Luke and the Skyhopper

I created this piece for May 4th 2019 and just got around to posting it here.

Star Wars, A New Hope, for those born some time after 1977 is my favorite of all the films. The piece of art I have drawn is taken from an otherwise forgettable scene of Luke playing/admiring his Sky Hopper model. It’s only a quick snippet in the movie as 3PO is getting his oil bath. (“Thank the Maker”. ) but I think it says a lot. Luke is dreaming of the day when he can go to the academy. Most of his friends have left and he’s just stuck on a desert planet with nothing to do but dream.

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Paperlike vs iCarez - Textured screen protectors for iPad pros.

Many illustrators are adopting the iPad pro into their workflow. I'm no different. For me, the drawback has been the tactile feel of plastic pencil nib to glass. It's too slick for me to have any control over what I am drawing. I'm sure with lots of practice I could get used to it, but with deadlines looming, I never sat down to practice. Then another illustrator friend pointed me to the iCarez matte screen protector. He said it gave the pencil more drag on the screen, which, felt a little more like a pencil to paper. He was right. It didn't feel like paper, but it was better than nothing, and I did find I enjoyed using the iPad Pro more in my workflow.


Recently I had two iPad Pros at my house: mine and my daughter's. Her screen had the iCarez matte screen protector. I had just switched mine over to the Paperlike screen protector. As soon as I added Paperlike to my screen, I was pretty sure I could tell the difference. It did offer a bit more drag mimicking pencil to paper but not entirely. I was confident I could tell the difference between the two brands and I decided to find out for sure, so I set up an experiment to see if Paperlike was truly offering that all-important tactile feel of pencil to paper that we artist long for.

The Experiment: I had people sit down at the iPads blindfolded. The only thing that could touch the screen was the apple pencil. They could not see the iPads, so they didn't know which iPad was which. I wanted to see if they felt a difference in the two screen protectors or if the nice drag I was enjoying on my iPad with Paperlike was more mental than real.

The Results: Everyone could tell the difference. I even did the test, and it was close, but every one of us could feel more drag on the screen with Paperlike.

I realize this experiment is no real proof or scientific method, but it was good enough for me. The other two people that I used in the trial had never used Paperlike until that very moment.

So which do you choose?

Both brands are anti-glare, so staring at a screen is not hard on your eyes.

If the price is a concern then go with iCarez, it is way cheaper. iCarez runs for around $9.00 on Amazon and Paperlike is $36.00. I also had to wait around two weeks to receive Paperlike since it was shipped from the UK. iCarez is Amazon Prime, so the wait and price are an excellent trade off. I honestly don't think you can go wrong with either one; however, I plan on sticking with Paperlike. There was a little difference in the feel of pencil nib to screen. I do admit it was close, but even a slight difference makes a big difference in my enjoyment of working digitally.

Happy St. Patrick's Day and Luck Charms Cereal

I wanted to draw a little something special for St.Patrick’s Day. I went straight to everyones favorite Leprechaun. Lucky, from Lucky Charms cereal. I based my illustration on vintage cereal packaging.

Lucky Charms has been around for over 50 years and was the first cereal to include marshmallow bits. Over the years there have been around 64 marshmallow shapes included in the cereal from monsters and crystal balls to unicorns and candy canes. The original four were Pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars and green clovers. Their most recent and permanent addition to the marshmallow shapes is an hourglass.


Classic Combinations

Well it’s Valentines Day once again and to celebrate I have illustrated some of my favorite classic combos. I hope you enjoy!

Tales of the Explained or Silly Ghost Stories

Magically Delicious

Magically Delicious started out as a cereal mascot, but his career wasn’t long lived. Focus groups made up of moms were not overly enthusiastic about sugar coated mucus. Kids on the other hand loved the sweet and salty flavor combo. Out of work Magically Delicious was able to focus on his passion project, finding homes for lost socks. If you are wearing matching socks today you have Magically Delicious to thank. So the next time you wake up in the middle of the night because you think you heard something, relax. It’s probably Magically Delicious reuniting your lost socks.

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As a P.R. stunt after the whole "Frankenstein monster debacle" Dr. Frankenstein created FrankenFurries.

Kids everywhere wanted one. People just loved these rejuvenated bunnies.

