Monday, January 27, 2014

"How To Draw Everything" FREE online Class!

We're doing it again! Another Free online live class at SVS. This time we've upgraded our service to allow for up to 500 attendees. All you need to do to attend is click this link and register anytime before the class begins - you can even do it right now.

You can send this to anyone who you think might benefit from a beginning drawing course. We changed the time to 12:00 PM MST on Thursday Jan 30th to accommodate many of our students in Europe and elsewhere. We noticed that we had many people in some of our other classes that had to either stay up or wake up at 3:00 in the morning. So this one's for you Europe! If you're here in the states perhaps you can take a long lunch and tune in with us!

Jake Parker has designed this course for the student who is trying to develop better drawing skills or for the student who is just starting out and wants to develop good habits. It should last between 1.5 and 2 hours and all you need is a computer or mobile device to join us. Grab a sketchbook and draw along with us. If you can't make this class it will be available in our store on Friday.

Also - I've been asked about the difference between online schools like our SVS and attending an illustration or animation at a University or art school - I give my take in this video - I'd love to know what you think. One thing I forgot to mention in the video is that we have quite a few art teachers at art schools and Universities using our videos to enhance the learning experience. We aren't any better than those teachers but often teachers want their students to hear the same things from other teachers. I do the same thing when I'm at University - I often show videos from other artists to reinforce the principles I'm teaching.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Nice Reviews and Sneak Peek at Gary's Worms

I'm so excited to talk about the reviews Gary's Place is getting as well as talk about the sequel to Gary's Place.

First: We have the new updates in that fixed the ending of Gary's place and we submitted it to Digital Story Time and The iMums. Two of the top review sites for children's story apps. Digital Story Time gave us 4.5 stars and The iMums gave us 5 stars! I couldn't believe it! I had to start looking at the competition on those sites and found that many of the other apps in the 4-5 star range are being produced by big publishers like Harper Collins and Disney. It felt really good to be able to start and finish this project with Rick and my son Aaron with help from Tabitha Thompson's wonderful voice acting - and to be able to complete!

Second: Since we're finally rolling I'll share our sales stats from Google Play, Amazon, and iTunes in a future post. I don't expect to sell thousands of these overnight. I don't think digital publishing works that way for the most part. I've got my eye on the long term goal of steadily building a brand. I've had a few of my peers ask me why I seem to be so hell bent on making apps? Why work on a project like this without any guarantee of success? Why not spend more time in traditional publishing markets? Why risk? Do you hate traditional publishing?

I love these questions - keep em coming! :) No I don't hate traditional publishing - I illustrated 3 books last year and loved each one of them. I look forward to illustrating more in the future. I'm having the time of my life working in a medium that is expanding my knowledge and skill sets. I'm enjoying the collaborations I'm making with Rick and my son Aaron - who's very creative and is actually a major contributor on interactive, animation, and content ideas. I count myself extremely lucky to be able to afford the time to work on these. But probably the biggest reason is that in order to succeed in anything artistic there needs to be risk. I've learned to embrace it. This doesn't mean that I don't hear nasty things from the voices. There always there but I've learned how to cage them quicker and keep them locked away longer.

Many are afraid of digital publishing. Some are wishing it away. Some are ignoring it. I would just like to point out that it took nearly 50 years for the automobile to become mainstream. The early contraptions were noisy, expensive, unreliable, and inefficient. People  made fun of the early adopters. Many were hoping they would fail so everything would go back to normal. I can't predict the future but I doubt we will move away from digitally delivered and enhanced storybooks for children. This means that I won't have to worry about my creations going out of print.

Third: My plan is to steadily and slowly build a quality brand. Each new app will advertise the previous story apps and each previous app will be updated to advertise the newest story app. They say slow and steady wins the race - we'll see. I keep hearing about artists who make an app and never make another one because they didn't sell enough to justify the effort. I think this is a mistake if they could afford to continue. Think about some of the most famous picture book brands out there - like the Olivia stories...or the Skippyjon Jones books. They weren't created in a year or two - it took a LONG time. It took risk from their publishers.

If you've bought a copy of Gary's Place I'd love to hear what you think! Also if you wouldn't mind giving us a rating in the app store - that will help - good or bad!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Homework for Painting Color & Light Class

This week I'm sending out homework for our Painting Color & Light class at SVS. If you're in the Live or Video Recorded classes you should have gotten an email from me with details for the homework assignment. If you're not in the class you can still download the following images and practice adding value and color to them. Class begins in about one week! You can check out our schedule and content of the class here:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gary's Place Now Available For Android

In this post I'm going to write about what we've been doing with Gary's place and some of the mistakes we've made along the way - and give information on how to contact my son Aaron for help with your app.

