Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Top 15 iPad Apps for the Writer/Illustrator." (1 thru 6)

In the spirit of the holidays I give to you my list of "Top 15 iPad Apps for the Writer/Illustrator." (1 thru 6)

If you are lucky enough to receive an iPad for Christmas, or even if you already own one, this list of mostly unknown apps is for you.

Here they are:

15 Apps for iPad I cannot do without.

 Let’s start with 1 thru 6, “The Workhorse Apps.”

1. iA Writer - I am using iA Writer this very minute to write this post.
When attached to an iPad keyboard as shown in this picture – iA Writer turns your iPad into a typewriter.

Most illustrator/artists find it hard to type at their computers because of all the drawing equipment in front of their monitors. With iA Writer, I can concentrate on my words, and see what I am typing directly in front of me. It's very bare-bones, but that's what I like about it. You can take it anywhere, and once you're done, you can e-mail the text to your computer or save it to Office or Page. I use this app more than any other app on my iPad. Why? Because it allows me to really, really focus on writing - and that makes it my No.1 favorite app on the list!

2. Sound Note – This app runs a close second. It is a sound recorder/note-taker.
Whenever I attend a lecture, I record audio which is synced to my notes as I am writing them down. Later, when I need to write an article, or reference something, I can listen back to the exact part of the speech I am interested in, without making a mistake.

I also use this app to record almost all of my "thinking aloud." Exact phrasing can be very important when you write picture books or when you are working on dialogue. If you are like me and don't always trust your memory to remember everything exactly, then SoundNote (or a similar app) is a great tool.

3. LookBook Portfolio - I am one of those people who literally carried around a huge 24" by 19" portfolio wherever I went - just in case. LookBook was the first portfolio app for iPad I found, and it is still my favorite.

You can create different portfolios for different types of illustrations and paintings, and I love the way it slides between pictures. Again, it's very basic, but the iPad display is stunning and you can really zoom in on a picture to show your clients details. My LookBook portfolio has already gotten me work and sold paintings. I use it as a template for my website. I love it.

4. Strip Designer - This is an app for creating comic strips, cartoons, and basic graphic novel pages. I know it sounds silly - but I use this app a lot. The templates are perfectly suited for creating bookmarks, postcards, thumbnails for website buttons, and photos which need to be shown in sequence (for insert into a blog or webpage.) I guess you could use it for cartoons too – but I never have. Strip Designer is a huge timesaver for those of us who need handy, ready-made layouts on-the-go.

5. SketchBook Pro - Of course, of course. SketchBook Pro. Need I say more. Personally, I use it only when I am doing a quick schematic or trying to explain something to someone. I still prefer paper and pencil for my real sketches. But, I did use it recently to explain to some friends how a DIY stylus works.

If you don't have your paper sketchbook, I'm sure it will work in a pinch. The responsiveness is good, and the pencil/pen values are excellent. Very powerful. It also has layers and allows you to save you work and export it back to your computer. Now, it goes without saying, that you should probably get an iPad stylus for your drawing apps. Sketchbook Pro works beautifully and I'm sure it has a great many more capabilities.

6. FlipBoardFlipBoard turned out to be the biggest, best surprise of all. This app manages your news content in a magazine format. It is so hard to explain – that I am just going to show it to you.
You can subscribe to magazines that are already affiliated with FlipBoard or you can create content on your own by 1) going to add new section and 2) entering your twitter name or a twitter name that you want to follow.
My twitter name is “@SpaceAir101,” so I typed in “@SpaceAir101” and clicked on the name. This is what my page looked like.

Very cool. I am able to follow art news and children’s lit information. It updates automatically, and it’s all at my fingertips. Just wonderful!

Next week, I will list 7-12  – “Gadgets and Tricks.”

The reason I got the iPad in the first place was to see what picture books looked like in a digital reader format. And it has been an eye-opener. But, I had no idea that the iPad would become such an integral part of my everyday work. I hope this helps you if you are just getting started, or if you haven't had the time to really investigate some of these handy "off-the-beaten-track" apps.

*An added note. I also use Office² HD, Dropbox, Pages, Keynote, Corkulous, and many other really great apps that help keep things organized and running smoothly. Of course, apps are always a matter of preference. I recommended these because they work well for me.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope you get a lot of wonderful work done this year!
Carolyn Dee Flores

HTML Color Chart and Reference Guide

If you write or modify your own HTML, here is a link to a websafe color chart with corresponding hexidecimal values for fast look-up.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chris Barton - Award Winning Author of "The Day-Glo Brothers" Speaks to SCBWI-SWTX

"You Better Believe It: How the Day-Glo Brothers Survived All The Things I Didn't Know."
Chris Barton Speaks to SCBWI-SWTX Nov.13, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas.

