Thursday, December 27, 2012

Monster Island - Bird's Eye View, inked

Here's the next step in completing the final art of the Monster Island bird's-eye view spread for my new kids' book, Monster Safari. I inked the line of the halftone drawing (see below) using a Micron Pigma number 005 pen. I used a number 2 for the hand-lettering. I left the half-tone in so that it would serve as a guide when I'm painting in the color values and shadows.

The next and final step, the color, will be done in Photoshop, using my Wacom Cintiq. I will be posting the final color art soon.

Check out my other blog, the Trowbridge Chronicles.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas to All!

Here's the pencil layout and final art for this year's Christmas card. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Monster Island - Birds-eye View

This will be the first spread in my Monster Safari kids' book. This illustration will introduce readers to Monster Island from an aerial point of view. This is a graphite value study of the upcoming full-color spread. The next page in the book may contain a straight-down view, an illustrated map of the island, which will pinpoint exactly where our team encountered the various monsters on the island. Click on the image to enlarge it.

I hand-lettered the above text, but I might decide to typeset it. All of the monster pages (scroll down) are hand-lettered, but I might find that it would be more appropriate to typeset the introductory pages.

The next view that you will see of the above illustration will be the final full-color version. 

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles? It's a world away from Monster Island.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Two-Headed Zilch - How-to-Draw Page


The last beastie in our bestiary sketch book is perhaps the strangest, and certainly the rarest. We only saw one specimen of the Two-Headed Zilch during our time on the island. It was probably an anomaly, a one-of-a-kind creature. 

Watching the Zilch walk through the jungle was a hysterically funny sight. We had to stifle our guffaws so as not to scare him away. When one side of the Zilch is walking forward, the other side is backing up. What was most hilarious was watching them squabbled over who would walk forward. Whoever lost the argument was saddled with the inferior task of backing up as they lumbered through the jungle in search of food. I was sketching furiously while I laughed silently. 

They would begin with a back-and-forth struggle...forward, backward, forward, backward, and so on...until one would win the tug-of-war. He was then the leader, for the moment, until they would stop to nibble on a jungle morsel, then it would start all over again. 

You can see that there's a small space on each side of the creature where a talk balloon could be placed. But I'm in a bit of a quandary about what the creature will be saying. I'm open for suggestions for a very short bit of dialogue that would go in the talk bit of dialogue from each side of the creature. If I'm able to use your suggested dialogue, I'll send you a signed copy of the book when it comes out.  

Now that all of the creatures are drawn, I will begin the final phase of the book, creating the full-color set-up illustrations and text, using the many reference sketches and photos that I took while I was on the island. The next image you see may be a bird's-eye view painting of the island and surrounding tropical sea. I have only a handful of pages to go before the book is complete. If you want to see all of the monsters in the book, simply scroll down.

In the foreground you can see the hint of a game trail which leads to a thick, dark and mysterious region of jungle, with a sharp peak in the distance. We called this peak the "Needle" for its sharp point (which we scaled later that day). It was in this dark jungle undergrowth on Monster Island that we spotted the Zilch.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles? Check it out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Snoot - How-to-Draw Page

The monster menagerie march continues, with the curious looking Snoot. Hey, don't blame me for the silly name, folks. My assistant named him the very moment we first spotted him slogging through the swamp on Monster Island. He was standing on a half-submerged log below a hanging branch with a segmented serpent draped over it, just as you see here. I grabbed my sketchbook and sketched him on the spot.

Each spread in the upcoming Monster Safari book will feature a full-page sketch of the monster (just as you see here) on the left side of the spread. The how-to-draw page will be on the opposite page. Though we discovered many more monsters during the course of our safari on the island than you will see in the book, I selected my favorite dirty dozen beasties for the book.

