Monthly Archives: November 2012

International Artist…who me?? The items you need to begin

Every now and then we get questions from our readers and Reem’s seemed like a great one to answer and put in a post for everyone to see.  Thanks Reem!

Hi I’m new to the group and I find a lot of good and useful articles like yours so thanks a lot on that article it was really enlightening for me as it’s quite different in my country “Egypt”, and since you seem to have a good experience can you tell if it’s possible to draw illustrations for a publisher overseas ? as I would like to widen my experience, and if it’s possible how can I sign a contract or deliver my illustrations and all these details.
So if you can help me with your advice and experience I would really appreciate it, and also anyone who had a similar experience are welcome to comment.


Artwork Copyright Wilson Williams, Jr

Hello Reem,

In this day and age distance is no longer a hindrance in whom you work with. Only language barriers may prove a problem and there’s apps for that as well. (though it would be best to find clients that speak languages you easily understand. In no way would I recommend hinging your communication with a client on translation software.) I work with people in other countries and it works perfectly fine.

These are the basic things you’ll need to accomplish what you want in both a minimum and maximum capacity.

At the very least:
Internet,  E-Mail Account, Scanner(if you work traditionally), PayPal

At the most:
Internet, E-Mail Account, Scanner/Printer/Fax, PayPal, Server Space/Online Storage, FTP program, Telephone/Skype, Skype Headset/Camera

One of the primary essential item you need, you have already shown you possess, internet access. With this you’ll research companies that go beyond your geographic boundaries. Very few illustrators think about the fact that their services can be used across the world and not just in their native country. When we say you need to “Spread Your Wings” this is the type of thing we are talking about. Think of not only other markets you can gain work in but also other geographic areas. You are on the right track thinking this way Reem.

Many large publishers even have international divisions located in other countries. Use your favorite search engine to search for international publishers. You can also check their websites and see if they offer the site in varied languages. Multiple languages on a site are usually a good indication that they have divisions in multiple countries.

E-Mail Account:
Essential largely for having an easy and affordable way to contact and correspond with your clients as well as transfer files to them. There are free e-mail services and some will even offer a limited amount of server storage space which can be used to transfer larger files. (More on that later.)

For fund transfer and payments. PayPal is the quickest and most efficient way to exchange funds with international clients. When it comes to royalties and longer term payments you can arrange for those to be handled via mail. You will need to figure in Paypal’s cut to your cost as well as the exchange rates for varying money across the globe. Paypal has these things built into their site.

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The Art Dept and DeviantArt Train your Brain Challenge


Through the Train Your Brain Challenge, The Art Department (TAD) is offering a massive number of exclusive scholarship opportunities to members of deviantART. TAD is the best of the best in providing online art education, with a variety of programs taught by world-class faculty. Check out their group, #TheArtDept, to watch video tutorials from their faculty!

Submit your work in one of the five disciplines offered by TAD: Illustration, Drawing and Painting, Animation, Entertainment 2D, and Entertainment 3D. Make something new or use something you’ve made in the past! You could win tuition and travel to one of TAD’s programs, a trip to Pixar Studios near San Francisco, or free online art classes. The total prizes available are over $300,000 in value and there will be over 150 winners!

Go HERE for more info and a chance to win in any one of the many categories.

Book Report – The Art of How to Train Your Dragon

One of the most amazing movies I’ve seen in the 3D era of animated movies has got to be How to Train Your Dragon. A big part of that for me has to be the way the animators gave life to the dragons. This is why I love these types of art books. I love to see the process of how they bring these characters to life and this book doesn’t disappoint with more than 350 pieces of development art. From character designs, story sketches, and concept paintings this book has it all included. Even a few sketches from Cressida Cowell the author who wrote the books that this movie is based on.

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Karen Lee shares her Photoshop Technique

Karen Lee is a divine Illustrator. She holds the honor of being a consistent contributor to Highlights magazine as well as having a number of trade Children’s Books under her belt.

We are oh so lucky that she has agreed to share some of her technique and process on our blog. So get out your pencils and paper it’s time for a lesson folks! Enjoy!

