Color Studies 

Here are a few color studies I did in preparation for a Photoshop class I am teaching soon. I like having everything ready to go long before I get into the classroom so I can pack as much information into my lesson portion of the day and not waste time.
Having some color ideas worked out ahead of time takes some of the decisions away so I can focus on the techniques I’ll be teaching. Working digitally has made it much easier to make these experiments in just a few minutes…I have about 20 minutes into these studies but being able to move forward with confidence is invaluable.
Also, I teach a “How to Use Color” course as well as a PhotoShop course here at folioacademy that you may want to check out.


Our Family Plot in my Book!

My new book Skeleton For Dinner by Margery Cuyler takes place in a graveyard. So I put tomb stones on most of the pages of art…and then an obvious problem hit me. There were no names on the head stones. So I placed a call to my editor – Nick Temersma at Albert Whitman and said, “ummmm…what should we put on the grave markers?”…….”hello”…..Then Nick said, “I don’t know – what do you think?” Having been around this business for a while I’ve learned that it’s better to have a solution that works for you when you call with a problem. So I suggested, “What if we put our family names on all the tombstones – I could put yours, mine, Margery’s…” Eventually the answer came back, “Sure, sounds good”.
I had enough markers to put names from both sides of my family, my mom, my editors, and authors family names, and all the dogs I’ve had over the years – including pooch who is still very much alive but hey – never hurts to think ahead.
What better way to start October than with a cheesy pitch from Will Terry and a copy of Skeleton For Dinner? Click here for Amazon
Here’s a review from Kirkus
Happy Halloween from Folio Academy.

Tips for New Illustrators & Illustration Students – Part 1

Tips for Up and Coming Illustrators and those still in school, Part 1

art student

I put together what I have for up and coming illustrators, and those that are still in school.

This is the advice I would want to hear if I were planning a long career in illustration. Now besides working here at Folio Academy, I also teach Illustration in Utah at UVU, and this is stuff I have been teaching to my students.

A few things every illustration student should know.

Now this is only part 1, so I plan on touching on a few things that hopefully I will be able to go over in more depth, while still being able to stay focused. What I want to touch on and go into later is

“Saying goodbye to the word Maybe.”

Getting started doing what you love.

The way things were and how they are now.

And is there enough room for all these different artists to make a living?

Getting started as an Artist, and doing what you love.

When getting started if you’re like me you wanted to make a living by doing something that you enjoy. What I wanted to do was to draw and paint.  I wanted to paint for a living. Basically what I wanted was make money doing what I love to do.

 The way things were

In the past you had to go through a middle man so you needed to find a person with money to get your illustrations out there to the market place.  Either for products, or services, you needed executives, or publishers, you needed to get to the people in charge of hiring artists.


If you were an animator, illustrator, musician, filmmaker, an author, if you were an artist you needed someone to pick you, to choose you in order for your stuff to get published, for your voice to be heard.


This has been going on for a long time, from the days of Caravaggio all the way to Dr. Seuss.  Caravaggio needed “the Church”, he needed rich people there to pay him. He needed to impress them enough so that they could say ‘Yes we will hire you to paint this or that painting’. All the way up to Dr Seuss, who had to impress a publisher, to be able to get his message, his stories told.


When it comes to traditional Publishing there have been two groups of artists, those who have been told Yes, and those told Maybe, (sometimes even a flat out No)  and the group that has been told Yes is small group.

Is there enough room for all these different artists to make a living?

What about everybody else? Is there room for everyone else, or even just a lot of people? To be picked, to be chosen, to be hired, to be utilized as an illustrator? I will have to go into that more later, because I want to cover so much, such as a little more about publishers.


Publishers are limited to how many books they can publish every year. In fact most publishers have a list of a number of books they are willing to publish in a year.


I have even heard from Editors that there are times when they almost cry inside because they have to turn down a book they would like to publish but all the slots are filled on their list for that year.  And some of those books do get chosen by another publisher, because they are so good, but sometimes that can take a year, or two and sometimes more, and quite frankly, many of them never get published.


Then we get to 2008 when the economy begins to go south, and the economy starts to really suffer. At the same time we’ve had Digital Media taking off. There are Story apps and digital eBooks. With that explosion the digital media started competing with printed books.


facebook logo 02Since the internet has exposed many more talented authors and illustrators with sites like Pinterest, Deviant Art, Illustration Friday, Blogs ect. artists are learning from each other and online.  Online education has been getting better and cheaper. Sites like Lynda dot com, New-Masters academy, Folio Academy (that’s us) SVS, (school of visual storytellers) the Lamppost Guild, by Corey Godby and Justin Gerard.  All kinds of online schools, easy access, online ways to learn and ways to improve your education, it’s getting cheaper and easier to obtain.  And you can have inexpensive access to some of the best instructors in the world.

