Wednesday, June 27, 2007
This is a piece we did for Woogie Wednesday this week on the blog. We're also posting Hickory-Dickory-Dock pieces here this week so I thought I'd kill 3 bird with one stone and submit it for Illustration Friday.
Can you see the items camouflaged in the background?
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
It's nursery rhyme time here at the IFK blog and we gals here have selected a random rhyme to illustrate. I'm lacking time so I did a relatively quick piece in a less-worked, forgiving style. I imagine Mousy is using clocks as one of his work-out apparatuses. If he can make it to the top by the time it bongs, he knows he's making good time.
This weeks topic for Illustration For Kids is nursery rhymes, in particular Hickory Dickory Dock. It's interesting I did the above illustration of Hickory Dickory Dock just for fun because I wanted to illustrate a night scene. But I was never fond of Hickory Dickory Dock. In fact it really bugged me as a kid.
My Mother Goose book had the following version...
Hickory Dickory Dock
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one
and down he run.
Hickory Dickory Dock
"and down he run?" My grammar is not stellar but "down he run" annoyed me even as a little kid. I've seen more recent versions and they have changed it to "The mouse ran down" They fixed the grammar but now it doesn't rhyme any more. Oh well.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
I grew up with Enid Blyton. I loved those stories and couldn't get enough of them. I was addicted to the adventerous ones like The Famous Five and The Secret Seven but especially loved the more whimsical books like The Wishing Chair series. Unfortunately, when I tried to read them to my son, I realized that for most of them, their time has passed. I had forgotten how posh all the little children sounded and they just didn't hold my son's interest. I still have a soft spot for them and pick them up if I find them at second hand stores.
The Wind in the Willows
One of my all time favourites was and still is The Wind in the Willows. Such a wonderful, magical book and some of the descriptions of the countryside are really quite poetic. Of course, what brings it to life are the wonderful drawings by E.H.Shepard (he illustrated Winnie the Pooh also). They are sweet without being saccharine and they have always been a huge source of inspiration for me.
I have tons of picture books of all styles but I think my favourites capture a sense of nostalgia for me and have a classic, almost vintage feel.
Nicoletta Ceccoli creates a magical, fairy tale world with her sweet illustrations. Her colour palette is soft and candy coloured and full of whimsical detail.Here are a couple of books she has illustrated:
Barefoot Book of Fairytales
Princess and the White Bear King
When I first saw one of Lisbeth Zwerger's illustrations, I think I stopped breathing for a second. Her paintings are so beautiful that on bad days I feel like giving up illustrating for good! Her work is incredibly inspiring, magical and lyrical. She has illustrated a lot of classic tales like Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz and always adds a new twist to the stories while creating whimsical and beautiful characters. Wonderful.
Alice in Wonderland
Little Red Cap
Friday, June 22, 2007
I do my initial drawings on paper and all my final art work in Photoshop and Illustrator. One thing that I recently purchased and really love is a Mustek Scanexpress A3 flatbed scanner. It will scan pages up to 11"x17" So no more having to scan pencils drawings in sections and piece them back together Photoshop (Yay!) And the best part, it only cost $170. Definitely worth it!
Also I couldn't live without my Wacom tablet. I had been using a mouse for about a year before someone finally said, "You ninny, buy a pen tablet!" They were expensive and I dragged my feet but I finally bought one. It was like the clouds parted and the sun shown down and all was right with the world. So if you are using a mouse and trying to paint in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop I'll say it again - "Buy a pen tablet!"
Other than my computer hardware and software, my art supplies are pretty simple. I live in the boonies, a considerable drive from a decent art supply store, so I use stuff I can get at Walmart and Office Max. Like Jannie I like mechanical pencils - I hate having to stop to sharpen. I prefer Pilot Dr. Grip pencils. And I like Clic pencil-style erasers - those little teeny erasers on the mechanical pencils just don't cut it. For rough drawings, I use what ever cheap tracing paper or printer paper I have around. For final pencil work, I use drafting velum.
Posted by J. E. Morris
Labels: Jennifer Morris
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I still love sketching by hand before I take the finals into Adobe Illustrator. So besides the computer and the wacom tablet, my favorite art supply is the Borden & Riley layout translucent visual bond paper.
