2016 Postmortem

Posted on Dec 31, 2016

This post has additional information & links at the bottom (Article Also Posted Here


quietyell_scott-monaco_2016postmortemThis year has been a pretty big year for me. It actually started slightly before 2016.

In October 2015, I had come to the long-wrestled with conclusion that rather than all of the things I had been doing these many years, my heart was really for illustration and particularly children’s oriented illustration. Additionally, I had a deep-rooted desire to contribute to the minds, hearts, & wellbeing of children; thus, leading to the pursuit of children’s book development.

This meant I would need to be spending a lot of time trying to get back up to speed in illustration as well as children’s book development while simultaneously pushing away anything that didn’t fit into this focus.

So, when I got back from Taiwan (Oct 2015) I joined SCBWI.org (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) and jumped right into creating and drinking from a waterfall of information & such.

My 2016 has been about redeveloping myself and building a foundation.

This included:

Education:

• Attending SCBWI chapter meet ups and educational webinars & conferences
• Reading art & publishing industry related books & variety of online articles
• Going through almost all of SVSLearn videos and some Schoolism videos
• Seeking advice & guidance from industry professionals
• Familiarizing myself with names of people, companies & resources, various terminologies, relevant business processes & technology, various techniques, etc.
• Research & consumption of many picture books, middle grade books, movies, etc.

Expansion: 

• Getting back online into social media & connecting with industry people/organizations and populating with content (I had used social media a TON personally but then pulled all of my content & activity back in 2009)
• Actively engaging with others online (like in the SVS Forum, Facebook Groups, other social media)
• Meeting with other illustrators in person

Exploration: 

• Created a variety of paintings & attempted new things with each (whether process, style, content, etc.)
• Sketched a lot, also attempting new things with each
• Moving from exclusively digital back into including traditional media

I suppose there are more points that could be added here, but even with the points listed it is quite a bit that has been done, yet, this hardly expresses just how many sub-points and specifics each entails, which is an enormous amount! Truly this past year has been drinking from a waterfall.

I think that I have successfully reoriented my focus; something I am quite excited about.

Because of that, I think that I have made substantial progress on redeveloping myself and giving myself a pretty good initial foundation.

From this, I see 2017 as being a continuation of the education, expansion, & exploration of 2016 but with heightened focus, benefiting from all of the work done already.

Now that I have something to show, I can begin “stepping-up my game” with the quality of my drawing, painting, concept & narrative, etc. of my work, including developing specific types of work absent from but necessary for my portfolio. (No pressure, right?)

I’m still looking for my “breakthrough” illustration(s), but given the growth from pre-2016 to 2016 and within 2016 itself, I think that I have a good chance of achieving that first, seemingly elusive, breakthrough piece soon.

While I will definitely pursue learning, networking, exploring, & creating, I would also certainly like to grow the business side this year.

I am quite appreciative for SCBWI, SVSLearn, and the various individuals & groups I’ve gotten the opportunity to grow from this past year.

In particular, I have gained a tremendous amount from Will Terry, Lee White & Jake Parker and those in the SVSLearn Forums for which I have the most sincere gratitude for.

As I had the opportunity to say to Will: “It is my hope that I can implement and excel from this guidance, and that I may make you, the SVSLearn team & members, and my wife, family & friends proud & encouraged by such growth.”

May it be so this 2017!


Below are some more specifics and links:

This list is IN NO WAY exhaustive by any means. There are so many other websites, people, organizations/companies, tools, books/articles, media, webinars & conferences, etc. that aren’t listed. I just wanted to capture some of my 2016 below:

Websites Important in my 2016:

While there are countless websites that I’ve visited (often too), these were some of the most important and frequently visited.

SCBWI.org
SCBWI North Texas Chapter
SVSLearn.com
Forum.SVSLearn.com
Schoolism.com

Inspirations in 2016:

In one way or another, these people educated & influenced me, giving me inspiration and aspiration by the great work they do (some preceding 2016 but remaining highly influential still and for quite some time to come I believe).

Will Terry
Lee White
Jake Parker
Andy Estra
Giuseppe Castellano
Denis Zilber
Sam Nielson
Dan Santat
Kevin Keele
Aaron Blaise

Special Thanks To:

Lauren Panepinto, Creative Director for Orbit Books and Yen Press and artist, Marc Scheff, both of DrawnAndDrafted.com for the insights they gave in a Schoolism Webinar on Monday 10am ET April 4, 2016, hosted by Bobby Chiu and Masae Seki. It is because of your words that I broke out of my impassioned resistance to getting back into on social media. I think that this will have been one of the most crucial aspects of my 2016 and future, for I have gotten to become aware of, meet & befriend, and learn & be inspired from so many people that I may not have known otherwise. Thank you!

