Monthly Archives: May 2013

Guest Post-Mary Reaves Uhles-How To Catch a Ladybug

This week we have a guest post from Children’s Illustrator Mary Reaves Uhles. Mary has been a Children’s Illustrator for well over a decade. She’s been featured in numerous periodicals, magazines and books around the world!

So join us this post as she goes over the process she went through in completing an illustration for Ladybug Magazine. Enjoy!

Find the original post here.

Ladybug Magazine, published by Carus Publications, is one of the most prestigious literary magazines for kids. This is the story of how I got my first illustration with them. Without a doubt, the first step was the hardest one: work very hard for a loooong time to be good enough to catch the attention of the editors and art directors. I mentioned in this post about how long that took for me.

Step Two was just like any other project. It starts with the assignment on my drawing table and a blank sketchbook.

The assignment was for a silly illustration involving a May Day picnic with all kinds of fairy tale characters. Some of the characters would be doing traditional fairy-tale-y things others would be doing zany, silly things for the kids to find and laugh at.

Right away I decided I would knock it out of the park on the silliness. My goal was to put no less than twenty silly things into this 10 x 18 spread.

Here’s what the first sketch I sent looked like:

“Whoa nelly” was the response from Ladybug.

Apparently twenty silly things is a little bit of overkill.

They explained, and this made all the sense in the world, that too much crazy stuff made it hard for young readers to figure out where the punch line is. So I de-sillyed.

Here’s the second sketch I sent:

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Guest Post – Manga Studio 5 Quick tour with Tracy Bishop

With so many people looking for alternatives to Photoshop I thought it would be good to share a post today about Manga studio 5. Read and watch on as Tracy Bishop give you a quick tour.

Quick Tour of Manga Studio 5 from Tracy Bishop on Vimeo.

For the past year I’ve been using Manga Studio 5, an $80 program from SmithMicro, as my primary tool for digital painting. I still use Photoshop for certain things but for the most part, the bulk of the work is done in MS5.

Why did I switch to Manga Studio 5? In a nutshell- it’s because it’s a speedy program with powerful features made just for digital artists.

The video below will give you a basic tour of what Manga Studio 5 looks like and what features I use and find the most helpful for digital illustration.

The main idea I want to convey is that this is not a scary program to learn. There are a lot of similarities with Photoshop. Have fun and the only way to learn is just to dive in and mess around.

Next week I will post a demo video of me actually painting something in Manga Studio 5. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or find me on twitter @TracyBishopArt.

guest_posttb001 Hello! My name is Tracy Bishop and I am a children’s book illustrator working in San Jose, CA.I grew up on an U.S. Army base just outside of Tokyo, Japan. From an early age, I fell in love with drawing and telling stories through pictures.I attended San Jose State University and graduated with a degree graphic design with a concentration in illustration/animation. For the next decade I worked as a graphic and web designer. In 2010, I left the design job at a children’s museum to focus full-time on illustration.You can now find me working from home in San Jose, CA. My inspirations are my son, husband, and a hairy dog named Harry.
Links to Tracy’s work can be found at
Group Blog


Yahoo Buys Tumblr


There have been a rash of companies swooping in and buying out smaller successful organizations to help boost their brands. The latest acquisition is by Yahoo, who last week bought out Tumblr for a reported $1.1 billion dollars.



Full article here

“Yahoo! recently made headlines in the tech world by announcing its acquisition of blogging platform Tumblr for $1.1 billion earlier this week.

For company CEO Marissa Mayer, it marks one of biggest moves of her still young tenure.

Mayer, a veteran of sometimes Yahoo-rival Google should know the important history of company buyouts. Why? She was at Google when the company purchased the young video streaming service YouTube in 2006 for the reported price of $1.65 billion.”

The times they are a changing and big companies are doing whatever they need to to stay relevant in a changing industry. Do these changes leave you with a positive feeling or a worrisome one? Let us know in the comments!

Guest Post – Derek Douglas – Working Digitally VS Painting Traditionally

Today we feature a post from Derek Douglas’s Blog. He gives his thoughts on working digitally versus traditionally. Read on to find out which he prefers.

Recently in art group forums I’ve read that some traditionalists claim that children’s books should be done using “real” materials, or at least that’s the way they prefer it. Some don’t care at all. And me? I confess that now I’ve changed over to the dark side of working digitally on a Cintiq drawing tablet and one worse, in Photoshop. Many work this way because there are numerous benefits, but which is better?

I don’t begrudge those traditionalists who say that you have to be really good at digital work to have it stand up against hand drawn artwork, because they’re right in a way. There is a lot of not so great digital artwork out there. And they may also be right when saying that traditional work is more personal because it’s made by human hands. But isn’t drawing on a tablet still drawing? It’s not the computer doing the work for you while you sit back and enjoy a chai latte. I understand the point but none the less, I have traded worry of spilled ink on the carpet for worry of spilled chai latte on the keyboard and ongoing art store trips and costs for just a few, thousand dollar purchases of heavy-duty hardware for initial set up and away I go.


