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Beyond The Bramble: Advance Reader’s Copy Cover Art

Published August 2, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Since the last time I wrote on here I have been working on two very different projects, so I figured that it would make the most sense to just write two separate posts. You can expect the second post to show up sometime early in this week, so keep checking! The first project that I did over the past two weeks was the cover art for my friend Sarah Marie Bacavis’s children’s fantasy adventure book, Beyond The Bramble. I probably mentioned before that this was just the cover for the Advance Reader’s Copy; that first run that she will be sending to her early readers to get some feedback before she starts shopping the book to any literary agents or publishers. At a later date I will be designing a more detailed cover that will be used for the final print when it is ready for submission. During the second half of of July I started designing some of the characters from her story to use in the artwork, which was mostly what my last blog post was about. After I got the go-ahead on the character sketches, I began to sketch out a layout for the cover. I used her original sketch as my main source of reference.

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Also, this picture of her actual dachshund, Annette.

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I changed the layout of the cover a bit, and I made sure to incorporate “Advanced Reader’s Copy” into the design. Here is what I came up with:

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I made sure to leave plenty of “bleed zone” this time, because now that I’ve learned so much about the online printing process through my own book (much to my husband and layout artist Martyn’s chagrin), I now know that most printers require a bleed area about as wide as my wrist on all sides. Sarah really liked the sketch, but later decided that the word “Advanced” should actually be “Advance.” Luckily, I hadn’t inked it yet at that point, so this was a very easy fix.

Here’s some point during the inking process:

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Here’s the inking completed:

Beyond The Bramble Advance Reader LineworkAt some point while I was inking this, I washed my hands and got some soapy water trapped under my big scary Medusa biker ring. I discovered this as I was drawing some perfectly clean little detail lines with a micron pen when SUDDENLY EVERYTHING WAS ALL WET AND SMUDGING MY INK EVERYWHERE!!! Not to be melodramatic or anything, because in the long run this is never too big of a problem. Minor smudges like the ones you can see around the goblin Wilden’s right ear and hat always seem to disappear once I add the many layers of overlying color. Still, I really hate it when that happens and I need to remember to not wear any clunky jewelry while I’m working!

To prove how not a big deal that smudge was though, here’s what the drawing looked like after color:

Advance Reader Cover

Since the final design will be a cropped version of this image minus all the bleed zone on the outside, here is how I imagine it will probably look on the cover of the book:

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Or something like that. Sarah seemed really psyched about the finished cover art and recently ordered the first run of books from Lulu. I can’t wait to see how they come out!

So yeah, more about that other project in my next post!

 

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Beyond The Bramble: Character Design

Published July 18, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

A good friend of mine, Sarah Marie Bacavis, has also written a children’s book called Beyond The Bramble.

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It’s a middle grade short novel (not a picture book) that is best classified as a children’s fantasy adventure story. The book is now nearing completion and is currently in a similar stage of production as mine; getting the first reader/first print copies made so she can get some feedback and send her book out to some literary agencies. The story is about an imaginative girl who goes with her dachshund puppy Annette to visit her grandparents, only to discover a hidden world inside of the overgrown bramble in their backyard. The book is also about, you guessed it, goblins!

To simplify things, the three main reasons why Sarah and I are friends in the first place are Glam Rock, goblins, and the internet. We both fairly active with our Deviantart accounts back in 2008/2009, and we sort of found each other through our artwork and our extreme affinity for this somewhat odd combination of subjects. Some major influences of ours included David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Alice Cooper, Cuddly Toys, Brian Froud (well all three of the Frouds, actually), Jim Henson, The Dark Crystal, The Labyrinth, and The NeverEnding Story. We later discovered that we had even more of the same influences in common that we had just never bothered to mention before. Maybe we’re just like one of those creative matches made in heaven, like Henson and Oz. Either way, it’s always a pretty amazing thing to chance meet a creative who is from your very same “planet.”

