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Posting schedule change to OUaS

Hello Dear Readers,

On August 22, 2013 I put Once Upon a Sketch on hiatus and in January we brought the site back with some wonderful new contributors. These new contributors were all willing to share their knowledge and experience with our readers. I personally enjoyed reading what they had to write each week and their posts not only inspired me but also helped me to become a better illustrator. I didn’t know how long we could keep this new format going with so many new factors involved and so many contributors. As the months have gone by people have become more and more busy and have had less time to contribute to the site. Bringing us to now when we no longer have enough contributors time to continue our normal output of posts each week. We knew we would not be able to keep up this format forever but tried to keep it going as long as we could. We knew there might be a day when we would have to make some changes to the site and that day is here. As of today we will be no longer posting twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays and moving to a format that’s a little bit more sporadic. I will continue writing one post a week which will be posted to Once Upon a Sketch as well as my personal website. With the other contributors busy schedules they will be adding in their posts as well but it won’t be as structured as before. When they have time to write a post they will put it up both here and on their own personal sites. We are also playing around with some other ideas to keep our content fresh. Once we figure out these new ideas we will share this information with you.

Of course all the content that has been created on the site will continue to stay up for a long time. I hope people continue to use this site as a resource and it continues to help people grow and become better artists.

Norm Grock

Highlights from the SCBWI Midsouth Conference

Over the weekend of September 12-14, Nashville Tennessee hosted the Midsouth regional SCBWI conference. The faculty included editors, agents, and art directors from a variety of publishing houses plus writers and illustrators from the kid lit world. I always sound like a broken record but I really think joining and participating in SCBWI conferences are a must for illustrators trying to break into the kid lit biz. From all my pages of notes here are my top 5 from the sessions I attended:

1) Pay attention to all your characters and love your villain. Don’t relegate the secondary characters in your story to props. This was from keynote speech by Gennifer Choldenko, author of Al Capone Does My Shirts. From an illustrator perspective this means give the secondary characters just as much detail and expression as the main character.

2) Every tweet is in the Library of Congress. Whoa, what? This was from a session on social networking and building your brand with literary agent, Lauren MacLeod. What does it have to do with an illustration career? It means what you tweet could literally last longer than what you say or write anywhere else. Just something to keep in mind as we network online.

3) From Workman publishing director Daniel Nayeri’s session on “How To Make Interesting Art” I wrote down “nearly everything is art but not everything is interesting.” Nayeri urged artists to determine for themselves what the conversation of our age is (consumerism? sensationalism? meta-theism?) and have our art inform one side or the other of the conversation. This session was intense, almost like a college art and philosophy class. Now that I’ve had a week to mull over my notes I believe this goes back to the concept of ‘voice’ in art. Is for own voice shaped enough so that your art looks like no one else’s?

4) On Sunday I attended a panel with agent Rosemary Stimola, author illustrator Amanda Driscoll, and editor Kelly Delaney of Random House where they discussed the spark and creation of Driscoll’s debut picture book Duncan the Story Dragon. While little of the text changed from acquisition through edits, Delaney urged Driscoll to push Duncan’s character through some extreme changes. Duncan started as a more “traditional” looking dragon but evolved into a more childlike character, which resonated with the story better. In a study in editorial revision, almost every page of the original dummy was changed dramatically… but for the better. Another thing I noted from this panel was that one of reasons Stimola was initially drawn to the story in order to offer representation was that she appreciated the real world solution to the problem even though the characters were magical creatures.

5) My last session was with Simon and Schuster art director Lucy Cummins who discussed “How To Get Work, Agented Or Not.” The number one thing she looks for in illustration submissions are memorable characters. Postcards are still a great way to get the attention of an art director, and they don’t get as many as some illustrators might think. Cummins mentioned that she is always looking to add to her to go-to stable of artists who are excellent draftsmen – they can draw anything. And, it bears repeating, they never miss a deadline.

 

Read more about other sessions panels at the conference blog. Publishers Weekly also covered the conference for Children’s Bookshelf. Check it out here.

About the author

  • Mary Reaves UhlesMARY REAVES UHLESContributor

    Mary Reaves Uhles has created award winning illustrations in books and magazines for clients such as Cricket Magazine Group, McGraw Hill, Magic Wagon, and Thomas Nelson. Before beginning her career as a freelance illustrator, Mary worked as an animator on projects for Warner Brothers and Fisher-Price Interactive. A PAL member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Mary calls Nashville home and spends her free time behind the wheel of the family mini van.