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Illustration Contract Templates

We often get asked about what should be in a contract and how to create one. We found this great resource online created for the students at SCAD(Savannah College of Art and Design) by instructor, Jay Montgomery.

We still highly recommend checking out The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines  to help you learn the terms and terminology that is include in these kinds of contracts.

We made a post on the book here.

Original article here.

Illustration Students!

* Do you do freelance work on the side?

* If so, do you have the proper contracts set up to protect you and the client?

* Do you not want to get bamboozled with a commission or contract job?

* Well, you need to have a signed estimate/confirmation form stating all the terms of the job.

* You say, “Yea that’s what I need, but where do I find that and how do I make it my own?”

* Well, I have been working hard on that solution and here it is.

I have created a PDF template for an Estimate/Confirmation Form and Invoice Form specifically for freelance illustrator students and recent grads. These are two page PDF files that you can add your contact info/logo at the top of each page. It includes a functional calculating form, and tips for what to write in each field. To modify and use these forms you need the Acrobat 8 Professional . Be sure to follow the steps listed in the “Customize_Your_ILLU_Contracts.doc” exactly. There are some advanced techniques explained in there, but once you do it once it’s quite simple to get.
You can find these on my links page here.

or directly here:

Jay Montgomery

Adobe Creative Cloud VS Creative Suite (Infographic)

I’m personally trying to figure out what to do with my software predicament. I’ve been using Adobe products for years and know how to work them like a pro. Do I just stick with the standard software model and use CS6 for the next couple years or do I go to creative cloud. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately trying to figure out what the best option for me is. Well the good folks over at Digital Camera have put together an infographic that compares the cost of Adobe’s old model versus the cost of their new subscription service. Check out the full infographic at their site. The infographic has got me leaning towards sticking with CS6 for the foreseeable future.

Source –

Link –


Good Bye 2005-2013


Drawn!, one of the first illustration blogs I ever went to is shutting down. Started as just a hobby site by cartoonist and illustrator John Martz on March 4, 2005. In 2005 blogs weren’t as prevalent as they are today and Martz saw an opportunity to create something devoted to comics, illustration and drawing. Drawn! was born. Drawn was designed to share artwork and links when this concept was still fairly new. Drawn was a good way to find new artists and a way for artist to showcase their talents. With a large number of creators putting up a large amount of content the site quickly grew in popularity. Within a years time Drawn! was included in Time Magazine’s annual 50 Best Websites and became the top Google search result when searching for the keyword “illustration”.


Sadly on May 20, 2013 Martz has written a farewell post on his tumblr page called Drawn 2005-2013. In this post he explains the decision saying “Drawn was designed to share links and images when sharing links and images wasn’t easy to do. Eight years later, by the time I get around to posting something interesting on Drawn, it’s already made its way around the Twittersphere and been reblogged on Tumblr a thousand times over.”

Personally, I checked Drawn almost every day. I never went to the Drawn site but it was a part of my daily ritual every morning checking my RSS feed. It was a great source of inspiration right before I got started on my day’s work. A big thanks to John and the many contributors for many years of inspiration.

Guest Post-Will Terry-Children’s Book Publishing In A Nutshell


Today we feature a post from Will Terry’s Blog that demistifies getting your book published.  The quicker you get to reality, the more realistic your approach will be to breaking in and the more solid your resolve should be.

Will Terry is an accomplished Illustrator and teacher whose work and contributions to the collective intelligence of the Children’s Book illustrator community is monstrous. Don’t believe me, take some time to peruse his blog and multiple videos that deal with multiple issues for up and coming Illustrators.

The original post is here.

I am often asked, “How can I get my story in front of an editor?” I’ve always tried to answer as best I can without spending too much time on any one email – but in order to tell the story I really needed to spend a little more time. Now I’ll be able to send this link!

Teeny tiny fantasy nutshell version:

You write a story – send it to a publisher – they like it – they hire an illustrator – your book is published – you earn enough money to buy a small island – the end.

Regular sized nutshell version:

An author writes a story instead of watching TV, reading a book, or hanging out with friends. He/she submits it to multiple publishers one at a time with a SASE. Rejection letters come one by one over X amount of time and they are kept in a binder by the author for score keeping. If the author is serious he/she is writing and submitting other stories while waiting for the rejection letter on the first story.

If the writer is un-agented the publisher probably won’t open the manuscript – or they will open it and send it right back with a form letter stating that they don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. If the writer is agented or if the writer attended an SCBWI conference and received publisher submission stickers to put on the package the interns will open the package, read your story, and decide if they like it..

Interns you ask? What the? Yes – the sheer number of submissions is impractical for editors to go through. The interns are instructed to pass along anything they really like. If yours gets passed up to an editor they might read it…hopefully nobody walks into the editors office, phone doesn’t ring, or coffee isn’t spilled while your story is having it’s big moment with the editor.

