The Real Boy Interiors

 Much of the interior art for THE REAL BOY has been floating around the internet already, in blog posts and reviews, but I wanted to go ahead and put it all in one place. These are some of my favorite pieces from the book, most of which are graphite and chalk on toned paper, with some Photoshop love at the end. It was such a fun world to live in for the length of the project, full of magical shop items, cats, and fancy dresses. And I've always wanted to draw a fantasy map.

Additionally, I'm very happy that Anne Ursu had a lovely review in The New York Times, which graciously included some of my art as well.

Thanks as always, and take care!

Inktober Roundup

Phew. October is over. And with it, Inktober, Jake Parker's yearly drawing challenge.

On a whim, I decided to give Inktober a try and it was a lot of fun.  I ended up with 23 drawings, short of the 31 I was hoping for, but October turned out to be a crazy month full of weddings and deadlines, so I'm happy to even have done that. I don't work in ink much professionally, so this was a refreshing change of pace. Here are a few of my favorites from the month-

And now, back to the business at hand. Take care!

Handmaid's Tale Redux

Sometimes past work pops up again in unexpected ways. I did this illustration for Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale back when I was still a student, as part of my senior year thesis. Then after five years of bouncing around the internet, Ms. Atwood's Portuguese publisher, Bertrand Editora, bought the foreign rights for the cover. Funny how things happen, but I'm pretty happy that it's an actual book now. Felicidades!

Nancy Drew Diaries #5

Nancy Drew Diaries - Sabotage at Willow Woods

My fifth Nancy Drew cover, with art direction by Lissi Erwin. Always fun to draw a spooky forest!

I know summer is coming to an end, but you wouldn't know it in Texas. One hundred degree weather mixed with pumpkin spice everything just feels wrong. I'm ready for fall, and all the tights and tea that go with it.

Along with the Nancy Drew cover, here are a few more sketchbook pages. Many of these have floated around my Instagram as cropped pieces, but I like to archive the full pages as well.

Astral Girl


The Field

Polite Sisters

 Thanks, and take care.

The Good, the Bad, the photo reference

Over the years I've collected a lot of photo reference for various projects, and much of it hasn't seen the light of day. It's fun to look at all the behind the scenes junk that goes into an illustration, so I hope you get a kick out of seeing me pretend to be a tween girl (and sometimes tween boy).

Now, my work isn't as realistic as some illustrators, but I still need good reference for most assignments. I'm not so hardcore that I need to hire a model and professionally shoot them, but sometimes Googling reference just doesn't cut it. Even my mediocre photos help with checking proportions, lighting, clothing folds, etc. For my purposes, I just need pretty good reference pretty quickly.

More often than not, I use what I have on hand, which is myself, my old camera, and my grandpa's old tripod. I definitely don't have a kid's body, but it's easy to make myself pose at all hours of the day, and I know the pose I need. Also, I've used the Photo Booth application on my Mac in a pinch, for quick photos when I don't want to set up my tripod.

 As you can see, for this photo I hung from the ceiling to get the lighting just right. I definitely didn't just flip it in Photoshop.

Nancy Drew covers almost always need reference, because the covers have a bit more action, plus tricky angles!

 I put the tripod a few steps down my stairs, set the timer, and would run up the stairs and strike a pose to get the low angle right. I did this about 12 times and it was a good workout.

 For this angle, I set the tripod up high on my dining table while I crouched in the corner. My neighbors must think I'm crazy.

Maybe me posing in a cocktail dress put their suspicions at ease! I shot these in Photo Booth in quick succession to get many angles for the pose. Often I convert the photos to grayscale so I'm not distracted by the color.

 Even my personal work benefits from shooting reference. The photos I shot for this illustration were super under-exposed, but I levels'd them up until I had something passable to draw from. It's very much "perfect is the enemy of good" in this case.

Also, our cats LOVE to photobomb our reference.

Particularly in this case, when I helped Drew shoot reference for his own assignment. Our cat Loki just jumped up on the table and struck the same pose. Looking good, Loki!

So that's about it. It's a fun process, even when it's ridiculous. And it is often ridiculous.

YARR! (for a future Nancy Drew cover ;) )
Til next time, take care.

Summer Sketchbook

Happy Summer! I haven't posted much sketchbook work in a while. Often some of these will end up on Instagram, but I like having nicely scanned versions as well. Sketching is fun, I need to do more of it. I've had a busy summer, but it's nice to reflect back on some less finished work.

This is the tree directly outside my studio (complete with hay bales, thanks Texas). It's much more fun to landscape paint from inside an air conditioned room! This is gouache on toned paper.

And some assorted kids-

So enjoy, and til next time, take care!

Saranormal Wrap-up

Saranormal 11 - Yesterday and Today

Saranormal 10 - A Perfect Storm
And with that, the SARANORMAL series is a wrap for me! The books will continue to come out through the end of December, but my part here is done. In a little over a year, we did eleven covers for this series (and that was amidst my other projects!) and they were all a pleasure. Thanks to Laura Roode for being a wonderful AD for this project.

Here's the lot of 'em all together-

Til next time, take care!

Nancy Drew Diaries, 3 and 4

Nancy Drew Diaries 4 - Once Upon a Thriller

Fun with Nancy Drew continues! These are covers 3 and 4 in the Nancy Drew Diaries series. This one with Nancy in the bookstore might be my favorite yet. Also, this cover with Nancy spying on a horse just came out this week, so yay!

Nancy Drew Diaries 3 - Mystery of the Midnight Rider

Sketches for these covers are usually a fun challenge. We aim to show some drama, but not really give away much of the story. Here are a few sketches from this round-

I looked up lots of hay lofts to figure out the angle for this one. Also, I now know what a hay loft is. Since this series has a fairly large title treatment, I always leave a lot of room for it to fit nicely. It's a challenge, but I think the type helps my compositions in the end.

And for cover 4, more fun bookstore angles! For both of these covers, I mocked up some simple geometry with the 3D Bevel/Extrude tool in Illustrator. I know a lot of illustrators use Google Sketchup for similar purposes, but I'm not tech savvy enough to use that, so Illustrator gets the job done.

In other news-

Next week I'll be attending Spectrum Fantastic Art Live along with some artist friends (Drew! Mclean! Andrew!), and I'm very excited.
I attended the first Spectrum last year and was completely blown away by the high caliber of artists exhibiting there. I've been to lots of different types of conventions (comic book cons, SCBWIs, concept art, etc) and Spectrum felt very special to me. I highly recommend it.

I won't have a booth there this year, but I did use Spectrum as an excuse to update and print a new portfolio book. Happy with how these turned out-

So say howdy if you're there!

Til then, take care!

What I Came to Tell You

What I Came to Tell You
Here is the cover for What I Came to Tell You, written by Tommy Hays. This book will be out in September this year, published by Egmont USA, and I had great direction from Sarah Hoy. It was very fun to paint the bamboo grove and all of its colorful leaves.


I also drew a forest girl, for kicks. It's nice to spend some time with real media before I jump into the digital world. Maybe I should put some of these media studies up as prints?

 Enjoying the restless spring, looking forward to camping, Game of Thrones, and Spectrum next month. I hope all are well.