Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Comfort Zone by Sheralyn Barnes

This week I want to sing the praises of my online children's illustrator community. I can't imagine living the life of a freelance artist without the amazing people that I have gotten to know here in cyberspace. It's magical. It sustains me. It all started with sitting next to our own Hazel Mitchell at the 2010 New York SCBWI conference illustrator's intensive. Who knew?

Since that day (and thanks to Hazel's wonderful go getter personality), I have had a constant stream of inspiration and education from other writers and illustrators all around the globe. Here again I sing the praises of the SCBWI conferences, for every one person I have met at a conference, there has been many many others I have met through them. It really is amazing. On those dark days when the freelancing life seems a bit overwhelming, encouragement is just a click away.

 I want to mention another illustrator, Will Terry, who I've also met online. Will just recently launched a really cool site called At this site you can download art instructional videos made by both Will and other artists/illustrators. I've mentioned Will here before after watching his "How to Paint in Photoshop" video and finding it very insightful. This video helped me to make the big leap from oil to digital painting. Will is a tremendous illustrator with lots of experience and he is incredibly open about sharing his techniques and professional experiences. Even more, he offers all kinds of insight on his blog for free. Being a really big fan of his use of color, I recently purchased his "How to use Color" video and found it (again) incredibly helpful. It's not my normal self to sound like an info-mercial, but I share this because I feel his videos have helped me to fill in the gaps of my knowledge about book illustration. My college Drawing degree didn't address many things that an illustrator needs to be aware of, and these videos are a great help.

So for my posting this week, it's another exercise in painting in Photoshop and trying to add a bit of the advice on color that Will demonstrates in his color theory video. I have by no means, mastered his stunning use of color. In fact, I found myself still straying back to my usual choices. It will take a little while to understand, but it's a start and an exciting new challenge.

Many thanks to all of you out there in my cyberspace studio! 
Thanks again for checking in and checking Pixel Shavings out.
It's an honor to be here among these great illustrators. Look for another great post
from John Deininger next week!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Carrot on a String by Fred Koehler

My mom used to tell me that the reward of hard work was the satisfaction of a job well done. I think mom was just being a cheapskate. We all need a reason to exist. To wake up. To go to work. To eat our peas and clean our rooms. Find yours. Work hard. Reward yourself. And have a wonderful week.

Love, Fred.

PS - don't you dare miss next week's post from the wickedly fab Sheri Barnes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Random Act Of Publicity - by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Just received some good news this week! My illustrated short story, "Kodama," has been accepted for inclusion in Stone Bridge Press's YA fiction anthology, TOMO. Editor: Holly Thompson. Proceeds from the book will go toward teens affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011.

But now to the meat of today's post...

Hazel Mitchell, at the SCBWI Illustrator Intensive in LA,
holding a copy of the book I just purchased from her.
In honor of Random Acts Of Publicity Week, my post today focuses on a RAP about a book Hazel illustrated: TICK, TOCK, TAYLOR, written by Anastasia Suen. Here's how I created an image in Photoshop as part of today's RAP.

First, I scooped the cover image and put it on a separate layer, over the basic outline of my RAP cat:

I used a layer mask to clear the bit of cover that was going to have the cat's paw covering it. I also wanted an interesting background, so filled the bottom-most layer with a solid color:

As I continue to learn Photoshop CS5, I've been exploring its brush presets. One of my favorite libraries is the "M Brushes" preset. The cool cross-hatch texture in the background is one of the brushes from that preset:

Next, on other layers, I added the cat's coloring (with brushes from the same library) and the t-shirt, made some tweaks to fix the angle of the arm on the left.


Next week: the fabulous Fred Koehler.

Find out more about me at
If you're on Google+, do add yourself to my Kidlit Artist Directory.