Here's a shot of me in the jungle on the island, taken by my assistant. This photo was taken just moments before we spotted the Snoot. You can see that the jungle is very dense and spooky, with lots of tangled vines and roots, and animal trails that lead to nowhere. I felt like I had just climbed into a Tarzan movie.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles? Check it out.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Limbot - How-to-Draw Page

Ten monsters down...and two to go.  I'm on the home stretch with my monster how-to-draw pages.  After this I will write and illustrate the full-color introductory pages of the book.  There will be a bird's-eye view of Monster Island and some other descriptive art.

I'm in a rush to finish the book because the sooner I finish it, the more I will sell during this school year. I know the school year will be over before we know it. I'm happy about the topic I chose because I know that monsters never go out of style with elementary age kids. This will sell for years to come. They can't get enough of monsters, dragons and space creatures. Perhaps my next how-to-draw book will be a dragon book.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles? Check it out.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Oregon Duck Going Long for a Pizza

Thought I would break the monster monotony with a Oregon Ducks pizza commerical. This was the only painting that I ever did for my Trowbridge Chronicles blog that was not a "Mrs. Trowbridge" painting. I cheated a couple years ago and posted this illustration that promoted the Ducks for a pizza company. Now I have this blog to post my own drawings, sketches and paintings. The next post will take us back to my Monster Safari book. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Horned Toad - How-to-Draw Page

If you're just tuning in, I'm in the middle of creating a how-to-draw kids' book, called Monster Safari. I'm displaying each spread on this blog as I create it. It's good to be on the downside with about three more monster pages to go, plus a couple of full-color set-up spreads. Scroll down to see all the previous pages. 

It's not moving along as fast as I'd like it to since I can only work on it late nights (as I am now), early mornings and weekends. But I'm enjoying the process. I've created many kids books over the years, yet it's always a kick to release a new one.

The book will be available as an e-book as well as traditional. I also plan to bring these Little Beasties to YouTube in the form on how-to-draw tutorials for kids, after I'm finished with the book.

Check out my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles. It's totally different from this one.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Beakapoo - How-to-Draw Page

It takes patience to create a kids' book on the side. I wish I could work on it full-time and move through it quickly. But this is my late-night, early morning project. I'm pecking away at it as I can squeeze it in between my regular projects. But it's been fun to watch it steadily grow from week to week. It should be out for at least some of the school assembly programs that I have coming up this year.

I have written and/or illustrated many books over the years. But this will be my first ebook, hopefully the first of many. 

For this monster I wondered what a big beak with legs would look like. Now I know.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles? Check it out.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tyranopus - How-to-Draw Page

My Monster Safari book is slowly taking shape, one monster at a time. I  have now reached about the halfway point in my monster pages. By scrolling down you can see all of the previous monsters that I've drawn. 

The drawings are done with a 2B lead, using a Pilot mechanical pencil, nothing else. I darken the value slightly in Photoshop. 

The only other device that I use with the drawings is a section of newspaper upon which I put my drawing paper, to act as a cushion. It's much easier to get soft gradations when you're drawing on a cushioned surface. I never read about that technique...I just discovered it myself. The above drawing was drawn in such a fashion.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles? It's an illustrated journal  that I found in the Quinault Rain Forest about ten years ago. It was written and illustrated by a Trowbridge shrew, who journaled life in her rain forest village about 200 years ago. Her name was Violet Trowbridge. I have admired her delicate watercolors so much that I must admit that my work may have been influenced by her. I especially like her elegant calligraphy work.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Snaggle-Tooth Crab - How-to-Draw Page

Here's the next creature that got signed for the part of the Snaggle-Tooth Crab in my up-coming book, Monster Safari. This is the only species of crab ever found that doesn't have pinchers. But those nasty canine-style teeth can leave a nasty set of puncture wounds. 
This is perhaps the most difficult of all the creatures to draw, mainly because of the six legs that are crunched together. That may be a bit difficult for a young artist.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles? Check it out.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Snoot - How-to-Draw Page

Another Little Beastie joins the monster cast as I draw my way toward the completion of my new book, Monster Safari.  I'm posting each spread one by one, as I finish them, until the book is completed. Then the book will be available for sale. It will probably be released first as an ebook, then a traditional book.

