• Art

    The Beginning of Something Kitty

    I’ve been working on some new images for my portfolio. This is part of a 6 page comic. It’s the upper right hand corner of the 3rd page. I’m not sure which program I’m going to use to make the font for this. Right now it’s just hand drawn and not quite right. Looking into options now. Hopefully I’ll have more art to share soon. I’m off to work on some values for this art!

    Cat computer Goals 2 ur corner
  • Art,  Kidlit Collage

    Dough Nuts – Kidlit Collage Final

    I think I’m done for this week! I think I got all the shading right. Let me know if you see anything I’ve missed!

    Dough nuts final3

    Want to join me  and Christy Ann (@christyillustrates on Instagram) in Kidlit Collage? There is no sign up! Just post your image on Instagram (and other social media) and tag #kidlitcollage. That way we can see your work! This month’s theme is donuts!

  • Art,  Kidlit Collage

    Dough Nuts – Kidlit Collage Color

    Flat coloring today and text isn’t so rushed. I think I’ll adjust the background color and the text a bit in the final. Oh maybe even make the mom squirrel’s mouth more like a mouth. Created in in Clip Studio paint. Let me know if you have questions about how I made this!

    Dough nuts flat color

    Want to join me  and Christy Ann (@christyillustrates on Instagram) in Kidlit Collage? There is no sign up! Just post your image on Instagram (and other social media) and tag #kidlitcollage. That way we can see your work! This month’s theme is donuts!

  • Art,  Kidlit Collage

    Dough Nuts – Kidlit Collage Inks

    I’m still working on this image a bit, but this is my June Kidlit Collage! I’m going to fix up the inks for next week and create some flat colors. Will be aiming to get this done in 3 weeks instead of 4, because I missed last Monday. Fingers crossed I get it done! 

    Dough nuts

    Want to join me  and Christy Ann (@christyillustrates on Instagram) in Kidlit Collage? There is no sign up! Just post your image on Instagram (and other social media) and tag #kidlitcollage. That way we can see your work! This month’s theme is donuts!

  • Art,  Events,  Spring into Writing,  Writing

    Nick Patton Inside the Box

    The Picturebooking Podcast, hosted by Nick Patton is arguably the best picture book podcast available today. Nick does a fantastic job finding wonderful guests to interview. He asks fun questions and it’s always neat to hear how he interacts with his guests. Nick is also an illustrator and creates beautiful art!

    —–

    Creative Paralysis meets Shoebox Dioramas

     
    We’ve all been there, sitting in front of our screen, staring at the blinking cursor. Biding time until someone’s creative genius shows up.

     

    We know it’s going to be a while.

     

    So we wait.

     

    Wait, wait, wait. Blink, blink, blink.

     

    My recommendation when this happens is to check out this peep diorama.
    PeepkleWeb
    Isn’t it fun? It’s Peepkle, you know, like Beekle but with peeps!

     

    This shoebox diorama never had a blinking cursor. Why?

     

    Because it was half done before I started. It was a contest at Mead Public Library.

     

    My wife found the shoe boxes and bought the peeps. I spent five minutes thinking about my favorite picture book scenes before I stumbled upon Beekle. I pulled up an image from the book and sketched out the design.

     

    Twenty-four hours later it was done.

     

    Why can’t writing or drawing or painting always be like that?

     

    Maybe it can.

     

    Maybe we can take some of what makes shoebox dioramas so fun and bring it into our other creative endeavors.

     

    With the shoebox, you are literally boxed-in in three directions. Let’s apply that to art and say that we need to limit some of the creative options.

     

    Box yourself in, but don’t close the lid. Giving yourself an opening to go wild inside a tight window.

     

    If you make quick decisions on your walls you’ll be half done before you start and that blinking cursor will be moving right.

     

    Dr. Seuss gave himself walls when he challenged himself to create a story, GREEN EGGS AND HAM, using only 50 words.

     

    Chris Van Allsburg gave himself walls when he eliminated the use of color in his JUMANJI illustrations.

     

    What if you give yourself the wall of not creating a story, but exploring a character or a world?

     

    Or what if your walls were telling the story with just dialog?

     

    Defining what your project is not, can free yourself up to discover what your project is.