Wacom’s new Fine tipped Stylus’

The holiday season is quickly approaching which means it’s time for our favorite product manufacturers to start releasing updates to their products just in time for the holiday shopping season. Last year Wacom released the Intuos Creative Stylus and it was their first pressure-sensitive iPad stylus. I personally found this first stylus to not be the best solution. It didn’t really mimic the real feeling of drawing on paper or drawing on my other Wacom products. Last year’s model from Wacom, the Intous Creative Stylus, had a large rubber nib on the end which made it hard for me to do precise drawings. I never understood why stylists were designed this way. I am assuming it was to mimic using a finger when writing on a tablet, but I thought a stylus should be more precise than using any of your five digits.

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Well, this fall Wacom will be offering two new products to try to fix this issue. The first is the new Bamboo Stylus Fineline. It’s a smart stylus with a new thinner tip. This new tip is made of a 1.9mm solid plastic tip and can register 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. The Fineline is available in an assortment of colors including silver, blue, grey, orange and pink.

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The iPad screen doesn’t support pressure sensitivity so Wacom makes up for this by having the pen register the pressure you are applying and sending it to the tablet using Bluetooth technology. For this to work the application you are running needs to also register the pressure you’re applying so the software and the Stylus need to be able to communicate. The Fineline has some great 1st and 3rd party app support including Wacom’s own Bamboo Paper app, Noteshelf, Notes Plus, INKredible and GoodReader. But the best feature of all is that the Fineline lasts up to 26 hours on a single battery charge.

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If the Bamboo Stylus Finetip is not your style and you would like to step up Wacom has also updated there Intous Creative Stylus. This new offering simply called the Intous Creative Stylus 2 has 2,048 pressure levels of sensitivity, that’s the same level as their professional desktop offerings with their’s Cintiq. I’m not saying the two are comparable but the specs are the same.

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It has a 2.9mm solid plastic tip and works with a wide range of apps including Bamboo Paper, SketchBook Pro for iPad, ArtRage and ProCreate. It can also connect to Wacom’s own Cloud services. Both of these new stylists are compatible with iPad 3, iPad Mini, iPad Air or greater. If you’re interested in these new stylists you can pick one up for $79.95 for the Creative Stylus 2 or the Bamboo Stylus fineline for $59.95 from the Wacom online store or from one of their registered retailers like BestBuy or Amazon.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Indiana SCBWI Spring Conference

A few weeks ago I was able to attend a wonderful SCBWI, which had some very enriching sessions for illustrators, leaving me feeling inspired and excited to create new pieces and to apply what I learned to clients’ work!  If you are not involved with your local chapter of SCBWI or other professional organization, I encourage you to do so.  Attending national conferences, while obviously very great opportunities, can be difficult to attend, depending on your financial, traveling and other personal needs/situations.  Local conferences can be a great alternative, and can offer a more intimate experience for the attendees. For example, in addition to participating in the sessions for illustrators, I was also able to volunteer as a reader for a picture book manuscript critique session, which was a fun additional way to connect with the staff and members and be more involved with the weekend experience.  Here are some highlights from my favorite sessions.

Keynote Speaker LeUyen Pham

LeUyen Pham is an award winning illustrator and author who works in many diverse styles.  If you haven’t seen “Big Sister, Little Sister”, you should check it out.  My own daughter loves this book, written an illustrated by Pham.  In addition to talking with us about her history and journey into the publishing world,  she spoke about strategies she has used to stay fresh and relevant in the constantly evolving world of children’s book publishing throughout her career.  Pham style is constantly in a state of evolution, and she likes to very her technique and look, sometimes drastically, from book to book.  She encouraged illustrators to take on projects with which they feel a connection, to create samples that reflect the types of projects they would like to work on that year, and to send those samples to a small targeted group of art directors.  Most of all, Pham spoke about the importance of making personal connections with clients, and allowing clients to see you as a multidimensional person rather than just a work source.  IN noe of her breakout sessions, Pham talked about how she goes about constructing a picture book.  We looks at the development of visual hierarchy to facilitate storytelling in each individual scene, as well as how that hierarchy fits into the overall scope of the book, creating a natural flow between page turns.   She was such an inspiring and engaging speaker, and this particular session on picture book construction was so enriching!