 "The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors" Written by Chris Barton, Illustrated by Tony Persiani, and published by Charlesbridge. A 2010 Sibert Honor Book. One of 2009's Best Children's Books By Publishers Weekly,School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews,The Washington Post, and the Bank Street College of Education. "Shark Vs. Train", written by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, and published by Little Brown Books For Young Readers. A New York Times and Publisher's Weekly Bestseller.One of 2010's Best Children's Books by Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and School Library Journal.

Chris Barton
"I started writing books almost exactly 10 years ago, when my son was almost 2 years old, I'll tell you how that got started ..."
"As my years of effort to get published accumulated, I began to suspect that it's at least as important to believe in what you're doing as it is to know what you are doing."

The Day-Glo Brothers was Chris Barton's first book, but winning a big award for a debut author is not the only thing that makes the Day-Glo Brothers unique. Chris Barton remembers the exact time and place he got the idea for The Day-Glo Brothers - from an obituary he read August 29, 1997 in the New York Times.
 "Robert Switzer, co-inventor of Day-Glo paint, dies at 83."

The idea stuck with him, and then in 2001, when he began thinking about writing children's books, "the Day-Glo story was one of the first that came to mind."

"At that time there were two things that I essentially knew nothing about - Day-Light Fluorescents and Children's Publishing. And those are the qualifications that I brought to the project that would essentially become The Day-Glo Brothers. But the important thing is I believed ..."

Chris wanted to make a picture book featuring Day-Glo colors.
"Before that could happen, I had to have a manuscript, so I set out to write those words and tell the Switzer brothers' story."

Around the summer of 2001, he looked up the names and the cities of relatives, including a surviving brother Fred, and began making phone calls.

"I said 'Hi. My name is Chris Barton, and I'd like to write a children's book about how Bob and Joe Switzer invented Day-Glo.' "
"I figured there were two likely reactions. Enthusiasm, because, you know, who wouldn't like their father or their brother or their husband to be immortalized in a book for young readers?
And caution, because 'Who is this Chris Barton and why can't I find any other books by him?"

Bob and Joe's younger brother Fred (who was at that time in his 70's), Bob's widow Pat, and Joe's first wife Elise (both in their 80's) consented to interview after interview. They sent family photos, newspaper clippings, and a homemade video documentary.

"Later, one of Bob's sons, sent me the original letters of correspondence, not copies, but the actual original materials that the brothers kept in the mid 1930's while they were conducting their first experiments ... These should have been in the Smithsonian, but instead they were with me at Kinkos ..."

By late summer 2001, he had written enough of a draft that he was ready to share it at a critique session with the Austin SCBWI - a 3 page double-spaced manuscript which didn't even get to the point of where the Switzer brothers had first conceived of their invention.

"I didn't know how long a picture book manuscript was supposed to be, and that explains how I wound up submitting to several editors a picture book manuscript that was 6,200 words long."

"There is nothing quite as bone-headed as trying to submit a 6,200 word picture book."

Chris Barton shows us his original "6,200 word picture book" manuscript.

"You have do more than just believe strongly in your own work or believe in the story that you're trying to tell ..... there are things that you have to know, and if you don't know them you owe it to yourself to learn what they are."

"You have to know the market, you have to know your audience, you have to know your technique, and you have to take seriously the feedback that you receive."
"And then based on knowing all those things, you have to have the ... ability to simply reach a different conclusion about your prospects and all those people who keep telling you no."

"I got 23 rejections for The Day-Glo Brothers before it got accepted."
Then he met Jeanette Larson, Youth Services Manager for the Austin Public Library in late 2003.

"Jeanette had industry connections and a sharp editorial eye." She critiqued the manuscript and suggested some publishers.

"I cannot overstate how important it is to sincerely cultivate genuine interpersonal connections with the people in this industry."

In January of 2004, at the American Library Association Conference, Jeanette Larson talked to Yolanda LeRoy, who was an editor at Charlesbridge Publishing. Nine months later Chris had a contract with Charlesbridge for The Day-Glo Brothers.