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 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:


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Free perspective software released by Epic games

At Epic Games, they have a monthly tradition where they let their employees for one Friday a month work on whatever pet project they want. They call this day Epic Friday. One Friday one of their Senior Environment Artist Warren Marshall wanted to improve his fundamental drawing skills so he developed a program for laying down perspective lines. This stand alone application makes it easier to find a vanishing point in an image. This feature is built into some existing software like Illustrator and Photoshop, but if you don’t have the latest version of these, then this is a good tool that will do the same job. The app he developed is called Carapace. This is a simple application with only one purpose finding, laying down and then making a computer-generated vanishing point. Carapace allows you to lay down one, two or three points of perspective and it will lay down the rest of the grid for you. Epic Games and Warren were nice enough to share this application with their community of users, if you have a PC. Sorry Mac users no application available yet. To read Epic Games entire post and to download the app follow the link here.

We Are Thankful For You, Our Readers

This Thanksgiving, Wilson and I wanted to personally thank our readers. We have a blast running this site and we truly give thanks for your support and readership. We want to also thank our guest contributors who have helped add their invaluable experiences and knowledge to our community. We have seen the number of people coming to our site grow exponentially this year and it’s been amazing to be a part of it. We are receiving well over 8,000 page views per month. Wilson and I appreciate every single pair of eyeballs that pays attention to the content we create. Just Monday we got our largest amount of traffic ever with over 1600 visitors in a single day which is the most in our history. This year we found ourselves having to learn a lot of new things with running a website. We have had a crash course in social media and even podcasting which has turned out to be a lot harder than we thought it was going to be. From scheduling interviews to figuring out how to get the best quality audio out of Skype it’s been a challenge. The best part of it all being that we found ourselves enjoying this challenge.

We’ve also been receiving an increasing amount of thoughtful and interesting comments on all the places we share our content. Whether you find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and or via another site we’ve enjoyed all of your comments. So much of the internet these days is thoughtless Internet trolling and we certainly don’t need more of it. I’m happy to say that on Once Upon a Sketch all of the conversations we’ve had have been positive  and thoughtful sharing of experiences.

I hope you found the information we’ve had to share helpful in your career. Thank you for tuning in to our website and please continue to do so! Happy Thanksgiving!

Jarrett J Krosoczka’s Inspired Ted Talk

Jarrett Krosocka is a prolific writer and illustrator of numerous award winning children’s books and graphic novels.  I was first exposed to Jarrett’s work a few years ago. I had just joined SCBWI and there was going to be a conference in Orlando at which he was going to be a speaker. I had no clue who he was. So I went online and did some research. I was immediately struck by his exuberant personality, infectious smile and energy. I was most inspired by a video he had up where he chronicled the publication of his first book. He filmed himself reenacting himself creating the dummy and sending it off in the mail and eventually getting an acceptance for publication! WOW!! What a great story, how inspired I was!! I made a list of all his books at the time and went to the library to check them out and read before I got to meet him in person!

Sadly some circumstances occurred and I wasn’t able to attend the conference that year. I still remembered that video though and how it made me think that success was possible. I still hold onto that hope and since then have accumulated a number of success stories that build on top of the hope that Jarrett was the foundation of. So when I started this blog I thought how awesome it would be to share that video with our readers. Give them the same spark of hope that it had given me! When I went back to Jarrett’s site, I couldn’t find it. I sent him a note on Facebook asking about it and he was amazed I remembered it! Ha! He said that it had been taken down but that it may make a reappearance at some point. Well it hasn’t reappeared but something better has surfaced.

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Adobe black Friday deals

Everyone’s favorite shopping day is right around the corner and Adobe is launching its own black Friday deals on their software. So if you’re in the market to upgrade your software or just to pick up the latest version this could be a good time for you to save a little cash. Some of these deals have already started and some you have to wait until Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 22nd. Sorry to all those people who read our article about upgrading from CS3 and CS4 to CS6 there are no deals for upgrading that I’ve seen. Here’s a quick list of what Adobe is going to be offering.
• Save 20% on the full version of Lightroom 4
• Save 15% on upgrades to Acrobat XI Pro
• Save 30% on upgrades to Acrobat XI Standard
• Save 30% off the full CS6 Production Premium suite (when you switch from Final Cut Pro or Avid)
• Save 40% off some Creative Cloud memberships
• Free shipping

Here’s a link for you to view all the Adobe deals.

