Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hidden Picture

My futile and frustrating attempt to do a Hidden Picture. Even I'm not sure what all is in there...

Virtual Sketchbook

From what would be called my Sketchbook if I was more organized and actually used one.

Various Sketches

Wild Blue

Writing Tips

Some great writing tips from one of my favorite authors, Sid Fleischman, can be found at his cool website. Grazi, Mr. Fleischman.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Betsy Lewin

To compliment Ted's post about Ted Lewin, I'll post in admiration of Betsy Lewin, Ted's wife.

"Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type," "Duck for President" and "Giggle, Giggle, Quack!" are some of my favorite books!
I love her loose style and fun watercolors.

Click here to visit Betsy's web site.

Ted Lewin

A master of watercolor and picture books is Ted Lewin. I first discovered his work with Peppe the Lamp Lighter. Click here to see Ted's site.

Wild Blue

Friday, April 27, 2007

Wild Blue

A couple of Wild Blue strips I used to do for the Air Force Times.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Directory of Illustration - Dog and Cat

This is a simple little piece that will be in the next Directory of Illustration through my art rep, Portfolio Solutions, LLC.

Desert people dream about the forest.

There's just something about driving through a big wooly forest. It's even better when there's a little cafe somewhere nearby to order some pie and hot cocoa.

The one below I considered finished after my son announced; "He's stinky!" I'm pretty sure he was talking about the drawing and not me. - Wes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Illustration Contest

I'm challenging YOU!

Enter the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators Illustration Contest!

It's free and you can win a year's membership with SCBWI or a SCBWI t-shirt!

Deadline: Friday, June 1st by 4 p.m. Pacific Time!

Click this link for contest details!

Archie Comics Cover

Here's a classic Archie comics cover by the late Harry Lucey that I re-did digitally. Kind of an experiment.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Library Poster

This is a poster I illustrated and screenprinted for a library in Indianapolis.

Illustration Agreements

Harvard Law School attorney Stu Rees did his thesis on comic strip syndicate contracts. Stu represented me and several other cartoonists and helped change the way syndicate contracts were written and negotiated. Here's a link to his thesis.

The Graphic Artists Guild keeps an eye on what types of contracts illustrators are having to sign. It offers a good resource for understanding contracts as well as offering some real-life contracts as examples. GAG Contract Monitor.

The Authors' Guild has Negotiating tips for nine typical contract clauses.

Famed Illustrator C. F. Payne has some strong thoughts on Work-for-Hire agreements. While hard to avoid, WFH agreements remove an illustrator's legal authorship to his or her work. You're not just selling rights, nor simply the original art, but your very claim to authorship. Not a new article but an important one, especially since Payne's career has skyrocketing (at least compared to mine!) since he wrote this article, indicating it's not necessary to sell out in order to make a living.

Our best luck is with clients who do not have a boilerplate contract. Oftentimes clients who do have a contract have "borrowed" it from someone else, rather than having an attorney draft one for them. In any case, it is better for the Illustrator to have his or her own boilerplate, often referred to as a Letter of Agreement (see GAG Contract Monitor above). This allows the Illustrator to have more control in the negotiation process, and creates a better opportunity to explain the terms for usage of rights.

It is best to grant usage rights as specifically as possible. For example, Exclusive North American print rights for one year in March 2007 issue of Passing Classical Gas magazine. After that point, all rights revert back to you.

Limit the number of unpaid revisions to one or two. Chances are this will halve your annual workload and double your income for the year! I'm only slightly exaggerating.

How do you know if you've negotiated a good deal? If afterward you don't feel like you just screwed yourself. Never be afraid to say No and ask for what you are worth.


Got Aspirin?

You're going to need it.
Click here.
Who says stick figures can't be fun?

The Sugar Wars

I'm just glad I'm not competing against this guy. He lives not too far south of me.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Aw, Mom...

We know you liked Calvin and Hobbes, but how big of a nut are you? Bill Watterson is perhaps the greatest cartoonist recluse (maybe the only one) in history. Wonder what he's doing now? Where he lives? Future plans? The answers to those questions would be great, but... Will you settle for an interview with his Mother?

Illustration ©2007 Ethan Dawson, age 8

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sy's hair.

He's getting a buzz cut shortly. The little egg-head.


Earth Day Picture Books

Earth Day is Sunday, April 22nd, so I thought I would post a small list of environmental picture books.
This list is by no means complete.
Do you have a favorite environmental picture book? Tell us about it in the comments area!

When Big Momma makes the world, she doesn't mess around. With a baby on her hip and laundry piling up, she demands light and dark, earth and sky, creepers and crawlers, and lots of folks to trade stories with on the front porch.