It took 3 years from the beginning of his research to the contract, and another 5 years before the book actually came out.

"You know, there's 23 other publishers that I submitted The Day-Glo Brothers to ... a couple of questions seem obvious."

"Number One: What took me so long to submit that manuscript to Charlesbridge since they were so obviously the right home for the Switzer story?"

"And Two: What did Charlesbridge see in The Day-Glo Brothers that all those other publishers didn't?"

"If there's someone in the audience who is interested in writing, that worries that they may not know everything they need to know in order to get published, or in order to write at all - I am ample proof that you can get by with a lot of ignorance and and still write and still succeed and do what you enjoy doing."

Chris Barton autographing a copy of"The day-Glo Brothers" with Day-Glo markers.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Creating A Dummy Book - Part2 - Adding the Book Covers

Example of a Finished Dummy Book
By Carolyn Dee Flores

  1. Fold black cloth tape over the left edge of your booklet, covering the staples on both sides. 

  1. Cut 2 Pieces of Black Foam Board For Covers.
Add ¼" to the width, and ½" to the height  of your picture book format for book cover dimensions.
  For example, for an 8" x 10" landscape picture book :
                                (2) pieces of foam board (8½" x 10¾")

  1. Hinge the foam board covers to the front and back of your book with a single strip of black cloth tape, as shown here.

  1. Bind your book on the outside with a vertical strip of black cloth tape.
At this point, your book should be able to stand when propped open on its side, as shown here.

  1. Mark The Front Of Your Book.

  1. To create the jacket for your book, cut a piece of white brochure  paper (2½ times the width of your book by the height of your cover.) Wrap the paper around your book and fold  to allow for jacket flaps. Adhere with scotch tape. 

  1. Dummy book with cover.

Next time, "Creating a Dummy Book Part3 - Content."
              Carolyn Dee Flores

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ka-Pow! New Toy

Carolyn's latest toy →  Strip Designer App for iPad to create comic strips. Neat-O!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Creating a Dummy Book For Illustrators - Part1

Creating a 8 x 10 Dummy Book - PART1
"Creating the Inside Pages First"

  1. Start with a clean work area and plenty of room.
  2. Decide the format your book .
I chose a standard picture book format:

8" x 10" landscape

32 pages
  1. Write down your calculations on a piece of paper.
My book requires 16 pages for a 32 page book.
I will measure each page to 10½" x 8". Notice  I  added ½ inch to the width to allow for binding.

  1. Cut your paper to the correct measurements.
Using a paper cutter, I cut 16 pages  of sturdy drawing paper to exactly 10½" x 8".

  1. Mark off your binding area on each page.
This is important because this will indicate where you score each page.
Draw a vertical dotted line ½ " away from the left edge of each page to allow for binding.
This will leave exactly 10" x 8" pages for viewing.

  1. Score your pages along the dotted line.
The scoring option is found on some paper cutters. It creases the page but does not cut thru it, in order to provide for a clean fold. - (It is just a step short of perforation.) If you do not have this option, fold back and forth cleanly upon the dotted line.

  1. Clip your pages together using binder clips.
I start by stacking the 16 pages together and making sure the stack is even.
 Make sure all  "binding borders" are on the same side.
Now, using binder clips, I clip the stack together - away from the binding side to make sure the stack will remain as even as possible when stapling.

  1. Staple your book together using a heavy duty stapler.

  1. You should have a booklet without endcovers at this point.

  1. Number lower page corners lightly with pencil from 1-32.

I will continue with Creating A Dummy Book for Illustrators - Part2 in my next blog.
Carolyn Dee Flores

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Illustration Process

 "If They Could Rule The World Like Me"
Carolyn Dee Flores. Oil on cardboard.

Thumbnail to Finished Illustration -  Katriona Chapman

“The Art of The Cover” by David Weisner.

Left Brain Right Brain – Richard Jesse Watson

More from David Weisner – “David’s Studio” and “Straight from the Sketchpad”

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Rafting at Night" and Modeling

Today, I am featuring one of my recent paintings - "Rafting at Night." 24 x 18" Oil on canvas. It is one in a series of five paintings I did based upon the Periodic Table of The Elements.

"Rafting at Night." 24 x 18" Oil on canvas

Since I spent the entire week last week building a miniature model classroom to use as a reference for the new illustrations I am working on (seriously, I did), it was a great change of pace to get back into just plain oil, brushes, tubes and easel.