Learning online vs at University

Now I do want to put a disclaimer here, I work for a University so I am definitely not saying that learning online is better than learning at a University. There are advantages to both, and here are some of the differences between learning online compared to a University: Financial aid, and long term exposure to your intended field can both be extremely beneficial. The opportunity to learn from other students, and networking. Responsibility from homework and other projects. A lot of the time online gives the information but no call to action, no accountability.  There are many benefits to study at a university if you can.

The Amount of talent is skyrocketing, and the internet has made it possible to hire people all over the world.  I used to think there was a lot of talent ten or twenty years ago.  Back when everyone had a workbook that was a couple inches thick.  Now you go on a site like Deviant Art, or Pinterest or Blogs, and it’s amazing how much talent is out there.  If you can see it, and if I can see it then Art directors are seeing it. And now they have access to hire so many more people than they used to.  This is giving people all over the world with different back grounds and educations the opportunity to illustrate for a living.

Say goodbye to Maybe 

So I’ve been told yes, I was chosen and it has been very nice.  I have enjoyed the benefits and the recognition, the speaking engagements, money, and of course the opportunity for more work. Because of that some people may ask why, if I’ve been picked, and accepted into the publishing world, why I would come back and talk about all this? The reason is because I feel like one of my callings is to be a teacher and I feel very strongly about truth in education. I don’t like it when a student is given half-truths or outdated information, especially at a university where students are paying top dollar for their education.


During your life you have been told ‘Maybe’, a lot of people have been told maybe.  Maybe you can be published, maybe you can be hired, maybe you’ll be good enough someday, maybe you can do this.  My kids say that maybe just means no. I don’t like to tell my kids no, I like to say YES. . . Yes if. . .

What I want to say is that in the past ten years you have been told yes, you just may not have heard it.  You may be afraid of the word yes, you may be afraid of the opportunities available to you.  You may not like the conditions that come with the word Yes.

My friend can colleague, Wayne Andreason says that yes is his favorite word.

I’ll talk more about that next time. For now just say goodbye to the word maybe.





Pumpkin Carving Ideas


50% off till Halloween

Big mouth pumpkin with horns and crazy eyes.

I’m very happy to announce TWO things  today. Our new video course staring me, Wayne Andreason, How to Carve a Prize Winning Jack-O’-Lantern, and even though it is only $9.99 we are offering it at half price through October, Happy Halloween.

50% OFF? How so? Promo code pmpkn

You will have to go here to our secret promo code page that is truly hard to find with out a link. I have always have a tough time finding it every time I try to link to it or send it to someone and I work here. And type in the promo code pmpkn that’s all lowercase by the way.

Could You Just Carve a Cool Pumpkin Like This without buying the course?  

An artistic cat such as your self probable doesn’t NEED to sit and watch me carve this thing. You could pretty well look at it and just do one yourself, or one like it for that matter, BUT if you like that step by step instructional video courses that we offer then by all means, purchase this one while it is only $5 and give it a look.

Why I carved this great pumpkin.

Last year my mother-law, who lives in my home unfortunately, (unfortunately for her of course, did you think I was complaining?) had this BIG Halloween Work Party and the highlight was their Big old Pumpkin Carving Contest. So naturally she made me carve her pumpkin. Yes, they said anyone in the family could carve a pumpkin and grandma, that is what we call my mother-in-law, could enter as many as she wanted. In fact my boy Zeke who helped me, I mean, whom I helped a little, OK, a lot with his pumpkin, took second place with his Jack Skellington looking pumpkin.
So I decided to carve the winner and let grandma pay for the parts. So we bought the pumpkin etc. and I made my daughter film it so I could pass it on to all you peeps.

Pumpkin Carving Process.

I start by designing it, drawing it, then drawing the face on the pumpkin, gutting it, carving it and then sculpting out the teeth, and the tongue. I attach the eyes, horns and tongue then carve a little pumpkin to put on the tongue and then paint and attach the little guy.


(that does not say 50grand as in $50,000)
Grandma was so happy she spent the money on me and the kids. Ice-cream for the whole family. It is a lot of fun, you should do it, then you’ll have some cool pumpkin pics to put on Facebook or a video on youtube. And you may win a the prize at the company party.
Halloween is almost here so I better go clean him off the front porch and make room for this years pumpkins and Jack-o’-lanterns. Besides, I don’t want any trick-or-treaters slipping in him and getting hurt.


Teaching art was scary at first

I’ve been teaching on and off now for the past 20 plus years. At first I was petrified. In fact I really feel sorry for the first students I had back in the early 90’s at BYU – I wasn’t very good at my craft which caused my teaching to suffer. I hadn’t put in enough time to formulate my opinions about image creation. 

