I usually don’t do holiday things so early, so you’ll have to forgive me with this one. My toddler was watching a Christmas kitten video. One of those where kittens play and instrumental Christmas music runs in the background. If you want you can wait until December to watch the video. I don’t have a book review for this week so I thought this would be a fun replacement.
I’ll be finishing up this illustration as a Patreon exclusive! Go to https://www.patreon.com/SmartDummies to see more. I will be updating Patreon exclusive videos and images there. Before I did this video I had an image and the process didn’t get recorded. I will be posting that image as a Patreon exclusive as well!
I wanted to show a little bit of shading from flat colors. I used the same cat in all of the paintings and used flat colors as a base. These were all done fairly quickly in Clip Studio Paint so they are a little messy. I’ll be posting 2 more ways to shade a cat on my Patreon next month! https://www.patreon.com/SmartDummies
The first cat was created using the crayon tool. The second with the pen tool and blurring the edges with the running color on fiber blur tool. The third is with an oil paint brush and the blur tool.
Smart Dummies is winding down. I have a few more great sites for art tips and tutorials. I wanted to share these before Smart Dummies ends!
Instagram:Gabrielle Patrick: https://www.instagram.com/gabs_art_tips/Robin and Lorenzo: Eterington: https://www.instagram.com/etheringtonbrothers/Griz and Norm Lemay: https://www.instagram.com/grizandnorm/
SVS Learn has a #Inktober special on right now. Sign up in October and get 30 days for FREE: https://www.svslearn.com/
Mira Reisberg’s the Craft and Business of Children’s Book Illustration class has been delayed, which it means there is still time to sign up for the 2020 class. This may be the last live Children’s Book Academy class so sign up now! https://www.childrensbookacademy.com
- I have a couple of videos for you today! The first is a video of me inking an old painting. I go through the steps of first redefining certain areas of the drawing with pencil and then I go over it in inks. I like how Clip Studio has a vector layer that can be adjusted after drawing lines.
Mark Mitchell interviewed me recently about Smart Dummies. I thought you might like to see the video! I always enjoy talking with Mark. He has a great class! You can find out more about Mark here: https://howtobeachildrensbookillustrator.com/ A new semester of his class “Make Your Marks and Splashes” starts in a few months and I’ll let you know about that soon.
I hope you are enjoying Smart Dummies this year. I love helping out other people and I hope you are learning a lot, or at least getting a lot done this month. Smart dummies is not an easy event, so be nice to yourself and celebrate what you are able to complete.
Today is my birthday! What better way to celebrate than to update all my reward tiers and give presents to all my patrons on Patreon? I feel like I’m winning my birthday already: https://www.patreon.com/SmartDummies I don’t have presents on Kofi, but you’ll have my love if you can only make a one time donation there. https://ko-fi.com/daniduck!
It is not free for me to run this blog and the events do take a lot of my time. If you have the money, please consider helping me out. I will be working to giving you lots more value for your donations. Check out the new tiers and know that I’m open to suggestions!
Smart Member$1 or more per month
Basic Membership Includes
+ Monthly Art Process Videos
+ Monthly Challenges to help encourage creativity in your writing and art
+ Your name listed in a special post before Smart Dummies and Spring into Writing!
Smart Fiver$5 or more per month
All of the previous tier benefits plus:
+ Your questions answered on a short video every month.*
+ Extra entry on all Patreon giveaways and contests.
+ Your name listed in a future Smart Dummies/Writing Challenge Booklet.
*You ask me 1 question a month and I’ll give you a video answer of your question on Patreon. Access will be given to everyone in this level and above.
Smart 10s$10 or more per month
All of the previous tier benefits plus:
+ 1 Hour Chat with me and other Smart 10s every month.
+ Exclusive Smart 10s only content.
Want to make a one time donation? https://ko-fi.com/daniduck (This will not give you access to patron rewards, but I will love you forever. Even if you don’t donate.) Feel free to contact me about other ways to donate!
Before I show you some process posts I’m going to start with a poll I posted on social media. This was a question asked by Tara Santoro (@JerseyGirlDraws on twitter).
This is pretty reflective of the people I’ve spoken to. Most believe thumbnails are essential. There are a few that think they aren’t important.
There are some of you that hate thumbnails and think it’s silly to use them. I think not using them may be a harder path, but that path is up to you!
Initial thumbnails should take you no more than a few seconds on each one. It’s just to figure out proportion and where things go. More than a couple seconds makes it stressful. Too much detail in thumbnails can be stressful. Keep them simple, and if you want to do detailed thumbnails do that after!
