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Interview with Children’s illustrator/designer Merrill Rainey

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I recently had the opportunity to interview the wonderfully talented Merrill Rainey (www.littlerainey.com). Merrill has been working as a professional illustrator and graphic designer for over 10 years. He has a very unique graphic look to his work, and I wanted to find out how he got into children’s illustration and how he developed his unique style, so let’s dive right in…

You are a graphic designer and illustrator – Can you tell us how you started out and how you ended up working in both illustration and design?

During spring semester of my senior year in high school, I headed to Kent State University in Ohio to meet with an advisor to schedule for fall classes. At that time, I was asked whether or not I wanted to be a painting or an illustration major. Not knowing what the real difference was, the advisor sent me down to the art building to look at the senior art show being displayed at the art building. While perusing the student work, I came across a series of of books with a familiar title; “Super Fudge”. I took note that this series of books had been redesigned and illustrated by a graduating student for their senior thesis. I was in awe of the work, and at that moment, I decided that illustration is what I wanted to do. I eagerly headed back to my advisor to tell her my decision. She then proceeded to enroll me into the illustration program. What I didn’t know until the following Fall, was that the program was actually called Visual Communications Design (aka VCD). Over the summer, my college class schedule showed up with a course called Basic Studio Skills. I couldn’t wait to start this class, and started thinking about what skills I would be learning. Would it be figure drawing, water colors, pen & ink…? The list of possibilities just went on and on, and I couldn’t wait to start.

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Wacom Cintiq Companion Review

If you’ve been following Once Upon a Sketch for any amount of time you’ll know that I have been looking for a portable digital drawing solution. I’ve tried drawing on my iPad with expensive stylists and even tried Microsoft’s Surface tablet, but nothing I found ever made me feel like I was drawing on my Wacom Cintiq. Maybe I’m just spoiled but I wanted a product I could do professional grade work on, on the go.CintiqCompanion006 First off, I would like to mention that there are two different products in the Wacom Companion line. It can get a little confusing so let me explain. The Cintiq Companion is a drawing tablet running Windows 8. It’s pretty much a full-blown computer crammed into one of Wacom’s drawing displays. Since it’s running Windows you can use any of your favorite creative applications like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or Indesign. While it’s brother the Cintiq Companion hybrid is an android-based drawing tablet. While on the go it acts like a normal Android-based tablet allowing you to use any of the Mobile versions of drawing software but when you plug it into your Computer it stops running Android and acts like any other Wacom Cintiq. To make it even more confusing both products look the same.

This post will be focusing on the Cintiq Companion running Windows 8.

More information about the Wacom Cintiq Companion.
Wacom is the leader in drawing tablets for graphics professionals. Wacom’s products have traditionally been desktop-based until they released the Cintiq Companion in August. The Companion is designed to be the first portable graphics workstation (Thanks Popular Mechanics, I could not have worded that better). It’s not an iPad or an android tablet it’s a full computer inside of a Wacom 13.3in Cintiq. The Companion runs 64bit Windows 8 and has a full HD display with a touchscreen stylus combo with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. 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

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 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BRMwegVqv6M#!

Alternatives to Using the Adobe Creative Suite

There has been a lot of fire out there about Adobe changing their upgrade policy and some users feeling like Adobe is taking advantage of their monopoly on the design application market. So I thought I would go through and find a few alternatives to Adobe applications. I’m not saying that any of these are better than Adobe’s offerings I just wanted to put out a list of a few alternatives. I’m only going to focus on the major design (No web apps) applications like Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign. There are tons of alternatives out there but I decided to focus on a handful from each category. I did not have time to go through and write a description for each piece of software but I did grab their marketing description from their website to give you an idea of what the application is advertised to do. I personally work on a Mac, having that in mind I tried to find applications for all platforms not just focusing on my side of the computer world. I have not used all of the software, but I did go through and make sure that it was reviewed well and generally excepted to be a good product.

The price range on the software I’ve selected runs the gamut. Some are expensive, some are reasonable, some are free and most come with trial versions so the barrier to giving it a shot is only the time you have to invest.

So try these applications and decide whether any of this software will work in your creative process.

GIMP
GIMP is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, and more.
Price: Free
Platforms: Mac, Windows and Linux
Pixelmator
Pixelmator, the beautifully designed, easy-to-use, fast and powerful image editor for Mac OS X has everything you need to create, edit and enhance your images.
Price: $14.99
Platforms: Mac
Acorn
Acorn is a photo editor built for the rest of us. With a simple interface and tools for adding everything from text, shapes, and effects, you can make the perfect picture in seconds and minutes, not hours and days.
Price: $49.99
Platforms: Mac
Artrage
A simple but lovely natural media painting and sketching program. Art oriented, but capable of loading/saving photoshop files. A very cheap alternative to Painter, with a stripped down, elegant interface.
Price: $29.90 to $59.90
Platforms: Mac and Windows
Corel Painter
Corel Painter is a raster-based digital art application created to simulate as accurately as possible the appearance and behavior of traditional media associated with drawing, painting, and printmaking. It is intended to be used in real-time by professional digital artists as a functional creative tool.
Price: $429.00
Platforms: Mac and Windows
Autodesk Sketchbook Pro
Autodesk Sketchbook Pro drawing software features an artist-friendly, gesture-based user interface that is so fast and intuitive even new users can be productive within minutes.
 Price: $59.90

Platforms: Mac and Windows Continue reading