I want to introduce you to a wonderful new course from the Children’s Book Academy! This course is for anyone interested in writing and/or illustrating graphic novels. Classes start May 9th! I absolutely love Mira Reisberg and her classes. I will be taking this course, and I would love if you could join me! You can sign up for the course here: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/2022graphicnovels.html There will be submission opportunities following the course they are called Golden Tickets, and just take a peak and see all the fantastic people waiting to see your work!
Also there will be a Clip Studio class that comes with the class. It will be available soon! I’m an instructor for the Clip Studio course and hope that it will help you with your graphic novels. If you don’t have Clip Studio yet — look it up. When it goes on sale it’s very inexpensive!
If you just want to learn more about graphic novels there will be an absolutely free Masterclass on April 24th at 4pm PT. Sign up is here: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/free-graphic-novel-masterclass.html
Until April 10th there are scholarships available for this course! The Larissa Marantz Merit and Need Based Scholarships are for underrepresented writers and illustrators who want to take Mastering Graphic Novels. BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Disabled, Low-Income and more can apply for these scholarships. Please apply, especially if you are a BIPOC because Mira wants to make sure that most (if not all) of these go to BIPOC! https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/larissa-marantz-merit–need-scholarship.html
If you have any questions about Mastering Graphic Novels or for the scholarships, please let me know!
It’s 2022, and I haven’t blogged in a long period of time! What better time to start blogging than when I make a goal list for the year? No, seriously, tell me so I get it right the next time I take a break from my blog. If you know me, you know that I don’t like making resolutions. To me resolutions feel too much like a pass/fail situation. I do like to make a lot of lofty goals that I know I wont achieve them all.
1. Finish sketching my PB & GN dummy. Normally, I wouldn’t make a dummy for a graphic novel, but this particular graphic novel is picture book length so it makes sense.
2. Finish a draft of my MG kitty novel. Cats are in most of my stories. While this is a specific novel it’s could be almost any MG book I write
3. Draft 2 GN scripts. This is the minimum amount of GN scripts I want to write this year. I’m sure I will get more ideas, but I want to draft two this year.
4. Put together a new graphic novel package for one of the new scripts.
5. Submit my polished work to agents.
6. Write 12 picture book manuscripts. I’d like to draft at least 12 decent picture book manuscripts. I’m in the 12×12 and I’d like to win this year! https://www.12x12challenge.com/
7. Make sure I make use of critique groups and other resources.
8. Interview authors & Illustrators and post about BIPOC, Disabled and LGBTQIA+ books.
9. Keep up with my list of resources on my blog.
10. Blog at least once a month about the books I’ve read and other updates!
11. Edit at least one of my novels for submission.
I think that’s a good list of things. I doubt if I’ll get to them all, but it’s good to have a list of goals up. What are your goals for this year?
How About A Night Out?
Have you ever wondered what cats do when the sun goes down? Sam Williams “How About A Night Out?” gives a glimpse into the life of a city cat. Illustrator Matt Hunt beautifully illuminates the night life of a city cat. The characters are cute and fluffy and I want to take them all home!
The lights go out and the cats go out to prowl. Sam Williams story is both realistic and magical. He takes you through a the journey of cats throughout the night. My favorite page in the book says, “How about a night out? A walk about? A prowl about?” There are a lot of phrases in this book that are just a joy to read out loud.
The story is in rhyme. In most stories this type of rhyme wouldn’t work, but the focus is more on the repetition of the words than the actual rhymes themselves. It’s a very fun story to read out loud. My 3 year old loves this book, but it’s fun enough that I’d read it to myself.
These cats look like they are having a lot of fun throughout this book! Though the story is at night, and Matt Hunt uses a lot of black in the backgrounds, the pictures are bright and cheery. There are no drab pages. Matt uses bold, bright, colors in his art.
Matt uses several angles to tell his story. Most of the story is close up to the cats or an overview of the city rooftops (but always with the cats in view). My favorite image is in the center of the book where silhouettes of cats travel over a bridge. The perspective he uses for the different planes of the top and bottom of the bridge aren’t accurate, but put together they make a strikingly beautiful scene.
Get The Book
Pick up How About A Night Out: https://www.amazon.com/How-About-Night-Out-Williams/dp/1912757141/
Sam Williams’s Website: Sam Williams doesn’t appear to have an official website or use social media at all. Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/36802.Sam_Williams
More about How About A Night Out?: http://ww.boxerbooksltd.co.uk/uk/book/210/how-about-a-night-out
Illustrator Matt Hunt: https://www.matthuntillustration.com/
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!
I’ve talked about the Craft & Business of Illustrating Children’s Books several times, but I always felt like I had more to say. It wasn’t until now that I figured out just what I wanted to other people to know about the course. (Video is embedded below or you can go here: https://youtu.be/TBcMlOHDsDk)
This video highlights areas like the Facebook group, critique groups, webinars, the course itself, private critiques and golden tickets. There is also a section at the end that talks about putting your best foot forward in this class. Much of the info in putting your best foot forward is going to be useful information for any class!
