• Smart Dummies

    Smart Dummies Week 7

    I  have a very busy week ahead of me this week so everything will be happening after Wednesday. I hope you are doing well with your dummies!

    Smart Dummies Week 7 Schedule

    Sunday – Smart Dummies Week 7 Schedule

    Wednesday – Process Post!

    Thursday or Friday – More Process!  

    Sunday – Smart Dummies Week 8 schedule

  • Art,  Smart Dummies

    Art Process and Thumbnails

    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. 

    Brian McLachlan (@McLachlanBrian on twitter) said as a response, “Once you’ve done enough layouts you don’t need to thumbnail everything.” Which makes sense! 

    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/


  • Art,  Smart Dummies

    Fun Art Videos!

    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!

  • Smart Dummies,  Uncategorized

    Smart Dummies Week 6: The Week That Time Forgot

    Have you ever forgotten about a number? I sure have. At the beginning of Smart Dummies I completely forgot about the number 6! I couldn’t think why this upcoming week was so off with the schedule (we will be working on finals next week, not this week). Now that I know about the number 6. I will be working to come up with good stuff for this week. I will also be recalculating my age based on this new information! 

    I’m hoping to have some process videos to show you soon. Fingers crossed that I can make or find people to post some process videos or posts. I’ll also come up with a post of links to different techniques. The following schedule is subject to change!

    Smart Dummies Week 6

    Sunday – Smart Dummies Week 7 Schedule

    Tuesday – Process Post!

    Thursday – Links to Techniques 

    Friday – Possible Book Blog

    Sunday – Smart Dummies Week 7 schedule

    If you have not signed up for Smart Dummies yet go here: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-smart-dummies-2019/ You can sign up, pick up the booklet and badge and find out everything you need to know about the event!

  • Art,  Smart Dummies,  Uncategorized

    Making Models and Getting Ready For Finals!

    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!

  • Smart Dummies

    Quick Note

    I have a very busy week ahead of me. I wanted to check in to see how everyone is doing. How are you doing? Where are you in your drawings? How do you feel about your work?


    If there are any questions you have for me please go to my contact page and ask!

  • Art,  Smart Dummies

    Don’t Give Up!

    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/Graphic Novels

    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.


  • Smart Dummies

    How Done is Done?

    How done is done? This is a question that I’ve been asking myself a lot. I’ve seen a lot of dummies and some are very loose drawings and some are fairly tight. How tight a drawing needs to be is up to the editor that takes on your work.

    I’ve mostly been erring on the side of polished, but I’ve seen a lot of dummies and some don’t polish their work. You want an editor/art director to be able to visualize your work. There also has to be lots of room for changes. If your drawings are too tight (or perfect) an art director might feel like the artist is done and might not be open to changes. 

    Depending on your story you’ll want to submit 24+ pages of sketches and 1-2 spreads (2-4 pages) of finished illustrations. Here is some idea of some picture book length stories. of  https://marlalesage.com/2019/08/12/picture-books-length-layout/ Chapter books and board books are similar to picture books in the submission process. 

    Graphic novels are a bit different. Depending on the type of graphic novel you are submitting you may be publishing through someone who does picture books, or an agent or editor like First Second that just does graphic novels. If you are submitting through someone who does picture books your submission package will likely be similar to a picture book package. Graphic novels and comics are usually different and based on the pitch and previous work. Here is the submission guidelines from First Second: https://firstsecondbooks.com/uncategorized/the-submission-process-what-to-submit/ The guidelines here is generally more of what I’ve seen for graphic novels and comics (both children and adults). 

    Be sure to check out some submission guidelines before you start your work!

    I recently did a poll to see how done illustrators were with their work on their first book contract. I didn’t get enough people voting, but thought the results were pretty representational of the hundreds of book dummies I’ve seen. I had 6 votes and 83% (5 people) said their work fell under the “Nice but not perfect” category and the other 17% (1 person) said their work was very sketchy. See the poll here: https://twitter.com/DaniDuck/status/1174753326417600513

    I’m not sure if they voted but one person said they had color samples and a complete manuscript, but no dummy. One said an art director just found them. One said their images were very loose.

    I’ve seen a wide range of stories and dummies and generally they range from nice to sketchy. I recently saw a very sketchy dummy from a book that’s being published soon. To see a good range of book dummies use “book dummy” (not book dummies) in an internet search. You’ll see some great visual references so you can see the range of “doneness” for yourself. 

    I recently attended a webinar with an Art Director who didn’t seem to believe in dummies. She works for many companies and was okay with sketchy work for first time illustrators! 

    I say go with your gut. Worrying too much about the actual sketches may cause more problems than it’s worth. Go with the guidelines of any agent/editor to a “T” but if there are no specifics, then do your best. The final images will help an agent or editor interpret your drawings as long as your drawings are fairly representational of the story you are telling.

  • Books,  Smart Dummies

    Book Review of “Another”

    I found this beautiful book by searching my library for new books! There are so many GREAT books coming out right now. The books I want to review are piling up! If you’d like me to review your book please send a request via my contact page: https://www.daniduck.com/contact/ 



    Cover of "Another"
    My toddler loving "Another"!

    “Another” by Christian Robinson is a story about a child and their cat who both visit another dimension. In the beginning the child’s cat sees a portal open and a black cat (that looks just like the child’s cat) come through the portal. The cat and the child follow the cat into the portal and explore this strange new world.

    The story of “Another” is completely wordless. Absolutely everything is told in pictures. It’s very imaginative and fun. There is no explanation as to how things happened. It just happened and it’s fun!


    A quick sketch of "Another" drawn upside down (for a class project). Here it is right side up!

    The artwork for another is as bright and imaginative as the book. “The illustrations for this book were rendered in paint and collage, with digital editing.” I’ve seen a lot of collage/paint collage being used, but Christian’s strong paint style separates it from other pieces.

    The strange thing is this book has almost no backgrounds. When the child steps into the portal the background becomes a stark white. I feel like this exaggerates the strangeness of this whole world.  

    This book is a lot of fun and a great book to “read” over and over again. 

    Buy the Book

    Pick up Another here: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/another-christian-robinson/1128864446

    Christian Robinson’s Website:https://www.theartoffun.com

    More about Another: https://www.theartoffun.com/another

    Remember to ask your library to pick up a copy of this book. Also leave a good review for this book on Goodreads and Amazon!