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Could Adobe have a new Challenger?

For years Adobe hasn’t had much competition in the photo editing, vector drawing and desktop publishing application space. Adobe software has been the pinnacle of desktop publishing software for as long as I can remember. A few years ago they switched their software model to subscription-based which upset a lot of their core customers. Now a company named Serif has come out with a new product called Affinity Designer to try to change all that. Serif Ltd. is an independent developer founded in 1990 and a publisher of design software. Serif was founded with the aim to develop low-cost alternatives to high-end desktop publishing and graphic design packages for the PC. Despite developing exclusively for PC and Windows for over 25 years, their new product, Affinity Designer, is turning that all on its head. Built for the Mac, Affinity Designer is the first of a new line of products by Serif aimed at anyone who’s not a fan of Adobe subscription model. Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher will be coming out over the next 12 months to complete the new suite of design applications. Affinity Designer is available now in beta and you can grab your copy for Mac at https://affinity.serif.com/.

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Affinity Designer’s site says that “Affinity Designer is the fastest, smoothest, most precise vector graphic design software available.” Whether you’re working on graphics for marketing materials, websites, icons, UI design or just like creating cool concept art, Affinity Designer will revolutionize how you work.” and “Working in Affinity Designer is always live – pan and zoom at 60fps, transform objects in correct z-order, make adjustments or apply effects in realtime and always see live previews of brushes or tools. Whether it’s a 100 megapixel image or the most complex vector drawing with thousands of curves, it’s still the same and never runs out of memory.” When Affinity Designer is out of beta it will be available exclusively on the Mac App store for $49.99.

We are still a long ways from seeing if Serif can knock off Adobe’s crown but it’s nice to see that some alternatives are starting to pop up. If you’ve tried Serif’s new vector drawing application, please let us know what you think about it in the comments. I will be trying it out soon myself and giving a report on OUaS.

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.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud 2014 Update Part 2 – Software

Last year Adobe did away with their popular Creative Suite traditional software sales model and change there model to a subscription service. Well it’s been about a year and now Adobe is updating their Creative Cloud offerings for 2014. When Creative Cloud was first released Adobe promised a trickle of releases to their software throughout the year. Well on June 18 2014 Adobe open the floodgates and dropped a ton of new releases on the creative community. On Monday (July 14 2014) we discussed all of Adobe’s new mobile offerings. Well, today we are going to be taking a look at their updates to their Desktop software for 2014. We are only going to focus on software that relates to illustrators, so sorry all of you After Effects, Dreamweaver, and Muse fans. Let’s get into it.

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The first update is to their naming structure. Instead of just calling the entire service Creative Cloud they are now adding a year to each update. This year’s update is Adobe Creative Cloud 2014. While we’re talking about small incremental additions to the CC service Adobe has also announced the Creative Cloud Market. Think stock image library. On the Creative Cloud blog they called it “a collection of high-quality, curated assets for creatives by creatives. Now you can access a remarkable selection of vector graphics, icons, patterns, UI Kits, for-placement images, and more from your Creative Cloud Desktop app—all part of your subscription to Creative Cloud.” In my opinion it’s an interesting idea but we’ll have to see how the library grows with time but if you’re already paying for the CC service it can’t hurt to check it out.

Now on to the design software. All of the revisions to Adobe software lineup have added improvements to the design work flow and a performance boosts. All the new updates to Adobe Creative Cloud are available to existing CC subscribers for free and individual Creative Cloud memberships start at $49.99 per month for new customers, $29.99 per month if you own a previous version of the Adobe creative suite CS3 or higher (for the first year), and $19.99 for students. Your subscription profile has also been improved with better syncing between desktop apps and mobile apps as well as including stored files, photos, fonts, and preferences allowing your files to be seamlessly shared between applications. Adobe says of these new features “The new CC desktop apps, mobile apps, and hardware are tightly integrated through Creative Cloud services. This integration helps liberate the creative process by enabling users to access and manage everything that makes up their creative profile — their files, photos, fonts, colors, community and more — from wherever they work.” So what updates have been made to the software?

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Adobe Photoshop CC 2014 – This new version of Photoshop seems to be more of an incremental update as opposed to the big release of last year. Photoshop is now on it’s 15th iteration so it’s more feature polish less innovation but altogether it seems like a welcome update. Whats new for 2014? Most of these additions will help out photographers not as much illustrators but let’s go through them anyway because some of them are pretty cool.

