coming together. 

As I'm working my way through more finished drawings, I replace the roughs. Later, when I'm painting, I scan and add each completed page to the dummy in InDesign as I go. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment as I see the finished pages multiplying and the book really coming together.

Don't be afraid of using InDesign. This is a very basic usage of it that anyone can handle. I'm using CS6, but older versions work just as well. I hope this helps you on your next project. In a future post, I share how I use this program to plan my physical portfolio.