I powered through the first draft of rough images for this week's Nursery Rhyme Remix. Here is the link to the twitch stream. At some point, I'll drop these onto youtube in a sped-up and narrated format that explains what I did in a more succinct way. For now you can watch me work my way through the entire agonizing process from beginning to end and unedited. You're welcome.
I am nearing the half-way point for this year's major project (aside from being a good dad and husband: my 'main' project from now till I reach my expiration date), and I just discovered that in the world of children's book writing and illustration you don't submit the fully illustrated book for consideration. A "dummy" is the text with sketches....
I'm used to having to complete an entire book before submitting it, and that made me assume that the same was true for this type of writing. It is not.
I don't regret having learned this information after doing the first book already because I learned a lot doing it that way. I'm glad I know it now though, because I can focus more on getting the whole idea down in the sketch phase before sending the books out in the future. I blame it on working so hard for so long on so many projects that I did not get compensated for with anything other than CV lines that I am now able to use for nothing more than kindling. But kindling is important. Winters are cold around here.
The roughs for The Snail Who Ate Too Many Mints are nearly complete. I'll give it a couple more passes, and see if I can remove or add any additional images to the book, and then I'll get on with the next in the series of Pinky Panda Books.
And for tomorrow, the second Nursery Rhyme Remix stream will begin at 5:30 a.m.
Jack and Jill was requested by my mom, and that's what I'll be tackling. I've already rewritten it. So let the sketching begin. Come by and say hi if you're an insomniac or if you wake early.
I finished up the submission for the Humpty Dumpty Remix today and will post the final episode on youtube when I get a chance. The next remix will begin next Wednesday at 5:30 a.m. on the BDJmakes Twitch Channel.
I will take suggestions for remixes in the event there is a nursery rhyme somebody wants to see, and you can request it here in the blog or any of the other places I’m on social media.
For next week my Mom has requested Jack and Jill. So that’s next.
The first twitch stream of the series is done, and the youtube videos are in production. Feel free to check out what I did this a.m. by going here:
In order to get the Youtube channel up and running in a manageable way, I've begun a series called: Nursery Rhyme Remixes.
I'll be rewriting nursery rhymes and illustrating them. Some of the work will be done live (perhaps from start to finish depending on how well things move along), and some of them will be completed and uploaded directly to the Youtube channel as time permits.
This week I am working on Humpty Dumpty. The roughs are already completed, and tomorrow morning on the Twitch stream, from 5:30 until 6:30 a.m., I'll be refining and painting away at it so that I can send the final version to Highlights magazine. Click the button below to find my Twitch Channel.
The Snail Who ate Too Many Mints is coming along well, but I am still very deep in the rough stage. The book will be about 32 pages, and that means it'll be about 32 illustrations, and that means I'll have about 32 paintings to do. Why did I decide to paint them instead of just doing it in a simple style like Sandra Boynton or Mo Willems? Because I am a fool, and I have never done things the easy way.
The video announcement for the youtube series is below.
I could work on these concepts for eternity, but in order to move on to the next Pinky Panda Bear book, I need to finish this book that is being written by Pinky Panda's Dad. So here is the style (roughly) I'll be using for Snailiarty. It is likely that I won't be making him a steam snail (although it was fun adding the stove pipe to this image), I will keep the fuel gauge on his shell because it makes sense for the story. I don't know if I'll blend the colors as much in the final images. I liked seeing the brush strokes because of the texture it built up, but I'll address that when the time comes.
So here we are: Snailiarty in all his snail-ness. He's got a lot of mints to eat, so I better start feeding him.
I did this study as a way to keep my watercolor ink and wash chops up. Since I am dedicated to working on this new book completely digitally, I need to do things like this when I have the opportunity so that I don’t lose the skills I’ve built.
Now that I have the first full-length Pinky Panda Bear book behind me, I am working on a book about Snailiarty. This is a shorter and simpler book about moderation. He likes mints. He eats too many mints in a short time. He learns a lesson.
I've had a lot of fun with the concept phase for this one because I can take a lot more chances digitally and not have to worry about running out of paper or paint.
Here are some of the ideas that I've come up with.
I'll get started on the roughs for the book tomorrow, and it'll be Snailiarty with the fuel gauge. I came up with the idea after my mom suggested maybe a compass on his shell. So it was her idea, sort of. I'm still not sure if I am in love with the line art style, but if I do it all and then realize I want to do it a different way, then it'll be easy enough. All it takes is time. Slow and steady. Snail on, folks Snail on.
I’ve got a better system for organization now (i.e., making sure I know exactly what I'm working on the next day before I go to bed each night), so I’m better prepared when I wake in the morning to attack the most important piece of my project. Who'd have thought it would take me until I was 37 to come up with that brilliant plan?
This is a learning experience for me each day, and that is part of what makes me love it so much. I’ve done more than 20 watercolor illustrations for this book so far, and I assumed that 20 would be all I needed. For the first time in my life, I was wrong.
