Thursday, September 23, 2010

Printable Back to School Sticker Sheet

I made these free printable  Stickers, Book Plates, and lunch label  for all of the "back to school" kiddies. The theme for September at the We Love To Illustrate Group Blog, was to create some fun printables for "back to school". You must pop over and check them out, they are so adorable and so much FUN!!! I plan on downloading all of them and sticking em' all over my kiddies stuff. And my stuff too!  
this project sounded so fun, and I thought it would be a really good learning experience with CS5 too. Obviously, I am still learning Adobe Creative Suite CS5.  This was my first ever contact sheet using the photoshop tricks to extract my little critters from crazy backgrounds. Not perfect but a start!:) And I am slowly learning my way around these amazing programmes.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My new, super-duper, Drawing Table

I  decided to set-up a work station in our family dining-room, since we only use it on birthdays or special occasions like Christmas dinners. I need a space on the main level that was accessible to work on my artwork and keep an eye on my kiddies when they are at home. Having my art desk up in the corner of my bedroom was fine for the evening but just wasn't working well during the rest of the busy day. And there just isn't another room available for a studio.  This all sounded great in theory until I started to think about what work surface would fit, and be organizable in a flash, if company was coming.  I wanted something that wasn't enormous like a standard drafting table, but also had storage, so I could quickly tuck everything away from curious little fingers if I had to make one of my  pick-up runs to the school.

 Well one day, during my little morning "me-time"  tea/blog surfing, I came across a post by the talented Phyllis Harris. She was was writing about her new, fabulous desk that her hubby had purchased as a gift. I know, she is one lucky lady to have such a great hubby! It was perfect, so compact, yet so functional and full of great storage!! I emailed her right away, and she was very kind to give me the manufacturers info.  I did a little investigating but alas, with the shipping  to Canada it was just too expensive.

So I thought a bit, and thought a bit more, and then I thought I should show the specs to my dad, who by the way is a contractor by trade, to get his input to see how much it might cost to have custom built. He said he'd talk to his brother who is a retired Fine Carpenter, and see what he thought. Well, those brothers are fast! The next time I asked him what he thought, he exclaimed that my Uncle Bob had it almost finished!!! Yippeeee, I did a happy dance, and thought to myself how helpful and kind it was for them to take on this project of mine. Check it out !!

How cool it this drawing table?? Don't you wish you had an Uncle Bob the builder too? The angled top has a hinge so I can put my work-in-progress inside to keep it safe from little hands; there is a flat top section to put my mateials and tools, so they don't slide around; there is a drawer and cuboard with shelves for storage; and at the side I can keep all my huge illustration board pieces upright, safe and sound.

I just ordered a drafting chair this morning from Staples, so hopefully I will be able to get "crackin" and start to work on my new AMAZING drawing table in just a few days!!  Thanks Dad and Uncle Bob!!! You're the best!! :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


"It's not the towering sail, but the unseen wind that moves the ship"-Proverb

I couldn't resist using one of my boy pirate series plasticine illustrations for this weeks Illustration Friday. I thought this pirate proverb was a fitting choice for this salty wee pirate boy...ARRRRR !

So far this Sept. has been a flurry of activity, teacher meetings, try-outs, doctor appt.s, and writer's cramp from all the school forms-arrgg.  Once it slows down back to normal I plan to post more often :)

I hope everyone is having a good Sept. so far and thank-you to my wonderful readers who leave such sweet comments and brighten my day! You guys rock! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I couldn't resist making this plasticine illustration of a slice of yummy chocolate cake with a very hungry and chubby mouse helping himself, for this weeks Illustration Friday theme "dessert". I am craving something sweet!  Hmm... maybe there is some left-over icing in the fridge, from making my kiddies birthday cakes last week???- wish me luck!!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Boy Pirate Series: From sketches to plasticine illustration

I thought it would be fun to show another step-by-step tutorial on how I work. I have been working on a series of illustrations depicting a "Boy Pirate" and his "mighty ship and "crew". I hope to do 3 or 4 and include them in my portfolio to show my ability to maintain character continuity, depict different viewpoints, perspective, show a range of emotions, and tell a little story through a series of illustrations.