The stand out to me is a new feature called Focus Mask. Photoshop will now help you start a mask by automatically selecting the in-focus areas of your image. Focus Mask works great with portraits and other images that have shallow depth of field. Next Adobe adds to their filters with 2 new Blur motion effects. Use Path Blur to add blur along any path and Spin Blur to create circular or elliptical blurs that will help add a sense of motion to your images. Photoshop has also added improvements to content aware fill. They’ve also added a feature to Photoshop that InDesign has had for a while called Smart Guides. Smart Guides is a handy tool that shows you the positioning between elements in relationship to each other.

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Adobe Illustrator CC 2014 – What does Illustrator CC 2014 have to offer for your monthly subscription Fee? Like Photoshop the additions to the new illustrator seem to be just more refinement. Adobe has cleaned up how the Pen Tool works so now as you draw your a line it will give you a preview of how the final shape will look before you commit. Another welcome addition is how Typekit helps your workflow with missing fonts. Now when you open a file that doesn’t have a font installed Illustrator will reach out to Typekit, download the font and install it on your computer making it available for all other applications. Lastly and maybe most importantly, they’ve added Live Shapes to Illustrator. You can now quickly modify rectangle corners, with independent control over each corner’s radius. You can scale and rotate rectangles, and Illustrator remembers your work— so you can quickly return to your original shape.

Adobe InDesign CC 2014 – What’s new? Honestly it doesn’t seem like very much over its predecessor but what they have done is improved the EPUB export features and honestly this one might be the most exciting for children’s book illustrators. Adobe’s site says about this new feature “Make interactive EPUB books with live text—such as children’s books, cookbooks, travel books, and textbooks—that are rich with illustrations, photos, audio, or animations. Layout and design remain fixed no matter the screen size.” They’ve added a few other minor additions like better tabs, and color groups but the EPUB of enhancements are, by far, the standout for me.

There you have it all the new additions to Creative Cloud 2014. If you didn’t read our first article about their new mobile offerings you can check it out here. If there’s anything you saw from Adobe that you thought stood out and we didn’t cover it please let us know about it in the comments.

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.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud 2014 Update Part 1 – Mobile

In 2013 Adobe released their Creative Cloud service switching from a traditional software sales model to a subscription based service. This switch did away with the much beloved Creative Suite software bundle which included Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, and many more applications.  At first consumers were unsure of this change to their favorite creative products but Adobe has stuck to their guns and on June 18th 2014 released a large update to their software-as-a-service offerings as well as a few surprises. On Wednesday (July 16, 2014) we will be going over the desktop software revisions but today we have a quick rundown of all the Mobile software updates Adobe has released.

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First off and most interestingly Adobe has released hardware. The company that’s most known for their software has just released a new line of products to help your creative endeavors. Adobe Ink is a new digital pen that connects to Creative Cloud. Adobe’s fine-tipped, pressure sensitive pen is a three-sided hydro-formed aluminum stylus for iPad version 4+ or better running iOS 7. They described it as “lightweight and balanced for a comfortable grip.” The second piece of hardware is a digital ruler that works in tandem with Ink. Adobe Slide was created to enable precision sketches and lines. Again to use Slide you’ll need an iPad version 4+ that’s running the latest version of Apples mobile software, iOS7. Slide works by setting the digital ruler down on the iPad then the ruler marks will appear on screen. As you draw with Ink your digital lines will snap to guides giving you a perfect line. Ink and Slide come as a pair for $199.99. It’s seems like a steep price for something that is not integral to the creative process at this point but Michael Gough, Adobe’s experience design lead, disagrees saying “Sooner or later, the mouse and keyboard aren’t going to be enough,” and ”We’re trying to prepare ourselves.” It seems like with these new products Adobe is making a future play for when artists no longer use laptops and desktop computers and only do their work on tablets. Only time will tell. What makes this pair better then other styluses? It pairs with Creative Cloud so all your settings will be saved allowing you to start working on one iPad and switch to another and continue seamlessly between the two. The nice part is you don’t need to pay for a creative cloud subscription to use the pairing options. As of now Adobe Ink and slide only work with two Adobe iPad apps (Adobe Sketch and Adobe Line) but I’m sure more support is coming. If you’d like to read someone’s thoughts that have had hands on with these products check out this article from The Verge.