After doing the audio for this I filmed myself coloring a drawing. I may change this into a presentation later, but wanted to get this out before the scholarships applications closed! I am sick in this video, so I’m sorry if any of this comes through on the video.
You can get a diversity scholarship for this course. There isn’t much time left! November 20th is the new extended date. There were not enough people who applied, so please take advantage of these. There aren’t many people applying so here is your chance to take advantage of this great scholarship! https://childrensbookacademy.teachable.com/p/rlpcscholarships
Ready to just sign up for the course? Go here and make all your kidlit illustration dreams come true: https://childrensbookacademy.teachable.com/p/the-craft-business-of-illustrating-children-s-picture-books
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.
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/
“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!
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!
A Change in Plans
I had started with a lot of good ideas for a Cinderella story here: https://www.daniduck.com/planning-out-your-pages/. While planning out the pages in thumbnails I realized two things. 1) I realized I messed up with the numbers. I had said there was 13 spreads and there were 14.5. (I’ve changed this on the original.) I realized after the second mistake 2) Doing a 14.5 spread changes everything. And I changed even more to bring it to 15 spreads. Below accurately shows the spreads:
- Cinderella’s father remarries. (1/2 spread)
- Cinderella’s step mother and sisters are mean to her. (1 spread)
- The prince announces there will be a ball so he can find a wife. (1 spread)
- Cinderella told she’s not allowed to go to the ball which upsets her. (1 spread)
- Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother appears and gives her everything she needs for the ball (Cinderella must be back by midnight). (4 spreads)
- Cinderella goes to the ball (2.5 spreads)
- Cinderella forgets about the time and rushes out of the ball at the last minute leaving her glass slipper. (1.5 spreads)
- The prince looks for Cinderella with the one lost slipper. (1 spread)
- The slipper fits. (1 spread)
- A royal wedding (1 spread)
- The prince and Cinderella live happily ever after. (1/2 spread)
More Mistakes and a Video
I realized after I made this video that I missed a spread! I miscounted. The extra spread brings things up to 15 spreads in total which is a colored ends layout: https://taralazar.com/2009/02/22/picture-book-construction-know-your-layout/
Start your thumbnails out messy. You are just trying to get the basic layout of your story first. Then, start over and make slightly tighter thumbnails, so you can tell better what the images are. This video shows you both tight and loose drawings.
Now that you have an idea of what your pages are going to look like, take some time to do research. Take pictures, pose your children or pose yourself. (Don’t take pictures of children without written permission from their parents).
You can also do an internet search to find reference photos. Photographers are very serious about their photos and will sue if you steal an image directly or have an image too simular to theirs. Use several different images to come up with your illustration. You might take a nose style from a few pictures. Hair styles from another. You can piece together a person from many photos, but drawing all or part of someone else’s photograph/illustration is not a good idea.
Sun by Alison Oliver
Sun by Alison Oliver is such a warm and whimsical book. I’d like to say that I came across it in a direct effort to find beautiful picture books for kids. Instead I did a random search for 2019 picture books at my library and this was one of the books I found! I feel so lucky to have found this book at my library.
Sun loves soccer. He seems to eat, breathe and (of course) play soccer. He has an emptiness in his life and doesn’t know what to fill it with. Sun goes on a journey of self discovery and meets with Fox (who is actually a fox). Fox shows Sun a playfully magical world that he will never forget.
This story is so sweet and beautiful. The friendship between Sun and Fox is an interesting one. Fox brings out Sun’s creative side. Maybe Fox is supposed to be Sun’s creative side personified. Fox allows Sun to experience things that he missed in life while having a life totally devoted to soccer. It’s good not to get too focused on one thing, because there are so many wonderful things to experience in life!
The images in this book are absolutely breathtaking. Inside the book it says “The illustrations for this book were executed in watercolor, brush pen, charcoal and collage and assembled digitally.” I love that it didn’t just say “mixed media”. I always love finding out what medium the artist used! In this case Alison used many!
I love the warmth of this book. It is like the colors were taken from the sun! The colors are vivid and feel like a great big hug. The brush strokes that Alison makes in this book are nothing less than gorgeous. It makes the images feel like so much movement is happening.
Buy the Book
Here are some ideas for your character’s bodies! I took one head and tried it on several different bodies. Copying and pasting a head over and over helps with coming up with a body. If I had to pick one, I’d probably go with the one in the upper right corner.
Don’t worry if none of these appeal to you. I’ve got some links with some wonderful tutorials that will help you further your art!
Luis Escobar has some wonderful tips for making the perfect character body: http://www.thedrawingwebsite.com/2017/06/07/cartoon-body-formulas/
Proko has some great tutorials for the bean method of drawing. If you can draw a bean (or something like it) then you can draw a body! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0660Fuih7qo
Drawing the Head and Figure by Jack Hamm: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/272012/drawing-the-head-and-figure-by-jack-hamm/9780399507915/ (This book is generally under $17
Andrew Loomis Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth hosted by archive.org: https://archive.org/details/Andrew_Loomis_Figure_Draw
Are you ready for character design? Just grab some paper and a pencil (or have your computer program on standby and let’s get sketching! The video shows how I might do a page to figure out a character. There is lots of different techniques.
Quick Video (no sound)