Illustrating a Picture Book: an e-book & an App

Sketch for my MONSTER book

Illustration black and white sketch, of a monster in a bedroom

Here I am, working on a new picture e-book and I thought I’d post one of the sketches – it’s a bit rough but they all start out rough and I’d like to post some work in progress as I get going on it. This will be another e-book that I will finish down the road. I say down the road because I know this one is going to take much longer than the other ones I’ve produced in the past. I’ve decided to gamble more time in order to produce a final product that I feel is worthy of long term recognition. Illustrating children’s books is still probably the funnest thing on earth next to sneezing nine times in a row (my personal best) and when I’m working on one like this -time seems to move x ten. Yes I have allergies and I am allergic to whatever we have going on around here.


Two Hour Pencil Sketch, Painted in Photoshop

Folio boy will Terry draws in pencil & Paints in Photoshop.

little Boy painted in Photoshop little Boy sketchSince I have been telling lately about my transition from acrylic to digital illustration, I thought I would post these little After and Before pictures ot a sketch I drew then painted in Photoshop. In the beginning I was able to get a handle on the digital painting a lot faster than digital sketching and designing the drawing. So I would do a basic drawing and then finish it in Photoshop. I also enjoy a lot of the play between the pencil drawing and the painting. I left a lot of the hatchy, sketchy, pencilly, lines shining through the paint, on purpose.

This little study took me just two hours to complete and was a lot of fun.


QUICK Tree House SKETCH Pencil & Photoshop

Pencil Sketch of a Tree House, Painted in Photoshop

Push yourself by giving yourself a time limit. 

The world famous artist, Will Terry, (he’s famous in my world) sketched this little tree house during a really boring meeting. I know I know, all meetings are boring to Will. To me too. But this one was really boring. Lucky he had his sketch book.

tree House Sketch

He only gave himself a half hour paint it. 

He liked the sketch and decided to scan it and paint it using Photoshop, but only gave himself a half hour to color it.
He wanted to push himself and see how far he could get in a short amount of time.
I feel it could look better, and would if he spent more time on it. But rules are rules. Sometimes it is a good exercise to push yourself by giving yourself a time limit.

Work the whole Illustration from general to specific

tree House 30 Mins. in PS

A lot of artists will work their illustrations from general to specific. When asked how they know when it is done, they might say. “It is done when it is due.” In other words they keep working on it, bringing the whole painting up to a finished point little by little. Working the whole thing from general to specific. So as they spend more time on it the whole piece gets more and more refined. Then when the dead line comes, turn it in, it’s done.
This tree house is still pretty general, but for some things it could almost pass as being finished.
It is time for this blog post to be finished so I…

an Artist’s 6 Steps to Illustrate a Concept

How would you Illustrate, Early?

If you were given a “carte blanche” assignment to illustrate the word, EARLY, what would you come up with. They say that if you give a thousand people the same task, they would come up with a thousand different ways to do that task. I would say that the same thing goes for ARTISTS. If you give a thousand artists the same assignment, (i.e. word or phrase to illustrate) you would get a thousand different ideas and portrayals.

Most illustrators use a step by step process

early birds Now that I have posted this pic of bi

Painting a Hobbit Home or Gnome Home in a Tree

Pencil Sketch & Digital Painting of a Hobbit Home

Before and After pictures of a hobbit home, sketched then painted in Photoshop

Gnome home, a door in a tree


Here is a Before and after set of pictures of a basic drawing or sketch and what it looks like once it’s been scanned in and painted over via photo shop with the digital painting techniques taught in our beginning PS course, Painting in Photoshop and our Advanced Digi Painting in Photoshop art courses at




soft back light and the soft edges of the tree and background flowers

digital artwork of a Hobbit home or gnome home


I love the soft back light and the soft edges of the tree and background flowers. I like the porch light being on too, In real life I hate any of my lights left on when it’s not necessary, but it works well in paintings and photography. I also like the arbitrary almost, cool, light on the door and the stepping stones. They didn’t over due it with color either so the little violet pot and green plant just kind of pop. Note how the artist crisped up the lines and edges on the door and plant, to direct and focus our attention on the door knocker and the potted plant. The sketch above also has some of that soft line quality that was later used in the final piece.

You may also want to notice the cool colors in the very warm painting. Especially on the left side of the tree trunk. Warm light, cool shadows.  Nice huh?

Have a blessed day :)

Head, Stone: Speed Painting in Photoshop

Things Happen When you Just Start Drawing

I was sketching in my sketchbook and this just kind of happened…

0008 prehistoric headstone

I hadn’t ever painted a pile of rocks before so of course I had to find out what it would look like in color. I say paint but of I used Photoshop. It still feels like acrylic painting to me. Then the next logical step was to make it into a video. I sent it to my sister Beth who said its boring, “make it cool or something, you need to make something move, it’s a video after all”. So I did, be sure to watch the end. And no, it doesn’t wink. (spoiler alert!) That is an inside joke for all those who actually watched my Giant speed painting video a week or two ago. Plus, a pile of rocks that looks like head, cool  huh? I have no idea what is buried beneath but it’s probably something way cool. I don’t know who the kid is either, probably someone way important – seriously – weird things happen when you just start drawing.

Photo shop speed painting, a quick demo of digital painting online


I created this image using Procreate on my iPad – I love this app!

Link to Digital art tutorials

I just got back from the SCBWI Southern Breeze conference in Atlanta. I was being entertained by Dianne Hess (editor at Scholastic) as she gave her speech – an inside look at her company. I have to draw to listen so I was on  my iPad using “Procreate“. It’s my go to program for creating all of my sketches now – I love the screen rotation feature and the larger file sizes. Oh yeah – and I’m still only using my finger. I find it fascinating that it bothers people that I won’t go out and drop coin on a stylus. It bugs my students, friends, and strangers that I meet – like the guy who sat next to me on the plane. “You know you can buy all kinds of styluses for that device,” he informed me…I just agreed….by the way it strengthens my resolve to run sans stylus with each criticism.

A special shout out to Elizabeth Dulemba for inviting me to speak, being a great host, running an awesome conference, and being a great illustrator. I met so many cool people down there – too many to list but you know who you are! I hope to be able to get down there again sometime.