When Sarah asked me if I could help her with designing the characters from her book and then illustrating the cover art, I was more than happy to help. She already had drawn that idea for the cover and some sketches of three of the characters from the story. We decided that I would first help design the characters, and then do some more basic cover artwork for the first read copy. The first read copies will be be going to the printer very soon, so for time’s sake and to differentiate the first read edition from the more finalized text, we are going to go with a more simplified design for now.

So far I have completed the designs all three characters. First we have her sketches of a goblin named Sim Sala Pim, “but Pim is plenty.”

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Here’s my pencil drawing:

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Inked:

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Colored:

Pim Design

Then we have her drawings of another goblin called Wilden.

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Here is my final design for Wilden (because I guess I forgot to take more work-in-progress pics again!)

Wilden Design

And last we have Coragrinn The Finder, a very scowly, grouchy, and somewhat pretentious junk collector goblin who spends most of his time digging through dirty garages.

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Coragrinn was by far the most difficult character to design. I actually had a feeling that he might be, so I ended up tackling this one first. The reason he was so difficult was probably because he has such a strong personality and needed to have a scowl that was just right. Sarah also had the most trouble envisioning this one and left her drawings very open to interpretation. I took a long while playing around with the shape of his face before I ever got started on the final design.

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As you can see from my sketches, I had pretty much decided from the beginning that he needed to have short, lopsided bangs and some very deep frown lines. I also decided that I liked him better with a taller forehead and a longer face, because it somehow made him look more intellectual but also a lot grumpier. Putting all of the things that I liked about the different face designs together, I then came up with this:

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Here is is all colored in (and yes, that is my sneaker!)

Coragrinn Design

That’s the design that I first ended up sending to Sarah. She loved his scowly face, and she said that he reminded her a little of Rabbit from Winnie The Pooh crossed with the Gallagher brothers of Oasis (a disturbing yet hilariously apt observation!) The term “Squidwardian” was also tossed around a bit when designing this guy. Ultimately the only major changes that Sarah wanted to make to this first design was to darken the coloration on his muzzle and feel to make him look even grungier, and to give him longer, gnarlier toes with claws more similar to those of a kangaroo. Since I am an old school traditional artist, a correction as minor as that just takes a little bit of creativity:

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Presto!

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After his “pedicure” was complete, I got the final approval from Sarah that he was at last “the perfect grouchy filthy hoarder” that she hoped he would be!

So that’s all I’ve got for the character designs. Next I will start work on the illustration for the first read cover, and I’ll be sure to post more about it in my next one!

 

 

Illustration Promo Cards

Published July 7, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

I don’t have a lot to post tonight. I just thought that before I move into the next big project I should include a little blurb about what my finished illustration promo postcards are going to look like, because I’m pretty excited about them! Here’s the front and back of the cards:

Postcard Front and Back

Once again my amazing husband Martyn “Marty” Cooper has assisted me with the layout design. I knew that I wanted the back of the card to be a warm off-white like my business cards, and I knew that I wanted to include a little spot illustration of toadstools somewhere on there, and also that I wanted use the same font style that we used in my children’s book. He totally made it happen and much more. I love the wavering handmade look of the lines on the card, and the “affix stamp here” was also his idea. I’m pretty in love with it/him!

I ordered the cards from overnightprints.com just like I did with my business cards, because those came out awesome. Just as a review, this is the design of my business cards (front and back all hand-drawn by yours truly.)

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My postcards will arrive in roughly a week from today, and I can’t wait to use them with my manuscript submission packages! I also wanna send some out to agents and whoever else I think might hire me as an illustrator for a project someday.

I also got a call from Office Depot today informing me that my five dummy books are now printed and ready for pickup! Martyn is DJing at Dots Cafe tonight so I haven’t been able to take the car and get them just yet, but I’m totally going to swing by on my way home from work tomorrow. I’ll let you know how they turned out!

 

 

 

Bertha Illustration Coloring

Published July 5, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Hope y’all had a happy ‘Merica Day! I finished up that illustration of Bertha on Sunday night, so here’s some final work in progress pictures I took of the coloring process as well as the final piece.