BigSisterLIttleSister BoyLovedMath VampirinaBallerina

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria Middleton, Associate Art Director

Two of my other favorite sessions were offered by ABRAMS Kids Books associate art director Maria Middleton.  The first few illustrators who signed up for the conference had the opportunity to work with Middleton on a “homework project” in which we had to create character and place them in a situation where they will encounter conflict, great or small.  We got to send her our sketches, which she reviewed ahead of time, and then created final art to be reviewed during a session at the conference.  This was so much fun!  I love seeing everyone’s interpretation of the theme, and the evolution for sketch to final.  Here is my artwork that I created for the assignment.

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In a separate session, Maria talked about the makings of great cover design.  She encouraged us to think about the spine, which is often the only part of the book that is visible on bookshelves, and giving attention to typography.  For those illustrators who feel comfortable doing so, she suggested hand-lettering the title text, so that the cover has that added touch of image-text unity and customization.  She also walked us through the many stages of some of the book covers that she art-directed, explaining how the team arrived at the final cover design for each book.  It was intriguing to see the thought process behind each revision, and to see how those changes drove the cover towards a stronger design.

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Amazon Acquires Digital Comics Platform ComiXology

Last week Amazon announced that it was acquiring the digital comic book distributor ComiXology. If you don’t know what is, it’s been called “the iTunes of comic books” by the New York Times. ComiXology is a cloud-based digital comics platform that offers a selection of more than 40,000 comic books and graphic novels across Android, iOS, Kindle, Windows 8, and their Internet web store. ComiXology was launched in July 2007 and now has deals with 75 different comic book publishers giving these companies a digital storefront to sell their content. Their ComiXology app has gone on to become Apple’s top-grossing non-game iPad app from 2011 to 2013.

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They have had well over 200 million comics downloaded through their app as of September 2013. There have been several reasons for ComiXology’s rise to digital comics prominence, but none more prominent than their patented Guided View technology. Guided View has made reading digital comics a much better experience on digital devices. “ComiXology’s patent-pending Guided View technology allows readers to view a comic on a panel-by-panel basis suitable for mobile devices in a way that mimics the natural motion of the user’s eye through the comic” says the ComiXology website. Continue reading

What is #sketch_dailies

For those artists on Twitter you may have started seeing the hashtag #sketch_dailies popping up in your feed along side a doodle. Sketch Dailies is a community of artists that do daily sketches based on a common theme. Sketch Dailies began as a warm up for Isaac Orloff and his fellow coworkers at the game company Storm8. Isaac would send a group email with a theme and they would share their sketches. As this idea continued to grow they created a sketch_dailies Twitter account and within 24 hours had 200 new participants. It’s popularity continues to grow adding 1,000 new sketchers each day. There has been a wide range of topics so far from who’s your favorite Muppet to Harold Ramis to Thor. These topics are posted as inspiration and the idea behind it is to just get you sketching. Sketch Dailies is open to anyone no matter their background or skill level. Topics are posted on the Sketch Dailies social network pages like Twitter and Facebook, Monday through Friday at 11am PST. Saturday and Sunday are catch up days where artists can catch up on themes they may have missed throughout the week. There are no time constraints or limitations on topics. Artists are encouraged to work at their own pace but the Sketch Dailies site will try to keep the work they share as up-to-date as possible with the most current theme. A handful of images will be featured on their homepage.

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If you’d like to learn how to share your artwork with Sketch Dailies or find out more about this new social media phenomenon check out the Sketch Dailies FAQs page.

If you’re looking for something to sketch and can’t come up with an idea head over to Sketch Dailies and see what the theme is and get drawing. Adding the hashtag Sketch Dailies to your artwork on your favorite social media sites might get you some new people looking at your work.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

2014 Caldecott Winners

Locomotive003On Monday the American Library Association announced its most esteemed literary prizes. The ALA hands out a lot of different awards, but since this is a site dedicated to illustration we are only going to focus on one, the Caldecott medals. The award was announced at the American Library Association’s winter meeting in Philadelphia and selected by a national judging committee of librarians and children’s literature experts. The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

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This year’s award went to Locomotive by Brian Floca. The story about a family taking a trip across country in the summer of 1869 on one of the first passenger trains. Floca is the author and illustrator of Locomotive. He has also written and illustrated other books like Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, Lightship, and The Racecar Alphabet. Mr. Floca’s work is no stranger to awards. His books have received 3 Robert F. Sibert Honor awards, an Orbis Pictus Award, a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators, and have twice been selected for The New York Times annual 10 Best Illustrated Books list. Check out more of Brian Flaca’s work on his website, brianfloca.com.

