Friday, December 26, 2008

A quiet snowy Christmas

Normally I spend Christmas on my own, finding it easier to deal with the blues that way.  I like listening to the radio, reading, eating a few treats. This year I did a lot of shovelling.  Here is a little sketch I did after shovelling for the 3rd time on Christmas Eve day.  I enjoyed learning a new song to play at the uke circle called Christmas for Cowboys and sang along with Wylie Gustaphson on youtube.  He even has a great short video on youtube on how to yodel.  Everyone at the uke circle liked the song when I performed it at our Christmas party accompanying myself on my baritone ukulele.

Fred and Pete due out Fall 2009

Orca will be publishing Fred and Pete. After eight rounds with the editor the manuscript is now finished.  Next I completed the roughs and sent them off to the art director.  The next step is to gather all the photos for the approved spreads and start tinkering with them in photoshop. This is quite the job and includes photos I shot in film then had converted to digital files, and photos by Ron, the owner, as was, of Fred and Pete from his bewildering archives.  Finding negatives requires that he tear his house apart with no certainty that they'll ever be found.  I'm pretty sure though that we have all the negs and digital files for the story. Here is the rough for the first page.  The final art will be photo/acrylic collage.  I'm really enjoying the process of doing the first picture book that I will have both written and illustrated.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

BC Achievement Award!

This morning Bill Richardson and I were given Time to Read: the BC Achievement Award for Early Literacy.  I was surprised to learn that it was selected from all this last year's  Canadian picture books, not just those from BC, even beating out the wonderful Scaredy Squirrel. 
Here we are with the fresh-faced Honorable Ian Black who presented us with our awards at an elementary School in his constituency of Port Coquitlam.  The award was for $15,000 shared between Bill and me.  It is my first cash prize.  I've won awards, mostly for my first book, Mister Got to Go, which I am proud of, but winning money seems like a more serious award to me.  I am 54 on Sunday and receiving this award at my present age feels like a milestone. This last year has been one of particular financial hardship and I usually feel that I will go on struggling and having to borrow from my overdraft or my Visa to pay my rent until the day I drop off the twig.  So this feels like a kindly hand offering respite and reassurance. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My discovery of Blue Line

Recently I did some artwork for the SPCA's BARK! magazine. I used ComicLife and a blueline technique to develop the final drawing.

Since reading a great tutorial by Zub on using a coloured line to refine drawings I've regained a lot of pleasure in my work. Normally I really enjoy doing the roughs, then get very anxious about turning them into final drawing without destroying the good watercolour paper with erasing. But now I'm scanning the rough and opening it in photoshop. I use Image>Adjustments>Color Balance, or the the keyboard shortcut Control/command B to change the rough to a bright colour. Then print this out and refine the drawing using pencil. Scan in again and use I use the wand instrument to select the coloured lines, then hit delete. Clean up the drawing using levels and the erase tool. (See my tutorial "Turning pencil drawings to "ink" in photoshop" for a tutorial on cleaning up drawings.) To further refine the drawing you can colour it, print it out and draw over it again. I recommend saving and labelling each successive draft as draft 1, draft 2 etc. It's a good idea to print the colorized cleaned-up draft very pale to draw over again with pencil. You can control the darkness of the printed line in the levels menu (>image>adjustments>levels OR keyboard shortcut command/control L) by moving the Output slider bar at the bottom.
Repeat the process , progressively refining the drawing for as many times as it takes. Finally, I print it out directly onto 90 lb watercolour paper, controlling the output in levels so the line looks like ink or pencil. I just bought a printer off Craig's list for $20. It's an hp deskjet 1220C that prints as big as 13x19. It's slow but the reproduction is terrific. So going from rough to final line drawing has just become fun for me.

Anti static bracelets

I'd been getting an unpleasant feeling in my hand when using my wacom tablet.  I couldn't put my finger on what kind of sensation it was, other than unpleasant.  I tried cleaning the surface of the tablet and wearing a thin cotton glove.  When I complained about it to my ever-sensible friend Midori, she told me her architect husband had been getting the same thing.  She figured the tablet was generating a magnetic field, and to counteract it she gave him an antistatic bracelet from Japan to wear and it solved the problem.  So she took me to Daiso toonie store in Richmond.  I bought two of them and the problem has been solved. I think you're supposed to wear a few of them judging from the pictures on the packages, so since they're pretty and only $2 each, I'm going to get a few more.  I'm very relieved because I use the tablet more or less nonstop for my work and I was afraid I was going to have to stop using it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Graphic Novels @ Squamish Library

Gave a talk about my new comic book called My Bully for Fitzhenry to the 9-12s group at the Squamish Library Summer Reading Club.  I took photos of some of the kids intending to demonstrate ComicLife but got all fuddled when I couldn't remember where I'd downloaded them and so used other photos from my iphoto library to demo the software.  ComicLife very generously sent me a pdf of a flyer to distribute and 2 free ComicLife Magiqs to give as prizes.  When I got home I made up a little story in ComicLife using the photos I'd taken that day at the library.  It's called Mystery at the Library.  You can view all 3 pages at this link and download the pages for free.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

the website becomes a blog

"12th and Main", oil monotype, collection Karyn Ruddick

I'm coming around to the idea of giving up on having a website until I can afford iweb2 which lets you choose your own domain name.  Trying to create and upload new webpages to a different server who allows my own domain name is taking up too much creative time.