First, here’s where I left off in my last post after I was all done with the inking:

Bertha Linework

Then I started blocking in some color with my trusty Prismacolor markers.

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Added some more layers of color.

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Even more layers still, scribbling some dark navy blue shadows into the leaves for that extra richness and depth.

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I honestly didn’t take that many photos. Whoops. Here it is pretty much finished on my art desk.

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Here’s the final scan.

Bertha Illustration Final

I probably mentioned this in my last post, but the reason I made this illustration was for some promotional postcards that I plan to get printed from overnightprints.com to send along with the snail mail submissions of my children’s book. I just dropped off the files for my book at Office Depot yesterday to get the first round of five dummies printed for the publishers, which should be finished by the end of this week. I can’t wait to see them! For the back of the postcards I will most likely be using the same old world fairytale font style as we did in “Kris & Krampus Kringle”; perhaps with a spot illustration of some toadstool mushrooms for an extra little accent. I might try and figure out that part out tonight. Till then, be safe, and watch out for any remaining patriotic explosions!

 

Work in Progress: Bertha Illustration

Published June 29, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

I wrote in my last post about a new character that I designed recently, Bertha:

Bertha Design

She is based off of a pagan winter goddess/witch from Alpine folklore, Perchta or Berchta (also mentioned in my last post.) There’s just something about her that I really like. She’s both beautiful and dangerous, with a false air of innocence that you would totally understand if only you got to know her a little.

Last week I started an illustration of Bertha knitting under a wild rose bush tunnel in the woods. When it’s finished I’m going to use the image for promotional postcards, which I plan to send to publishers and agents along with my contact info and dummy book/manuscript. Here’s the pencil drawing:

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Here’s the line work after I finished inking it last night:

Bertha Linework

That’s all I have so far. Now it’s at the “personalized coloring book” stage that’s so much fun to come home to. After I celebrate my 30th birthday on the 30th, I will start with the coloring and be sure to post some more in-progress pictures as I go!

 

I’m Back/Recap 2: Bertha

Published June 23, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

It’s been a month since I’ve been posting weekly or on the regular, so here’s recap part two! Some of you might recall how I fell down a lucky rabbit hole on Wikipedia a few weeks back and discovered Perchta. Please actually click on the wiki link that I just provided for the complete article, because it’s entirely fascinating and obviously much more articulate than anything I could possibly ever describe in this post! She’s also quite a looker:

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From what I have gathered, Perchta (or Bertha in English) is another Yuletide character from Alpine folklore who is kind of like the female counterpart to our good friend Krampus. Her name means “the bright one” and she is a pagan goddess/wintertime witch who is sometimes said to be a ruler of beasts and the leader of the Wild Hunt. She appears during the Twelve Days of Christmas in two very distinct guises. Sometimes she is very beautiful and fair; clothed in white robes as she visits the dwellings of good children and rewards their yearly efforts with gifts of silver coins left behind in their shoes.

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At other times, when children have not been good, and especially if they have committed the particularly loathsome crimes of not spinning their entire allotment of wool, or eating something on the night of her feast day other than the traditional meal of fish and gruel, then Perchta would appear as a haggard, hideous monster and slit their bellies open in the middle of the night!

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She would then proceed to disembowel her prey and replace their organs with pebbles and straw, presumably then stitching them all back together nice and neat since she is also a goddess who oversees sewing, weaving, and spinning. She can really make Krampus look like a nice guy…and that is saying something!

Speaking of which: I guess Krampus has a girlfriend! Don’t they make an adorable couple?

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I’m in love.

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Seriously though–from all that I have read so far, Perchta and Krampus do kind of go hand in hand during Krampuslauf parades and similar events involving all manner of Christmastime merriment and debauchery. Festival goers might dress as “beautiful Perchten” (the plural form of Perchta) for good luck:

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Some were perhaps not quite so beautiful.

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Alternately, others would don animal skins and scary masks as flat out “ugly Perchten” to scare away the local ghosts and devils from the town. A lot of the ugly Perchten masks even resemble Krampus, but often with lighter fur and multiple intertwining horns.

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I always love the group photos.