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Speaking of software that these products work with, lets switch gears to the five new mobile applications. On a blog post on Adobe site they say “These are incredibly powerful apps that start to bring the functionality you get from desktop apps, to mobile.” How is Adobe going to accomplish this? Well, these new apps will have the ability to upload some of the more processor intensive functions to Adobe servers and do the hard work there. Let’s take a look at these five new free apps from Adobe (these descriptions all come directly from Apple’s app store.)

Adobe Sketch – Adobe Sketch brings inspiration, drawing, and your creative community together in one place. Capture your ideas as sketches and share them on Behance for instant feedback. Sketch gives you the freedom to find inspiration, explore ideas, and get feedback from trusted peers—wherever you are.
Grab Adobe Sketch from the app store here

Adobe Line – A modern approach to drawing and drafting, Line lets you draw straight lines, geometric shapes, perspective views, and more. Adobe Line reimagines traditional drawing tools like rulers, T-squares and shape templates for the mobile world.
Grab Adobe Line from the app store here

Adobe Photoshop Mix – Combine the power of Adobe Photoshop software with the convenience of mobile for a creative, easy-to-use photo editing experience on your iPad (see recommended devices below). Non-destructive photo enhancements, selections, the ability to cut out and mix images, and more; plus a Creative Cloud connected workflow for even more creative possibilities.
Grab Adobe Photoshop Mix from the app store here

Adobe Creative Cloud – Adobe Creative Cloud for iPhone and iPad: Your work, your inspiration, your creativity, with you wherever you go. Part of your free membership, this app connects your mobile devices to the Creative Cloud and unlocks new tools in your favorite apps. It also allows you to browse and preview your PSD, AI and other design files stored in the cloud.
Grab Adobe Creative Cloud from the app store here

Adobe Kuler – Adobe Kuler is a fun and simple way to capture inspiring color combinations wherever you see them. Simply point the iPhone camera at something colorful and Kuler will instantly extract a series of colors.You can share your themes with friends through Facebook, Twitter or email. You can also share the image that inspired the theme. And Adobe Creative Cloud members will find their Kuler themes instantly available in the Kuler panel in Adobe Illustrator CC or Adobe Ideas. You can also sync your color themes to the Kuler website where you can download the swatches for use in other Adobe products.
Grab Adobe Kuler from the app store here

There you have it, the rundown of Adobes 2014 products and mobile offerings. Check back for part 2 on Wednesday (July 16, 2014) where we look at the updates to their desktop software.

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.

What is Adobe Configurator?

Did you know Adobe makes a program that lets you make your own custom panels/palettes for Photoshop and in design? Well not many people do, so lets talk a little bit about Adobe Configurator. Adobe Labs offers the free utility for Mac or PC and give it a try, but if you’d like to learn more continue reading.

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If you want to make a panel with all your favorite drawing tools like the brush tool, gradient tool, smudge tool, eyedropper tool and, a few of your favorite actions you totally can with absolutely no knowledge of coding. The above image was created in about five minutes and has all the Photoshop tools and commands I frequently use. It was super easy to create a custom panel and export to Photoshop CS6 or Creative Cloud (InDesign only supports CS6). Configurator made it easy to drag and drop tools, menu items, scripts, actions and other objects you might want quick access to in your own panel design.

How do you make your own panels/palettes? Honestly I’m still learning the software myself so I thought I would share a YouTube video from people with a bit more knowledge then I. The video below is from the previous version of Configurator but I think the fundamentals are the same.

 

Source: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/configurator/

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.

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.

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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.

Continue reading

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Once Upon a Sketch Podcast Episode 5.5 – Quick Cast


In this edition of the Once Upon a Sketch Quick Cast we discuss projects we’ve been working on, Wilson’s recent computer crash and our thoughts on the conversation we had with Terry Hemphill from Adobe. We also have a contest we’re doing on the Once Upon a Sketch website. For more information check out the link below.

Show Notes:
Once Upon a Sketch Fan Contest
http://onceuponasketch.com/2013/07/once-upon-a-sketch-fan-love-contest/
Submit a Guest Post to Once Upon a Sketch
http://onceuponasketch.com/2013/03/submit-a-guest-post-to-once-upon-a-sketch/
Once Upon a Sketch Podcast Episode 5 – Conversation with Adobe about Creative Cloud
http://onceuponasketch.com/2013/07/once-upon-a-sketch-podcast-episode-5-conversation-with-ad/

Preparing pencil sketches using Channels in PhotoShop

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First off I’d like to start off with a quote from one of my instructors in college about working in Adobe PhotoShop. He said “There are a thousand ways to solve the same problem in PhotoShop”. This statement is 100% true. I know there are so many other ways to accomplish a nice clean line drawing but here is the way I’ve found that works best for my work flow.

