Sunday, May 22, 2011

Monster ebook Junkies! - Von and Kari Brimhall

Von and Kari Brimhall have gone completely nuts on ebooks! They are two of my very best friends from college and have always been into art and design. We had a conversation a few months ago about producing ebooks and they opened the flood gates on their creativity. Together they've created 27 - YES! - 27 ebooks in about 4 months but I'll let them tell you more about that below. Von is a computer geek and has a great full time gig working for the chain saw company Stihl and Kari is a home schooler, storyteller, and artist and they have a gaggle of successful kids.

Before you read their letter you have to check out the amazing tutorial Von has made for anyone to download and make their own ebooks - he's made it available for free right here - click to download. If programing your own ebooks sounds scary you have to check out Von's step by step tutorial - he makes it really easy for you.

Von and Kari are proving that if you have ideas, motivation, and hard work you can realize your dreams in this new medium. Have a look at their titles and read a little about their new journey.

We've been friends will Will Terry for years and avid fans of his art! When he posted his two awesome video series How to Illustrate Children’s Books and Digital Painting in Photoshop, we signed right up! Both my husband and I like to draw and paint, and I love to write. Just watching the videos opened our eyes to all kinds of possibilities.

We instantly pulled out a story that I had told for years to our children when they were young... and Von started drawing and painting--digitally! We couldn't believe how fun and easy it was. Thus, our first eBook was born! Freddie Frog is Hungry was so exciting to share with friends that we decided to take the plunge and upload it to Barnes and

This is not my first book, I have self published and still have copies of a fabulous book in the garage...just waiting for a market. Having Barnes and Noble sell our books is great. They take care of the money end of things and I take care of the marketing. Writing eBooks is very nice--the expense of self-publishing and printing, then marketing and working out prices, taxes, mailing to customers, and buying all the supplies that go with it, etc. is a thing of the past. With eBooks, you don't have boxes in the garage of unsold books.

All of our Nook Books are available for sale on Barnes and We currenly have 27 eBooks for sale and more on the way! Our target demographic is 0-6 years old so these are all books that parents would be reading to and with their children. Besides being clever, our eBooks have an educational slant to them. They include learning basic colors, numbers, animals, seasons, the alphabet, etc.

We're not selling large volumes like Will yet, but we're working on it. If you would like to see what our eBooks are like you can download a free a PDF version of our eBook 'Who Says Moo?' right here. If you are interested in how we make our eBooks, you download a detailed PDF tutorial that my husband wrote at . It describes how to create illustrated children's eBooks using Adobe InDesign.

Hope you enjoy it and go on to create your own fabulous eBooks.

-Kari Brimhall

Friday, May 13, 2011

I'm Done Learning!

I'm so glad I don't have to learn anymore! After all I've been a professional illustrator for 19 years now, and I think I'm entitled to a break from improvement!

Of course I'm kidding. One of my core beliefs is that we can never stop learning and so last fall I started taking figure drawing classes for the first time since my college days 20 years ago. Between my illustration classes I've been sneaking into Don Seegmiller and Perry Stuart's figure drawing classes at UVU here in Utah. Both are very talented artists and teachers and I have to admit I was a bit nervous because I'm supposed to be a colleague right? Now what I should be doing is posting my first drawing in that class last fall but I stuffed it into the garbage while nobody was looking. It was awful. I had that warm flushed feeling of shame and embarrassment. How could I be a college art teacher and produce something so poor.

It was after that first drawing that I resolved to make it to their classes as often as I could to finally learn to draw the figure. I must say that not only has it been extremely rewarding to produce drawings that I'm proud of but it's also helped my everyday sketching. So I encourage all of you to break out of your comfort zone and learn something new.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sales Data on Pubit

If you've been following my blog you know I've been spending a lot of time writing and illustrating and then publishing my own ebooks. My first experience with itunes was a bit disappointing as sales for Monkey and Croc have dropped, Amazon is in limbo since they haven't released a color kindle yet, finally have my books on Google, but Barnes & Noble has been a pleasant surprise. I'm posting my sales reports for the last two days from Barnes and Noble's Pubit site so you can decide if it's something you wish to pursue. I may look at this data and see one thing while you might see something totally different.

I don't think it's a coincidence that Monkey and Croc is doing the best since it was uploaded first. However I did spend twice as much time on it as I did the other two. Also, I think it's important to note that Monkey and Croc has more of a "story" feel while the other two perhaps don't. It's really hard to know whether investing time in an ebook will pay off or not but I'm posting my results so you might have a better idea if it's for you.

Again, these are my sales figures for the last two days which have been trending up for the past two months. I can tell you that usually each day is very similar to the day before so when you're trending up or down it usually goes gradually. However sometimes B&N will make a major change to their site and you will see a greater change. One of the reasons Monkey and Croc is doing well now is that B&N added a category that you can only see on the Nook called something like: "hot deals" of which they added Monkey and Croc.

Of course I hope that these figures continue for years to come (I never imagined getting over $100/day) but of course most good things come to an end and I've never been the lucky type. Anyway as always good luck in your ebook projects! I know many of you are working on ebooks right now and I hope to see your books out there as I cruise around the internet.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Acrylic Painting Video Series

So school got out last week and I used my extra time to produce another video series - Acrylic Painting. I've wanted to do this now for several months. I'm still amazed at how amazing the internet is - I almost think that it's a blessing to have grown up without it. I don't think my kids appreciate it as much as I do.
Anyway, the internet has made it possible for me to share what I've learned as an illustrator and instead of the frustrations of trying to explain how to dry brush I can now show it. In the videos I take the painting you see above from start to finish in real time. I didn't speed this one up so anyone viewing it can see exactly how you can dry brush with acrylic paint. I start it with a sketch, transfer to paper, add acrylic texture, under-painting (or Grisaille), and finally the finished painting using wet paint, glazes, and dry brushing. I talk about everything from materials to design.

I often hear my students complain about how much they HATE acrylics - I tell them, "It's because you want them to do something that they aren't good for." In these videos I'll show you why acrylics have been the workhorse medium for illustrators world wide.

I also included two bonus videos - two different approaches to using acrylics: Painterly and cross hatching. I really hope these videos are helpful to anyone trying to learn how to paint with acrylics! Click here for more information.