Once again Dr. Frankenstein was back in the good graces of his community. He expanded the FrankenFurries line to include Lamas, Aardvarks and Komodo Dragons but none had the appeal of the bunny. His excellent standing wasn't long-lived. Other mad scientist got into the toy game, creating their own line of mutated beasts for children. Forseeing this as a possibility the Doctor had predisposed his FrankenFurries to destroy all knockoff brands. When people carrying their Frankenfurries met up with someone playing with the knockoff FrankenFurry . . . well let's just say it wasn't pretty.


Beach Cottage - Process

You never know where you're going to find inspiration. Not long ago I made a trip to TJMAXX. While walking the isles trying to find the perfect flowerpot for my Easter cactus I came across a couple of birdhouses that looked like little beach cottages. They immediately inspired me, and I couldn't wait to get home and sketch out my own little beach cottage. 

For me, the best part of this illustration and the reason to do personal work is that it can inform and change your process. This illustration was a bit of a game changer for me. In the past when I went directly to color, I had not really thought about color until that very moment. Sure, I had a general idea about the colors I wanted to choose, but I found that the process took a long time because I figured out my color by trial and error all while working on a very tight final image. With this piece, I decided to do a color study by laying down rough color underneath my sketch. I found this process, quick and fun. I wasn't worried about perfect lines I was trying things out. It was like I was playing.  Using this process, I not only figured out my colors pretty quickly but once I removed my sketch layer. (I work digitally in photoshop) I discovered I liked how the art was looking as just blocks of color. So instead of starting over I took this rough color and tightened it up. So my color study quickly became my final piece. 

So keep our eyes open you never know when or where inspiration will strike and don't forget art is supposed to be fun so loosen up and play.

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StarWars Day May the 4th

It's that time of year again when we fire up the cantina band, drink blue milk and speak tales of glory from a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away. As usual I do a piece of StarWars art to mark the occasion. This year I took a scene from the original. Enjoy and May the 4th be with you.

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Creating Tough Tug.

When first approached about doing a tugboat book I have to admit I was intimidated, mainly because the entire story takes place on the water. In this story, the water is not only a location but also a character. I'm so glad I rose to this challenge. I am very pleased with how this book has turned out. Below are images from my sketchbook showing character development but also thumbnails as I was working with the manuscript and interpreting it into visuals.

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My initial sketches of Tough Tug and Artic Tug where stiff. I wanted to pull out the personality of each boat as well as make the characters full of life and as anthropomorphic as you can make tugboats appear.

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As I refined the sketches, I felt I was getting closer, but wanted each boat to show emotion and movement throughout the story with more than just an expression but with its entire body.

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This was my initial color image. I created it while working on thumbnails. The image captured not only the personality and movement I was looking for, but I also dialed in most of the colors that were used throughout the book.

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I used the thumbnails to work out the visuals of the story. If you look closely, some images remained the same while others I reworked several more times. The sketches also informed me as to things that I needed to research. Since the story was based on actual events, I needed to make sure places were represented as closely as possible.

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Once my tight sketches were approved I went to final art.

This spread ended up being a favorite. I  can imagine children tracing Tough Tugs path as he swirls and twirls while the older boats look on disapprovingly. It makes for an entertaining page.

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This page is also a favorite. I love the drama created here by the raging sea and stormy sky, as well as the tiny but determined Tough Tug.

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I hoped you enjoyed this journey into creating Tough Tug. Gallons of sweet tea were consumed during the illustration portion of this book. Many thanks to Margaret Read Macdonald for writing such a fun book, The Two Lions team that challenged me throughout this process and created an amazing book trailer (see below) and my agents at the Bright group. Working in children's publishing is a dream come true. 

Wanna buy Tough Tug? Click HERE


SquareCo. Podcast

I was recently invited as a guest on the SquaredCo Podcast where I discuss my journey into full time freelance and just how I got into the business of writing and illustrating picture books. This was my first ever podcast and I had a blast being a part of the show. Lots of good nuggets in here. I hope you enjoy listening.

Spider-Man VS. The Rhino

Spider-Man is one of my favorite comic book characters and after seeing the new movie I just had to draw him. I enjoyed that the movie played up that Peter Parker is a 15 year old kid. I wanted to capture that same feel with this illustration. Also includes in this post are two other spiderman illustrations, that were inspired by the rectangle on the top left of each Marvel comic that showed the main characters in that series

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