THE LORAX by Dr. Seuss.
My favorite Dr. Seuss book.
I love how the colors of the illustrations become dim and brooding as the situation gets more serious.

THE EARTH AND I by Frank Asch.
A boy thinks about the many ways he and the planet benefit and enjoy each other.

MISS RUMPHIUS by Barbara Cooney.
To make the world a more beutiful place, Miss Rumphius begins by sowing flowers all over the countryside.

A young boy finds an orange salamander and gradually imagines his room into a perfect home for it.

THE GIFT OF THE TREE by Alvin Tresselt.
An oak tree lives and dies in the forest, providing food, shelter, and safety for the animals and life all around.

A tropical rain forest brims with bright colors and sounds as hummingbirds and ocelots, fig trees and orchids grow and thrive.

PLANTZILLA by Jerdine Nolen.
Third-grader Mortimer Henryson has successfully petitioned his parents and his science teacher, Mr. Lester, to allow him to bring the class plant, Plantcilia (nicknamed "Plantzilla" by the students), home over summer vacation.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Avast! Ye Bilge Rats!

I quickly sketched this up in my Moleskine notebook while waiting for another watercolor piece to dry.
Like Wes, I love to draw pirates!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


This is either a Wizard or me in a few more years. Painted in Photoshop.


(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Le crow.

Deep blacks can be tricky for me because they can overwhelm other pieces of the drawing, but I like how this one turned out.

Tree Three

A variation of the previous Tree drawing. Used the Transform function to change the angle and then redrew facial parts.


Monday, April 16, 2007

For Illustrators

Some tips on Pricing

Business and legal forms for Illustrators

The Campaign for Illustration

Drawing Resources

Illustrating Children's Books

Verla Kay's Website for Children's Writers & Illustrators

The Six Million Dollar Man

Lee and Low Books Special Call for Illustrators

Teach Workshops for Children

Get represented

Making a Website

Articles re: Publishing

Low Art

I felt compelled to drop a note to the International Herald Tribune regarding their Monet slideshow.

Dear Editor:

Regarding the article and slideshow ("Monet's Rise from Cartoonist to Artist"), I must take umbrage at the suggestion that cartooning is a Low Art, one from which an artist much rise above. It should be obvious that cartooning is a profession unto itself, not part of a development process. What makes this even worse is your more recent slideshow, "The Art of Smoking," which uses free public domain cartoons as its focus. I suggest the slideshow be re-done with true artists (of the IHT's standards) portraying the act of smoking... perhaps the classic painting "Looks Like Four of a Kind" by C. M. Coolidge.


Ted Dawson

Archie Andrews

A little digital exercise for this morning. Archie Andrews, after Dan DeCarlo.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

INN - Illustrator News Network

Irvine illustrator is the picture of success

Author and Illustrator battle it out

Monet the Cartoonist

Barf-O-Rama: Ginger Spice's Childrens' Book

Jean-Michel Cousteau endorses childrens' book

Graphic Novel Review: La Perdida by Jessica Abel

Mr. Men return in new TV series

Australian website that helps you create and share cartoons

Failed Experiment

There's nothing much special about this drawing except that I drew it while trying out a screen capture program. It records a video of screen activity. But it took fifteen minutes to draw in Photoshop, which makes for a long, boring show. I've tried to find a program that will put the movie into fast-motion to bring it down to a couple of minutes, but no luck. I thought doing this would be a fun post, and also helpful to me to see my own process and maybe learn how I can fine-tune it. But since that isn't working out, here's the static image.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Ok, So I lied.

I mentioned before that I was done with my "Toughest man in the world" posts, but I forgot to put a color piece in the package. The protagonist is a dirt miner and he's managed to find some here.

The colors on this were super, but they didn't fit the context of being deep underground, so in with the photoshop. Hackety hack hack.


Hamlet and Eggs


This is from a special project I worked on with my wife, creator and writer.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tree Part Two

This came out nothing like I'd wanted. But here's a color version of the previous tree sketch. It's Photoshop, and it looks it. I need to upgrade soon so I've a better brush selection.
The frustrating thing about messing up is when you don't know what you did wrong and how to do it better next time.

Luna Moth

I saw this little critter peeking in an upstairs window this morning. He looked to be a pretty big moth I haven't seen before, so I opened the window, stuck the camera outside and took a blind photo. Wonderful surprise when I looked at the photo on the LCD screen! I have never seen a Luna Moth before.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tree Sketch

Just a little tree sketch in PS.

