Friday, January 30, 2015

Quote of the Day

“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”

― C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Angel Defender Sketch

When people ask to see my sketchbook, I usually hem and haw because my sketchbooks are very disappointing. They're mostly pages and pages of thumbnails, little figure drawings and hastily scribbled notes. But occasionally I try to sketch something worth showing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Peter Preachin, Peter Healin'

Here are some illustrations of the apostle Peter that I did for Lifeway's Explore the Bible series. I drew these over a year ago. I particularly like this one because of the cast shadow - Peter is literally pulling the crippled man out of the darkness and into the light. This was the drawing where it clicked in my head that I could use cast shadows for mood and narrative purposes, and it was quite the rush of power.

For this scene of Peter preaching, I looked at a lot of orientalist paintings for inspiration. Even though orientalist paintings are not set in Biblical times, they're still helpful for getting ideas for drawing pre-Industrial middle-eastern cities. Lifeway has me draw a lot of scenes of men preaching to crowds, so I'm always looking for ideas for settings.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Personal work: Indian Princess

I drew this quick portrait for some of my followers on Storybird, (If you're not familiar with Storybird, check out my writeup on them here!) They asked for more images of this character, to use in stories:

I drew the above scene over a year ago, as part of my thesis, so it was interesting to revisit this character. I used this stock photo from Deviantart user girlinred as a reference:

Here's a closeup:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Ladies of Literature Preview + Inspiration Art Book!

Here's a preview of my piece for the upcoming Ladies of Literature zine. I can't post the entire piece online yet - hopefully next month or so, after the Kickstarter for the zine is launched. (I'll be sure to let you know on this blog!)

I've been able to sneak peeks at some of the other artists' illustrations and there's a huge range of styles. I'm really looking forward to seeing the completed book; I have a feeling it's something I would purchase even if I wasn't part of the project. You can see some previews of the work at the Ladies of Lit tumblr.


In other news, Jon Schindehette's Inspiration Artbook is now available!

This is a collaborative art book featuring 30 fantasy artists, including myself, discussing the things that inspire us. You can get a copy for only $24.95 with free shipping in the US! Here is my piece which is in the book:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

6 Tips for Aspiring Kickstarters

Thinking of putting together a Kickstarter this year?

Three years ago my husband and I put together a successful Kickstarter for our video game Crea. (I'm not going to link to it here, because frankly the video we made is pretty embarrassing.) Through our own experience, and through watching other friends launch successful and unsuccessful Kickstarters, we've learned a lot about what makes a campaign sink or swim. If you're thinking of Kickstarting an illustration or comic book project, (or any kind of project), here are my tips:

  1. A clever concept is key. As artists, we get excited at the thought of an art book or comic, and any ol' art book or comic will do. But to get attention on Kickstarter, you need a catchy concept under 140 characters. Think specific and unique. Why should people back your "steampunk artbook" when there are plenty of steampunk books out there already? How about a "steampunk coloring book for adults" - that's a unique product they can't get anywhere but your Kickstarter. (Feel free to steal that idea, btw)
  2. Look at a lot of other Kickstarters - both successful and unsuccessful. Watch their videos, read their updates, look at their funding goals. What did the successful ones do differently? What did the unsuccessful ones do poorly? This is extremely useful information that will help you understand what's expected of a typical Kickstarter campaign.
  3. Have your project at least 75% complete before Kickstarting. Projects always take longer than we think they will. That's why it's best to have the majority of the project ready to go before you start making promises and setting deadlines. You could even have the project completely finished before starting, but I say 75% because you might want to leave a little room to adjust the project based on feedback and how much funding you raise.
  4. Have a promotion plan that includes more than just Facebook status updates. Without it, you will only annoy your friends and family with your repeated pleas for money. Instead, look for online communities that might be interested in your project. For a steampunk coloring book for adults, that might be cosplayers, Ren-Faire geeks, history buffs, fantasy and sci-fi fans, goth/lolita groups, etc. Look for prominent members of those communities, and ask them to tweet about your Kickstarter. Look for related Kickstarters and ask them to mention you to their backers. If you have a blog, Deviantart or Tumblr, be sure to drum up some excitement about your project before the Kickstarter begins.
  5. A Kickstarter is a part-time job. You don't just post your Kickstarter online and then sit back and wait for it to get funded. You have to be actively promoting your Kickstarter, sending out updates and answering questions - then afterwards, preparing and shipping rewards. Prepare for this to be time-consuming.
  6. You can lose money on a successful Kickstarter. No one is going to stop you from making foolish promises. You can tell backers that if they pledge $10, you'll send them a hardbound, foil-embossed artbook, only to find out that it would cost you $60 to have said books printed and $15 to ship them. That means either losing $65 per backer, or breaking your promises. Don't put yourself in that position! Be very, very careful about what you promise as rewards, and thoroughly research all the costs of producing, packing and shipping those rewards. Also don't forget that Kickstarter takes a cut of your money.
To summarize: Finish up your project, educate yourself about Kickstarter, research possible avenues of promotion, carefully price your rewards.

Some art-related Kickstarters to check out:

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Japanese New Year's Card

Back in college, when I studied abroad in Japan, I met a girl named Saki and we became good friends. Many Japanese families send out postcards for New Year's, and Saki's family likes to put a family photo on their holiday postcards. This year their family photo didn't turn out so well, so they asked me to draw one instead! They specifically asked for a cute, simplified style rather than my usual realistic work. Here are the two options I sent them:

Saki sent me as many recent photos of her family she could find. The main challenge of drawing in this style was trying to capture each individual's look without losing the simple cuteness.

I had fun picking out a Japanese font. I went through a few until I found one that had a chunky, handwritten look that matched the style of the illustration. Obviously, the center of the scroll says "happy new year," and in the lower left the year is written in the Japanese Imperial system, a formal system of dating which has something to do with the year of the emperor's reign.

Saki's family sent me a copy of one of their postcards!

I like how this turned out so much that I'm thinking of doing more work in this style. What do you think?

Happy New Year to you, blog readers! Welcome back after the holidays. I'm hoping to have some exciting stuff for the blog this year, including some interviews and giveaways. Thanks for your comments, tweets and emails. It makes me happy to know that people are reading this thing.
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