Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sleepy Little Elephant by Fred Koehler

Baby close your eyes,
The moon's about to rise.

Your day has been much longer than
you'll ever realize.

Another day is done,
It's setting with the sun

And as you dream the stars will bring
to you another one.

So baby, close your eyes.

:-)  -fk

Check back next week to hear from Sheralyn Barnes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Textures, Daily Doodles & An Autumn Dance - by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

"Autumn Dance" - by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

As I've mentioned in an earlier post, I try to do a drawing purely for the fun of it every day. I call this my "Daily Doodle" regardless of its content or final appearance because I find the word "doodle" helps take off the pressure and also reminds me that it's supposed to  be FUN.

Started with an orange background, added texture.

My only rules: (1) The drawing can't be for any work project, (2) Don't spend more than an hour on it. When things are superbusy or I'm super-uninspired, I may spend as little as a minute or two (usually this is a quick line doodle). Average is about 30 minutes. I didn't time myself for this drawing, but I think it took me about 40 minutes from start to finish.

Added new layer with the ground texture.

Ever since attending Richard Jesse Watson's session in the Illustrators' Intensives at the SCBWI Summer Conference, I've been inspired to experiment more with textures in my art. Unlike Richard, I work digitally...but even as I was watching him work, I got excited about the possibilities of being more adventurous with different types of digital media & textures in my work.

Created a tree on a separate layer.
I started playing around with more Photoshop CS5 textured brushes, including some wonderful grungy brushes by Dawghouse Design Studio. I plan to eventually create my own texture brushes for commercial work, but first I want to find out what does and doesn't work for me.

For this doodle, I knew I wanted to work quickly to get it finished within my self-imposed time limit, so I used a cheat via Layers, Transform and Transparency: I created one tree shape and then used it to create all the other trees. To keep the trees from all looking the same, I used Transform and Transparency to change the shape and look of each tree, plus sometimes added a few branches here and there.

Then I started adding some red leaves to the tops of the trees as well as scattered on the ground. I used one of the Photoshop CS5 library brushes, I think, that I had modified slightly. For the tops of the trees, I added red leaves between some of the layers to give a feeling of depth.

I was going to leave it as just the forest and leaves but then decided to add a dancer because it needed something MORE. I always like having some kind of implied story to my drawings because it makes it more fun to draw.

Anyway, I was a bit floored by all the Likes and comments when I posted this earlier this week (!). Thanks, all. You've inspired me to work up a more polished version for my portfolio at the SCBWI Winter Conference.

Next week, you'll be hearing from Pixel Shavings' fabulous Fred Koehler!

To see more of my work, please visit:

Illustrator, I'M BORED by Michael Ian Black (Simon & Schuster, 2012)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pinocchio With A Twist by Russ Cox

 © 2011 Russ Cox | Smiling Otis Studio

Recently I have been thinking about the story of Pinocchio and how to do a spin on such a classic.  I thought it would be interesting if kids had built him from junk that they found around the house or in a junkyard. A child has an amazing creative spirit and energy that I thought would work well for this modern take. It also reminded me of my younger days when we would build things from junk.

While I was sick last week, I began doodling and this is what appeared on the paper. Maybe a fever can be a good thing once in a while. Trying to think of things a group of children could find and use to make their robotic puppet, was a bit challenging. Most of the items are obvious but some of the support elements like the base of his face and lower body, I wanted to keep as chunks of unidentifiable rusted metal.

The faces of the children bothered me so I quickly sketched out some other ideas. Which I added to the cleaned up version of the sketch in Photoshop.

I decided to not add any tones to the sketch and keep the line work loose. The ellipses on the tires and other areas are not drawn perfectly on purpose in order to keep the illustration more child friendly. After years of drafting, it was hard  not to clean up those parts of the drawing.

Using Photoshop, I added a gray tone to establish light direction and then dropped in a purple value to pull the under painting together. 

I built each piece on a separate layer for easy editing. The color was built up using various brushes and textures like the background on the face. I was going for a tarnished, rusted metal look so the elements on the face stand out.
This is the final illustration. It is different than my usual vector artwork. After looking at it now, I think I will add a small cricket to the radar part of his head. Like he is whispering into his ear as the little girl looks down on him. It will tie in the basic storyline of the original and help pull the concept together.

In Pixel Shavings related news, we just mailed out our first tear sheet with bookmarks to art directors from various publishing houses. Hazel, Fred, Sheri, Debbie, John and I each did a new piece just for the promo. We think it is a pretty snazzy package that should get some attention. Fingers crossed!

Next week you're in for a treat as the lovely and energetic Debbie Ohi will share a new illustration for all to marvel!

To see more of my work, you can go to:
Smiling Otis Facebook Fan Page
Smiling Otis Studio Blog

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Ugly Duckling - creating an ebook from Hazel Mitchell

Ebooks are springing up everywhere. With the rise and rise of ipad, and now Kindle Fire, the race is 'hotting' up. What does this mean for your commonal-garden illustrator/author?

Many of the most famous children's book titles are being generated as ebooks by the original publishers, other authors and illustrators are working directly with app companies to bring back-listed books to life. Best sellers look like they have the best chance of hitting the number one spots on the app lists.

Yet it's an open field. Anyone can create an ebook, or app, and, if it's good enough, have it accepted into the istore. And there are plenty of illustrators and authors creating work that will be published as an ebook FIRST. It's a whole new animal.

So I thought I would dip my toe in the water with a new company just about to launch called Headed by (the wonderfully named) Nils von Heijne, this company is a little different. It's a worldwide community of excellent authors and illustrators creating quality picture books. With the online software interface created by Utales, authors and illustrators can design and upload their own books. Right now they are bringing in animation and sound tools, but I can only see these facilities growing after the launch.

One of the best things about this creator-driven company is that they have a great editing team headed up by Emma Dryden, of Dryden Books. So all the books are quality controlled - awesome! Utales are also working with 'Pencils of Promise'. P Proceeds from each sale can be donated to the charity and help fund projects in schools across the world.

The company asked for creators to retell a classic tale before the launch. I chose the great favorite by Hans Christian Andersen, 'The Ugly Duckling'. Here are some of the images I created from the book. I hope you'll check out the animated version on Utales when it launches in the coming weeks! Watch this space for details.


Oh, I didn't mention that there was also a competition involved for the creation of a classic tale. The first prize is an ipad, so please keep all your extremities crossed! 

Thanks for stopping by Pixel Shavings this week.
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Plus, watch out for the next Pixel Shavings mail out. Maybe one will be dropping in your mail box soon.
Call in next week to see what Russ Cox will be chatting about.