Today's Spooner Comic Strip

click to enlarge

How To Make Money With Your Blog

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And it's that simple. Your only competition is the other fifty million blogs out there.

P.S. Let me know if it really works.


Last night, my wife and I took the "Behind the Emerald Curtain" behind-the-scenes tour of the musical, Wicked - The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz. We had seen the musical a couple of months ago, but for my birthday, I wanted to take the behind-the-scenes tour of this musical I have become so obsessed with.

I'm attracted to the character, Elphaba, a.k.a. The Wicked Witch of the West. I always have been, but Wicked adds layers and layers to her character that I couldn't have ever imagined. Is she Wicked, or is she just misunderstood? I'm very caught up in this wonderful story.

For an illustrator, Wicked is wicked cool! There's just so much for your eyes to see! The details that Susan Hilferty put into the costume designs are just mind-blowing. Behind-the-scenes, we got to see the buttons on the guards' coats...they have OZ on them. And yet, sitting in the audience, you'd never ever see that tiny detail.

We learned that Wicked was being considered as a movie, when a call went to the folks in Hollywood to say, There's music in this story! So the search for a screenwriter for Wicked ended and it became a hit musical.

Wicked is an amazing experience.

As an illustrator, I'd recommend this musical for anyone with an eye for detail. Put in sound-blocking earplugs and this musical is still amazing!
As a fan of theatre, I'd recommend this musical to everyone.

I'm begging my wife for tickets to see it one more time.

Read the book, go see the musical and tell Elphaba, I sent you.

Wicked, the musical
Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Images from the official Wicked web site.

Postcards came in. (Mundane, I know)

I was surprised at how well they came out.

I bought the slightly larger 8.5" x 5.5" 250 set for 80 bucks at There's a free option for gloss on both sides that I took. I had some trouble viewing the proofs online with Safari so i just re-uploaded them with Mozilla. The paper is THICK! Colors look great. A few on top had machine marks, but who cares! I will definitely use these guys again.

I tried to write on the gloss with a ball-point pen and it didn't work, but an ultra-fine point sharpie did fine with minimal smearing.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Warm-Up Painting

This is from a piece I found in my sketchbook.
I redrew it, changed some things and painted it this morning as a warm-up drawing.
Originally, in my sketchbook it had some accompanying text below it as part of a story I had written.

Pirate dude.

There's something I like about this guys pants. I wish i could get another assignment that involved pirates. This piece was dumped from the issue BTW.

Morning Visitor

This dude was trying to catch the attention of a female turkey in our front yard this morning.

Tree Sketch

Here's a tree sketch I made while watching television tonight.
9" x 12" on 140 lb. Acquarello Watercolour, 100% cotton, hot pressed paper with a Col-Erase black pencil and watercolors.

"I Will Follow You Into the Dark" Video

I fell in love with Death Cab for Cutie's video, "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" the first time I saw it.
I love how they tell a story using a sketchbook/picture book dummy.
The power of those drawings + the beautiful music is magical.

Death Cab for Cutie
You Tube

Draw With Me ....

Artist Nadine Jarvis can fabricate pencils from carbon left over by incinerating human remains -- it's part of a larger "research project into post mortem." She notes that "240 pencils can be made from an average body of ash - a lifetime supply of pencils for those left behind."

Someday someone's going to ask you, "How many pencils can the average body make?" And you're going to say "240" and thank me later.

Carbon Copies

Monday, April 9, 2007

Cover for the final "Harry Potter" book

The cover to the seventh and final Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," has been revealed. It was designed and illustrated by illustrator Mary GrandPre, illustrator for the previous Harry Potter books.


Mary GrandPre's web site
Harry Potter at

What do you think of the cover?

B.C., Be Spooner

Not the greatest strip I ever did, but one of the most fun. I'm posting it because it's the closest thing to a tribute to Johnny Hart that I have.

Johnny Hart, 1931-2007

Johnny Hart, creator of the comic strip B.C., passed away on Saturday.

Click here to see the story from Johnny Hart's local newspaper in Binghamton, NY.

In a 1980 interview with Jud Hurd in Cartoonist PROfiles, Johnny said:
"...'cartoony' and 'simplicity' became very important words to me, and I extended them into every phase of what I do..."

And the result was some of the most beautiful linework ever to hit the comics pages. Johnny's work was simply amazing. His linework was sparce, but very expressive.
Simplicity has the illusion of looking easy. It's not. Try drawing a B.C. character with the expressiveness Johnny Hart could achieve with such few lines. It's not easy.

In the above story, Johnny's wife said he died at his drawing board.
There is something bittersweet about that.