Here’s a link to the Adobe flier they put out for Black Friday.

Joss Whedon’s Top 10 Writing Tips

A lot of great info and tips to any aspiring writer/artists out there amongst our readers!

Learn from the best when you can!

Appreciate the wisdom of the talented!

This original article can be found here.

Joss Whedon is most famous for creating Buffy the Vampire Slayer, its spin-off Angel and the short-lived but much-loved Firefly series. But the writer and director has also worked unseen as a script doctor on movies ranging from Speed to Toy Story. Here, he shares his tips on the art of screenwriting.


Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.


Structure means knowing where you’re going ; making sure you don’t meander about. Some great films have been made by meandering people, like Terrence Malick and Robert Altman, but it’s not as well done today and I don’t recommend it. I’m a structure nut. I actually make charts. Where are the jokes ? The thrills ? The romance ? Who knows what, and when ? You need these things to happen at the right times, and that’s what you build your structure around : the way you want your audience to feel. Charts, graphs, coloured pens, anything that means you don’t go in blind is useful.


This really should be number one. Even if you’re writing a Die Hard rip-off, have something to say about Die Hard rip-offs. The number of movies that are not about what they purport to be about is staggering. It’s rare, especially in genres, to find a movie with an idea and not just, ‘This’ll lead to many fine set-pieces’. The Island evolves into a car-chase movie, and the moments of joy are when they have clone moments and you say, ‘What does it feel like to be those guys ?’


Everybody has a perspective. Everybody in your scene, including the thug flanking your bad guy, has a reason. They have their own voice, their own identity, their own history. If anyone speaks in such a way that they’re just setting up the next person’s lines, then you don’t get dialogue : you get soundbites. Not everybody has to be funny ; not everybody has to be cute ; not everybody has to be delightful, and not everybody has to speak, but if you don’t know who everybody is and why they’re there, why they’re feeling what they’re feeling and why they’re doing what they’re doing, then you’re in trouble.


Here’s one trick that I learned early on. If something isn’t working, if you have a story that you’ve built and it’s blocked and you can’t figure it out, take your favourite scene, or your very best idea or set-piece, and cut it. It’s brutal, but sometimes inevitable. That thing may find its way back in, but cutting it is usually an enormously freeing exercise.

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HEY! Adobe CS3 and CS4 users you might want to read this. Adobe is changing their upgrade policy.

Today I was researching software deals and came across this article about Adobe changing their upgrade policy. I thought some people might want to take a nice long look at upgrading to Adobe Creative Suite 6 (CS6) at this point due to this new information. If you’re a CS4 or CS3 user you will only be able to upgrade to CS6 until the end of the year due to Adobe changing their upgrade policies. Previously consumers could wait up to three versions to make their upgrade, but now Adobe is changing the way users can upgrade. Here’s the note from Adobe about their new upgrade policy.

“Special upgrade offer for CS3 and CS4 customers. Take advantage of our special introductory upgrade pricing on Creative Suite 6 for customers who own CS3 and CS4 individual products and suite editions. This temporary upgrade offer is valid through December 31, 2012. After that date, only customers who own CS5 or CS5.5 products will qualify for upgrade pricing to CS6.”

So what this means is if you own CS3 or CS4 you should upgrade now or be forced to pay full price at the start of 2013 if you want to update your software. This is pretty sad to me as a consumer of Adobe’s products. I’m still using CS4 and usually wait 2 or 3 revisions before upgrading. Now Adobe will be forcing its consumers to upgrade only one version earlier. From what I have been able to ascertain Adobe is making this change because they are now spreading out their release schedule from an 18 months to a two year schedule. Don’t forget CS5 and CS5.5 users you will need to upgrade to CS6 if you want to be able to eventually qualify to upgrade for CS7. This is really starting to get confusing so I’ll end with a link to their upgrades page if anyone wants to take action.

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