Archive for November, 2010



November 15, 2010

I went to the SCBWI ILLUSTRATOR’S DAY yesterday. The event was an all-day affair with numerous speakers, a portfolio contest and a portfolio review.

The Speakers:

Author/Illustrator Brian Floca discussed his career from childhood to award-winning picture book illustrator. He studied under David Macaulay at RISD and I asked him about the course he took. The cirriculum was very simple: The students would arrive to see a word written on a blackboard. They would have an hour to draw something that illustrated the word and then the class would talk about it for two hours, which sounded very interesting to me.

Art director Rich Deas discussed the trend of photographs on the covers of teen novels instead of illustrations. The fear is that teens will think that pictures are too juvenille for them and will be turned off unless it is a photograph. Everyone seemed to agree that it was a fairly depressing fad that we hope ends.

Jennifer Rofe from the Andrea Brown Agency discussed the importance of having an agent. What really hit the point home for me was her describing how horrible the deals were for writers and illustrators who came to her AFTER selling their first book. The contracts that the unagented writers and illustrators routinely signed did not include elements standard in the industry.

Abigail Samoun’s presentation was titled “Six Steps To Becoming a Picture Book Expert.” Step 1 involved studying 100 picture books and analyzing them. I think that this is such a wonderful idea, that I plan on completing this exercise on this blog. It should be a blast!

The last speaker of the day was Dan Santat. Like Brian Floca, he discussed his career from loving art as a child. Mr. Santat’s career was given a huge boost by becoming a SCBWI member, but he had a full time job at ACTIVISION while really taking off in children’s books. On top of that, he sold an animated TV series to Disney, THE REPLACEMENTS, which he worked on while not giving up his day job and pursuing freelance picture book projects. The theme for the day was “be inspired” and it’s tough not to when exposed to that level of work ethic.

I felt fortunate to have Dan Santat give me my portfolio review. Early into the review, we discussed color. For the project I’m working on most recently, BOY-BOT AND BOY, I decided to remove color from the equation completely and illustrate only using black line. Mr. Santat gave me suggestions to improve my color use, which I’m quite excited about. I look forward to the challenge of improving in areas where I need work. The great thing about coloring digitally, is that I can remove the laying containing the existing color from a file and re-color it with relative ease.



November 14, 2010

I have recently been hearing a lot about non-reproduction blue pencils, which are common amongst animators. Conceptually, they are good for rough sketches as their marks allegedly don’t appear when photocopied. I picked a few of these pencils up and started filling some sketchbook pages. My sketching style is very loose, containing many lines as I search for the one I like best. The non-repro blue pencils suit my style well since, when the time comes for add detail to a drawing, I can use a mechanical pencil for more precise markmaking and it is very easily distinguished from the blue sketch lines beneath it. Previously, when I would sketch loosely in pencil and then make tighter marks on top of those also in pencil, the “correct” lines often got lost. It was not until I would ink and then erase that I could see what I really had. Now, my eye can easily distinguish the rough “wrong” lines in blue from the tight, “right” lines in mechanical pencil. Inking on top of those results in fewer mistakes since it’s difficult for me to ink the “wrong” lines.

Using non-repro-blue pencils for the sketching process does have a downside for me, though – one that I didn’t expect. After I ink the page, I can’t easily erase the blue lines. If I do, the ink comes off the page due to the non-adhesive nature of the blue pencil marks. I have to scan the image in, then remove the blue digitally to really see what I’ve got. It’s not an impossible system, but I’m still playing around with the whole thing.