When starting its best to understand how you work. For me, I do my pencil sketches with a blue non-photo reproducing colored pencil. It helps me get the gesture of the drawing down before going in with a pencil to tighten up my lines. Knowing that I scan my sketches in color (RGB) at 300 DPI or PPI. I know some artists also use red colored pencils for their under drawings and this process can also be done with a red colored pencil but for this tutorial I’m going to just concentrate on removing the blue line. Now that the sketch is scanned and saved to my computer, I open it in PhotoShop.

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Having started with a blue line I need to now remove it. I start by adjusting the hue/saturation (Image > Adjustments > hue/saturation) With the hue/saturation dialog panel up you will see a drop down menu set to “Master”. On the “Master” setting drop the saturation all the way down to -100. Then go to both the “Cyan” setting and “Blue” setting and adjust the brightness all the way up to +100. Now to adjust the levels of the drawing (Image > Adjustment > Levels) until the image looks right. One of the goals of this is to get a nice crisp white background.

To get the gray lines on their own layer there are many ways to do this. For instance, you could create a duplicate layer of your sketch and change the layer blend mode to “Multiply” and paint on a layer underneath. This way works fine but when I’m coloring I like to have control of all my lines and its hard when the drawing is surrounded by white. You will see why in a few steps. Continue reading

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Once Upon a Sketch Podcast Episode 5 – Conversation with Adobe about Creative Cloud

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Last month on our podcast we had a roundtable conversation about Adobes new subscription model and it turns out that Adobe was listening. We got the chance to speak with Terry Hemphill a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe. He heard our Conversation and approached us with the intent to speak with us about some of the confusion and concern regarding Creative Cloud. At first we were a little skeptical about speaking with a representative from Adobe. We were afraid that it might just be a long pitch for their products but we found Terry to be very open and honest with his answers. Before we spoke with Terry we put out a request for questions that, if you had the chance, would want to ask Adobe about creative cloud and we got a lot of great responses. Here are a few of the questions we asked him. Thanks for your input;

  • Why ONLY the subscription model rather than allowing for a perpetual license?
  • Why is the cloud subscription model better for me as a customer and as an illustrator?
  • What would you suggest young freelance artists or students do if they cannot afford to pay a monthly fee?
  • If you sign a one-year contract with Adobe and have to end it early what is the penalty?
  • If your customers are paying you month to month what incentive is there for you to upgrade your products competitively?
  • Has the outcry from the community at all affected Adobe’s plans for Creative Cloud?

We certainly got to ask him a lot more but those are just a handful of the questions we asked. Give a listen to the whole conversation to hear everything we talked about.

Links

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

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

Creative Cloud Team Blog

Creative Cloud Forums

Adobe Ideas


Audio Version of the podcast or listen on iTunes

Questions for Adobe! What would you ask?

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Hello Readers!

Norm and I recently hosted a roundtable podcast discussion about the changes with Adobe and Creative Cloud.

Well, we were contacted by Adobe and it looks like we’ll be getting the opportunity to interview one of their reps. We’ll be asking the questions you’ve wanted answers to. So we are soliciting that our readers send us the questions they would like us to ask during this interview. We’ll choose a selection of questions to use from your submissions. All questions submitted are not guaranteed to be asked during the interview.

Feel free to post your questions in the comments or send us an email. Also let us know if it’s ok for us to use your name when we ask the question.

The interview will hopefully be the next podcast we post. The deadline for question submission is this coming Wednesday, June 26. 2013.

Thanks so much and we look forward to reviewing your submitted questions!
-Norm and Wilson

Previous Posts dealing with this issue:

Adobe Creative Cloud Roundtable Podcast Discussion

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

PLEASE NOTE:
Please check the Adobe FAQ page for answers to your questions that may already be answered.
We don’t want to ask too many questions that the answers to which are already available online.
Thanks!

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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.

Links
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.
Website
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.
Website
Twitter
 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.
Website
Twitter
 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.
Website
Twitter
 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.
Website
Twitter
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