Monthly Archives: August 2013

Letter to Our Readers

Hello Dear Readers,

Once Upon a Sketch was created in order to share our knowledge of the children’s illustration market with you, our readers and listeners. We started out with four contributors and after six months we were down to two. Since then Wilson Wiliams Jr and I have been working on this site every week, creating posts about the children’s market and trying to share our knowledge and information with you. Wilson and I talked twice a week about the site, how we could improve both the site and ourselves as artists. It was great to have someone to cheer for you, telling you how much they liked your last post and things that you could have added to improve that article. We bounced ideas off of each other, gave each other advice, critiqued each other’s artwork and talked about the latest episode of whatever was on TV that week. It was a really great experience for me. It’s helped me grow so much as a freelancer, artist and as a person. Mostly just reminding me that there are other people out there experiencing the same thing I am, going through life with a pencil and paper always next to you. Sadly, all good things come to an end. Saturday morning, August 17, 2013, Wilson passed away. Wilson had not been feeling well for the last week or so and from the last conversation I had with him, he thought he had food poisoning. Even the day before he passed he sent out this tweet “#foodpoisoning is no joke! May be good for losing a few pounds though…” It’s amazing how life works, one week you’re talking with someone and the next they are gone. It was truly great to have known him. My only wish was that I had the chance to tell him myself.

So what does this mean for Once Upon a Sketch? That’s a good question. I’m not sure. There is so much of Wilson in this site, I’m not sure how to continue without him. For now the site is going on hiatus. Then I will start looking for another contributor/partner to help me run the site. Thank you all for your readership. It was amazing for both Wilson and I to check the Google analytics on the site and see the numbers continuing to grow. Wilson loved that the content we created was out there helping others. I will work hard to help continue this legacy the best I can.

He was one of a kind and will be missed. If you have any wishes or sentiments you would like to leave for Wilson’s family please leave them on his Facebook page.

Norm Grock


Wacom’s First Pressure-Sensitive iPad Stylus


Yesterday Wacom unveiled their new portable drawing solutions with two new tablets, but not to be lost in the buzz they are also releasing their first pressure sensitive stylus for iPad. The Intuos Creative Stylus is the latest addition to Wacom’s Bamboo Stylus line and it’s first pressure-sensitive iPad stylus. As you probably know by now the iPad screen is not pressure sensitive so to get this effect Wacom has built this pressure sensitivity into the stylus. Using Bluetooth 4.0 the stylus will talk to compatible iPad art apps, which currently include SketchBook, ArtRage, ProCreate, ArtStudio, Inkist, Flipink and Wacom’s Bamboo Paper app. Wacom claims to offer 2048 levels of pressure-sensitivity and says that one AAA battery will power it for over 150 hours. The Intuos Creative Stylus will be on sale at $99 on October 7.

Wacom Unveils Two Tablet Devices


Today Wacom announce a plethora of new products. These new products include a pressure sensitive stylus for iPad (More on this tomorrow) and two tablet devices of their own. The Cintiq Companion which is a Windows 8 device and the Cintiq Companion Hybrid which will run Android 4.2 Jellybean. Both are powerful tablets aimed at professional artists that want to take their studios on the go. Here are a few of their features:

• Full HD, 13.3in, 1920×1080 display with multi-pressure touch control
• Complementary Wacom Pro Pen with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity
• Wi-Fi connectivity
• 2-megapixel front-facing camera
• Rear 8-megapixel camera
• Bluetooth (4.0 for the Cintiq Companion and 3.0 for the Companion Hybrid)
• Adjustable, detachable stand, carrying case, pen case with nine replacement nibs Continue reading

Warming up Digital Figure Drawing with


It’s always nice to start my work day off with some gesture sketching. Unfortunately, I don’t have a live model on call or have a lot of time to go through photo reference sites looking for a pose to sketch. Maybe I could just find a magazine, but my computer is right here and I have the perfect web site for doing just that. It’s called Pose Maniacs ( Its a japanese site with hundreds of pre-posed virtual human figures with their top layer of skin removed so you can see the muscle structure underneath. Which is great for helping learn human anatomy for both males and females. Most of the models can rotate 360 degrees on a single axis just by dragging the mouse. My favorite feature, however, has got to be the “30 Second Drawing” mode which generates a random pose every 10, 15, 30, 45, 60 or 90 seconds. I set it to 60 seconds and start sketching. I’ve found it to be a great tool to get warmed up before sitting down behind my drafting table for a long day of drawing. This site also has plenty of other helpful features. The “Negative Space Drawing” option which gives you a random pose but with only the silhouette visible. A “Drawing for Hand” section which is strangely named because not only does it have 360 degree models of hands but also a male foot, head and body. When you go to this page the first image you see is a nude male torso which makes it feel like you’re on the wrong page. This is where the real drawbacks of this site start to show. Remember that this is a Japanese site that has been translated into English and the translation is not very good making it a little hard to navigate. I wouldn’t recommend doing too much reading on the site but to each their own. Continue reading

