Wednesday, October 27, 2010

App, app and away!

II am going to make this short and sweet today since I have been up since 3am but I wanted to introduce my app to you right away. My first contract, my illustrations and story put together with a really cool app interface is more than my brain can handle and still rest properly. At some point this week I will crash and probably pretty hard but for now I am riding the high as long as I can.

Synopsis: Pet My Dragon? is a story about a preschool aged girl who takes her dragon for a walk in the park. She cheerfully asks the other children she meets if they would like to pet her dragon. The sharp teeth, fiery breath and the long spiky tale are just a few of the reasons they all decline the girl’s invitation. One child looks past all the “dangers” and notices the dragon’s soft belly. All of a sudden the dragon doesn’t seem so dangerous.

The app will be available in the iTunes app store around February and will cost $1.99.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My iPad/Phone project

When I started this project (turning one of my stories into an iPhone app book) there were only 19 illustrations including the front and back covers. When I finished up yesterday that number had grown to 79! How did that happen? Originally “Pet My Dragon?” was intended as a picture book with the 19 illustrations spread out over 32 pages so without any additional illustrations it would have been presented like a slideshow. I didn’t think that original format would have been all that entertaining on an iPad. Besides, I wanted to take advantage of as many iPad features as I could so this book didn’t become just another “slideshow” but a true multimedia experience. Really, what is the point in turning it into an app anyway if you don’t take advantage of those features?

So I got to work reformatting the illustrations for “Pet My Dragon”. The display dimensions for the iPad are 1024x768 pixels. The original illustrations were nearly twice that length so each spread had to be clipped considerably. Sometimes the spread just needed to be split into two different pages. This wasn’t too difficult since all my illustrations are done in Adobe Illustrator but it was time consuming. The next step was planning the animation for each page. I was able to do a lot of cutting and pasting here so I didn’t have to totally redraw every new illustration. I used a stop animation style of animation to embrace the simplicity of the illustrations and enhance the inner child of the story. So each page turned into 3 or 4 pages with small variations on each page to show motion as if it were in a flipbook.

The whole process took about a week to finish. I know that isn’t necessarily a long time and I know that it could have been a lot worse. Anyway, I am glad that the major reformatting is done. I am sure that there will be little things here and there that will need my attention but I am looking forward to working on other projects that are begging for attention.

When I wasn’t reformatting Pet My Dragon? I was reading a lot of iPad books/graphic novels. When you get a chance you should check out these titles: Ghost Boy, Twisted 1, Robot 13, AR01, CrappyCat and Jellaby. You can find all of them except Jellaby in the app store and most of them are free.

Sunday, October 17, 2010



My hit counter just went over 1000 today. A big little milestone to be sure especially when you look at the hundreds of thousands of hits some blogs get. But ya gotta start somewhere. I have a lot of fun checking the stats for this page from time to time. You can find out what platforms are being used to view your blog. You can see what country the hits come from. Or if I really want to put myself to sleep I'll watch the "right now" hit counter, well, not move.

However, I wanna know more about the people from China and Russia who are visiting my blog. I'm not getting enough hits from them to make me think they are trying to steal any of my secrets. Heck, I don't have any secrets here anyway but it is interesting that there are enough hits there to qualify them as "following" or maybe better yet "stalking".

Anyway if you haven't viewed your stats (found in your dashboard) you should go and take a look. It really does make the world seem a lot smaller.

Monday, October 11, 2010

They Draw and Cook

Last week I submitted a recipe for Spam Musubi at They Draw and Cook. They were collecting illustrated recipes on their blog from artists with the hopes of publishing them published. There were around 40 recipes posted the first time I visited the blog so I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to get one of my illustrations published. After all with 40 entries the chances were pretty good that I would make the cut. Artists could illustrate the ingredients or procedures or maybe even illustrate both. The artist really only had one rule to follow, the illustration had to meet a specific size format and be mindful of the gutter (the area where the pages are bound together). Each recipe that was submitted before the deadline was going to be posted on their website and I had hoped to post a link to my recipe in this blog entry but as of this morning it still hadn’t been posted. For good reasons though, in the three days leading up to the deadline they received nearly 150 entries.

The submissions for the “recipe book” will be picked in the next few weeks and when they announce the recipes that made the cut I will let you know. Obviously, I am hoping that my recipe makes the cut but if it doesn’t I will post it here. In the mean time check out the recipes that have been posted. There are some tasty recipes there not to mention some great illustrations.

Correction: If I had looked closer I would have seen the "older posts" link at the bottom of the page.  There were well over 100 recipes the first time I look at the page.

Addendum: I received this e-mail yesterday
Hi - Just a quick note to let you know that we have received your recipe artwork (SPAM should pay you!) and will email you again on the day we post it to the blog. IF your recipe is selected to be printed in the book (!?!?), you'll probably know by the end of October (stay tuned to the blog for updates on that!).

Thanks so much for taking the time to illustrate a recipe and to share it with us and the world - this blog is full of super fun and amazing art and it's all because of people like you.

Thanks again,

Nate and Salli

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Let’s Get This App Party Started!

Yesterday I had a really great conversation with a small (so small there isn’t a proper name for it yet) app book maker in Boston. I will be reformatting my book of my called “Do You Want To Pet My Dragon?” to fit the iPad and iPhone formats. The finished app book will have options that will allow the child/parent read the book and an option to have the story read to the child. It will also have sounds, hidden buttons (little surprise motions or sounds) and a small amount of animation. I will be spending the next week or two reformatting the pictures and the book could be ready for downloading in as little as two months! So this gives you time to go out and get an iPhone or iPad just so you can support me:-)

As you may know I have been researching the electronic book market for a few months and I am really excited to get the opportunity to do this. I will blog about the process of reformatting pictures and other e-format issues in the next few days. In the mean time you should download these books (some of my favorites) from the App Store: Ghostboy, Robot 13, Crappy Cat and Atomic Robo . These books will give you a good idea of what is possible.

So, that’s all for today because I have to get to work.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My first cross post

A small but possibly significant milestone.  This blog got its first mention from an outside (non-family) blog.

Google alerts brought it to my attention, thanks Google. Looking for many more mentions in the future.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Illustrator Crit Groups

I just got back from my first illustrator group meeting today with a recharged battery and I am already looking forward to the next meeting. It was a small gathering with two established illustrators: Siri Weber Feeney and hosted by Carol Heyer and two other “pre-published-but-not-for-long” illustrators Linda Silverstri and Christy Botkin Reeves. Lots of great art! We spent a few hours looking at everyone’s portfolio, talking about contracts, agents and different illustration markets. Take a look at these websites and “Oooo and Ahhhh” at their art or better yet purchase something if it’s available to support them.

Speaking of different illustration markets I have begun looking in different markets (other than picture books) as well. I will still be seeking publishers for my books but I am also starting to look for ANYBODY who will buy my images. I spent the last two weeks researching and sending out submission to all kinds of greeting card companies. I am hopeful that I can find a company that will enjoy my illustrations as much as I do and want to print them on cards AND pay me. I recently updated my website so you can see my new greeting card designs that will be available in my store soon and will remain there until they are picked up by a national company.

I have also been following up on some leads in electronic books. I am particularly excited electronic books because I think the expansion of this market is only going to get bigger and it involves two things I love to do. 1. be a tech geek and B. Illustrate. If you have an iTunes account search the app store for graphic novels or books and take a look at some of the free examples to see what I am talking about. There are some great examples of picture books and graphic novels available right now and it will only get better. One of the most exciting aspects about this market is that there is almost no format to follow and an electronic book will only be limited by imagination.