Be committed to your students and your Art craft. 

Fast forward to the present – boy am I glad I didn’t quit after those first few teaching experiences! I strongly believe in exposure therapy. Afraid to skydive? Go skydiving, still afraid? Go a bunch of times. Afraid of a tax audit? Good you should be, don’t mess with the IRS. But,  I really believe that if you’re committed to helping your students learn it will improve your understanding of the subject 10 fold – especially in a subjective subject like art.

The Process

You do something that’s working in your painting. You have to explain it to someone else. You have to formulate words to describe your process. You hear your own words like you’ve never heard them before. You make a stronger connection. You make other connections with other principles. You now have to live by those principles for accountability to your students. Your art making improves. Apply, Rinse & repeat.

Making a difference in the lives of others is priceless.

But it doesn’t stop there. Because as you help someone else attain the satisfaction you have gained you are rewarded emotionally as well. The connections are so much a part of the teaching. Feeling like you can make a difference in the lives of others is priceless. I have made many friends over the years from some of my former students- and can you have too many friends?
And it doesn’t stop there either because it has helped me heal. I’ve talked about my horrible public school experience as a child on my other blog in the past so I won’t go into it again – but finding what you’re good at and feeling valuable doing it has been very therapeutic.I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding it has been to teach at UVU and be able to start Folio Academy with Wayne Andreason and now SVS with Jake Parker. To be able to dream up a class and offer it online is such an amazing turn for me. When we get together the ideas just start flowing and we think of all kinds of classes. Early next year we plan to offer a  “Luminous Color & Light” class. You can check out our Digital Painting class here.

My suggestion to artists:

Start by mentoring another artist or volunteer at a community art program. Donate your time at various art events and offer pointers. Work to learn. You’ll be amazed at how it will inspire you to want to create more…and you might find yourself teaching at an institution or online sometime down the road. The world is getting connected and if you embrace it – it will embrace you.

How to Make an App – Step 5

How To Make A Story App – Step 5

 Adding color using Photoshop!

Design it all before you start to color it. First things first.

Making progress! I have the opening screen finished! I’m now adding color to all the pages. This step is going to take me a while so don’t think that I’ve quit if you don’t see step 6 for a few weeks. I had to make sure that every screen/page was working with the story and that the animations made sense. The last thing I want to do is start my finish work before the framework is in place. It’s much easier to alter a sketch than a painting and if I were doing this 10 years ago (even though there was no such thing as an iPad) I would have most likely started on the color before I was ready.

So the way it will work is that the user will be prompted to touch Gary at which point he disappears into his hole and hopefully entices the user (kiddy) to want to know where he went and what it looks like down there.

If you’re new to this blog you can scroll down to see my first steps on this journey – and I haven’t forgotten that I plan to share all my stats with you when I put this baby in the app store. (Cross your fingers) I’m always so curious to know how other people’s apps are doing – but nobody shares that info – like it’s classified or something…think of me as your own personal Eric Snowden – I’m going to leak all the intel on my app – good or bad – we’ll all see how it does.

I’ll be making my app with Kwik – the DIY Photoshop plugin that allows a non-programer to create their own code behind the scenes of this wysiwyg. Our Kwik class starts tonight – can’t wait!

Check back for step 5.5. coming soon, I hope. Thanks.

coming November 8, 2013


How To Write A Children’s Book

I’m very happy to announce TWO things this morning. The launch of Ann Cannon’s Folio Academy video – “How To Write A Children’s Book” and our Fall 30% off Sale at Folio Academy on the entire store! (use code: fall3 but you have to find the promo page and it is hard to find.  )

Ann is a very accomplished author of children’s books. She has published tons of books and written way more than that. She is busy doing what she loves. Like and artist.

So about 6 months ago we asked her if she would be interested in making a video tutorial. We wanted a lesson designed specifically for illustrators and beginning writers. Let me be Frank, my good friend here, Will Terry probably wanted that video for himself. With all the possibilities of indie publishing both traditionally and in electronic form becoming available – the demand for the kind of information packed in her tutorial is going up.

It took us a while because Ann is a busy woman who also writes a weekly column for the Salt Lake Tribune but we finally got time where we could all get together. I really hope this video helps the illustrator who wants to create their own story.


….AND – you can get it for 30% off for till Oct 16th if you use this secret code: fall3 at our secret and hard to find, promo page …after, like Oct 16 at midnight or some where around there depending on what time zone you live in, that the sale ends, and no, we don’t know if there will EVER be another sale at FolioAcademy. Feel free to call Will Terry and ask him, but he doesn’t know either. But between you and me and the lamp post, we probably will sooner or later. Want Will’s number?

Here is one of Ann’s latest books and you can check out the tutorial here.