Sometimes, you just need a break, no matter how much you love what you are doing.
By the way, here is a picture of my classroom.

My Scale Cardboard Model of a Classroom

 Last year, at the SCBWI Conference in L.A. 2009, David Weisner, three time Caldecott medal winner,  talked extensively about  the need to be skilled at drawing. One of his suggestions was to make clay models of your subject, in order to see it with the correct lighting and shadows.  I have been doing that since last year, and it really helps me to create the world I want and understand it a lot more clearly.
Here is model I made of a horse-drawn carriage. Crazy, huh?
Model of a Horse-Drawn Carriage

Retweet of the Day
These are such great tips on illustration! Enjoy.

 See you next week. Have fun!
 Carolyn Dee Flores

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SCBWI-SWTX Editor's Day 2010

This past Saturday, September 18, SCBWI members were treated to talks by Sarah Shumway  of Harper-Collins and Julie Ham of Charlesbridge.
Carmen Tafolla gave the keynote.  All three were excellent.
Next time, I will share my notes on these sessions.
In the meantime, here are some links that did an excellent job of covering the day’s events.

Now, for a quick overview of the first  Illustrator Breakout Session.
Art Avila and Raining Popcorn Publishing
Art Avila -SCBWI-SWTX Editor's Day 2010

Art Avila of Raining Popcorn Publishing spoke informally about children’s publishing and answered questions about new media, children’s illustration opportunities, and what an Art Director looks for. Here are a few pointers:

-          Have an easily accessible online portfolio.

-          Take advantage of other types of opportunities within the children’s illustration industry because you never know where it might lead and experience is always good.

   -          Network and get involved in social organizations such as SCBWI.

-          Vector-based artwork (for example, line art) translates easily to media and flash – which is important for websites and interactive teaching tools, (especially those geared toward very young children.)
       A site teaching children about piggy banks and money.
      A site teaching children about energy.

-          Don’t be afraid to approach an Art Director. Find out what the submissions guidelines are, and do it respectfully. Send an e-mail with a link to your portfolio. Do not send an attachment.

Here are a few of the children's books published by Raining Popcorn.

The second Breakout Session was with Heather Powers, winner of the 2008 SCBWI Tomie dePaola Portfolio Award. Here is a quick overview of that session.
Heather Powers and “Creating an Award-Winning Portfolio.”
Heather Powers at SCBWI-SWTX Editor's Day

A few of Heather's tips include:

-An online portfolio is an absolute must.

-Your portfolio should be pure. For example, if you have realistic illustrations and more stylized illustrations, you might want to think about keeping them in two different portfolios. 

-Keep your website and portfolio easy to navigate.

-Showcase only your strongest work. Art directors will always remember your worst image.

-Showcase work that correlates to the work you want to do.

      -BE PROLIFIC. The best way to strengthen your portfolio is to work as hard and as much as you possibly can, replacing weaker images with strong ones.
Thank you so much for wonderful insights, Art and Heather!
ReTweet of the Day
How to Approach Art Directors without Being Annoying

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pictures from the SCBWI Conference in LA 2010

Here is a picture of me with world renowned children’s illustrator Richard Jesse Watson.
Yes, THE Richard Jesse Watson.
I really lucked out this year, because Richard critiqued my portfolio and helped me a lot. I will discuss more about his tips on illustration in a future post.

However, this is one of only four pictures I took during the entire SCBWI Conference.
Reason being, as I walked out the door to catch my plane from San Antonio to LA, suitcase in hand, journal and quill pen tucked safely in my pocket, my friends yelled at me.
“And don’t go taking any of those pictures where you run out behind famous people and pretend like you’re really good friends – LIKE YOU DID LAST YEAR!”

Which, ashamedly, I did.
Here’s a picture of me last year running out behind poor Henry Winkler (The Fonz) and Lin Oliver– and taking them both totally by surprise.
I want to start my blog by saying something about the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Summer Conference 2010 :
I could write a book about all of the things I learned in those four days. But, the number one overwhelming impression of the SCBWI Conference in LA this year was that THE TALENT IN THE CHILDREN’S BOOK INDUSTRY TODAY IS STAGGERING. I’m not just talking about the faculty and published authors and illustrators. Everybody, everybody was great. I can’t wait to see what happens next! I’m really proud to be a part of this industry.
I look forward to talking with you about many different aspects of the creative process. Got some great links for you. Catch you later.
 Carolyn Dee Flores