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Perchten on parade!

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Some of the masks even highlight her dual nature and serve as a two-in-one!

Frau Perchta

Frau Perchta

Another interesting aspect of Perchta is that the older stories describe her as having an odd, extra-large foot, or goose/swan feet.

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In some of the older portrayals of Krampus he also has mismatched feet; one human foot and one cloven hoof.

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I always assumed this was a demon thing. Since I was that weird kid who spent all of my free time in the library reading everything I could find on mythology, the paranormal, and the occult, I actually do know a thing or two about demons, or at least how they were oftentimes depicted in medieval artwork. The medieval Christian explanation went something like: Man was created in God’s image, so although demons are known for their powers of deception and their shapeshifting abilities, they can never truly take on the sacred form of a human being. Like, they can ALMOST do it, but they’ll always be at least one thing that’s a little off about them–like a cloven hoof or a tail or something.

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As a fellow person with unusually large feet, I can only imagine how this would make shoe shopping an absolute nightmare. I feel you, dude.

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This explanation also accounts for changelings and fairies and all kinds of other weird fantastical humanoid critters that were ever said to roam the Earth before Christianity became the dominant religion in Europe. A clever way to transform the pagan gods into something that you wouldn’t want hanging around your village, and probably further enforcing the need to go to church!

However, just like Krampus, the origins of Perchta predate Christianity. The only two explanations that I could find about the odd foot thing is that it’s an indication of Perchta’s shapeshifting abilities, since she is a goddess after all, and my favorite explanation…she needs a big ol’ goose foot to work the treadle on her spinning wheel! And that, my friend, is evolution if I ever heard it!

So with all of this amazing inspiration, I quickly decided that I need to draw my own Perchta character. I’ve already been considering writing a sequel to Kris & Krampus Kringle someday down the road. Other ideas for possible characters in the second book include some other cool characters from Nordic Christmas folklore, The Yule Cat, The Yule Lads, and their mother, the wicked giantess Grýla. With all of these characters essentially originating from the same universe, it makes me want to write crossovers and backstories on them even more. I also think that I will write the sequel to take place four years later, so that Krampus would be as old as Kris was in the first book (nine years old) and Kris would be about thirteen. This would set things up perfectly for an awkward first romance!

Based on the idea that my Perchta character would be the same age as Krampus in the second book, I started sketching what I imagined she would look like as a young girl. For pronunciation’s sake I decided that I should call her by the English spelling of her name, Bertha. I mostly based her design off of the beautiful Perchten form, but I decided that I still wanted to incorporate a few of her more monstrous features as well. This is the first sketch that I drew.

Bertha Sketch

You see, this way she’s still very beautiful but she also looks like she can be a bit of a brat if provoked. I kept the long blonde hair and let the golden halo/stylized rays of light in some of those beautiful Perchten masks morph into a more naturalistic braid crown. I also added some small curled double horns. Her nose is also a little bit beastly, but still more delicate than how I draw Krampus’s nose. I was happy enough with the initial sketch to then refine it into a finished character design.

Bertha Design

I made sure to include her lacy bonnet this time, as well as the goose feet and her love of the textile arts! I also gave her an ugly Perchten mask that I imagine her wearing most of the time…like maybe she’s really shy so she doesn’t usually let people see her real face. It ended up looking a little like a creepy tiki mask, but I swear that I based the design on the wooden masks in the old drawings posted above. I think that someday I would also love to make a puppet of her just like I plan to do with Kris, Krampus, and Mama Kringle.

So that’s about it for this post. Over the past few days I’ve been working on an illustration of Bertha knitting under a wild rose bush tunnel in the woods. It’s going to be another pretty little portfolio piece when it’s done, and I might also be turning it into a promotional postcard to send to agents and publishers along with my info and dummy book. I will be sure to include some work in progress pictures of that piece in my next blog entry!

