Saturday, April 30, 2011

Watercoloring and New Postcards

Today was devoted to adding color to the Doily pictures:

The two pictures you see at the top are photocopies of the inked images that I then colored with colored pencils to work out the color scheme. The two pictures on the bottom row are the watercolors in process. As you can see, they are still attached to their Arches watercolor paper blocks.

Here's a slightly clearer view:

At this point I was pretty nearly done with the paints. But I did go back in with my trusty Copic Multiliner pen for some touch up. 

Here are the two finals:

You can also view these on my website

While I was painting, the mail arrived...

Look! It's my new Moo Cards!

I'm really pleased with how they turned out. The cards are a nice sturdy stock, the lines are sharp, and the colors are true. They're not the least expensive option out there, but I wanted to be sure my first batch of promotional postcards looked especially good. I knew others had gotten good results with Moo. An added bonus is that you can do as many different pictures as you want in one batch. I did the two you see above. Another company was also highly recommended by artist friends, but my Adobe design software is from the 1990s and can't generate files to their specifications. *sigh* I'm going to have to make a huge financial investment soon.

The postcards arrived several days before I expected them. I quickly got onto the internet and ordered 29c stamps from I'll start working on an address list tomorrow. I figure if I put it in Excel, I can track mailings and merge to labels from the same file. Not my favorite part of the illustration business, being so like my day job, but it's better than the doing taxes part. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

New Toy!

Look what arrived in yesterday's mail:

My book for the Sketchbook Project 2012!

Here's the back with my label:

You can barely see the theme. On the label just above the barcode is the word "Treehouse." As a huge lover of trees and houses and the combination of the two, I can hardly wait to get sketching. But I am forcing myself to wait until I have finished coloring the two Doily pics. Sketching treehouses will be my reward for completing the day's work.

This year's sketchbook (from Scout Books) is smaller than the Moleskine they used for the 2011 project. It's 5"x7" rather than 5"x8". The pages are whiter, just barely thicker (thicker is good), and slightly less smooth (which may be better for pencil sketchers). This year there are only 32 pages (as opposed to last year's 80), but you can add up to a thickness of one inch. I don't think I will. If I finish this book too quickly, I may just get a second one with a different theme. "Waterslides I never rode" sounds like a fun one...

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I have inked the second Mrs. Doily picture and plan to add color to the pair of images tomorrow.

I still need to work out the color and pattern for Mrs. Doily's dress. I may have to do some colored pencil sketching before I go after this with the watercolors.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Struggling with the next sketch

 I've been sketching like a maniac, my hands covered with graphite, but I'm almost there with the companion piece to my Penny, Doily, Zip picture:

I'll sleep on it tonight. If I like it in the morning, I'll start prepping the sketch for transfer to watercolor paper. Time to start thinking about colors/fabric patterns for Mrs. Doily's dress. What would make a nice complement to Penny's clothing colors (pink and blue with touches of red)?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sketchbook Project 2012

I just signed up for the Sketchbook Project 2012!  I know I had said in a previous post that I didn't have a terrific experience with the 2011 Sketchbook Project, but this next one should be better for a number of reasons.  For one thing, I've registered nine months before the book is due. Last year I had less than two months to fill the pages.  Another thing that should be better is the sketchbook itself.  The Project has a new, custom-designed book that they claim has better quality paper.  Thin pages was one of my biggest complaints.  Also, I have chosen my own theme from this year's list: "Treehouse"!

I'm gonna have fun with this one!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Doily Inked

I finished inking the picture of Mrs. Doily, Penny, and Zip last night. 

Doily's hair was loads of fun. 

Before I proceed to the watercolor stage, I'd like to work up a companion piece. Painting the two Penny pictures simultaneously made it easier to keep the color theme consistent. As a mate to this picture, I want an image that has the same three characters, just as active, but from different angles. I'll search through the dummy for a scene that fills the bill and hopefully start working up pencil sketches when I get home from the office tomorrow.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

100th Blogpost and Mrs. Doily

Exciting news! This is my 100th blogpost! And it's only taken me 2 1/2 years to get here... I really should post more frequently.

But on to something even more exciting ... my next illustration! When I was hurriedly preparing to meet with an art director from a super fabulous children's book publishing house last month, I painted this "finished" illustration to accompany the book dummy for Penny's story:

While the string of images shows abundant activity, it runs a little short on distinctive characterizations. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) I aim to remedy that problem in my next picture. Penny's look changed in the last two pictures (see my previous blogpost), as did the cat Zip's. While the old lady, Mrs. Doily, has the most character in the image above, she could still do with a bit more, especially in her face.