     

    I hope my shoebox diorama helps you the next time creative paralysis enters your world. For more creative inspiration to make better stories listen and subscribe to the Picturebooking Podcast.
     
    —–

    Follow Nick:

     

    Podcast: http://picturebooking.libsyn.com/

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/picturebooking

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/nickpattonillo

    Portfolio: http://nickpatton.com

  • Art,  Writing

    The Children’s Book Academy!

    I’m going to talk to you a bit today about The Children’s Book Academy! I took “The Craft and Business of Illustrating Picture Books” last September and loved it. I’m going to go into a bit more detail about my experience here plus give you a list of things you might want to have or do to make the most of this class! Mira Reisberg is the director of The Children’s Book academy and works hard to help all writers and illustrators to achieve their goals! 

    I can’t tell you all the things I learned. It’s not because there are closely kept secrets in this class, but because I would basically have to teach a class to tell you everything. Also the class is different for each person, so my experience will not be the same as yours! This focuses on the Illustration course, but a lot of what I’m going to include information that’s good to know for anyone thinking about taking courses!

    Middle Grade Mastery is now available from The Children’s Book Academy. Classes start May 13th! You can read more about this course and sign up here: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/illustrating-childrens-books.html

    For all other courses sign up for their newsletter and browse the courses here: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/home.html and scroll down to the yellow “Click Here” There are often discounts and scholarships for courses so sign up now to see these!

     

    1. My Picture Book Layout Diagram is Accurate
    Okay I’m starting out by tooting my own horn. Honestly though this chart was created before taking the Children’s Book Academy course, but after taking courses and spending many years making illustrations myself. I think it’s good for writers to have this knowledge if they are self publishing and hiring an illustrator. It’s also good to be able to visualize your story in book format to inform your writing!
     
    One thing that came up a lot was the gutter (green on the chart). There shouldn’t be anything important in this area! Open any picture book and you’ll see that binding a book causes some of the paper to be hidden in the center crack or gutter.  I believe it was Andrea Miller who said said that she even prefers to expand the gutter to 1″ just to be extra careful nothing good ends up lost!
    Book Layout

    2. Knowledgeable People

    Of course Mira Reisberg knows what’s she’s doing as do all the Art Directors, Agents, Editors, etc. And they all do know a LOT. The people that Mira has in the forums to help students out are fantastic. I don’t think I ever waited more than a day to get an initial answer on any question I asked (sometimes it was hours or minutes). They were informed and on the ball about everything!

    3. Personalized Webinar Critiques

    This is one of the reasons I can’t tell you everything I learned, because some of of what I learned was very “Dani Duck” specific!  I learned a lot about what I was doing wrong! I loved how I was guaranteed to get one personalized critique. It was also helpful to see problems other people had, because some of those applied to my own work as well!

     

    4. Getting Out of The Slush Pile

    The amount of students in Mira’s classes are actually quite low for the amount of people looking at work in the end of class. There are Agents, Editors and ADs that look at the work from each class put on by The Children’s Book Academy. Maybe this is some enormous pressure, but it’s also a great way to know that your work will be seen! There are a lot of people who sign Agents, get illustration/book deals right after this class. If you do the work, this could be you!

    5. Learning Like There is a Tomorrow

    If you do all the things I’ve listed below then you will do well at The Children’s Book Academy! The hardest thing I had to do was changing everything when I thought I was done. Each and every time was worth it. Ideally I would have gotten some things right to begin with. I would have planned out my pages better, but I made a ton of mistakes and I actually learned more because of it.  One of my biggest problems? The design of the layout. It’s very important to learns much about design as possible. The rule of thirds, perspective (or forced perspective) and using white space correctly. Even though I was getting a lot of things right there was still lots of room for improvement.  I feel like I learned exactly what I need to do to further my career!

    Making the Most of Your Course

    1. Get a 1 on 1. No seriously, do it! If you’ve ever gone to a conference and gotten a 1 on 1 you know that there is value in getting a critique of your work. Usually you only get about 20 minutes. Here for $100 you get to show your work and get detailed advice on what to do with your work. 

    2. Set aside lots of TIME for your course. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career. It will not be worth it to take this course if you don’t give yourself time to work on it. I have a toddler, so I had my husband take time off so I could focus on the course. I needed this time to work! Make and freeze dinners ahead of time. Put a lot of time into this course and you will get a lot out of it. I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent on the course. Think of it as a job that you have to do. 