On the right side of the spread will be the how-to-draw page, as seen above. I hope to make a video of each monster, showing how to draw him, then release it on YouTube. I'll keep you posted as I progress through the book. 

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles

Friday, July 27, 2012

Skworm - How-to-Draw Page

One of the Little Beasties that didn't make the cut was the snake covered with fur, which you may recall. A furry snake seemed a bit creepy for my taste, so I sent him packing and hired the Skworm on the spot. He's part worm, part snake, part scorpion, and his mug is so ugly only his blind mother could love him.

I'm already thinking of what happens after the Monster Safari book. I'm thinking maybe a How-to-Draw Monster Safari series on YouTube. Perhaps a Dragon Safari book to follow. 

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles? Check it out.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Circumnavigating Mount Rainier

Taking a break from the Little Beasties that I've been posting for my Monster Safari book, I thought I might break from the art world and post a couple of pictures of yesterday's motorcycle trip.

Yesterday I "circumnavigated" Mount Rainier, in Washington State (USA) by motorcycle...I rode my motorcycle all the way around the mountain in a day. Buried in the forest just beyond the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort parking lot (above) is a restaurant. That's where I had lunch. I had a nice visit with my server, who was a Russian college student  This was her second summer on Mount Rainier on a Russian-American work/study program. She discovered peanut butter here in America, and loves it...they don't have peanut butter in Russia. My bike's in the foreground.

I stopped along highway 410 between Greenwater and Crystal Mountain to photograph majestic Mount Rainier. After having lunch at Crystal Mountain, I continued on around the east side of the mountain to Packwood, Then westward to Morton, north to Elbe, Eatonville and back home to Puyallup. You can see from the above pictures why Washington is known as the Evergreen State.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hornball - How-to-Draw Page

Here's the next page in my new how-to-draw kids' book, Monster Safari. I found it a challenge to come up with a dozen different monsters, and have them all look different with their own distinct characteristics. It helped to bring variety by creating different creatures to inhabit the land, sea and the air.

I made the decision to create this book because after visiting schools for many years, I learned what kids are interested in. In elementary schools kids love monsters. The Make-a-Monster Game that I perform on stage is always a hit. So I knew that a how-to-draw monsters book would be a well-received title.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Crocodactyl - How-to-Draw Page

Here's the second spread in my Monster Safari children's drawing book. On the left side of the page (above) is an illustration of the Crocodactyl, perhaps a distance cousin, second removed, of the Pterodactyl. A Furbuzzle sits atop the winged creature, hanging on for dear life.

After the fact, I realized that my background in the illustration is not easily readable. My wife couldn't figure it out when I asked her this morning. FYI, the view looks down on the cloud-shrouded jungle, with a few holes in the clouds which reveal the jungle canopy below. If this were done in color I think it would read clearly.
On the right side of the spread is the how-to-draw page (above). I squeezed both creatures into the space. Though I teach drawing with basic shapes in my school workshops, I don't do it myself. I just start drawing. So I had to deliberately break the characters down into the steps. I did it by "back-drawing". First I drew the step-one "basic shapes" drawing, then I jumped to the last drawing and filled in all the shading. Then I backed up and filled in the "tweens".

If you would like me to reserve a signed copy of the book for you or your library, feel free to contact me and I'll put your name on my list: Then I will contact you when the book comes out.

Have you seen my Trowbridge Chronicles blog? It's written and illustrated by a Trowbridge Shrew, named Violet Trowbridge, who lived in the Olympic Rain Forest about 200 years ago.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Eelops - How-to-Draw Page

Now we begin the second phase of my new Monster Safari children's book, the how-to-draw pages. On the left side of the spread will be the sketch of the Eelops creature, as you see above. On the right side will be a brief description of the Eelops, then a how-to-draw tutorial (below).