New Friends:

There are so many new people added into my life this year; some I have engaged with and some I merely follow. I have gotten to have great conversations with, advice & instruction from, and be inspired by the following. There are others not mentioned—please don’t be offended. My hope is to create an extended list of the wonderful people brought into my life sometime with commentary and even articles dedicated to each. All of you are dearly appreciated!

Chris Schechner
Simona Ceccarelli
Rich Green
Christina Brown
Kristine Tague
Andy Jewett

A little more needs to be said on these two:

Kent Robbins
Kent is actually a long time friend, but now that he’s moved back to Dallas, I get to see him often!

Jeff Haynie
Jeff was actually my illustration mentor back in 1995-1997 before he took art director positions at Dreamworks Interactive, EA, Big Fish Games, etc. So glad to get new insights from him this year with my new journey!

New Tools Used & Other Great “Finds”:

Probably too many tools & other resources to count, but here are some that have been of nearly daily importance in my 2016.

Kyle’s Brushes
BrushBox
Airbrush Notebooks : “Premium Sketchbook”
Copic Multiliner SP: 0.1, 0.3, 0.5
Copic Sketch Markers – Sketching Gray Set

Some Books Read:

These are some industry related books I read (Including concept, presentation, writing/storytelling, art views, etc.) (Also, I did not include other types of books here nor any industry related articles). The first five are strictly secular books and the following are from a Christian worldview:

Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

The Exceptional Presenter: A Proven Formula to Open Up! And Own the Room, by Timothy J. Koegel

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King

Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, by Ed Catmull

Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative: Principles and Practices From the Legendary Cartoonist, by Will Eisner

Art and the Bible, by Francis A. Schaeffer

Art for God’s Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts, by Philip Graham Ryken

Modern Art and the Death of a Culture, by H.R. Rookmaaker

Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment (Updated & Expanded, 2009), by Brian Godawa
hollywoodworldviews

Word Pictures: Knowing God Through Story & Imagination, by Brian Godawa

God Against the Gods: Storytelling, Imagination, and Apologetics in the Bible, by Brian Godawa

The Power of Words and the Wonder of God, by John Piper & Justin Taylor

The God Conversation: Using Stories and Illustrations to Explain Your Faith, by J.P. Moreland & Tim Muehlhoff


Again, while a long post, there was so much more in my 2016 both professionally and personally that simply cannot be captured. Many more people, events, organizations, tools, insights, struggles, successes, etc. It’s been a fun ride. Now on to 2017!

Sketching on Toned Paper

Posted on Dec 28, 2016

For quite some time, I have admired the work of Kevin Keele, particularly his sketches, not just for their amazing quality but because he uses a toned paper to do them on. I recently saw Aaron Blaise post work he was doing on a gray toned surface on his Instagram. I couldn’t wait any longer! So, today I ordered a gray-toned sketchbook from Amazon: Strathmore STR-469-105 128 Sheet No 80 Toned Gray Art Journal, 5.5 by 8.5″ — I can’t wait to get started!

SVSLearn & Team

Posted on Dec 28, 2016

svslearn_will-terry_jake-parker_lee-whiteI’ve greatly enjoyed and benefited from SVSLearn.com this past year. Will Terry, Jake Parker, and Lee White are all quite talented and quite generous in sharing what they’ve learned.  Beyond SVSLearn itself, each also has videos on their Youtube accounts that are quite valuable too, not to mention all of their other social media posts. Here are links to where they are at (I will probably write more about each in other posts):

SVSLearnSVSLearn.com

Will TerryWillTerry.com

Jake Parker : MrJakeParker.com

Lee WhiteLeeWhiteIllustration.com


EDIT 05/25/17: 

Want to know where to start and how to progress through all of the classes on SVSlearn? A course-path list by Jake Parker has been provided here: http://quietyell.com/2017/05/25/where-to-start-on-svslearn/

BrushBox Plugin to Organize Photoshop Tools/Brushes

Posted on Dec 28, 2016

Having purchased all of Kyle Webster’s brushes (technically they are “tools”) over time, there are so many tools/brushes that the list gets quite intimidating even after I renamed & organized for clarity.