I've tried using many different kinds of paper to work with and I must say this paper works the best- it takes the medium quite well, just translucent enough to overlay with and rework your sketches with. This paper is on the expensive side, but it does make a huge difference. I 've used cheap tracing paper too but I find it smudges too much and too transparent. For complex projects, its definitely worth the splurge.
I also find myself only using Papermate sharp writer mechanical pencils to sketch with. I love mechanical pencils because it is always sharp. I don't know how I got to using these to draw with, but I think its because when I use to work in an office, thats what they had in the supply closet! I've come to like them very much, but I feel a little guilty because they are disposable and thats not so good for the environment. Anyone know of a good brand of mechanical pencils that are refillable, I would love to know about it.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
For almost a decade now, I've been using the graphics software program Painter for all of my client work. It is by far my most used (or 'favorite' ) art tool. Of course, I can't leave out it's companion tool, the Wacom table (I have three). The two work hand-in-hand for me to create what I do. Though I produce my art in a digital format, I still work 'traditionally' with the above software and hardware, using the pens, pencils and paints in a traditional manner. Doing my art digitally offers me some 'extras' that I couldn't do on paper or canvas. For example, having my art work in layers allows me to experiment frequently with color, etc., without losing my original work. The 'undo' button is also a pleasure to have when I want to eliminate recent choices I've made.
Below: The view I see daily when I'm working on a project, as well as a pic of my Wacom:
My sketching is quite different, however. With sketching, I'm pretty much a minimalist. I prefer micron pens, some pencils, a sharpener and eraser. I don't need much else. Oh...But then I usually scan and colorize what I've drawn onto the computer. Hmmm....
So is anyone going to say their favorite art tool is their hands...? Or their brain...? Heh!
I work in 3 different mediums. Digital, clay and "junk." It's hard to pick my favorite tool, but for non-traditional work, my favorite tool would have to be Adobe Illustrator (and yes, it is a tool - that's directed towards those non-art people who think the computer just does it all for you - grr!). I like how I can move things around easily and enlarge as needed since it's vector.
My favorite traditional tool has to be color pencils. I use them in my clay and junk work. I use my huge set of prismacolor pencils from college. I remember saving up for them and was so thrilled when I finally brought them home. What are your's?
Friday, June 15, 2007
Growing up in the early 60's, I don't recall having the wide assortment of beautiful children's books we see these days. The ever-popular Dr. Seuss books were just making their appearance ("The Cat and the Hat"--1957; "Green Eggs and Ham"--1960; "Ten Apples Up On Top!"--1961), and in kindergarden, I was learning to read with the Dick & Jane & Spot series. Ho hum. The latter didn't have any kind of 'wow' factor for me concerning the writing or illustrations. Dr. Seuss was fun and I'm sure I read his books over and over until the spines were worn out.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Too many favorites to choose from! Something off my shelf at the moment that I adore is The House that Jill Built by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Delphine Durand. This is an amazing lift-a-flap and pop up book with gorgeous illustrations. It is about Jill and her cat builting a house and other characters from various nursery rhymes come asking for a room too. So each page, the house gets bigger and bigger, with a cute like map/diagram on the lower left hand corner of where the new room is built. Delphine Durand is one of my favorite illustrators and I own two of her other books as well- Beetle Boy by Lawrence David and Scritch Scratch by Miriam Moss. I never get tired looking at her amazing work.
Another good book to mention that heavily influenced my childhood was an early reader. They are the Cam Jansen Mysteries by David A. Adler. When I first came to the US, my English reading skills were not up to level. I still remember the librarian reccommending a Cam Jansen book to me...and I was hooked. I went back and got out all the books in the series that was available. I loved how a great story and great art will make a child excited and read. I believe there are still new Cam Jansen books coming out. That's pretty amazing!
I have a lot of children's books. One of my favorites is "The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone" by Timothy Basil Ering. I found this book on a school trip to London, at a bookstore in Tate Modern. I picked it up and decided that I had to buy it just based on the cover. The illustrations are fantastic. They don't look traditional beautiful, but they're full of life and paint textures that really appeals to me. The books is also handlettered by the author, something that fits the style perfect. The story is about a boy who lives in dull Cementland. His only wish is to find a treasure - and then wonderful things happens. Very charming.
