Monday, January 9, 2017

How to create a time lapse video of your illustration process

how to make a time lapse video by susie ghahremani / @boygirlparty


Using your smartphone, you can create a time lapse video of your illustration process -- a fun and rewarding process exercise to share on social media, or an adventurous way to document your artmaking.

My set up for this demo makes use of:
  • an iPhone (with built-in Time Lapse Mode)
  • a selfie stick
  • a mic stand
  • drawing and painting supplies! (in my case: gouche, pencil and wood)

I attach my smartphone to the selfie stick. I then place the stick in the microphone holder on the mic stand so my phone positions sturdily directly over my art setup. Stability is important since gravity is involved here, or your phone could end up crashing into your painting.

Here's the view from above:


I recommend positioning your phone at the end of a long arm so the phone can shoot from directly overhead while not interfering with your workspace. (Do not have a person hold it. People, even those with long arms, are too wobbly -- and time lapse videos take a long time to create, hence the name.)

I happen to have a mic stand at my disposal, but you could probably use a gooseneck lamp or a well-positioned shelf or rack. I did not use a traditional tripod because those are typically made to stand upright, not for downward shooting.

  • Make sure your workspace is well-lit to avoid casting any weird shadows in the video.
  • Position your camera far away enough to allow for you to work normally -- don't position your phone so close to your workspace that it prevents you from seeing it or painting comfortably!
  • Press the record button in Time Lapse mode once to begin, and a second time to stop.
  • Unless you want to stitch multiple video clips together, you'll have to start and finish the time lapse shoot in the same sitting. Motivating!


And here you have it! 36 seconds of rapid-fire art making! Enjoy! (If only I could actually work this quickly...)



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Susie Ghahremani of boygirlparty.com was an SCBWI LA Mentee of 2016! She is the illustrator of What Will Hatch? and What Will Grow? (coming February 2017) -- both written by the amazing Jennifer Ward & published by Bloomsbury. Her debut as author-AND-illustrator is titled STACK THE CATS! , coming May 2017 to Abrams Appleseed.
She is very excited about this, and loves being part of the Full Circle Literary family

Follow Susie at @boygirlparty on instagram and twitter, or on ye olde Facebook.
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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Picking a Color Palette

Sometimes coming up with a good color palette for a piece is a struggle. When I'm picking a palette I want one that is pleasing to the eye, appropriately emotive, and represents all objects as seen in the same light. Here are a few different methods I sometimes use to choose a set of colors. 

1. Borrow it: use the color palette of another artist. 
Someone else has already put together a combination of colors that work – and can be used again!

Image on left –  © NEXON Korea, by Yoo Mira. Image on right © Jen Betton

2. Limit it: pick a very limited number of colors to work with. 
Color harmony is easier to achieve with only a few colors, which you mix together. The extreme version of this is a monochromatic image.

© James Gurney, using just red, blue and white.
© Georgetown Atelier/ Tenaya Sims, using a limited palette of brown, black, red, yellow, and white. 

3. Pick it: Use a color wheel and select a complimentary, split complimentary, triad, tetrad, or analogous palette. See separate post for definitions of these palettes. The website Kuler gives you some fun tools to use.

https://color.adobe.com
Example of a complimentary palette
© Scott Gustafson, using a complimentary palette

4. Harmonize it: Mix a bit of a unifying color into your other colors. 
This isn't exactly a method to pick a palette, but it can help you unify an existing one. A classic technique is to do a color wash either under or over the entire painting. I usually start my piece with a light wash of color. That way all of the colors are influenced by the underlying tone.

© Christian Birmingham. There are a lot of different colors in this piece – orange, purple, pink, yellow, green – but they are all toned by the blue underwater atmosphere, and so feel like they belong. 

Earlier this year KidlitArtist Ana Aranda shared some of the methods she uses to pick palettes, which you can read here

I've written some other color posts you can see here

James Gurney has some wonderful posts about color on his blog, Gurney Journey

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Jen Betton writes and illustrates for children, and is currently illustrating TWILIGHT CHANT for Clarion Books.  You can find her work at
 www.jenbetton.com
@jenbetton on Twitter
www.facebook.com/jenbettonillustration on Facebook

Monday, November 28, 2016

Interview with Susie Ghahremani, SCBWI LA Mentee 2016!

Susie Ghahremani was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2016 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Susie to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the mentorship experience, and about what she is up to these days.



Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration?


I cannot overstate how special and useful the mentorship experience was to me as a mid-career illustrator. Some people think the mentorships are for newcomers only, but that's absolutely not the case. Once you're established, it's extremely rare to be offered guidance toward new strides in your work from such esteemed luminaries. 

Some of the critique confirmed strengths in my work -- like the consistency of my voice -- and others offered me insight on what I must continue to develop -- specifically creating theatrical moments.



What kind of projects are you working on now?

I'm currently writing and illustrating my second picture book for Abrams; creating artwork for one of my two solo art shows in 2017; and shipping a lot of holiday orders from my shop! (http://shop.boygirlparty.com)


Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?

I would love to try my hand at a character-based book; I love the quickness of short term assignments to balance out the long publishing assignments and to keep my work fresh. I like variety!




Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration?  Any one piece of bad advice?

The best piece of advice I got when I was 21 years old was from Ron Rege Jr. who encouraged me to say yes to every project that comes my way. That positive outlook toward accepting all work enabled me to take many, many risks in the formative years of my career. However, it later turned into the worst piece of advice because I had taken on horrible spec work and artist-unfriendly work-for-hire projects, overcommitted to too many projects, struggled to find my niche, and generally felt very worn down. It led to me learning the hard way about a LOT of things. 

Now I find a happy balance between asking myself if the project is fun or fulfilling or important, if it will compensate me fairly and set a good example of terms for others in my field, and if I have time for it -- and that's a much healthier way to determine what projects to pursue.


What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference?

Not sure who said it at the conference, but "tune out the voices of 'what will be popular'." is a quote I've been tapping into daily ever since.

What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?

My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry were probably my all-time favorites. Both hold up as incredibly special to me today. 

My parents worked a lot when I was growing up, so my sister and I used to spend full days at the public library. We would participate in a literacy program at our local library, challenged to read 300 books every summer. It resulted in us discovering an unbelievable range of books, many favorites I continue to rediscover.




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See more of Susie's work on her website, Facebook, EtsyInstagram, or Twitter. You can also sign up for her mailing list.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Interview with 2016 LA mentee, Liz Wong

Liz Wong was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2016 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Liz to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the mentorship experience, and about what she is up to these days.


Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration?


Yes, the mentors generally agreed on which of my pieces were the strongest and which needed more work, technique-wise. The nice thing was that my oldest pieces were the ones that they tended to think were the weakest, which tells me that I’m heading in the right direction and that I can cut those older pieces out of my portfolio. Overall I came away understanding that I need to know the story behind the illustrations before I start, instead of approaching the illustration purely as a design problem, and I need to strive for more consistency in technique. David Diaz summed it up perfectly with his advice to “move forward in a thoughtful, purposeful way.”



What kind of projects are you working on now?

I’m currently working on my second picture book with Knopf Books for Young Readers, tentatively titled The Goose Egg. I’m revising the dummy and trying to whip the story into shape. I’m also working on some new portfolio pieces based on the feedback from the mentors.




Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?

I’d love to do more middle grade book covers and interiors. If there’s a spooky Victorian era boarding school story featuring multicultural kids, I’m your lady!

Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration?  Any one piece of bad advice?

The most helpful advice I’ve gotten is the importance of persistence. There’s so much rejection in this business and it can be a long road to publication. It’s easy to get discouraged and give up. I think a lot of us creatives compare ourselves to others and feel like we aren’t good enough, but you have to block out those thoughts and keep creating new work and keep improving. The other helpful piece of advice was to join SCBWI and go to conferences. I met some of my critique group at an SCBWI conference, made a connection that led to getting an agent at a conference and learned so much and made so many friends over the years. 

I don’t think I’ve gotten any bad advice. I’m so thankful for all the encouragement and the advice that I’ve gotten over the years. The children’s book community is so generous and supportive. I honestly wouldn’t have a clue what I was doing without SCBWI.



What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference?

Neal Porter said, "Don't be afraid to play and get messy," and I'm trying to take that advice to heart.



What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?

I was a big fan of folktales and fairy tales. My favorite picture book was Urashima Taro, which is a Japanese folktale about a young fisherman who saves a sea turtle and is rewarded by being taken to the kingdom of the sea princess upon said turtle’s back. I was particularly taken with the underwater illustrations. 

I loved fantasy as well - Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones, the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain. I also really loved the Trixie Belden mystery series. They are super corny but I think that’s partly why I liked them so much.



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See more of Liz's work on her website, blog, tumblr, or Twitter.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Interview with 2016 LA Mentee, Sungyeon "Sansu" Joh

Sungyeon "Sansu" Joh was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2016 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Sungyeon to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience, and about what she is up to these days.



Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration?


I gained a lot of confidence from mentors' kind words. It is hard for me to make a room for myself from my full time job and two year old son. I try to simplify my life and I tend to make simple images too. And they make me peaceful as well as excited. However, I sometimes doubt myself and worry if my art style is too boring. Cecilia Yung told me that she likes my simple images. Peter Brown and Priscilla Burris told me that I can just keep going what I am doing. 

It was just cool to talk to my picture book heroes and hear that they like my work. I joined a couple of groups of mentees and they have been really helpful sharing resources and tips. I think we really need to help each other, and we need colleagues and mentors. I feel very lucky. 

Neal Porter told me that he likes to make picture books because he enjoys collaborating with people. I tend to work by myself in an isolated environment and his words will stay in my mind for long time.



What kind of projects are you working on now?

I am working on a dummy book about a skunk who has a farting problem at his new school. I am working on another couple of dummy books about monsters and birthday parties. I have many story ideas and it is time to put them together.




Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?

I have been reading picture books to my son many times, and I feel bad for adults who have to read the same books over and over to kids. I would love to make adult picture books that kids may enjoy too. Beside picture books, I would love to do puppetry and personal animation. I miss my old school years when I spent days and days working on my independent animation.



Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration?  Any one piece of bad advice?

Rules exist to break. The artists that change perception, or break the conformity that are remembered. Artists that challenged the “standard,” setting themselves apart as not just artists, but visionaries. I am trying to find my own voice and remind myself what Billie Holiday said, “If I am going to sing like someone else, then I don't need to sing at all.”



What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference?

"I only wanted to draw rocks and chairs" --Jon Klassen. I think that the children's book world is all about character-driven stories these days. Jon is not afraid to say what he doesn't like to draw. And his limitation is truly a unique gift to us. I love that his characters are stiff like rocks and chairs, and still tell wonderful fun stories without big actions and extreme facial expressions. Jon said that Maurice Sendak's dummy for WHERE THE WILD HORSES ARE had tons of horse drawings in it, but Maurice hated drawing horses and created WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE instead. I like to work within my limitations and turn them into something unique. I am so happy that Jon's work is appreciate and loved by the world.



What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?

I love the stories written by Danish fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen. I loved The Little Mermaid, The Fir Tree and Happy Prince even though my heart ached from the sad endings. I used to imagine my own version of happy endings and changed the stories.



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See more of Sungyeon's work on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, Pinterest, Twitter, or Amazon author page.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Interview with 2016 LA mentee, Shahrzad Maydani

Shahrzad Maydani was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2016 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Shahrzad to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience, and about what she is up to these days.

Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration?

I received a lot of encouragement which was amazing because I had taken so much time away from illustrating that I felt sort of like an impostor even attending a SCBWI conference. One wonderful piece of feedback I received was to "embrace your difference".



What kind of projects are you working on now?

I'm currently in talks with a publisher to illustrate a board book, which I'm very excited about, as well as working on a few projects of my own.




Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?

I feel very lucky to be able to participate in making books for children and so for fear of angering the picture book gods I wont mention wanting more! I will say, however, that I hope to be able to stay true to myself and remain authentic in my work. Whatever form that takes.

Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration?  Any one piece of bad advice?

The best advice i've ever gotten would have to be to do what YOU do best and don't force yourself to create anything that doesn't come naturally to you. When I was first creating work I was given a lot of "bad" advice about filling my portfolio with kids that were happy and smiling and because it didn't come naturally to me I ended up making work that wasn't very good and quite stale. The minute I decided to just draw what I draw, things fell into place.


What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference?


"The only characters I can respect and draw are characters that look like they don't want to be there." --Jon Klassen




What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?


As a child I absolutely adored anything by Roald Dahl. My favourites, though, were The Twits and Matilda. There were also a lot of Le Petit Nicolas books lying around my house, so I ended up pouring over them quite a bit as well, along with copious amounts of Beatrix Potter's work.


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See more of Shahrzad's's work on her website, as well as the Catbird Agency Site.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Interview with 2016 LA mentee, Katie Carberry

Katie Carberry was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2016 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Katie to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience, and about what she is up to these days.


Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration?

The critiques were very constructive and helped me in two specific ways. First they helped direct me to areas that needed a little more attention so I can refocus my time are energy on those areas and allow me to be more efficient. Secondly, and most importantly, it gave me confidence in my work and helped show me where my strengths are and how I can showcase those even more in my illustrations. I was told how important it is to focus on consistency of style in all of my pieces but still allow myself to be playful and experiment with line work and texture. Taking these things into consideration will help me move forward as an illustrator and develop a stronger portfolio.




What kind of projects are you working on now?

I have taken the feedback from the mentorship critique and am working on expanding my portfolio. I have joined with a group of artists who all share a love of children's illustration and formed a collective called Puddle Jump Collective in which we just finished a collaborated project illustrating the story of Alice in Wonderland. I also have been doing illustration work for a new social media platform called Imzy.com. In addition to the above projects I have been working on my own manuscripts and book dummies.



Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?

My dream is to write and illustrate my own children's book. I would also love to be commissioned to illustrate picture books, chapters books, and children's magazines. Another fun project would be to create artwork for a children's board game or card game.



Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration?  Any one piece of bad advice?

The best piece of advice I've heard is to never give up. I was told that children's book illustration can be a difficult field to get into but that I need to persevere and maintain the passion that drew me to this career choice in the first place. 




What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference?


The most important message that I got from the conference was to always be true to yourself, your voice is what got you there and your voice is what the world needs. Don't get caught up in the idea of what others want to see but rather what it is you want to share with the world. 



What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?


Books were a huge part of my childhood, some of my favorite stores were fairy tales especially Czech fairy tales that were sent from our family in Prague. I was drawn to the intensity and darkness, they showed a world that was scary yet exciting to read about. I love Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, but am especially fond of the ones that my mother ready to me A Hole is to Dig and Open House for Butterflies. Other books that my mother read to me that inspired my young mind were The Frog and Toad Series by Arnold Lobel, Fortunately by Remy Charlip and Shel Silverstein's Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book. As I got older I enjoyed reading the Amelia Bedelia books and Roald Dahl's books, my favorite being Matilda.


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See more of Katie's work on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or on the Puddle Jump Collective.