Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Give Your iPad The Finger!!!!

I've gone totally paperless in my studio (for drawing) and in the above video I show why and how. Right now I'm working on an ebook app and I'm drawing it entirely with my finger on my iPad. I'm doing all the color work in Photoshop but all the drawings are being done on the iPad. It's not a fad or gimmick to be able to say I can do it, rather a natural evolution that has increased my workflow, productivity, and portablility. Check it out.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meet The Monsters of my Monster App!

I'm putting all my faith in these dudes. They say they're good but we'll see when we finally get this app launched in the app store. I was first introduced to the big spotted green guy years ago and he says he won't work without his crew so I had to write all of them into the script. I gave all of them a fresh coat of paint so they shouldn't have any excuses. I have to admit they are pretty fun to have hanging around the studio although the purple guy makes a mess going through my trash.

For the past 5 months I've gone totally paperless and sketch exclusively on my iPad now. The major reason is that I never have to worry about running out of "paper" or room to complete a drawing. When sketching on paper if my drawing became cramped at the edge of the paper I would have to scan my paper or sketchbook, re-size in photoshop, and print on new paper. Not so on iPad - I just hit "re-size" in my drawing program (brushes) and/or move/shrink and keep drawing. My workflow is much faster - AND - environmentally friendly (insert my smiling face with eye sparkle). Anyhow, you can check out more of my iPad sketches for the ebook I'm working on in past posts.

Monday, November 21, 2011

How Teaching Art Put A Ferrari In my Driveway

I created the image above in my media techniques class at UVU.

Ok, follow me on this one.

I was stagnating as an illustrator 5 years ago when I was living in a small town outside of Fresno California. I didn't know it but I was losing my passion and energy for children's book illustration and I wasn't evolving. If I didn't have a commission I wasn't drawing.

When we decided to move to Utah I was contacted by Perry Stewart, head of the illustration dept. at UVU, who asked me to teach (currently teaching for Don Seegmiller ). I accepted and jumped into my classes. I had no idea that I would soon have a brand new Ferrari in my driveway!

I soon found myself reading and researching the principles and techniques I was teaching. I started discovering new artists- devouring their work and making collections on my computer from which to teach.
I started this blog with the encouragement of Lael Henderson- a friend. I figured if nobody visited my blog I could at least use it to post things for my students.

I started going to visiting artist lectures at UVU and BYU a few miles away. It's amazing how exposure to accomplished dynamic creators can influence your thinking and the way you view your own work. I found myself wanting to improve my craft and began to realize that I had been stagnating in Cali.

I was invited to teach the illustration track at "Writing & Illustrating for young readers" an annual children's book conference out here. In class I mentioned that I wished I could render my style in Photoshop and one of the guys in my class (Jed Henry a recent graduate) told me he could show me how. A month later I finished my first Photoshop piece (below) even though I had to start over three times.

I started making speed painting videos and posting them on YouTube just for fun. One day a former student emailed me and basically said, "neat- but no educational value....why don't you make a tutorial?" I thought, " yeah, why not?" ...so now I have those as well.

Working in Photoshop was so much faster - I could produce more work in the same amount of time. When I learned about the possibility of producing my own ebooks I realized I could work them into my normal commission workload. Fast forward and my ebooks are earning a nifty amount of money....enough to put a Ferrari in my driveway? Not quite- but they could some day!...but I would never buy a Ferrari - not my style - couldn't even fit in it....I'll probably buy a beat up used truck.

Sorry for the bait & switch with the Ferrari but my point is that I've gotten way more value out of teaching than an exotic car could ever give. It's given me fulfillment, satisfaction, and re- tooled my process for the future. It makes me accountable in my own art. It forces me to revisit design principles regularly. It exposes me to new technology and methods and ways of thinking. Sure it puts food on the table but I get so much more than that. Probably the biggest thing I get is the satisfaction of helping others find the joy of turning their visions into realities. Helping someone have an "aha moment!"...you can't buy it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Frustration, Pain, Anguish, and Disappointment

First - here is another sketch for my monster app - The monsters are coming! This is going to be a really good test in marketing when I'm finished. Not only will I have it programed for Ipad/iphone but also Kindle Fire so I'll have a good comparison on these two retail giants. I don't ever know whether to call it an app or an ebook - if I call it an app people think it's a game - ebook and they might not look for it in the app store. Confusing.

Ok, what's up with all the frustration and pain talk? Over the years I've gotten to know quite a few artists and I've realized that most of us share something that I don't think the 9 to 5'ers have. We often bleed for our art. I'm not saying that people that work a shift don't care about their jobs and aren't dedicated but I do think that in general, artists have to invest much more emotionally.