I chose to hand-letter the text to tie-in with the book's sketchbook format. I haven't yet decided whether I'll hand letter or typeset the text for the introductory and closing pages of the book. Stay tuned for more Monster Safari pages to come.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles? It's a ancient journal, written about 200 years ago, by a Trowbridge Shrew named Violet Trowbridge. She lived in the Quinault Rain Forest and kept a diary of daily life in her rain forest village, Huckleberry Hollow.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Day in the Life

It's time to take a break from the Little Beasties I've been posting recently and introduce to you my unconventional movable work style. Most people sit in their studio working all day. Not me. Been there, done that for many years. I've read many illustrators complain of the feeling of isolation with working alone in their studio as a freelancer. 

If the sun's out, I fill my saddlebags with my drawing and writing materials, then climb on my motorcycle and head for the beach or the mountains and spend my day "working" there. If it's cloudy or rainy, I head for Starbucks or any of a number of nearby coffee shops. I still spend a lot of time at my office on the phone and answering emails. But as soon as I get the business stuff out of the way, I leave my office and go somewhere to get my drawing and writing done. I do return to the office to do my Photoshop/Wacom coloring. But all of my drawing and writing is done outside of my studio.

Today my destination is South Prairie, Washington, a small town in the Cascade foothills of the Puget Sound region of Washington State. I will pass through the pleasant Puyallup Valley town of Orting on my ride to South Prairie. Mount Rainier looms in the distance (above) from the town center of Orting. The population density drops considerably after you leave Orting. The scenery along Route 162 between Orting and South Prairie is postcard pastoral.

The Carbon River is born on Carbon Glacier on the slopes of Mount Rainier. This is the river as it appears in the upper Puyallup Valley, between Orting and South Prairie. It joins the Puyallup River downstream near Orting, then winds its way to Puget Sound.

This is a typical stretch of highway between Orting and South Prairie. The scenery here is as idyllic as any in the Pacific Northwest. This area is far enough away from the population centers of the Northwest that it's still unspoiled.

The Veteran's Park in South Prairie where I do my work is located on the east side of town. I didn't include a shot of South's so small it doesn't make much of a picture. This shelter shades me from the midday sun while I work. In the late afternoon the sun comes beaming in at an angle into the shelter. Then I might move to the picnic table by the stream.

This is my favorite spot in the park. It's so pleasant and inspiring to sit and work with the rushing stream nearby. On this day the temperature was a pleasant 72 degrees while I sat and worked on my new Monster Safari children's book. I encourage you to leave your studio occasionally and find a pleasant place to work and renew your inspiration.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Look out for that stinger!

That last creature, the furry serpent, got canned. I concluded that there's something a little creepy about a snake with fur. So now I'm auditioning another slithery, crawly creature. I hope you prefer this one over the furry fellow.

I might add that my original intention was to make these monsters a little edgy, not too benign. But then I remembered who my audience is, first graders... fourth graders. Moms of elementary age children aren't going to buy a book for their first grader that depicts scary monsters with blood dripping out of their mouth. That's why I'm not drawing these creatures with evil eyes and macabre features. These are supposed to be fun monsters.

These are the style of monsters that I draw on my giant pad when I visit the schools. So now I will be able to pick a monster from the book, draw it on stage, then sell the book at the end of the school day. This book will be a perfect fit for my school programs.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Look, George! It's a Furpent!

The Little Beastie parade marches on, or slithers on, if you prefer.  This time with a creature of the serpent variety. What? You've never heard of a hairy serpent? Well, then, you've never been to Monster Island. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Do I know you?

I felt like the "hairy"style monster was underrepresented  in the batch, so I drew this one today. I'm getting close to finishing the monsters, then I start on the draw-the-monster pages, which will appear on the right side of each monster spread. I haven't decided yet, but I might draw a few more. I want to make sure that each monster deserves its place in the book. Stay tuned.

Don't forget to check out my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

What's up?

I'm cruising in to the home stretch. A couple more Little Beasties and I will have enough to put together a book. If you have any last minute monster requests, let me know while there's still time. I think this book will go over well in the schools. Having done school assemblies for many years, I know that kids are crazy about monsters.