First, I wanted to try my hand at illustrating an extreme viewpoint. So I decided to do a "worm's eye view"  of this "boy pirate". I thought this view point would give him a majestic and grand quality, and hopefully lead the viewer to wonder what is he looking at through those binoculars? And where was he?

First I took a few reference photos by lying on the ground and shooting straight up at my models(OK I used my kiddies, they really like to pose for me).
Then I did a few sketches to work out the perspective, and tinker with the foreshortening. I broke-down the body into simpler geometric shapes and included my perspective lines for reference.

Once I was happy with that sketch, I moved on to sketching a tighter, more detailed  "boy pirate".

Then I started the background. I always smear plasticine onto illustration board first.Iin this case since I knew the sky would be above the "boy pirate", due to the worm's eye view, I didn't need to do an "under painting" and block in my colours, I could just use the sky blue I had mixed and cover the entire surface.

I wanted to give the illustration some dynamic movement and help to bring the eye back again to the central character, so I decided to depict the clouds diagonally across the background and with reflections coming off the underside of the wispy clouds to help show that we are viewing the sky from below. I actually lay down on the dock for a while to study the clouds....OK and relax a bit too. I think it works nicely to gives the piece some energy, and the subtle convergence and divergence of the clouds leads the eye around in an elliptical path back to the center.
Next I added the very bottom of the "ship". I purposely didn't show much of it as I want to viewer to wonder: what type of ship this boy pirate could own?Or was he in the crow's nest?  I also needed to show a portion of it to ground the character.

I then started to form the individual pieces of the character. I usually work from the background, and work forward, but sometimes I like to do a few foreground bits so I can place them on top, as I go, to ensure I'm staying on track with my proportions. And I really like doing toes, so I couldn't resist! :)

It can be a bit tricky when there are a few different layers of plasticine on top of each other, with a foreshortened image. And it can start to look wonky if I don't carefully flatten out, or cut out the plasticine bits that will be directly behind another foreground object.  So, I find it can be useful to have the foreground parts set aside to then be able to trace around them and make the exact cut, so it isn't noticeable.

Here he is, the "boy pirate", after a bunch of tinkering and sculpting, I think he is almost there. I usually like to put it away for a few days and then take a look at it again and tinker a bit more. It lets me look at it with a fresher set of eyes and spot any other problems. 

As always, I'd love any feedback, good and bad, it is always so helpful :)

I also worked on a close-up  of this little "boy pirate" and used it for Illustration Friday this week. I wanted to
show him saying "ARRRRRRR!", but not in a scary, mean way, but in a playful way. Here is the sketch I came up with:

I recently purchased this amazing book by Mark Simon called Facial Expressions of Babies and Teens. It is such a great resource if you need to do facial expressions. And it also shows a few models that have posed  over consecutive years so you can actually see how the face matures with the same child...very helpful stuff! I hope I succeeded in achieving a playful "ARRR". I must have scraped off each feature and started again like a million times??

I had a lot of fun with this illo. as I got to play with the textures of the hat, skin, and handkerchief. I had fun with the extruder to make the teeny feathers on the top of  his pirate hat. Sore thumbs though!  Here he is again, all sneery and cute:

Next up, I am going to do a double page spread that shows his "ship", "first mate" and surroundings. Here is a quick sketch of the layout and a tighter one of the ship and it's crew:

I think I might change the boy pirate's position and have him looking back and pointing so that he is engaged in dialogue with the other little "first mate". I want to show more interaction, so I will probably do a few more sketches to firm up my thoughts.

I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step tutorial of how I work. :) 

And thank-you all for the wonderful comments and for taking the time to pop over to my blog and see what I've been are all AWESOME!!


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