TED-Ed Takes a look at What Makes a Hero

We love TED here at Once Upon a Sketch and todays Ted’s talk lessons worth sharing is a short video that take’s a look at What Makes a Hero. Matthew Winkler takes us through the crucial events that make or break a hero and why we relate to them. From Harry Potter to Frodo Baggins this video breaks down the heroes journey.

Source –

John Stanko Creates the Cover for Imagine FX issue 96

John Stanko recorded this screen cast while he created the cover for issue 96 of Imagine FX. Created in Corel Painter, this cover was inspired by Frank Frazetta and so it’s of a classic fantasy heroine and some tigers just for fun. John Stanko is an Assistant Professor of Visual Communications at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He has also created artwork for Legends of Norrath, Dungeons & Dragons, and Magic: The Gathering. “John trained as an oil painter and uses a similar workflow in his digital art, making him the perfect choice to adapt Frazetta’s theories” says Imagine FX post about this cover.

This video is a long one, with a run time of about 53 minutes. It’s nice that Imagine FX finally put out a tutorial video with commentary. Most of their videos are just speed paintings with no voiceover from the artist. I found it very interesting with a lot of good insight. Just the overlays of bright colors he uses is pretty amazing to see. Let us know what you think of this video in the comments. Below are a few process images and the final cover for issue 96.


Inking and coloring artwork in Adobe Illustrator

When I first started doing the Once Upon a Sketch Screen Casts I created a series of two videos about how I ink and color my drawings in Adobe Illustrator. Well, it’s been over a year since I created this set of videos so I thought I would share them again for those who haven’t seen them yet and even if you have seen them you might like a refresher. I just watched these videos again and learned things from myself that I had forgotten (which is really funny).

Some might ask why you would want to create inked looking vector lines in Illustrator when you could use another tool like Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro or Manga studio to get the same look. My answer to them would be, even though the two lines might look the same on the surface they are two very different things. The main difference between the two would be that vector lines are infinitely scalable and raster images are not. Example, a company hired me to design mascots to promote one of their programs, I created these characters using the same techniques shown in these videos and most were created at around 8.5in x 11in. With these images being created in a vector format it was no problem when the company asked me to create a billboard using the same artwork with no loss in quality when the images were blown up to about 600 times the size that they were created at. This would not have been the case if the images were created in the other programs. Now that you know why you would want to create this type of drawing, here are the two videos. The first is how to create inked looking lines in Illustrator and the second is how I fill in those lines using the Live Paint Tool.

The first video is about how I set up my brush tools in illustrator to get and inked looking vector line. I also use the blob brush tool to show you how to create a different type of line and describe the difference between the two tools. Continue reading

Kazu Kibuishi’s Interview with About New Harry Potter Covers


By now I’m sure most of you have already read the Harry Potter books, but did you know that there being rereleased with new artwork from Eisner Award-nominated comic book artist and author Kazu Kibuishi? Well, Kazu Kibuishi is doing new artwork for the books and Scholastic is rereleasing them in a box set on August 27th in honor of the series’ 15th anniversary next year. Now that your up to date, he talked with Bookish about his experience with creating the new covers for the iconic series. In the interview he admits that he was “surprised” that Scholastic approached him about creating the covers for all seven Harry Potter books. In the interview he also talks about Mary GrandPré’s original artwork for the series and how he empathizes with J.K. Rowling. Here is an excerpt from Bookish’s conversation with Kazu Kibuishi. Continue reading

Guest Post-Will Terry-What to include in your Children’s Book Portfolio


Will Terry drops in again to give his advice on what should be in your portfolio. Check it out and enjoy!

In this video I give a list of items I feel every children’s book illustrator should have in their portfolio. Art Directors and Editors are afraid to hire the wrong artist so make sure you’re covering all the most important items. If you can think like an editor you’ll be much more equipped to show them what they want to see.

Original post here.

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