I've made a game out of this for my school assemblies for many years. I call it the Crazy Critter Game or the Make-a-Monster Game. The kids in the audience pull various names of animal parts that I've written on pieces of paper ("toad eyes, elephant trunk") out of a bag when I come down into the audience. I return to the stage and read the animal part name to the audience (they howl with laughter), then I draw it onto my giant easel pad (they howl with laughter again). I end up with a hodge-podge of animal parts which combine to make a "Crazy Critter"...and an auditorium full of kids howling with laughter. So after they see the Crazy Critter that I've drawn, they'll want to buy the Crazy Critter (Little Beastie) book. It's always a slam dunk. It's great fun to draw for school audiences, then to sell and sign books. You should try it if you don't already do it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Don't Even Think About It.

Here's another Little Beastie, auditioning for a role in my new children's book. The tentative title: The Little Beasties of Monster Island: A Sketchbook. If you take a special liking to any of the little creatures in the line-up, let me know. I will be making my choice fairly soon. But I will be drawing more Little Beasties because I want to have plenty to choose from.

Don't forget to check out my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Easy Rider

Here's yet another monster to add to my growing monster menagery. I will continue adding beasties until I feel I have more than enough for the book. Then I'll start thinning the herd. There will probably be 12 monsters that make the final cut. Each monster, as seen above, will occupy the left side of the 7.5 inch square page. On the right side of the page there will be a simple tutorial on how how to draw the Little Beastie. So this will be a how-to-draw book. This concept fits in perfectly with my school programs since I sell lots of books at schools.

Since I've illustrated a number of 32-page children's books in full color, I know what a long haul it is to complete the work on a kids' book. This time I felt like I wanted to move through the project more quickly. Creating a "sketch book" format would accelerate the process because most of my final art would be in pencil sketch form.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Who, me?

This time it was a little swamp creature that crawled out of my sketch book last night. Let me know if you have any favorite beasties among the sketches, because I will be choosing a portion to "make the cut" for the book.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Horned Toad

Here's the next Little Beastie, this one by request from Kimber, a Twitter friend.

The book I'm planning is a picture book for early elementary age. I know from my experience in visiting schools that kids love monsters. But is this monster too scary for little kids? What's your opinion?

Do you have an idea for a Little Beastie? Let me hear it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What are you going to do with that little critter in your hand?

Here's the newest addition to my ever-growing monster menagerie. If I can come up with enough interesting variations of these "Little Beasties", I hope to turn it into a book. The working title: The Little Beasties of Monster Island: A Sketchbook

Monday, May 7, 2012

Creepy Crab

From the seashore comes a horned cousin of the box crab, the latest in our repugnant parade of Little Beasties. Some will make the cut and be included in the Little Beastie book...and some won't. Should this creepy little creature be included...or not? Let me know if you have any ideas for a beastly creature that you'd like me to sketch. Yours just might find its way into the pages of the Monster Island book.

The next creature to get hitched to the monster wagon is an elephantine little creature. Check back soon for a look at him.

Friday, May 4, 2012

How do I look?

You can see that I did some graphite surgery on the little Beastie above. You can compare the difference between the above drawing and the previous drawing below. I felt that the eyes on stalks were inappropriate for his bulky appearance, so I snipped off the stalks and grafted in some toady eyes. I also did a little fine-tuning here and there.

I plan to keep producing these little Beasties until I have enough to make up a Beastie sketchbook. I hope to have a book completed by the fall. Check back anytime to monitor my progress.

Check back in two or three days for the next Beastie, which appears to be a horned stepchild of the box crab, with ping pong ball eyes. Nasty looking creature.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Teeth, Tusks and Trunk

Here's another Little Beastie for my growing menagerie. I'm collecting beastie drawings with the idea of an upcoming book of Little Beasties and how to draw them. Elementary kids love to draw, and since I visit schools, a Beastie book would be a good fit for what I do. I could also spin off Little Beastie stories.