So… I preordered BrushBox, a new bush & tool organizing plugin, a couple weeks ago and just finally got around to installing it. This looks to be quite promising for increasing workflow efficiency, so I thought I’d share in case others here are looking for something like this:

Gumroad.com/l/brushbox
(Created By: DerrickB.net)

There are likely to be some improvements/updates to the plugin in the near future; though, it seems to already be an amazing help just as it is right now!

BTW, here are Kyle’s Brushes:
KyleBrush.com
(Created By: KyleTWebster.com)

Here are screen grabs from my Photoshop:

01: Original Tool List (standard Photoshop tool listing with my renaming & organizing)

01_original-tool-list

02: BrushBox Folder List

02_brushbox_folder-list

03: BrushBox Folder Expanded to Show Tool List-View

03_brushbox-tool-list-view

04: BrushBox Folder Expanded to Show Tool Icon-View

04_brushbox-tool-icon-view

What art supply would you give your 9 year old self?

Posted on Dec 23, 2016

Another artist posed the question:

What art supply would you give your 9 year old self?

Here’s my response:

stuartngbooksAt the moment, I am thinking about the “Art of [Some Favorite Animation/Film]” kinds of books (like “Art of Zootopia” or “Designing The Secret of Kells” or “Art of Spirited Away” or “The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens“, etc.). I didn’t have those back then, but I think that it would have been inspirational & aspirational for me [also showing me how these were created, which would have set me off on the right foot early on]. A place to start for perusing them (or buying) might be http://stuartngbooks.com/; though, you won’t likely be able to get an order by Christmas, unless you live or are traveling in/near Torrence, California!

prismacolorsAlso, a lot of my inspiration and initial development came from comic books & copying the art there…

As far as art supplies… I probably would have benefited from a Prismacolor set and decent paper. I think it would make a good compliment to the watercolors that Simona mentioned, allowing her to explore wet & dry media and consider mixed media.

Printer Recommendations

Posted on Dec 14, 2016

On Jake Parker’s site at mrjakeparker.com/tools, he lists the Epson R2000 Printer which he says:

“This is the best printer ever. I use it for making fine art prints that I sell at conventions. The color is stellar. It’s a work horse too. Any normal printer problems I’ve had with it were easily dealt with. I think every serious artist needs one. It’s also great for printing on smooth bristol or cardstock. I do my pencils in Photoshop, print them out, then ink over it. Win!”

I think that these are newer versions of that printer:

Epson Stylus Photo R2880 Wide-Format Color Inkjet Printer (C11CA16201)

Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Color Inkjet Printer (CA61201-VM)

Epson’s site shows a Stylus Pro 4900

epson-4900_300wx300h

Lee White says:

“I use the epson 4900 and it’s been amazing. It can print on board up to 1/4″ thick. It can print big and the color and resolution are amazing. Some people complain of print heads clogging up which is typically due to not using it enough. These printers need to run at least every other day, even if you just print something small to keep that from happening.”

Regarding paper for selling prints, Lee says:

“I use Epson bright white watercolor paper on roll for my prints that I sell. This is an amazing paper. Better than any other paper I have found.”

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/757230-REG/Epson_S045242_Glossy_Exhibition_Canvas_17.html

Of course, these printers aren’t exactly cheap… Also, they may be overkill if one only wants to print sketches onto watercolor paper and aren’t planning on using it for prints & such. I’m guessing that there are probably less expensive printers that will allow one to get started for something like that; though, 1/4″ thick… that’s nice!

I think there are a few things that one would need to look for in a printer for printing onto watercolor paper:

  1. Can it handle heavy paper? If it has a feeder, like the Epsons above, then it is likely to handle such.
  2. Can it handle the size of paper you are doing your watercolors at? If you just work at letter-size, then your options are wide, but if you work big, then you’ll have to go wide-format like the Epsons above; though, that only gets you up to maybe 13″ wide.
  3. Are the printed graphics water resistant? The Epson R2000 that Jake listed says that the inks are, I’m not sure about the other two, but I’m guessing they are too.

While I don’t have personal experience here since most all of my work has been digital for awhile, being able to print a light, refined sketch onto the paper being used would be so beneficial.

