Monthly Archives: January 2013

Podcasts you should be listening to – Sidebar


Since 2007 Dwight, Swain and Adrian have been bringing insightful, informative and humorous interviews to the web with acclaimed Illustrators and Artists from the Comic, Fantasy and Sci-Fi World on their podcast Sidebar. These young men are true enthusiasts who approach their interviews from a position of love and adoration of the people they interview and the artwork they bring into our lives.

If you’re like me, you’ll find it easy to relate to them and share in their fanboy love of getting to speak with many of the people that have contributed and inspired them to hone their own personal craft and artistic abilities.

So if and when you get the chance and want to hear from more of the artists you enjoy, drop in and take a listen to some of their archived interviews and roundtables. You won’t be disappointed.

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Ted talk with Elizabeth Gilbert-Conquering your fears

Do you have an image in your portfolio that you can’t seem to get past? Mine is from college. (Which was practically 20 years ago!) It’s that one image that no matter how much you feel you’ve improved as an artist, no matter how much you love other images in your body of work, it’s the one that people always say they LOVE the most. Ugghhh!! It can make you feel like you’ve already past your prime. The feeling that whatever magic you were able to work into that piece you have yet to manage to manifest it the same way again. So what keeps you going? What keeps you creating and striving to improve and make more and more art?

This TED talk from Elizabeth Gilbert, the writer of Eat, Pray, Love, makes me think of that. Think of the forces that exist without and within that help to motivate our spirits and keep us pushing forward despite our fears and trepidation. So go ahead and take a gander when you get the chance. I don’t think the point is whether you believe in inspiration as being this entity that lives outside of yourself. It’s finding a way to put fear in it’s place so that we can continue to move forward and share our ideas and images with the world. Find your own path to it, but find your path so that your journey can’t be hindered.

My journey included, not putting that pesky image in my portfolio and letting myself be judged by what I make now versus what I made then. Enjoy.

Download Free Children’s Book Templates

There are versions of these types of templates all over the web.  Ours was far from the first! So I was surprised when folks were asking if they could get .PDF’s of the ones we showed in a previous post. Awesome!

I personally use these when I am laying out my Children’s Books and doing my thumbnails. Whether digitally or traditionally.   I also use them to lay out the type and get an idea of where things will flow the best. This is also helpful in giving the client a visual idea of how there book will be layed out and appear.


We altered these a bit so that they could be used for that purpose better.


We moved the page numbers and descriptions above the page so that you can scribble on them freely.



We included three page size formats; Tall, Wide and Square.


We made 8 1/2″ X 11″ as well as 11X17 variations of all of the above to give you some versatility in scale.

Download the ones that work best for you and your needs! Enjoy!

24 Page 8.5×11  Template (3 sizes)
8.5×11 Square PDF 24 Page
8.5×11 Tall PDF 24 Page
8.5×11 Wide PDF 24 Page
24 Page 11×17  Template (3 sizes)
11×17 Square PDF 24 Page
11×17 Tall PDF 24 Page
11×17 Wide PDF 24 Page

32 Page 8.5×11  Template (3 sizes)
8.5×11 Square PDF 32 Page
8.5×11 Tall PDF 32 Page
8.5×11 Wide PDF 32 Page
32 Page 11×17  Template (3 sizes)
11×17 Square PDF 32 Page
11×17 Tall PDF 32 Page
11×17 Wide PDF 32 Page

Update: after Wilson passed away these files disappeared from the service he used to allow you to download them. This service allowed Wilson to see how many times these templates were downloaded. He loved seeing how much people were enjoying these PDFs. Which is why the download links have been missing for a few years. I’m assuming, when his account was inactive for a while they removed the links. These PDFs needed to be remade so they are slightly different then the above images. Please enjoy.

Be a part of the Graphic Artists Guild’s Pricing Survey


In the past we have listed The Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines as an Essential Read to our Readers. This book is a great jumping on point for those wishing to learn more about contracts, rights in general, and an idea of what standard rates may be for specific niches of freelance illustration.

There are many who don’t feel that the prices listed in the book are truly reflective of the rates that their industry is currently willing to pay. So it is with great pleasure that we let you know there is  an opportunity for you to give your input based on your experiences to be included in the next publication. Please note you will need at least five years of experience to participate.

Participate in the Graphic Artists Guild’s Pricing Survey
DEADLINE: January 21

Become part of the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical
 Guidelines (PEGs) —let us know how you price your work by completing one or
 more pricing surveys. This industry resource has been guiding graphic arts 
professionals for more than 40 years about pricing their services, 
intellectual property rights, and business and legal issues.

