Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Practical Links for Illustrators

  • Your Style is What Sells (Or What Gets Attention) by Katie Kath Boyd - this is perhaps one of the simplest and most practical posts on finding your personal style that I've found so far. Especially good for people who feel like they have a lot of styles and don't want to be pinned down to just one.
  • Breaking the Low Mood Cycle by Elodie Under Glass - not illustration specific, but an excellent guide to breaking out of any kind of rut or slump.
  • What I've Learned in 7 Years by Zelda Devon - "These keys do exist. How you get them is up to you. You get them by getting a Mentor, going to the IMC, having a support group of people tell you when your work can be better, copying masters or people that you love, life drawing at every free moment, until it starts making sense. Most people give up. Don't give up."
  • On Breaking Into the Games Industry by Molly Maloney - A thorough, no-nonsense guide to becoming an employable, professional artist. Even if getting into video games is not your goal, this post is filled with valuable advice.
  • 13 Exercises for Clearing the Confusion Surrounding What you Want out of your Illustration Career by Andy J. Miller - "...your career is often steered by the personal work you choose to do."
And finally, I leave you with this encouraging comic. I don't know the name of the artist, whose website is in Russian, but you can find him at .

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Figure Sketches

Last night I drew some 1-minute figure sketches by using the Sketchdaily Gesture Generator. They seem to have a good collection of costumed figure photos. Another figure drawing generator I use is Pixelovely, although their photos start repeating themselves after not too long.

I like sketching in ballpoint pen. I think it goes back to my childhood when I would doodle on church bulletins during sermons. Later on I started bringing my own sketching materials to church, but at first I knew I could always rely on Mom to have a good ballpoint pen in her purse somewhere.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Cover: Designs to Die For

I am excited to show this to you guys because this is the first book cover I ever worked on for a publisher! Last year my agent asked me if I would be interested in working on a series of "cozy mystery novels."

Yeah, I didn't know what that was either. According to Wikipedia, cozy mysteries "are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed...and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. The amateur detective is usually a gregarious, well-liked individual who is able to get the community members to talk freely about each other. Cozy mystery series frequently have a prominent thematic element introduced by the detective's job or hobby."

In this series, "Mysteries Unraveled," the main character is a crochet designer in addition to being an amateur detective.

Cover illustrations for cozy mysteries generally don't feature characters or people - mostly scenes of small towns or still lifes. They are also generally realistic, bright and colorful, with a small "sinister element" that suggests mystery or trouble. The client asked for these things to be included in the cover:
  • A dressmaker’s form, with a crocheted jacket on it
  • A work table
  • A basket of colorful balls of yarn
  • A big window with sheer, sunlit curtains
  • Four crochet hooks, in pairs, of two different lengths
  • A second crocheted item, perhaps the beginning of a scarf, with two of the crochet hooks “engaged” 
  • Sketchpad
Here are the roughs I sent to the client:

The client liked the arrangement of rough #3 but the jacket of #2. So I combined the two and added some rough color:

The client gave it the thumbs-up, but asked me to stab a stiletto knife into the sketchpad, since the scene was missing a sinister element.

Here's the final version:

Here's the completed cover, designed by Brad Snow: 

I've designed several more covers for this series, which I will post later. If you're interested in ordering the Mysteries Unraveled books, you can find them at Annie's Fiction. (I do not receive any royalties from sales of the books.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This is my life

So this is me, working, in my office.

That's my art studio in the corner - my standing desk, a glass of water, and a wall of illustrated postcards I've collected from friends and people at conferences. During the day I might take quick snapshots of myself in various poses, holding props or makeshift costumes, using my dresser as a camera tripod. I took this particular photo because I needed a reference for a foreshortened arm holding a sword.

Yep, this is me working, in my office. My life is kind of amazing.

Monday, August 4, 2014

New Etsy shop!

I opened up a new Etsy shop to sell prints and originals! My art book is available, as well as sets of postcards and some original pencil drawings.

Look at all this cool stuff!

So cool!

So cool you guys!

Special offer for blog readers: When you make a purchase, leave the note "I read your stupid blog" in the order form, and I'll throw in a free postcard!

If you would like a print that's not listed in my Etsy shop, check out my INPRNT store.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Covers Before and After Text

Time for another installment of Book Covers Before and After Text!

The cool thing about book covers is that they're made to work together with text, but they also stand on their own. I find it really interesting to see what book cover illustrations look like both with and without text. Here are some great examples from some insanely talented illustrators.

Illustrated by Antonio Caparo

Illustrated by Greg Ruth

Illustrated by Eric Fortune

Illustrated by Kevin Keele

Illustrated by Petur Antonsson

Illustrated by Erwin Madrid

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Getting Started...Again

In the past few weeks I've been in a bit of a creative rut. While I've been working on commissions, I haven't created any personal work or any sketches. This is partially because all my client commissions happened to be in the rough/revisions stages, which for me is the least fun part. I want to skip all that and just render, render, render.

When creating personal work I tend to get caught up on what I "should" draw. What would enhance my portfolio? What would look good on a postcard? What would bring me the kind of work I want to do? What will get me attention online? Is it dynamic enough? Is it dramatic enough? Is it enough enough?

I was starting to avoid drawing.

Thankfully, ICON came to save the day. In my experience, conventions are always helpful for restarting motivation and inspiration, and ICON was no exception. I saw artists who seem to exhale sketches and doodles and little sculptures like carbon dioxide. It was a wake-up call. I made myself do some sketching, and I started a new personal piece yesterday, which I will post here when it's finished.

It's not much, but I'm getting started.

Hey look, it's Helena from Orphan Black!

I would so wear this as a Halloween costume, if I actually went out and did things for Halloween.