There's nothing like the euphoria of working on a piece that's really working - at times it's almost like it's painting itself and you're just there as an observer. But, when it's not working out the agony is often hard to bare. I used to burn paintings every now and then and while it relives a little stress it still haunts you until you right the wrong you created. When a painting is going south the lies begin, "it's not that bad"..."it's good"..."it will start looking good after I finish the figure"...We want it so bad that we're willing to overlook obvious major problems - kind of like I do with my kids. :)

I've had students crying in my classes before because their paintings were heading straight to hell. I tell them that their tears are a great sign. Tears over paintings mean that you have the aesthetics and sensibilities to know that you aren't achieving the vision you have in your mind. That you know you are much more than your creation. That your expression is being stifled by the skills you have yet to attain. There's nothing sweeter than scratching, clawing, and bleeding for your art when it reaches your vision. If it were easy it would be common and worthless.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Don't Always Do It The "Right Way"

Remember when owning a home was a mandatory part of a healthy financial portfolio? I think this is the first time that financial planners are backing off saying, "owning CAN also be a good addition to a financial portfolio."

I bring this up because when I'm down at school I constantly hear students telling eachother things like, "you're supposed to do it this way" or "that's not the way that so and so said to do it." I believe in obeying the rules most of the time...wait - that sounded like a rule!...how bout: Obey some of the rules some of the time but not all of the rules all of the time unless you want to but if you want to break all of the rules that might be good too however that probably won't work either so don't listen to me but you should listen to some people if you feel they're giving good information. hmmmmmmm. How bout some examples:

Bill Gates - laughed at by IBM executives for only wanting to license his operating system. In other words he was laughed at for "doing it the wrong way."

John Lasseter - Fired from Disney for wanting to introduce computer animation to Disney productions - Started Pixar - Now chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He is also currently the Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering...pssssst - he did it the wrong way.

Steve Jobs - How many times do you think he was laughed at for all the innovative ideas he implemented. It's easy to think, "why would I laugh at Jobs? - he created so many wonderful products." Before he attained his unimaginable success he was often branded a nut for his strange decisions.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin created a search engine their way - a different way - they broke the rules. They were also late to the search engine party and couldn't get anyone's attention. All the big search engine companies showed them the door when they tried to sell their technology....so they started Google.

Last night in my watercolor class I kept hearing students talking about using watercolors "the right way."....

So I created this piece: Watercolor, collage, acrylic, digital, and ball point pen.

We are in a creative field and some rules are very important...but learning to break some of them is the difference between leading and following. Can you afford to follow in an industry that's always looking for fresh work?

Assignment: Illustrate a "banjo pig" using watercolor to post on http://banjopigs.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monster App color work

I have nothing creative to write today - I'm drained from working til 3 am on this piece. I thought I was done but when I looked at it again this morning I realized there were quite a few more tweaks needed- 3 hours later and I think I'm finally finished...again!

I've included several versions with various assets on different layers because there will be animations in this app. If you've been reading my blog I said that I wanted to have animation but didn't know how to do it or set up for it but that someone would come into my life to help me. Well, it happened a few weeks ago - I've teamed up with a Disney animator and he's going to be teaching me and working with me to make this project happen! Kind of the, "If you build it they will come" model.

I wasn't interested in programing superfluous animations in my ebook. One thing I'm constantly seeing in ebooks and apps is animation and/or sounds that don't move the story forward - in fact I'm guilty of that in my Monkey & Croc ipad app. On this one I wanted to create a story/interactive ebook that couldn't exist in physical book format. Part of an on going exploration of this technology. It's fun to think about the future and how I'll feel about all of this 5 or 10 years down the road, lessons learned, bumps, bruises, and hopefully a few smiles....ok, a lot of smiles!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Get Over It - You're Just Another Artist!

Status Update: Monster App still on schedule (there's no schedule so I'm right on time)

Just Another ARTIST???!!! What kind of a statement is that?

Remember back when you were in junior high and you started making really bad copies of spider man or (insert cool character here) and because it sort of resembled what you were going for you thought you were an amazing artist? Your friends who had quit trying to draw were now propping you up - "awww WICKED"..."dude that's bad". Fast forward to high school and you were determined to draw in art class amongst the stoners. It didn't take long for you to get their attention: "Dude that's bad ass....draw Eddie from Iron Maiden on my Jacket." Your head was completely filled with hot gasses and arrogance as you headed off to college. Even though your teachers bathed you in beautiful images from working professionals you weren't that impressed. Caught up in the grandeur of your graduating portfolio you excitedly started marketing your work. When assignments didn't actually flood in you got the first twinge of insecurity but you shrugged it off. After a few years of struggling to keep freelancing you gained a partial attitude overhaul. Humility was still in short supply but you started giving a few nods to other artists. 5 years in and you put yourself near the top shelf of illustration talent. 7 years and you still grossly overestimated your skills. 10 years - the internet was bringing more and more amazing artists to your attention. 15 years you realized you're just another set of hands. 18 years you start to feel lucky to be an illustrator. 20 years and you know you're lucky! Being able to do what you do while there are so many artists much more talented and capable than you roaming this little rock. Fear sets in when you realize...you might not be keeping up. Embarrassing, but this was me.

Become a "WHOLE" artist:
Work hard
Have heroes
Open mind

Illustrating illustration ebook app kindle nook ipad iphone format