We need your help in order to update the pricing guideline charts in the book. We are looking for self-employed graphic artists or owners of design firms or studios that offer or contract graphic arts services to participate in the surveys. Your help will ensure that the 14th Edition, to be published in September 2013, reflects current pricing guidelines and business practices.

There are 29 surveys representing the various sub-disciplines in graphic 
arts. Choose the surveys for the sub-disciplines in which you are most


Go to the following link to participate in the survey!



Rumor contol-Adobe not giving away free software

Adobe-logo nofree

Adobe is giving away CS2 software for free!!!! Follow the link to download NOW!

Well not quite………

How do these rumors get started? Wishful thinking I imagine?

A few days ago a dinner bell was rung and artists from around the world came running with empty plates and forks looking for an Adobe buffet. (Cause let’s be honest Adobe is some good eating if you can afford a plate!!) When they arrived they were sad to see that no food was being served.

A few blogs and tech websites threw out the notion that Adobe was phasing out support of CS2 software and was therefore giving it away for free to anyone who wanted it. As you can imagine people came out in droves and crashed the Adobe website with traffic.

After this Adobe let the world know that the rumor was wrong. That somehow the information had been misinterpreted. In truth what was happening was that Adobe was shutting down one of it’s servers that supported CS2 software. This meant that all the registration keys for that software would be invalid. If for some reason you needed to reinstall the CS2 software to your computer, your validation code/registration key would no longer work.
The website people were going to for  free software actually contained new validation codes for folks who were actual owners and licensed users of Adobe software.

So as lovely as it sounded it was not to be. Hopefully none of you spent too much time trying to get it. But for those who still use CS2 software (like me) please be mindful that you’ll need to follow the link below or at least bookmark it in the chance that you may want to reinstall your software at some point in the future!


Children’s Book Layouts-Self and Separate Ended


Whether you are creating a dummy, just got an assignment or are a writer testing out your page breaks, it’s a good idea to be familiar with how picture books are structured and layed out.

Now, most of you know that a standard book is 32 pages in length. But not all of the pages are for your artwork. Generally only 24-30 are images with the remaining pages being used for end papers, dedication pages, the half title page, title page or copyright page. The placement of the extra pages can vary from book to book depending on the art direction and how the illustrator may want to integrate them into their design.

In a 32-page picture book, you don’t actually have 32 pages for your story. You only have 24-30 pages since 8 are used for the book ends, copyright and title.  24 pages translates to 12 spreads (an illustration that spans the two opened pages in a book).

There are two different types of format layouts for a picture book;  separate ended (colored ends) or self-ended.

Over on  Editorial Anonymous they posted a great way to immediately know the difference between the two.  As well as a very informative explanation of how and why publishers have come to use these formats.  (Definitely worth checking out!)

Go to your bookshelf.  Grab a few picture books. Open one to the first page and grab the first two pages you can hold between your fingers.

Are the two pages made of two different kinds of paper? You’re holding a separate ended book.

 Are the two pages made of the same kind of paper? You’re holding a self ended book.

I did the experiment and came away with two books.

Pingo, written by Brandon Mull and Illustrated by Brandon Dorman is a separate ended book.

The Best Birthday Party Ever written by Jennifer Larue Huget and Illustrated by LeUyen Pham is a self ended book.

A separate ended book has what we call end papers.


End papers are the colored papers that are inserted between the front and back cover and the book block. Thus the other known name for the format of colored ends.
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Fuel for your tank-Jamie Hewlett


It’s scary out here. I mean, it’s all changing so quickly. The publishing industry in flux.  The number of available jobs is slimming. The number of people wanting and competing for those jobs is increasing.
It seems like you have less and less time to make your dreams a reality. Especially when you dream big like we artists tend to do.

That’s why we post so many videos or articles that are motivational and inspiring. Videos of other professionals who have made it. Professionals that we admire, love and seek to emulate in what we do.  Professionals, that in the process of telling their stories reveal that they are just like us. That they were once in the same exact spot that we find ourselves in now. Our heroes aren’t that different from us. What a source of hope that is!

Many generous artists spend a great deal of time passing on their knowledge and wisdom to those of us trying to catch up and run alongside them. I do my best to find it so I can pass it along to you. I don’t know about you, but I need that as a form of fuel in my tank. Something that keeps me going, striving and having faith that I’ll get there someday too. Then I hope to be able to do the same for those running to catch up with me.

In the mean time here’s some more fuel to keep you and me going till we get there. Surround yourself with people who share your sentiment and support your dreams and will keep you humble should you manage to get there before you’re ready. Enjoy!


Jamie Hewlett is an english comic artist responsible for co creating the comic series Tank Girl as well as the animated virtual band Gorillaz.