Publisher’s Weekly 2016 Children’s Starred Review Annual

Posted on Dec 12, 2016

publishers-weekly_childrens-starred-reviews-2016If you haven’t seen this, it’s available online. You can download a pdf of it too (upper right link of the page):

“This year’s edition features 390 starred reviews of children’s and young adult books that published in 2016. Plus we talked to children’s book editors about what it was like to work with authors who were their childhood heroes.”

http://www.digitalpw.com/digitalpw/2016_childrens_starred_reviews_annual?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly

Also, here is the NYTimes “Notable Children’s Books of 2016”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/23/books/review/notable-childrens-books-of-2016.html

my-name-is-james-madison_by_jonah-winter_and_terry-widenerAn illustrator here in Dallas that I know (Terry Widener) got listed too! He’s a great guy and we’re all so glad he got featured in this list! His book:

My Name is James Madison Hemings
By Jonah Winter. Illustrated by Terry Widener.
40 pp. Schwartz & Wade Books. $17.99. (Picture book; ages 5 to 9)
http://amzn.to/2hwAJyK

Inktober 2016 Recap

Posted on Oct 31, 2016

Thought I’d share a recap of all my Inktober 2016 posts into one image.

quietyell_scott-monaco_inktober_2016-10-31_sm

My approach was to do two inked sketches per day with each morning post done according to the daily prompts given by @Jake-Parker (listed on each sketch in the image) and the afternoon posts being free choice.

Since I tend to lean on painting/rendering with much of my work, I decided to do most of my Inktober pieces without the use of shading (whether using grayscale or hatching; though, there are about 6 pieces that I did use some hatching on). So, this became an exercise in playing with shape & character styling, line-flow & line-weight, and/or concept (particularly with a push towards the humorous side). Note: I held off of using my ink brushes and decided to stick with a Zebra F-301 for initial lines and with line styling done by a Copic Multiliner SP (0.3 & 0.5 tips) (a little bit of a Sakura White Gelly Roll was used on a few as was a Copic Multiliner SP 0.1 tip).

For me, considering the ongoing development my drawing style & character style direction, I am currently preferring: 09-A, 09-B, 12-B, 16-A, 16-B, 24-B, 25-A, 29-B (with some others coming in “2nd place”)

9A-Tinman is my favorite; or at least right at the top. I think the direction I took with his proportions (also the expressiveness of his emotions) is what is drawing me to him. I use to do a lot work in the past where the figures have quite long legs; kind of reminiscent to many fashion design illustrations. It seems that I am being drawn back to that again.

Also noticeable is that I did a lot of figures with what basically amount to “stick” legs/arms. This is particularly seen in 24B-Cookie-Fairy and 29B-Chef-Cupcake, which also both are more geometric in construction too.

I’ve been using my sketching & Inktober as a way of feeling out where I am generally wanting to go stylistically with my drawing & character structure. I haven’t wanted to commit to or “force” a direction yet, but I think 9A, 24B, & 29B are where I am headed, especially because they are similar in character construction to what is still one of my favorite paintings of mine: Dancing With The Bull

See the individual Inktober posts (with “commentary”) at my “sketches” Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook Page.

Inktober was fun and I’m glad I did it!

For those that don’t know what Inktober is: Inktober.com

Every October, artists all over the world take on the InkTober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month.

I [Jake Parker] created InkTober in 2009 as a challenge to improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.

Anyone can do InkTober, just pick up a pen and start drawing.

Inktober rules:

1) Make a drawing in ink (you can do a pencil under-drawing if you want).

2) Post it online

3) Hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober2016

4) Repeat

Note: you can do it daily, or go the half-marathon route and post every other day, or just do the 5K and post once a week. What ever you decide, just be consistent with it. INKtober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent the better.

 

Dancing Bull Illustration Featured on ILoveFantasyArt

Posted on Oct 13, 2016
quietyell_scott-monaco_dancing-with-the-bull_1000px

Click for portfolio page

http://www.Instagram.com/ILoveFantasyArt just featured my Dancing Bull illustration on their IG account (which has 268,000+ followers). It caught me by surprise because I didn’t send them anything or tag them. It was just out of the blue. What a pleasant surprise! Thank you, ILoveFantasyArt!

The direct link is here: https://instagram.com/p/BLg_dPzBTr-/

Go like it and share it if you can!

(Also visit https://www.facebook.com/ilovefantasyart)

New to SVSLearn? Start Here

Posted on Oct 10, 2016

svslearnSomeone joined SVSLearn.com and in the SVSLearn Forum, asked for recommendations of where to start on the courses:

First, the forum is a great place to start!

But regarding the courses, I think it depends upon where one’s needs are.

I might suggest Jake Parker’s class: How to Draw Everything Fundamentals Series as a good starting point.

I started with Lee White’s classes on the business side of things: How To Make Money in Illustration Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Still, there are many other good courses. I’ll put up thoughts on some of my favorites in the future.