 

 

 

I’m Back/Recap 1: Illustration Portfolio

Published June 22, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Dang, it’s been a whole month since I last posted! Although I don’t have any particularly earth-shattering progress to share this time, I will make this one a two-parter just to cover the amount of time that’s passed since my last entry. I believe that I left off right before I went to the SCBWI Spring Conference in Wilsonville, Oregon. Up until that point I was scrambling to get my first test dummy book printed and my portfolio and up to snuff for the juried art show that I had signed up for at the conference, and also for my portfolio review with Kevan Attebery. I chose Kevan to be my reviewer because he’s a Seattle illustrator that primarily draws monsters. He also invented Clippy, that annoying paperclip dude from Microsoft Word! I thought that was pretty cool. Kevan was very supportive of my work and gave me a really thoughtful and useful critique, and he was also an all-around nice guy.

The conference itself was cool and pretty informative, although I do kind of wish it had been more geared towards children’s books and children’s book illustration…well, specifically picture books. Something that I guess I knew but never really thought about before is that the children’s book publishing world also includes novels and young adult books. It seemed to me like LOT of the panels at the conference were more helpful to authors, especially YA authors writing coming of age type stories, historical fiction/fantasy, and teen romance. It was kind of neat to hear about how the publishing process from different perspectives, but I do hope that next year there will be more offered in the realm of picture books. Since there will be multiple smaller conferences instead of one big one next time, it’s probably also within the realm of possibility.

Anyway, here’s my illustration portfolio as you see it now on my website. It’s pretty much the same as I had printed for my physical portfolio but with maybe two-three extra pieces. They were very strict about the number of pieces you included at the conference, so I was pretty ruthless with what I chucked out!

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Kris & Krampus Front Cover

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Krampus Kringle Portrait

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Attack Of The Fearless Flyer

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Lucia Drawing

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At the conference I got the strongest reactions to the portrait of Mama Kringle, the four paneled illustration of Kris Kringle looking for Krampus in the snow, and the illustration of Lucia in the meadow. I still want to chuck a few of the older ones out and replace them with some illustrations that I have not yet finished or even started, so you’ll have that to look forward to.

I also met some really cool people at the conference, namely a fellow children’s book illustrator named Brittany Harris. Martyn and I started talking to her at the after party, and then we all decided that the party was a little too stuffy (and also over) so we decided to check out the crazy Blues band playing at the Holiday Inn bar and play some pool…badly! We were all so awful that we even had an old man wearing American flag shorts heckling us. It was hilarious, and so much fun that it made the day that much more worth it.

Brittany told us that she lived in Ashland but was about to move to Montana because her husband Josh just got a sweet new job. Ashland was one of those “places to visit in Oregon on my bucket list” so we vowed to visit them before they left…and we did! The weekend after the conference some friends of ours from Colorado were visiting Portland (Chris and Sarah Bacavis; love those guys!) We spent that weekend showing them around town, and then the weekend after that we took a day trip to Ashland to see Brittany and Josh. We had so much fun bar hopping, seeing the sights, and then dealing with our hangovers the following day by eating delicious breakfast food and floating in a scenic lake next to an old cemetery. It’s a shame that they’re moving away, but I think that we really made a lasting friendship through this conference thing so I’ve gotta give it credit for that!

So yeah, the past couple of weeks have been pretty much been spent having fun with friends, cooking out with the neighbors in the yard, celebrating everyone’s birthday (Martyn’s 29th just happened on the 14th and my 30th is coming up quick on the 30th), and celebrating the Midsummer Solstice. Work is pretty much the same as usual, with the occasional flying salad monster.

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Meanwhile, Vine Gogh is working hard as ever to open the new Tigard studio with a bang. In the not-so-distant future I’m gonna be teaching some “Twisted Tuesday” classes where we’ll get to do all the weird, fun, and more experimental art projects! Jenny wants me to come up with some new fairy-themed paintings, and she also loves my ideas to teach some watercolor and polymer clay/mixed media sculpture classes. I’m really looking forward to seeing where all of this is going just around the corner!

Well sorry if this has been just another boring recap post, but since so much time has escaped me since my last one I just felt that it was necessary. In my next post I promise that I’ll dive right into the new art stuff that I’ve been working on in all this time!