Donald Wu-Building an Illustration from the characters up! In Color!

We wanted to feature a series of posts from Donald Wu’s Blog that show his development process for an illustration.

The previous stage is linked here, where Donald walks through his character sketches, image roughs and tight sketch. In this post he goes into full color and delivers his final image.

It’s always great to see someone’s process!Enjoy!

…And here’s how it turned out.


Overall, I’m pretty happy with how everything came together. There is a lot of fun stuff going on, but for me, I especially enjoyed rendering the robo-dino. It’s not too often I get to embrace my inner geek, so whenever the opportunity presents itself, I try to make the most of it.

And here’s the process I took to get there…



First, I always start with the most general, I blocked in all my major shapes with color. Here I am simply establishing the basic color scheme of the illustration. In the past, when I was still working with acrylics, this step would be a lot more difficult. I’d always have to worry about losing my drawing underneath layers of paint or simply having it washed away from the water in my brush. However, with Photoshop, this problem is no longer an issue. By keeping the colors in a separate multiply layer(Photoshop speak btw.), the lines would not be effected whatsoever, which gave me the freedom to throw color around with abandon. This freed me up to play and explore different palettes without worrying about getting my colors muddy since I could always edit if needed. Definitely a true plus in working digitally. Once I settled on something I liked, I could move onto the next phase.

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Children’s Book Industry Talk at AAU

I was browsing through Donald Wu’s blog and ran across this video. An Academy of Art University recording of Julie Downing, Matt Faulkner and Andrea Brown pitching the idea of attending an Advanced Children’s Book Illustration class to a group of potential students.

In the process of attempting to incite these students to take the course, the presenters give out a lot of great information, tips and study points for anyone interested in breaking into the field of Children’s Books. They also speak on the changing industry and shifts towards digital rather than traditional publications and the impact it is or isn’t having on the industry. A lot of wisdom is shared in this video along with a lot of personal experience.


Matt Faulkner is a Writer/Illustrator who has more than thirty books to his name and credentials.


Julie Downing is a Writer/Illustrator who has more than thirty five books to her credit.


Andrea Brown is a literary agent who represents both artists and writers and is one of the top agents in the country at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

The presentation is long, but well worth the listen! I guarantee you’ll come away with new information, inspiration and hope! Enjoy!

Create your own Critique Group

Being a freelance illustrator can be a lonely and insular experience. One of the things I miss the most about working in an art department is the ability to stick my head over the top of a cubicle and say, “Hey, come look at this and tell me what you think?” Getting input from your peers is an invaluable tool that can help you catch errors that you’ve become blind to, give advice and help problem solve on issues that have you blocked,  as well as give you ideas for new directions you can take your illustration that you may not have thought of on your own. Your peers can help your art grow and speed your development as an artist.

A great way to get this input is through a critique group. A critique group is a gathering of individuals who have agreed to share work with each other and get honest input on it based on their experiences, taste and talent.

I have been members of many and have enjoyed some and loathed others. The problem can emerge when you are dealing with other artists that you may not truly consider your peers. Most crit groups I have joined were with strangers. I wasn’t familiar with them, there artwork or there temperament and they weren’t familiar with mine. This can make it difficult to want to share your artwork and open yourself up to critical input. Many of us have very personal ties to our artwork and having someone tear it apart is like having someone criticize our children or a dear friend. (This is something we have to get over as professionals, but I acknowledge that many of us are still developing that thicker skin.)


The result ends up being that after a person posts an image, many are afraid to say anything negative. Some after posting an image and getting critical input will never post anything again. So how do you solve this problem and create a strong group of individuals to share your work with? A friend on Facebook inadvertently gave me the answer.

I’ve cultivated a number of relationships with fellow artists through social networks. Many I have to come to admire and respect as my peers and fellow professionals. One of them recently sent me a message that included five other artists. They were asking for advice on how to solve an issue they were having with their image. Within minutes a few had responded with advice and direction on the image. As they made the changes suggested they posted the newer images and we’d all continue to give input until the artist was satisfied with the image. Ladies and gentleman, we have a critique group.


I then tried the method myself. I went through my friends list and selected five or so members that I admired and respected and presented my image and asked for input on it. The response was immediate and hugely beneficial to the final product. As one person chimed in, others would react to their input, as well as offer their opinions and advice as well. It was like having a conversation amongst friends. (In a controlled manner!) I’ll definitely be doing this again and I can only hope that the artists will return the favor and do the same with me.

The good thing is that your group is able to float. You can custom create your group for each individual problem or circumstance.  If anyone you have messaged doesn’t want to participate they can leave the conversation of their own accord. Details below!

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