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The other contenders for this award were Journey by Aaron Becker; Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle; and Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner. Congratulations to all the nominees. It must have been a tough job to select just one.

Adobe Adds New Features To Creative Cloud For 2014

Last week Adobe announced new features to its Creative Cloud subscription service. In mid 2012 Adobe launched Creative Cloud and has been releasing new features for it since it’s inception. In 2013 they released 50 new enhancements for the service and 2014 is looking like it is going to be no different. They’re kicking the year off with new additions to Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC and Indesign CC. The notable additions include Perspective Warp to Photoshop, Illustrator receives Live corners and Indesign gets some E-pub enhancements. Let’s talk about these and a few more features a little bit more in-depth.

Photoshop CC
When talking about Adobe products you always need to start with Photoshop. It’s the product that pretty much everyone uses and everyone knows about. For 2014 they’ve added three key features to this program. The first one that jumps out to me and looks to be the most important to illustrators is Perspective Warp. Adobe’s description of this tool is: Fluidly adjust the perspective of a specific part of your image without affecting the surrounding area. Change the viewpoint from which an object is seen.pscc_perspectivewarp

Another feature that they added is support for 3-D printers. Photoshop already has 3-D tools but now they’ve added the ability to easily create, refine, and preview your design, and then print models directly to a connected 3D printer or other online service. Also new to Photoshop is Linked Smart Objects. This could be a big deal to you depending on what kind of work you do in Photoshop. Photoshop already had smart objects but now it’s even smarter. When you link an image into your PSD, Photoshop can now tell if you’ve made a modification to it and automatically update that file inside your document. For example, if you’re working on a poster with the company logo on it and the company decides to change the color of the logo at the last minute you will just need to add the updated file to your workflow and it will update in your document. Sounds pretty nice. Read more about all of PhotoShop’s new features here.

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Submit a Post to Once Upon a Sketch

At Once Upon A Sketch we are all about sharing knowledge with the art community. That’s what we strive for with every post we put on our site. With that said we know we can’t cover everything and stories are bound to fall through the cracks. If you have a news story we have missed, a blog post with insight into the illustration process or just general information you think the Once Upon a Sketch Community would be interested in please share it with us.

We appreciate all posts that are passed on to us and all the hard work that goes into each of them. However, all submissions are judged and published based on their own merits, so please don’t take offense if your story doesn’t make it to the site. We already get lots of emails about sharing particular posts and we comb through them to find the very best to share with you.

Sadly, there’s no money involved with this. Just the knowledge that you shared your talents with the art community and it’s another way to get your name out there and maybe get a few more eyeballs on your work that may not have seen it otherwise. Continue reading

Once Upon a Sketch returning in 2014

Hello Loyal Readers,
It’s been several months since the site has gone on hiatus and since then I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with Once Upon a Sketch. Sadly, it’s just been sitting, collecting dust, but the community still seems to be using the site and leaving new comments. I know this because I still get emails showing new comments, likes, new subscribers to the YouTube channel and the site is still getting really good traffic. On the surface Once Upon a Sketch may look like it’s been dormant but I assure you behind-the-scenes that is not the case. I was advised by my family that keeping OUaS going strong should be one of my priorities. I want it to continue as well but, the question has always been how am I going to do this by myself. The answer I came to is, I can’t. Which is why I’ve been putting together a team of contributing artists to come help me on Once Upon a Sketch. They have graciously agreed to share their knowledge and wisdom of the illustration market with you. The artists that have agreed to contribute to the site are:

Kevin W Cross – kevincross.net
Donald Wu – donaldwu.com
Mary Reaves Uhles – maryuhles.com
Chris Jones – jonesid.com
Jennifer Zivoin – JZArtworks.com
Jannie Ho – chickengirldesign.com

It’s very exciting for me to have these new contributors helping out with OUaS and on top of their help the site will also be getting a redesign. We will also have a change in the amount of posts we put up each week. Now we will have one post on Monday and another on Wednesday and if there is any other big news in the illustration world we will be sure to share it with you. All of these changes will be happening at the beginning of 2014. I hope you will join me for the reimagining of this website that Wilson and I spent so much time and effort putting together.

Thank you for your continued readership.

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