The idea with these book submissions is not to send books that I believe cannot be improved; I want to work with editors to make these books the best they can become so that they have the greatest chance of getting into the most readers' hands.
I think it's important to finish this book so that I can get on to the next book in the Pinky Panda Bear series and learn from the mistakes I made on the first one so that I can write and illustrate each successive book better than the previous one. It will also allow me to come back and do this first one better if that is something that a press requires or if I look at it in the future and just can't stand the way it turned out.
The early Berenstain Bears books have been a good model for me. There is a very clear progression in the comfort that they gained over the course of the series. Thank you, Stan and Jan Berenstain, for being fearless and continuing to improve your writing and illustrations and showing that trying to perfect the same thing for your entire life is one way to live, but that another way to live is to produce work that helps you to produce better work the next time (and that you don't need to be afraid to share your work with the world even if it is not as good as you'd imagined it would be).
I recently discovered that after this most recent Apple Pages update that my ipad Pro (or anyone's iPad that has Pages) is now capable of doing everything I need to publish a book: from draft to publication (ebook and physical). I choose to do my illustrating in Clip Studio Paint (when not using physical media), but theoretically one could draw right into Pages. That’s good news for me because I am hoping to move more and more toward digital as time goes on. But for now, I am finishing this book the way I started it: watercolor and ink. And for whatever reason, I've become hooked on watercolors, so I'll be painting that way for as long as I can.
I'm working on my sample cover today, and as far as I can tell the book is done, done, done. I'm excited to share it with Shannon and Maddie, and excited to send it off to Immedium Press before I start my next project.
Here is the Igor the Elephant illustration from yesterday. He's looking at the roof of his house that fell off his head when he yawned.
Poor guy; Igor’s the Eeyore of elephants.
My grandma passed away last month, and I'm lucky that I knew her. I met and spent some time with all four of my grandparents at different points in my childhood, and they all affected me in positive ways.
(The comic strip is after this essay, so if you don't want to read, scroll on down).
Granny was a fan of words, and even though I spent less time with her than many of my cousins did, I still know all about her love of Webster (the dictionary), and I can recall plenty of laughter centered around the correct and incorrect use of words. Her love of the dictionary was something that I inherited.
She also liked the comic strips that ran in the newspaper, and her and my grandpa said bye to me more than once by telling me that they'd see me "in the funny papers". That farewell inspired me to do this comic tribute to Granny to thank her for being such an amazing grandmother to me even though I didn't get to spend much time with her.
This comic is the story of a day one summer when I was something like seven or eight years old. My parents had sent us to West Virginia on a plane by ourselves (the flight attendants looked out for us...can you imagine doing this now?) Papa Junior (dad's dad) picked us up at the airport, at the gate where there was no security, and we stayed with our grandparents for a few days at a time at each of their houses.
Granny and Papa had honeybees (and cows and sheep and chickens and maybe pigs) at this time, and I'd been warned not to get too close to the bees or I might get stung. So I stayed away from the bee hive. I'd never been stung by a bee, and I knew enough about pain to want to avoid it.
I ran outside and played the way kids play when they have nothing but open spaces and their imaginations. I climbed the fence, swung from tree branches, threw rocks, smashed dirt clods. I did whatever I could to pass the time. What I probably wanted to do was play Nintendo; luckily the adults in my life didn't let me do that all day every day.
There was a lot of clover in Granny and Papa's yard, and that meant the honeybees were in the yard collecting pollen. I was oblivious to this because I didn't know how bees did what they do and because I was a daydreaming kid who ran around thinking about wars between dragons and trolls and knights and goblins.
I'm not sure what caused it to happen, but a bee must have thought I was an aggressor, and it zipped up and stung me on the upper lip. My actual memory of the aftermath is that I ran toward the house and wound up in Granny's arms. I don't remember Granny even asking me what happened. I just remember her being at the sliding door to meet me and placing an ice cube on my lip. It made the pain go away. Granny hugged me, and I felt safe even though my parents were thousands of miles away.
I have other memories about my time on the farm. Granny fried country ham and made biscuits and gravy. There were a lot of green beans and pickled beets and pickled eggs (and pickles). We baled hay, and it scratched my forearms and dust made my eyes red. We looked for deer at dusk, and there was a lot of laughter about silly things that I'll likely never remember. I had a serious fear when riding on the wagon behind the tractor that it would kick up a cow pie and spray manure all over me (this never happened, luckily).
I moved around more than a lot of kids (and way less than others.) Dad's job kept us away from our extended family most of the time. That's just how it goes for some people. But even though I didn't spend a lot of time with my grandparents, I know they love me. I knew it as a kid, and I know it now. I'm a lucky guy for more reasons than I can count.
See you in the funny papers, Granny. Love you.
Finally I am back into the swing of things with this third book. We're already well into April, and that means I am behind schedule on this one, but now that I have all the illustration roughs worked out, I can focus on doing the watercolors and then snapping the pictures of the finished images and then send the book out to Immedium Press.