At my portfolio critique, the art director had an idea to spice up the tension in the picture book's plot. Her idea made me think of a bazillion more story problems the increased friction between Penny and Mrs. Doily could spark. (Penny's picture book is fast growing into a chapter book.) She also got me thinking of a new look for Mrs. Doily. At first I thought I'd make her skinny. I was imagining all the visually fun things I could do with her lanky lines. But I wanted to keep the crazy curlicue hair. So I sketched. I came up with the thin figures you see below. (I had some others that I won't post because their faces are dour, and I don't want to make readers unhappy when they visit my blog.) I think she looks something like Ms. Frizzle meets Amelia Bedelia. Not what I was going for at all.

Did you notice that one of the Doilies in the image above is not slender? She's the one I've decided to develop  for my next portfolio piece. Here's a close-up:

This pencil sketch doesn't look hugely different from the image at the top of this post, but I've worked in a few subtle changes that should become more apparent after I've given it the new style treatment with more line-work and layered colors. You may be able to detect that Mrs. Doily is plumper. I thought that would make her look a lot more amusing when she's on a step ladder (from one of my chapter book ideas). I've also tried to make her facial expression more readable. I think I need to work on that a bit more. Penny and Zip will have their new colorings, of course, and I'll use some more ink line to define the woodwork and door better. And I'll probably keep the door white. I think I may also extend the image to include their feet.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Today I finally had a large enough block of time - all day, in fact - to tackle the watercolor phase of my Penny pictures.

 Here is how it looked a couple of hours into the process:

At this point, I still had a lot of colors to layer on to the tree trunk and the rug. I also had yet to add the touches of red and some more shadow.

After a few more hours of painting, followed by a fair amount of additional ink line work, I think the pieces may be complete. I want to let them sit a while, perhaps over night, then look at them afresh before I commit to their being finished.

Stay tuned. I'll be posting the final images soon!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Color choices

Time to add color to the Penny pen and ink drawings. The drawings are on Arches 140 lb. hot pressed watercolor paper blocks, ready for wash. But before I apply paint to the relatively expensive surface, I like to test my palette choices with colored pencils on photocopies of the final drawings.

Here are the two images with colored pencil treatment:  

(I'm using Dick Blick colored pencils. I have the 72 pencil set, lots of rich color choices and of a good quality for blending - even on cheap copy paper - and very reasonably priced.)

I'm fairly pleased with the look. Of course, watercolors won't be exactly the same. I'm not talking about wet vs. dry - this exercise is about finding the color not texture. I'm talking about how my paint pigment choices are different from my pencils, but I expect to be able mix good approximations using these pencil mock-ups as a guide.

I've decided not to fill in backgrounds this time, not even with a light wash. I don't want anything to compete with the definition of the characters. I may ink in more detail after the watercolor treatment, which I'll start tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The companion piece

I know the picture of Penny sitting in the tree needs something, I'm just not sure what. In order to better understand her character and the style I'm trying to find for this project, I decided to concentrate my attention on the closely related companion piece:

The scan is terrible (sorry, I don't want to cut the paper off the block until after I do the watercolor wash), but I like the way the inking has come together. (Click on it to see it larger.) It makes sense with the other one. The two depictions of Penny are clearly of the same girl and the style seems consistent. I think I'm ready to plan the color. I'll paint both pictures at the same time.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Still reworking

Here is an inked, reworked sketch of Penny and Zip. Click on the image to enlarge it. I'm not quite satisfied, but I can't put my finger on why. I welcome any feedback you'd like to offer in the comments. At this point I should perhaps switch to the watercolor wash. I can always ink more afterward. If I add more ink now, I may overwork it. I'll let it sit like this until tomorrow, so I can see it fresh.

I got some horrendously bad news about a friend yesterday. It has rather derailed my progress on the portfolio this weekend. I spent the better part of this afternoon working on an abstract piece to help me sort through my feelings. Something I needed to do. The piece is tentatively titled "A Better Place" which is where I hope she now is...

I have a bit more drawing details to add then I'll be using watercolor and perhaps acrylics.

Happy Holidays 2020

Here's the winter holiday card image for 2020. This is my first holiday card created entirely in Procreate on my new iPad Pro.  I had so...