Some Final Art Resources
Here are some resources you may want to look into before creating your final art! In fine art the idea is to make a beautiful piece that will last a long time. With kidlit your final art doesn’t necessarily have to last a long time (it does help, though). It does have to look good. Instead of giving you a bunch of resources for fine artists or illustrators, I’m going to show you some art projects that are mostly for kids that may inspire or inform your own art!
Want to find a process in your medium? Just go to Pinterest or YouTube and type in your art medium and then “projects”. You can add “for kids” if you want to find easier projects.
Watercolor Techniques: https://www.projectswithkids.com/watercolor-techniques-for-kids/
Blending Colored Pencils: https://www.mybluprint.com/article/blend-your-way-to-smooth-colored-pencils
Scraping Painting with Oil Pastels: http://krokotak.com/2019/06/scraping-painting-with-oil-pastel/
Acrylic Painting with a Fork: https://www.projectswithkids.com/palm-tree-fork-painting-for-kids/
Painted Collage Art: https://layers-of-learning.com/painted-collage-art/
Torn Collage Art: http://www.onecolorfulday.com/free-printable-night-sky-collage/
I have a fun inking video that I made today. I need to go back in and edit it a bit. 5 minutes of me having the save dialog open isn’t that much fun to watch. I will be adding sound and hopefully narrate this as well. Hopefully I can get this up for you soon! For now here are a few instructional Youtube channels that will help you with your art!
SVS Learn — Home of the 3-point perspective podcast (video version). This podcast tells you everything you need to know about Children’s illustration! Will Terry, Jake Parker and Lee white host. Their excellent Youtube channels are also below https://www.youtube.com/user/SVSLearn/videos
Will Terry — Kidlit Illustrator with a huge collection of videos about the craft and business of kidlit books! https://www.youtube.com/user/willterryart
Jake Parker — Creator of Inktober and Illustrator https://www.youtube.com/user/jakeparker44/videos
Lee White — Kidlit illustrator and Fine Artist https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa8I_myjn8osVaEPsS7eq1Q/videos
Rachel Armington — Her videos are watercolor, food and crafts! She just posted a video about making clay models for illustration! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ7Eosyn2nYbNbkokKrmPcw/videos
Chris Hong Art — Some fun illustration techniques and lots of pretty art. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGHCzXORMIUiBZmNHr1ovjw/videos
Sheldene Fine Art — This is a nice channel that has all kinds of different techniques you can try for your own art. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_KkCbQ6ZlN0dGnT1GLdz7A/videos
Have a Youtube channel you’d like to share? Please post the name in the comments below. I’ll be sure to share the channel in a future Smart Dummies post!
Here is some great art from Becky Aren’t! Becky does not have a website at this time, but wanted to share her work. If you want to get a hold of Becky for professional reason please feel free to contact me on my contact page and I will get you in touch with Becky! https://www.daniduck.com/contact/
Modeling Your Characters
Here is a special video from Rachel Armington. You can visit Rachel’s website here: https://rachelarmington.com/ Her Youtube channel has some great videos like organizing your portfolio for an illustrator showcase, creating promotional material and lots of great watercolor painting tips and techniques. Rachel’s Youtube channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ7Eosyn2nYbNbkokKrmPcw
She just finished it and wanted everyone here to know how to make a clay model for illustration. This is especially helpful for complex characters. You could also make up sets and photograph your models rather than draw them (need to have a good camera and light set up)!
5 Things to Do for Final Art
1. Set up Your Substrate
I have adjusted my layout page. I use to work at a print shop and it was so much easier if there was a bigger bleed. This also more accurately reflects how I set up my digital images. I create my digital images 11″ x 17″ and am aware that half an inch will be trimmed from all sides of the final image.
If you are working traditionally you need to place an extra 1.5″ around the image. You will want your paper to be 14″x 20″. You can work on smaller paper if you need to practice before your final. This is where the printer will touch your image. When your digital image is printed it will have the same border, but it’s added after the art is finished.
2. Stepping Back
This is very important in the process of creating. Move a few feet back from your image an look at it. This helps for both digital and traditional artists. Another thing you can do is take a picture of the art. Seeing an image smaller can help with noticing any flaws.