As soon as I finish this book and send it off, then I'll get into the next one. I've finished two more books (written the stories), and I have plenty of Pinky Panda Bear ideas, but an idea that goes unfinished isn't worth much and I have to remind myself of that once in a while so that I can focus. Finish what you've started or else you may drown in a sea of unfinished projects.
Here is a digital version of Dozer that I did this morning to get back in the swing of things. The image that will appear in the book will just be of Dozer pointing her thumb at herself. The tree and rock were just practice pieces I tossed in there while I fooled around with different brushes.
I have aspirations of doing a bird book for Shannon. So here is the first one. I may resort to line and wash, though. I’m not sure if I can paint loose enough for this style to work the way I want it to.
I had a little time this morning to start gearing up for the next book for the year. Snailiarty is the main character, and he loves mints.
I am into the concept stage for the character design for the next book about Snailiarty. This book was (as most of them have been) inspired by my daughters and one of their toys and some of the amazing things they've said over the past year. I have decided to do the book digitally from start to finish because I am going to broadcast some of the work on Twitch.Tv.
I am continuing to refine how I use Twitch and am planning to very soon incorporate youtube as well. This blog will never die, though, since writing is something that I hope to never stop doing. But since it is so easy to make videos now, it doesn't really make sense to rely on a single medium for communication. The same is true for making art; I will keep doing watercolors, and I will keep working with physical materials as well, and I will also start to make some of those available for purchase. More on that sometime soon.
Here is the little painting I did of Snailiarty on a leaf. I'm not sure this is the version of the character that I am going to go with, but I like it enough to show the world. I thought I might paint it to get an oil(y) painting feel, but I haven't done enough oil painting to be happy with the results. Maybe at some point I'll move away from the line work and focus more on an oil painting style, but for now I'm focused on drawing and coloring the way that I do it best.
Thanks to all for your support.
Happy Easter, everyone.
It's been a rough couple of weeks here finding time to get all the things done that need to be done. I'm sure any parent can relate to times like this. I'll say more about my Grandma in a separate post, but she passed away last week, and even though I didn't spend as much time around her as my cousins did, she still showed me all the love in the world whenever I was lucky enough to be near her.
Igor the Elephant is a Big Ole Grump (the working title for this current book project) is basically done...still. But I have given myself a little more time to look at the illustrations and the story before I send it out on April second. I'll wait until the second to prevent any presses from deleting the submission under the assumption that it is obviously an April fools' joke. (And that joke is the kind that I think Granny would've liked because it hurts no one.)
I fell off on this for a while. We had some travel plans and other stuff going on. Anyway. Here is something I was working on for my girls. It’s a Gobleen (that’s how my oldest daughter pronounces goblin). She wanted a blue gobleen, so that’s what this is. I did it in colored pencil, and I made it waaaaaaaaaay too big. It took forecer just to get it to this stage, and I still have layering to do in order to finish it up.
Possibly this will be something I do a book with in the future. For now, Grit the Gobleen is just looking off in the distance and pointing.
This post is less about the books than it is just a public thank you to my family for being so supportive of what I am trying to do this year. I want them to know that it means a lot to me that they care enough about what I am doing to ask questions: even if most of the stories I am writing are not much more than elephants who need naps and snails who eat too much of the wrong thing.
The reason their interest matters so much is because I know there are kids out there (and plenty of adults) who do not get much support from friends and family when it comes to the work they're doing. So if you happen across this post and you're one of those people who feel like no one is paying attention to your work, don't give up on it. If you really believe in the value of what you are doing, then it is worth it to struggle on. You may have to redefine what success and happiness mean to you, but that's all part of adapting to the world you live in.
I have a bit of "inventory" to do on this book to make sure it's ready to go, and then it'll be time to start the next one. Hooray for the boring parts of writing a book.
Have a great week. We're gonna do our best to over here.
I am (most likely) a mere cover image away from sending this book out to presses. Once the book is complete, I’ll start work on a new one that I’ll do beginning to end on Twitch.TV I don’t mean I’ll do every single part of it live; anyone who has ever written anything (or for some sick reason watched someone write something from beginning to end) should know that there is a lot of what appears to be goofing off (to quote Bill Watterson) during the process of drafting and revision. That doesn’t make for interesting viewing. I guess one could argue that none of this does, but I would argue that I don't care because I don't have the time or patience to alter the pursuit of my dreams based on the fancies of random people I owe nothing to. If you're bothered by that statement, then you are a person I do not care about.
There are a lot more Pinky the Panda Bear books to come. I've begun work on the animated audio books as well (I’m building the locations as time permits), and I am extremely excited to get these characters out and exploring their world in book form and then as animated characters too.
This is all slow going. It will continue to be for quite some time. But each painting I do, each drawing I do, and each little scene I write helps me to make the next creation better.
Have a great week. We'll do our best to have a great one too.
Just something I did to say thanks to someone who's provided me, my wife, and my daughters with countless hours of love and joy.