Monthly Archives: June 2013

Free or not so Free Fonts?


I posted an article a while ago that went into a number of places online that you can search and download various fonts for free. Here.

Well I am in the process of creating my own children’s e-book as well as finishing up my first exclusive e-book with Julia Dweck called, “Mary Had A Sleepy Sheep.”  (Achem, be sure to like our fan page on Facebook.) The publisher made sure to tell me that any font I used had to be licensed for commercial work. Believe it or not, this was the first time a publisher had even mentioned that as a requirement. At the beginning of my process I had researched and looked on my favorite free font sites and found the fonts that I thought would work best with my book. I’d paid no attention to the lic. status of those fonts. Uh-Oh!

So what does licensed for commercial work mean?

It means that people who create fonts have just as many rights to their work as any other artist. A font being up for free doesn’t presume that you can use that font in any way you choose. Just like artists only sell certain rights to publishers or clients for their images, the same is true for designers who create fonts. In general most fonts that are free give you the right to use it for personal purposes. Which means it should only be used and displayed, not sold. Some designers will want credit cited if you post or display any works of yours that have used their fonts in them. While others hold no such requirements.

Licensed for Commercial Work means that the designer has given you permission to use their font in for profit or commercial purposes. The stipulations for this, again, can vary from designer to designer. Some will want credit given while others may ask for a small donation. All of this is done of course on the honor system.  You are still able to download the font but not adhering to what the designer has asked can result in you being in a copyright infringement situation should you be caught. So tread carefully. In most instances the designers instructions on how and when you can use their font gets downloaded as a text file with the font itself as well as being displayed in some way on the site that you find and download it from.


Unfortunately I have yet to find an easy way to search font sites to only find ones that are lic. commercially. (Nothing like finding the perfect font and realizing that it’s only licensed if you buy it outright. This can cost in the hundreds of dollars depending on the font.) Luckily on the front page of  FontSquirrel they’ve compiled a list of what they deem as the best free lic. fonts to download. Many of which would be suitable for a children’s e-book. So get to bookmarking and enjoy!

Starting a Texture Library with

cgt001 is a great resource to find photo textures for your images. None of these photos will win any photography competitions. The images are, for the most part, flat and evenly lit and have straight on camera angles. And that’s the point. You add the interest when adding them to your illustrations, 3D models, logos or graphic design projects. I’ve started to build up my own personal texture library from stock photo sites and other free textures I’ve found around the web. It’s been a long expensive process and now that I found this site I feel like a sucker for paying for textures. Trying to find nice high-quality images on the internets has been the most challenging part. But has a large selection of high-quality images organized well for you to download for free. Continue reading

Add to your Morgue-Clothes creases


When I was in college (which was a very long time ago) we didn’t have tiny thumbnails to store tons of images on. Nor was the internet a vast repository for images and reference that it is now.  So we relied on tearing images out of magazines and filing them under auspicious titles in manilla envelopes. (National Geographic was particularly favored among my classmates!) We called this our “morgue”. Needless to say I had a huge file cabinet filled with various images that no matter how many images I ripped and put in folders never seemed to be suitable for the illustrations I wanted to do.

Now we use our computers and the internet to be the go to place for finding reference and resources. Morgues are  no longer needed. Yet and still whenever I run across an image, tutorial or inspiring website, I file it away in my digital morgue for future reference. So today I dug through my digi-morgue and found this cool little tutorial that goes over the basics of drawing folds in clothes and the basics of how they work. In the coming weeks Norm and i will continue to showcase informative tidbits from our morgues for you to add to yours! Enjoy and file away!


The image is by Louie del Carmen. His website is here.

Mike Krahulik Test Drive’s the Microsoft Surface Pro as a Drawing Tablet

Like most digital artists Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade fame had been looking for ways to do his drawings on the go. He tried an iPad and that just didn’t work for what he was trying to do. Next he gave the Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet a shot at one of the MS stores. After giving it a test drive he mentioned on Twitter that he was interested in the Surface Pro as a drawing tablet. Microsoft provided a preview unit for him to test out and he made this video of him creating a drawing of one of the Penny arcade characters.

I personally have been looking for a mobile drawing solution and would love to find a great product to draw on. Krahulik said of the Surface Pro, “As a mobile solution for a digital artist I’d say the Surface Pro is a winner.” This is the second artist I’ve heard give their endorsement of this product. I first got excited about the Surface Pro when I heard that MS was using Wacom tech in their screens. One of the main drawbacks he ran into was Photoshop not supporting pressure sensitivity (at this point). So Krahulik used sketchbook Pro to complete his illustration. Sketchbook Pro and Manga studio five have pressure sensitivity available for the Surface Pro. Mike also said “Sketching with the Stylus in Sketchbook was awesome. It’s important to note that you CAN lay your hand on the screen while you draw without messing up your work. There was no brush lag at all and the pressure sensitivity worked perfectly. The stylus itself felt exactly like drawing on my Cintiq except that the Surface screen is smooth whereas the Cintiq screen has a bit of texture to it.” Being a Sketchbook Pro user this certainly has me excited. And trying to figure out how to trade in my iPad for a Surface Pro tablet.