    3. DO THE WORK! Of course doing the course work should be obvious. Spend lots of time on doing each task. If you’ve never created a dummy or portfolio now is the perfect chance to get into some good habits. If Mira, any of the course leaders or any of the guests ask you to change something then change it! You will learn so much in the process.

    4. Always have something to show. Remember how I said everyone got a personalized critique on the webinar? Well as the weeks went on finishing work got harder. I turned something in each week even if I wasn’t quite done with my piece. I got more than one critique, because there weren’t enough people to critique every week.  

    5. Go all in. Talk in the Facebook group, take on a critique group, get to know as many people as possible! Take advantage of any critiques, share your work with everyone, don’t say no! The easiest way is to just greet everyone and find something beautiful about their work, or something interesting about the person. Being a part of a critique group will give you awesome ways to look at your own work, and make you a better critique partner in the future. But why do all these things? Because you are making contacts and finding friends that will support you in your career in kidlit.

    Info for The Children’s Book Academy so you don’t have to scroll up:

    Middle Grade Mastery is now available from The Children’s Book Academy. Classes start May 13th! You can read more about this course and sign up here: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/illustrating-childrens-books.html

    For all other courses sign up for their newsletter here: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/home.html and scroll down to the yellow “Click Here”

  • Art,  Events,  Spring into Writing,  Writing

    Ken Rolston vs. Comics

    Welcome to the first day of Spring into Writing! More info about the event is here: https://www.daniduck.com/spring-into-writing/

    Ken Rolston is the current Illustration Coordinator for the SCBWI Canada West. I love his enthusiasm and his passion for learning and teaching. Ken has an autobiographical web comic that he creates every week. The comic was originally called Dad vs. the Threenager, but is now known as Dad vs. Kindergarten. The spectacular thing about Ken’s comic is that he was able to gain a following of around 10K people in about a year on Instagram by posting just only once a week! Look at more of Ken’s work here: http://kenrolston.com

    —–

    Dv3_Sketchbook01

    Sitting in the hospital, the day my son was born, I started drawing in a sketchbook I had saved just for his story. Back then I didn’t know those sketches would lead to a cartoon. I just wanted to document the little things that made us laugh, the little things that would be forgotten as he grew. Those first few months are already nothing more than a blur, so the sketches already serve as a great reminder.


    Back then, before he could talk, I drew him as the bringer of Chaos – a tiny god-like figure that disrupted and controlled our every move. We prayed he would learn to talk – so we could understand him better. Today, it has come full circle…now we pray he will stop talking, just for thirty seconds, so we can hear ourselves think.

    In those early days we kept waiting for the terrible twos to hit us – and they did hit us – after he turned three. By that time, I had so much material for “Dad vs the Threenager” that it would almost write itself.


    Recently, I posted my 111th comic strip – it has been one comic strip a week for over two years. My son has grown so much! We have moved on to “Chapter 2 – Dad vs Kindergarten”. In that time, I’ve learned a few things:

    The truth about raising a toddler.

     In order to write about our adventures, we have to have adventures – quality time with your kids is everything. They are the ones we do this for.

    Write down your own adventures as soon as you can, I don’t know how many funny stories I’ve lost because I thought there was no way I would forget that “line” he just used.

    Only you can tell your story. Believe it is worth telling, and tell it.

    Finally, there will always be downsides, learn from them and move on! It’s all part of the game.

    —–

  • Art,  Kidlit Collage

    A Bee, A Spider and a Poof #4

    I didn’t quite finish my illustration for today! Easter and a birthday slowed things a bit. Luckily there is an extra Monday this month (Yay, bonus!). I’ll be finishing everything up for then. I did have blue rain/water in this image. I just noticed that the layer was deleted accidentally. I actually wasn’t happy about how the water looked, so it’s actually beneficial. I would have done more work trying to fix the problem then starting over.

    Have you ever saved time with starting over on a painting or by completely redoing a part of your art? 

    garden color 5

    Want to join me and Christy Ann (@christyillustrates on Instagram) in Kidlit Collage? There is no sign up! Just post your image on Instagram (and other social media) and tag #kidlitcollage. That way we can see your work! This month’s theme is Showers! May’s theme is flowers.