First: Gary's Place can now be found in the Google Play and Amazon app stores for Android devices - YAY! We are charging a dollar less since it's optimized for iPad and stretched a bit on many of the android phones and tablets.

Second: I'm not sharing sales data yet because we really haven't gotten off the ground yet - I've been holding back because of all the problems we've had - ARRRRG! Sales data coming after we start advertising.

So lets talk about the problems and subsequent updates:

When we first uploaded to iTunes and waited and waited for the approval we were horrified when we downloaded the app and saw that it was called "Build 17" on my iPad in the title below the icon. NOOOOOO!!!!! Let me just say that while Apple is "user friendly" for consumers they are 180 degrees from that for developers. It really feels as if they don't care about helping you AT ALL! When we uploaded the app file Apple asked for the title of the app - which we filled in with "Gary's Place". But they don't use that to put under your app icon - instead - they use the file name -BUT THEY DON"T TELL YOU THAT.

So...update #1 was to fix the name.

Then one of my online friends - Elizabeth - informed me that at first she read the ending as Gary moving back in with his parents at the end. Hmmm - I thought - that's not good. So I asked Jan Watford who had reviewed Gary's Place for her blog if she read it that way as well - and she said, "Yes - isn't that what you intended?" .....crap.

So...Update # 2 was to fix the ending and reducing the overall size of the app...and that update just went live for iPad.

Then my son Aaron (who's been working really hard on all of this) thought we needed navigation to make it easier to pick a specific page in the app and go directly there. It will disappear after a few seconds so it's not in the way.  I've been so busy with a large freelance assignment that I haven't been able to give it as much attention as it deserved. But he went ahead and did it and it makes using the app sooo much easier - here's a screen shot of what update #3 will look like.

So Update #3 will add a navigation bar to quickly jump to any page and reduce the size even further.

Rick Walton has now written the next story and I'm starting to layout the entire app - and loving it!

My son Aaron has decided to help other people with their apps as long as they're using Kwik. He's spent the last 3 months working with Kwik and has gotten pretty good at it. He's offering to coach you or build your app - you can visit his site right here:

Monday, January 13, 2014

"Working with Color" - Free Class!

We're going to be holding a free online class this Tuesday Jan 14th at 7:00 pm MST (9:00 NYC - 6:00 Cali) and anyone can join us. This class is another "prep" class like last Tuesday's Light and Shadow class. These two classes are meant to prepare our attendees for our Painting Color and Light class at SVS. Some of our students have gone through college art programs where they've covered the basics that we're offering in these free live classes. If you haven't had rendering or color theory classes you might want to join us on Tuesday. If you can NOT attend live you can always pick up these classes in our store. 

We had 100 spots available for attendees last week and we were shocked that they filled up in minutes. This week will probably be no different so we apologize if you cannot get in. Last week we had people join us from all over the world and we're sorry that some had to join us at 3:00am! If you would like to try to get in go to our facebook page for the link - then try to join just before 7:00 pm MST. 

We are looking into a service that will provide us with more attendee spots for future free classes. In our paid live classes we only take up to 25 students but you can always pick up the video recordings after the class.

This weeks class will go over all the basics of color and is designed to be the perfect intro to our Painting Color and Light class that begins at the end of this month. We only have 5 spots left in that class and you can read all about it here:  Hope to see you in class!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Should You Work In A Studio or Freelance?

I received a great question from someone trying to figure out what moves to make in the near future. I think many artists are in this same situation so I decided to answer the email in a video post. If you don't know whether you should work for an animation studio or try to publish your personal projects or freelance this video might help you make your decisions.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Join Us Jan 7th & 14th For Our Free Live Classes!

We are offering 2 FREE LIVE CLASSES to everyone!
Join us for two free live classes with Jake Parker and I. These classes are "prep" classes for our Painting in Color and Light class, but are open to everyone (even if you've never purchased a class from us before). After these live prep classes are finished, they will be placed in our online store for sale.

Light and Shadow
Tuesday January 7th
7 pm MST (9 pm New York / 6 pm California)
To get the link to our Free class just sign up on our facebook page. For those who left or sent their email address to me you should have received this link in an email.
* You don't need a microphone to participate but if you'd like to ask questions, please be prepared to use headphones and a microphone.

Working with Color
Tuesday January 14th
7 pm MST (9 pm New York / 6 pm California)
To get the link to our Free class just sign up on our facebook page. For those who left or sent their email address to me you should have received this link in an email. 
* You don't need a microphone to participate but if you'd like to ask questions, please be prepared to use headphones and a microphone.