Read his full article on penny arcades site.

Disney Animation and story building – A look into the process


Over the weekend I ran across this inspiring video. In it, a number of Disney artists walk you through a bit of their process in developing characters and story for their feature animated movies. Whenever I see things like this I marvel at the process and how similar it can be to what we go through as children’s illustrators when we develop a book. Wonderfully inspiring!

And do I dare mention that I now have a huge crush on Eyvind Earle’s painting skills. GORGEOUS! I wonder what you call that? Enjoy!

The Return of Big Illustration Party Time Podcast


Last week the Big Illustration Party Time Podcast returned from a long two year hiatus. Kevin Cross and Joshua Kemble return as the fun and engaging hosts. They speak from their personal experience as they share practical “ins and outs” of the life of a freelance illustrator. From interviews to listener questions they discuss what it takes to make it as a freelance artist. Personally, when I started my illustration business I had been listening to their podcast and taking notes. I remember the first couple of episodes having a lot of good information, but I’m not sure about that because after 50+ episodes the information starts to all run together. Thanks to Kevin and Joshua for putting out such a great resource for all of us illustrators. And another thanks to  Mr. Cross for helping us get our own podcast off the ground.

Here’s the link to there site where you can find the episodes and valuable show notes. Give it a listen and let us know what you think.

Author / Illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka Visits School

Here’s an inspiring video by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. In this video he visits a school and shares his process of becoming a illustrator/writer with the kids.  His story sounds like a lot of other artists out there. Going to school, sending out postcards and never hearing anything back. But the thing that sets him apart from others is that he continues to work at his goal never stopping until he reaches it. This video is not the most in-depth but I still found it inspiring. Watching the kids interact with him as he tells his story really reminded me of why I do what I do. For a more in depth look at Jarrett’s journey visit his TED Talks on How a boy became an artist!. But in the meantime, give it a watch and let us know what you think about it in the comments.

Source –!

Portfolio Tips-A video by Midsout SCBWI


This is a great little video that I ran across from MidSouth SBWI that goes through the do’s and don’ts  of what to put in your Children’s book portfolio.  We often forget those standards and we thought it a good idea to put up a quick reminder to the folks who have been doing this a while as well as the ones just starting. Always keep an eye on your portfolio and make sure it’s in tip top shape for an Art Director’s eyes.

Also note all the great work being featured in the video! Including the work of OnceUponASketch contributor Mary Reaves Uhles!


Once Upon a Sketch Podcast Episode 4 – Roundtable Adobe’s Big Switch

This month on the Once Upon a Sketch podcast we welcome around table of children’s book artists to discuss Adobe switching their software model. Donald Wu, Chris Jones and Mary Reaves Uhles join Wilson and I to give our thoughts and reactions to the Creative Cloud announcement. From how it affects small one person companies to is it worth it to make the move to the cloud. We try to figure out these questions.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud VS Creative Suite (Infographic)

Alternatives to Using the Adobe Creative Suite

Adobe announces plan to switch to subscription service

Audio Version of the podcast or listen on iTunes

podcastroundtable02 Donald Wu – 
Born in Hong Kong, Donald grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area after moving there as a child. Years of drawing doodles in school along with a love of comic books led him to study illustration at the California College of the Arts. While at school, Donald was introduced to many different mediums ranging from watercolors to acrylics. Although Donald started his career using traditional mediums, Donald has since made the transition to digital medium. Donald continues to reside and “doodle” in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Agents website
podcastroundtable01 Chris Jones – 
I’m an illustrator with an expressive and humorous style that is fun and engaging. I’m equally comfortable working on picture books, or sequentially in comics/cartoons.Born near Toronto, Canada, and raised on comic books, red licorice, and Saturday morning cartoons, I’ve been drawing with a passion ever since I could hold a crayon!I’m a Graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design, and a member of: the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and the Picture Book Artists Association.
 podcastroundtable03 Mary Reaves Uhles – 
Mary Reaves Uhles has worked for over a decade creating art for children. Her pieces have been included in books and magazines around the world. Prior to beginning her career as a freelance illustrator, Mary worked as an animator on projects for Warner Brothers and Fisher-Price Interactive. To this day her work features a cinematic quality essential to bringing characters to life.
 podcastroundtable04 Norm Grock – 
Norm Grock has been drawing since before he even learned to swim which is saying a lot considering he grew up in Hawaii. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Portland, Oregon, Norm spends countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books. With over 15 years in the children’s entertainment industry Norm would like to start working on his passions and create his own intellectual properties.
 podcastroundtable05 Wilson Williams, Jr – 
I have been a professional commercial artist and designer for over thirteen years. My pens, pencils and wacom pen have been drawing and painting images from my imagination my entire life. My work is whimsical, fun and captures the measure of my spirit.
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