3. Polish Your Image
I made a post about how done is done here: https://www.daniduck.com/how-done-is-done/ this relates to your sketches for your dummy. This does not have anything to do with your finals. You want your images as polished as possible before you take them into finals. You don’t want to both color an image and still be trying to figure out the positioning of an arm or the perfect smile for your character!
4. Work in a Familiar Medium
It’s not wrong to work in an unfamiliar medium. Just know that your finals are going to take longer without having practiced the medium. You are learning how your style works in the medium. This makes it more likely that you are going to be using more pieces of final paper (if working traditionally), so it’s better to practice on a smaller sheet!
5. When Things Don’t Work Out
Sometimes things don’t work out. Be nice to yourself. If you have to start over that’s okay. Even when big mistakes are made, set the work aside and come back to it later. It could be that the work can be saved, but not if you crumple it up and throw it away! Also possibly not if you continue to work on something that’s had a problem. Frustration can often lead to more mistakes.
Be nice to yourself and take a break if you aren’t having fun!
I find that starting a story isn’t really that hard. Maybe the sitting down and writing or drawing it is hard, but the actual coming up with an idea isn’t that hard. Okay, if we are talking about coming up with a good idea that’s hard. Coming up with a gem that can be taken from idea to finished product? That’s really hard.
It’s really not the idea’s fault, because any idea can be good or bad. I’m not putting all the fault on the writer or illustrator, because there are so many obstacles that get into the way of writing and illustrating. Some of these things we can change, and some not. I’m here as a cheerleader for you to do your best when you can.
Don't Worry About Winning
If you are not able to finish Smart Dummies in these two months, you are not a failure. Smart Dummies was never about the winning. The idea behind it is to encourage you to work faster, make some good daily habits and get a good start on your project. Your project is something you can continue working on in the future.
Don't Stop Drawing
Maybe you only get your character drawings done next month. Maybe you don’t get them finished until Christmas. You might only get ideas of what your character (or characters) look like and that’s okay. It’s still progress. If you start over you wont lose what you’ve already learned. If you just do one spread a month you’ll get your dummy done in about 12-16 months. Maybe you do one page a month, but that’s still a finished book in about 2-3 years. That’s more dummies finished than when you started!
Don't Get Mad At Yourself
There are times when I feel like a complete failure in life. I set out a goal to finish my work in a certain period of time and don’t come anywhere near to achieving my goals. The worst thing I do to myself is to punish myself for not achieving everything I wanted. I end up upset for days or weeks and those are days/weeks I can not work. Celebrate every milestone and always forgive yourself for making mistakes. Forgive yourself anytime you aren’t working. Some things will take priority to writing and illustrating! It’s okay to miss out on working. It’s also okay to get angry sometimes, but be sure to forgive yourself and move on.
Don't Give Up!
I can not tell you that you are going to be published. I can’t tell you that any of your publishing dreams will come true. I can tell you that there is no chance of you getting published if you don’t try.
No one should EVER tell you that you should give up. If someone tells you to give up the problem lies with them and not you. It’s possible that your work isn’t ready yet. That does NOT give them the right to tell you to stop.
Keep working and give yourself as much love as you can muster. This is a rough road we are on. I have a lot of friends who have been on the road 10 years or more who are just now getting published. It is possible. I’m going to give you a list of podcasts below that have helped me through some tough times. You should be able to find these wherever you get your podcasts!
Some of these podcasts may have content not suitable for children. Please let me know if there are trigger warnings that should be included because I can’t remember anything specific, but will not say that all of these podcasts are trigger free.
Artists Helping Artists – Fine Art, studio information and marketing/promoting your work.
Face the Truth – Interviews with people in all kinds of art fields from Comedians to Photographers.
Book Friends Forever – Books/Publishing – Lots of different topics covered in making children’s books.
Literaticast – Everything about books and publishing. Lots of great industry information
Picturebooking Podcast – Books/Publishing – Dedicated to exploring the world of picture books with wonderful interviews with writers and illustrators.
The Children’s Book Podcast – Books/Publishing – Interviews with those who create children’s books.
Comics Lab – Webcomics – Everything about making a living in comics, self publishing, some traditional publishing.
Graphic Novel TK – Graphic Novel -Everything about Graphic Novels from idea to making sales.
The Comics Experience Make Comics Podcast – Comic Book -Tons of comic information with interviews with lots of comic people.
3 Point Perspective – Covers everything you need to know about Children’s Illustration.
The Manuscript Academy – Writing- Covers different topics in writing through interviews with industry professionals.
Writing for Children – Writing – Short podcast with powerful tips to improve your writing.