Thursday, September 28, 2006

Justin Parpan (Gwango's Lonesome Trail)

Okay, so it’s been a busy couple of weeks-- the first batch of Red Cygnet books has finally arrived in stores, and like most of you, I’ve been doing some publicity stuff lately.

First off I finally finished my official website. It’s a collaborative site that I’m running with my ultra talented brother Josh Parpan. Check it out!

Secondly, yesterday morning my book, along with Red Cygnet Press received a plug on the illustration website Drawn! I want to thank my amigo from Texas, Jared Chapman for writing the article. Here’s the link!

For everyone whose books are now in stores, I want to wish you the best of luck. All that hard work is finally paying off, and things are starting to get interesting!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ami Blackford - Quest for the Dragon Stone

Thought I would post a little preview about how I created the illustrations in my book. They are an interesting blend of hand-crafted papers, digital photography, traditional illustrations painted in watercolors and colored pencil - and then all elements are collaged in Photoshop.

It is great fun to look around and realize - anything can be used as a medium. I believe it lends a richness to the work. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Hi, it's Kevin, the author/illustrator of the Earth Machine. I got some questions about how I go about creating illustrations for the Earth Machine, so I decided to put this little presentation together for everyone to see. I love learning new things, so I'd encourage everyone to post blogs about tips, techniques, or great products to try.
I primarily work on the computer, using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator software to color my drawings. Occasionally, I use watercolor paintings or photography in tandem with the computer.

Every page begins with a pencil drawing. I never start on the computer b/c I believe in hand drawing. Things I don't draw are rigid straightlines, like borders or architecture. For those lines, I use Adobe Illustrator.

After penciling, I hand ink the pages with various pens (pigment liners, quill, brush). I do this because I like the look of hand inking. By using hand inked lines with artificial Adobe Illustrator lines for buildings, I can create a contrast between the characters and their environment. When coloring in Photoshop, I use anywhere from three to eight layers.After scanning this into my computer and cleaning it up, this becomes the top layer- notice that the black lines float on top of all the colors on the pages.

Although the Earth Machine looks really colorful and blended with gradients, each page actually begins with only a few colors and I lay them down as flat colors (mostly). I do this to establish a general palette for each page. These base colors dictate all the other colors on the other layers. This flat color layer stays below the ink layer.

To create the color variations, I create a texture layer. This layer is above the flat color layer, but beneath the ink layer. I adjust this layer as an opaque transparency, so the the flats can show through, but you can still see the texture at the same time. This layer is where I include paintings, photos, and gradient coloring on Photoshop. A texture that every page has is a paper texture that I scanned and overlayed. By using the same texture on all pages, it gives the pages a sense of unity, despite having different color palettes.

These are separate paintings in watercolor of the planets. These go on top of all layers because the sun is the only light source, so no other part of this illustration should overlap it.

After all is said and done, we get a finished result! Feel free to email me any Photoshop or Illustrator questions or send me tips and suggestions of your own.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Justin Parpan (Gwango's Lonesome Trail)

In preparation for the release of Gwango’s Lonesome Trail I’ve created a banner for an official website I’m currently working on. I’ll keep everyone posted on the launch date!

Until then I wanted to post something on the evolution of one of the books illustrations.

It started with a desire to pay homage to one of my favorite photographs by Ansel Adams. His snapshot of the church house in Taos is really spectacular, and it seemed to perfectly fit a particular scene in the story where Gwango encounters an artificial dinosaur attraction in the middle of the desert.

Here’s a little sketch from my composition book.

And here’s the finished illustration.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Erin Harris-- "Elephant on the Roof"

Hello fellow illustrators and everybody else out there!
Introducing "Elephant on the Roof"...

Last year I took a children's book illustration at SCAD at about the same time that Red Cygnet sent out their call for entries. It was also the same time that a couple of friends returned from Thailand with about 5,000 photos. I sat down to watch them in slideshow form, and after seeing photo number 3,497, I thought "Hmmm... maybe I'll do a story about Thailand".

(It took me a few tries before I painted a cover that I was happy with!)