Take a closer look at it at here (amazon).
Another favorite is "Carmine: A Little More Red" by Melissa Sweet. It's a retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood", and it's beautifully illustrated. I bought this one too because of the illustrations. I really like books that are both written and illustrated by the same person. (Maybe because I want to both write and illustrate picture books myself...)
Take a closer look at "Carmine" at amazon.
Monday, June 11, 2007
This week the plan is to discuss some of our favorite children's books. Well I couldn't fit all of my favorites in just one post. So let me talk about at least one of my favorite books - "Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm" by Jerdine Nolen and illustrated by Mark Beuhner.
Coincidently this is also one of my son's new favorites. I read it to my five-year-old this morning and he wanted it again a bedtime. For my son that is a HUGE endorsement. Once he hears a story he's done, zip, he never EVER wants to hear the same story twice in one day. Maybe in a month or two but never in the same day, rarely the same week. This is even more remarkable considering there are no trains or construction vehicles in the story.
Okay, why do I like the book? For one, well, how can you not like the idea of someone growing balloons like corn - that's just cool. Two, it's a fun book to read aloud. As most parents know there are some books that are almost painful to read aloud (you know which ones I'm talking about) Harvey Potter is written from the view point of a young girl that says stuff like "We never knowed..." which makes it really easy get into character and start a talkin' like I ain't in New England no more. Also there's a part where you get to yell and holler (always a bonus when reading aloud)
And it's illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, Mark Buehner. (Incidentally anything illustrated by Mark Buehner is also on my favorites list.) The illustrations are absolutely superb with lots of little hidden things to find and a funny little porcine sidekick. I own some of Mark Beuhner's books and today I checked out every other Mark Buehner book in our public library. If I study them maybe something - anything - might rub off.
This book was originally published in 1994 (3 years before J.K. Rowling's series). And I couldn't help thinking that Ms. Jerdine must be thanking heaven that she named her character Harvey Potter and not Harry.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
This is a piece I did for this week's Illustration Friday topic, "your paradise." What immediately came to my mind was a world of chickens, but I decided to give the chickens a break (I draw enough of them already.) So I thought of mice and how a cheese shop would be a paradise for them. I quickly came up with this sketch:
As you can see, its very rough. But if it was for a client, I would certainly clean things up and make this sketch alot neater. I place this sketch in Adobe Illustrator and proceed to draw on top of it. I love this vector program because it allows me to move things around quite easily. The mouse is now at a different place and moved to the right because it was getting lost in front of the cheese window. I am also exploring how I can get more textures in my work.
I am very influenced by Richard Scarry and absolutely adore all his lovely books....I am especially in love with how he draws shops and buildings. I guess my paradise would be to live in his Busy, Busy Town book!
My paradise has to be an antique store. There is so mush old junk to find for my junk a doodles. I also love to scour yard sales for goodies. I'm sure when I leave people are like "Well, I never thought that would never sale!"
My process for this piece really started with a small thumbnail sketch of an idea and as I collected my junk I figured out what I would make. Can you identify all the found bits and pieces?
crab - nut
flower - chain
dog - fuse
word bubble - the letter "O"
heart - paperclip
ice cream - spring (it's hard to tell)
butterfly - ball chain
balloon - fancy paperclip
pig - button
If you're coming from Illustration Friday, be sure and check out my new creative marketing blog.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
This is my entry for this weeks Illustration Friday topic "your paradise". The idea behind it is that I believe that we make our own happiness, and that it helps to see the joy in life's small things - like a ladybug on your arm.
I started out with small thumbnail sketches until I found one I was satisfied with. Then I scanned the sketch and planned the colors in Photoshop. I printed my sketch in the size I wanted to paint it and transfered it to watercolor paper with the help of my lightbox. For the final illustration I first drew the outlines with waterproof brown ink, using a nib pen. Then I painted it with watercolors. I think this image would look good painted in acrylics, but I didn't have time for that today (it takes way more time to paint with acrylics than watercolors). Maybe I'll paint it another day.