If they like it they might do a little research to see if there is anything else out there like it. They don’t want to publish a book that’s just like someone else’s –  unless someone else’s book did really well and then your book is exactly what they’re looking for.  If the research goes well they might contact you via email or phone to ask if you’ve submitted it to any other house. If you answer yes they might pass on it right then and there. The reasons would take many paragraphs to explain but if they love it more than their mother they might still be interested.

They might also pass on it if they don’t have room to publish any more books that year- even if it’s the best manuscript they’ve ever read. They might pass on it if books in your genre aren’t “hot” right now. There are an additional 100 reasons why the editor might love your book but send you a rejection letter. You will probably never know the real reason your manuscript is rejected. Sometimes the editors heart is broken over this.

They might ask you to make changes. This means they REALLY like it. Some unpublished authors are resistant to making these changes. This attitude will help them remain unpublished. If the author makes the changes they might take it to an acquisitions meeting. This is the meeting where the other editors are supposed to figure out reasons why they should NOT publish it. This is a safeguard to prevent dumb stuff from being published – so much for safeguards. If the other editors can’t think of good reasons that your manuscript is bad they might decide to send it to the marketing team. The marketing team is supposed to find better reasons why your book is dumb and why it should not be published. If the sales team can’t come up with any good reasons why your book will sink the company they might invent some. This is where the editors and marketing people fight over your book. This is where you wish you could be a fly on the wall.

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Adobe, Where Can I Just buy CS6?


Adobe, why did you hide the upgrade page for Creative Suite 6?

Ever since Adobe decided to switch their software to the Creative Cloud I have been looking to upgrade to CS6. Normally what I do with Adobe software is buy a version, wait 3 or 4 years then upgrade again. I’m sure people like me were one of the reasons they switched their model. I’m assuming this because those who don’t upgrade as often get hit with higher fees when they switch to Creative Cloud (introductory offers are only available to CS3 users and above). Personally I want to upgrade to CS6 and let Adobe work out the kinks with their cloud service and I’ll see them in a few years. Right now I’m using Creative Suite 4 and figured since they are getting rid of the traditional software model I should upgrade now and try to hold out for my standard amount of time. But it turns out that upgrading isn’t the easiest thing to do anymore on Adobe’s website. The first thing I did was went to their website and click “buy”. Thinking that this would take me to a page where I could upgrade my software. It did not. Adobe had changed all the links to take you straight to the Creative Cloud service. Well after a few hours of looking around and getting frustrated I decided to just ask Adobe where they had move this page too. The nice Adobe customer service representative sent me a link to where I could upgrade my software. Since it wasn’t the easiest thing to find I thought I would share the link with you. This link will take you to a page where you can upgrade your Adobe software. Once on the CS6 purchase page you will see the different software offerings and a price. To upgrade you have to click the buy button and then a drop-down will appear where you have to select “upgrade” then the price will adjust.

Hopefully this will save some people a few hours of their precious time.

Link –


2013 SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards Winners

crystalkite2013The SCBWI Crystal Kite Awards recognize great books from the 70 SCBWI regions around the world. Each regional chapter was assigned to one of 15 divisions and the membership in each division voted for their favorite book published by an SCBWI member that year. “The SCBWI is pleased to reward excellence in children’s books,” President Stephen Mooser stated.  “These awards honor authors from our many regions and help bring worthy books into the spotlight.”

The Crystal Kite Awards are a regional complement of the annual SCBWI Golden Kite Award which are given in 4 children’s literature categories. Both awards are unique as they are chosen by other writers and illustrators, making them the only peer-given awards in publishing for young readers. “Like the Golden Kite Awards, the Crystal Kites are selected by peers—authors and artists working in the children’s book field,” SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver commented.  “That makes them unique and especially satisfying to receive.”

Original post is here.

Neil Malherbe
The Magyar Conspiracy
Tafelberg Publishers

Australia/New Zealand
Meg McKinley(author)
Kyle Hughes-Odgers (Illustrator)
Ten Tiny Things
Fremantle Press

Katherine Applegate
The One and Only Ivan
Harper Collins
glory be
Augusta Scattergood
Glory Be
the dark unwindng
Sharon Cameron
The Dark Unwinding
Middle East/India/Asia
Benjamin Martin
Samurai Awakening
Tuttle Publishing


Aaron Reynolds(Author)
Peter Brown (Illustrator)
Creepy Carrots 
Simon & Schuster


Jean Reagan
How to Babysit a Grandpa
Alfred A. Knopf
New England

Jo Knowles
See You At Harry’s
Candlewick Press
New York

Kate Messner
Capture the Flag

Ame Dyckman (Author)
Dan Yaccarino (Illustrator)
Alfred A. Knopf

Lynne Kelly
Farrar, Strauss, Giraud

Jennifer Lantheir
The Stamp Collector 
Fitzhenry and Whiteside

Dave Cousins
Fifteen Days without a Head 
Oxford University Press

Kim Baker(Author)
Tim Prophet(Illustrator)
Roaring Brook Press
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