Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review of Moleskine's Smart Notebook

For Christmas I received a wonderful gift!  I received a special Moleskine called Moleskine's Smart Notebook.  It is connected with Adobe Creative Cloud and turns your sketches into editable SVG files! I had no idea that such a product existed! All you need is your notebook, a smartphone with the Moleskine Creative Cloud Connected app, and an Adobe account.

The process is pretty simple.

I decided to make some Valentine's designs with my first test of this cool notebook.

The beautiful notebook has a fun cover with wavy lines and the Adobe Creative Cloud logo.
The paper inside is nice and not too thick, which is my usual complaint with Moleskines.

You start with a sketch within the squares in the journal 
(black and white line art works best, no shading).  
The next step in the process is to take the picture in some good light.

The app then notices the squares on the notebook paper and crops the image accordingly.


Unfortunately, even though all my designs were in that box the image was cropped even more.

The image is then converted to black and white.

Then you can send it to the Creative Cloud.

Here are my designs on the Creative Cloud website.  It saves the original photo and the SVG file. 
From here you can download the files.


I was worried this page wouldn't convert to a SVG due to the smudges/pencil lines 
(I was experimenting with different pens), but it converted just fine! It ignored the smudges.


A complaint I have of the process is that it converts my sketches not as smooth as I'd like it. 
I should probably also work on making my linework more smooth, now that I know it accentuates jagged lines.
The Original Sketch
The converted SVG file.

I took the pencil smoothing tool in Illustrator and fixed it though.


Here I am working on a Valentine's design using graphics from this process.

Overall, I think the Moleskine Smart Notebook is a great product.  

The pros are: 
  • Great way to bring my sketches into more of my designs.  
  • Makes my designs look less "digital". 
  • Overall smooth process
  • I can edit my sketches
  • A great way to design on the go 

The cons are: 
  • Some of the shape conversions are a bit jagged and not as smooth as I'd like. 
  • The image is cropped too much.  Staying inside the squares isn't enough. This makes the drawing area in the notebook even smaller.
I'm really excited to use this notebook! I think it will help me make some great patterns and hand lettering that I can edit in Illustrator.

Do you have a Moleskine Smart Notebook? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments.




Monday, December 15, 2014

BLIN's Journey - Illustration created for Tomie dePaola Award

I'm excited to show the piece I created for the SCBWI Tomie dePaola Award.  I was one of fifteen artists chosen as a semi-finalist.  For our final piece we were given a piece of text and told to illustrate it however we would like.  The text was very open-ended.

Below I show my process.
I started by brainstorming different compositions.


Then I refined the composition I chose.


After that I did a few color studies.

I blocked in  the basic shapes.

I added the details and text.

Finally, I added textures to the different objects.  Finished!

Tomie is going to announce the winner later this month.  I'm really pleased with my piece and hope he picks me!



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Even more useful tools and podcasts!

I have even more useful tools and podcasts I'd like to share with you!

Tools and Resources:

nuSchool - Form to help you price your work.
I have used this tool to help me price my work for clients.  I have found it to be accurate and very helpful.




KidLit411 - A resource for everything children's book related
The creators of KidLit411 have taken so many resources about children's books and have put them on one website.  It is a great website that covers everything from contests, to tips, to marketing, and social media.  Think of it as like a home base for kidlit.



Will Terry is a successful children's book illustrator (he also has worked in other markets).  His YouTube channel has some great information for freelance illustrators.  He also is a teacher so he explains things very well.  I find it a useful tool to listen to while I work.  I have learned quite a few things from his videos.



Podcasts:

Chris Oatley is a former Disney animation artist.  He shares wonderful interviews and tips through his podcast and on his website.  He also shares great storytelling advice.




Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Completed PiBoIdMo, More useful tools and another neat podcast!

I'm excited to announce that I have completed PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month).  During the month of November I came up with one picture book idea every day.  Some ideas were bad, and some ideas were great!  I'm going to expand on some of my new ideas to create more books.


I have a few fun, useful tools that I want to share.

The Storymatic is a fun brainstorming tool I use for helping to create stories and illustrations.  You pick one card that is a subject, then two cards that are situation based.  Then you combine the cards together to create one story - it's really fun!  I've gotten some great ideas from using this tool.


Kyle T Webster Photoshop Brushes.  These photoshop brushes are absolutely amazing.  They are so fun to use.  These brushes have also increased my productivity and can help make digital art look very traditional. 


I also have another favorite podcast to share:

The Picturebooking Podcast is a great, fun, and informative podcast about everything picture book related.  Nick Patton, the host of the podcast, is an author-illustrator and brings a unique view to the podcast. iTunes link here.




Thursday, November 6, 2014

Licensing Deal with Create Ur Plate!

Hi Everyone!

I've been super busy lately working on all exciting things!

One of my recent licensing deals includes Create Ur Plate.  It is a site where you can buy reusable decals for plates - perfect for parties!



Below are just a few of some of my designs.  
Most designs are customizable with the ability to change photos or text.


More designs coming soon!









Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Licensing Deal with Felt!

I am recently licensed with Felt! Felt is an app for your iPad where you can handwrite a card using your tablet and the card will be sent to your recipient on beautiful Mohawk paper.


Here is a sample - your handwriting on the inside and on the envelope.


One of my designs - many more coming soon!