In class, we developed our stories and illustrations over ten weeks. The final product was a "dummy book" of sketches and a few final pieces. I mailed it off in January then went off to take rainforest conservation courses in Central America. It was at an internet cafe in Belize that I recieved an email from Red Cygnet Press saying they were interested-- I was so excited, but also terrified because I wouldn't be able to work on it until I could get back to the U.S., and that meant I wouldn't be able to meet the first deadline.
It turns out Josh and Bruce were very understanding. They were easy to work with and were encouraging throughout the entire process. Every time I turned in work, they gave both positive and constructive feedback-- it's been such a learning process for me. I'm very thankful to everyone at Red Cygnet Press and can't wait to see everyone else's books out in print!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hey everyone, it is I, Kevin Tong.
How are all the books going?
I like what I see and this blog is such a great idea. Sorry I didn't start posting immediately, but I got busy.
I want to take this moment to provide my testimonial for Red Cygnet Press. Here goes.

"Red Cygnet Press, as Told by an Illustration Student."
Being a illustration student is both wonderful and frightening. As a student, we learn about great artists, new techniques, and concepts that reshape our views of art. Simultaneously, we experience a growing fear.
Finding that first job.
Company after company stating that previous job experience is necessary. Hundreds of phone calls, resumes, and portfolio samples that seem to circulate in a desolate void somewhere. It all seems hopeless, but it doesn't have to be.
I came across the Red Cygnet Press Submission guidelines during such a time. An instructor gave them to my friend who passed them onto me. I couldn't believe the opportunity placed before me. A chance to write and illustrate my own children's book, one that would be widely distributed!
Children's subject matter had never been my forte, but I wanted to give it a shot. I was always fascinated with sequential illustration and telling stories and I already had a story in mind. When I mailed my materials to Red Cygnet Press, I felt the cold rock of self doubt rolling in my gullet. I didn't think I had much of a chance.
My submission was accepted and I felt that growing fear that I mentioned earlier diminish. What excites me the most about Red Cygnet Press is that they offer fresh new illustrators the chance to do something on their own from start to finish. The biggest surprise was how the founders, Joshua Gravin and Bruce Glassman, were very supportive of my ideas and let my imagination grow.
The whole time they offered helpful suggestions and feedback to aid in the development of my story and the illustrations. Their expectations were always generous. Joshua was always available to talk to and Bruce offered valuable help in the technical aspects of making a book. Thanks to Red Cygnet Press, I have learned so much about publishing, distribution, production requirements, and illustration.
Through Red Cygnet Press I have also made new friends and I have a book that I can call my own.

Kevin Tong, September 2006

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Rolandas Kiaulevicius

The idea for the story "Zoolidays" was born few years ago when I was living with my host family -- Mariotti family. In that family I met Gini and Jack, who always took care of me like their real son, and their four wonderful children, who became my best friends and the "english teachers." So one day I was driving my host family's children and their two friends, Teddy and Julia, to the after school programs and they asked me to tell a story. I was happy to do it, because I loved making up the stories. So that day I told them a story about the animals who decorated each other and came up with their own holiday, called "Zoolidays." After I finished telling the story, Teddy looked at me and said that he would like to buy my book. And I responded to him: if you want to buy my book, then I guess I need to illustrate it. Therefore, the next day I started drawing sketches for my story. I believe the most exciting part of the whole illustration process was creating the characters, who were happy, silly, funny, enthusiastic and ready to change the world.

I was very lucky to meet a lot of people who supported me and helped me while I was creating the illustrations for "Zoolidays." Kay Fowler and Leslie Stewart were helping me with the story. Moreover, I have so many Lithuanian and American friends, who always believed in me and encouraged to go forward with my dreams.
Vladimir Shpitalnik, the best illustration professor, gave me the excellent advices for illustrations.

"Zoolidays" is my first book, which I take everywhere with me. I am really proud of this book, because it makes children and adults laugh, smile and discover the world of colors and imagination. The story of "Zoolidays" was told by Bruce Glassman, who magically turned the simple and unfinished text into deep and amazing story. Bruce gave a wonderful gift to my characters: a wonderful language.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Here’s a little poster I created specifically for the sidebar portion of my illustration blog. I designed it with a teaser add for a summer blockbuster in mind. When I was a kid, I always loved those kinds of movie posters. They created a sense of awe and mystery, and hopefully that same feeling will help generate some excitement over the release of my book.

- Justin Parpan

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I really liked the idea of showing some of the process that went into producing these books. Enjoy a few images from 'The Monster in My Closet'

- Eric Klug

A preliminary sketch.

One of the sample images that landed me a contract with Red Cygnet.

The final cover.