Friday, October 31, 2014

PiBoIdMo - Picture Book Idea Month!

I just signed up for Picture Book Idea Month (or PiBoIdMo for short).

PiBoIdMo is where you brainstorm an idea for a picture book every day for 30 days in November.  
All the information is found on Tara Lazar's Blog .

The challenge is really easy and is based on the honor system.  It is completely free and there are wonderful prizes and daily guest bloggers from amazing people in the picture book industry.

Registration closes November 7th 2014 - so sign up today!
I'm excited to brainstorm new ideas for more picture books!  I hope you will join me!

If you listen to Katie Davis' podcast (previously mentioned here) on 10/31/2014 (episode 201) you can hear an interview about how PiBoIdMo got started. You can check out Katie's blog post about this podcast episode here.

New Tool and More New Podcasts!

Hi Everyone!
A while ago I recently shared my favorite tools and podcasts, but recently I have found some more!


I have a new tool to share that I have found very helpful for creating photo collages for Twitter and Facebook headers (and more!).

The tool is called PicMonkey.  It is a very easy tool to use and you can set up photo collages in any dimension with ease.  PicMonkey also has other great photo editing tools - most of which are free!!


I also have a few new favorite podcasts to share:

I know I have already shared the Fresh Rag Show as one of my favorite podcasts, but the URL and subscription link has recently changed.  Here is the new link!



Another favorite podcast is Adventures in Design.  Which is NSFW due to language - but it is very entertaining and filled with great information about design and how designers work.  The show is daily- which is crazy considering how much time and effort is put into the show.  


My most recent podcast find is the Children's Book Podcast made by The Guardian.  It is based in the UK and is very short, usually giving snippets of particular books.  It is always a very interesting, quick listening experience. 


Do you have any other favorite tools or podcasts?  I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Free Printable Storyboard for Children's Books

Today I am working on storyboarding a new children's book and thought it would be great to share my storyboard template.  The typical children's book is 32 pages including front matter (copyright, title, dedication, etc..)

Click the image below to make it larger then right-click to download the image.  The printable is optimized for tabloid (11" x 17") paper.


Enjoy! I hope you find this helpful!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search 2014 Terrarium Wall Art

Hello!

You might remember that last year I entered Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search, and I decided to enter again this year.



You can see my piece last year by visiting my previous blog post here.  It's amazing to see how much my art has improved in only one year!


It is fun for me to compare my two pieces because they both feel very much like my style, but I can tell that the one on the right is much more polished and professional looking.

This year's prompt for the Global Talent Search was terrarium themed wall art.  This was a fun prompt and I enjoyed sketching, painting, and digital editing.

Here are a few of my initial sketches:



After finalizing my idea and composition I moved onto some color studies:

The color studies took a long time to do, but it was worth it to not have to worry about color later.

Next I sketched my design onto a gessoed board and painted the under layer using acrylics.


My paint palette

Then I scanned my painting and made the finishing touches in Photoshop. 

Here is my entry

I learned so much while creating this assignment and had fun as well!  I really pushed myself and I am very happy with the finished piece.  I hope it brings a smile to your face!

Congratulations to all who entered and best of luck to the top 50 with finishing their next assignment!
The top 50 can be viewed here.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Some of My Favorite Podcasts and Tools

I wanted to share some of my favorite tools that I've been using lately.

Buffer
https://bufferapp.com/

Buffer is a great social media platform for scheduling posts for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  The links that Buffer posts can also be tracked with analytics.  This tool has been great for writing a post once and posting it on multiple platforms, as well as being able to schedule multiple posts at once.





Trello
https://trello.com/

Trello is a great to-do list app for the desktop and iPhone.  It is a wonderful way to organize your thoughts. It has been a lifesaving organization tool for me.  The app syncs between your phone and the desktop, so whenever I have a thought or idea I won't forget it.





I also wanted to share some of my favorite podcasts.  These are great listening materials for when working.

Brain Burps About Books: Children’s Book Publishing Podcast
Katie Davis


This is one of my favorite podcasts.  Katie is fun and bubbly!  Her podcast is mostly geared towards writers, but even as an illustrator this podcast is so much fun to listen to.  She interviews many knowledgeable kidlit people in the business. Over 100 episodes!



Publishers Weekly PW KidsCast
Publishers Weekly

This is a great podcast.  It’s a bit on the shorter side, but great for small slots of time (it's around 20 mins). Interviews are based on books about to be released or just released. John is very calm and cool.




Let’s Get Busy Podcast
Matthew C. Winner

Great interviews with some of the best kidlit authors and illustrators.  Matthew brings much knowledge and fun to the show, he is very lively and so passionate about kidlit.  He asks great questions, and it constantly puts a smile on my face as well as being informative.



Once Upon a Sketch Podcast
Once Upon a Sketch

No longer being made, but podcasts are archived.  The episodes are great and geared specifically toward children’s book illustrators. Very informative and inspiring.



The Fresh Rag Show
Dave Conrey

This is a great podcast about creative small businesses.  Has tips for promotion, especially for Etsy sellers.  Dave interviews many creative small business owners, especially freelancers and Etsy sellers. He is very encouraging and supports all artists including musicians in the interludes. 



What are your favorite tools and podcasts?  I'd love to hear what you like! Please comment below.