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Kickstarter: The Final Three Days

Published September 28, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

The Kickstarter campaign for Kris & Krampus Kringle has come a looong way since I last posted! It seemed like we were at 70/80-something percent funded for a good while, and then this past Friday it really hit the fan. Over the course of the day the campaign got five new new backers in addition to two adjusted increased pledges, and shot past 100% funded! When I last checked this morning it was at $2,910 or 116% funded because the goal was only for $2,500! I’ve had so many fears and self-conscious doubts along the way that I’m still kind of in shock with how well it’s been doing, and there’s still three days left to go until time’s up!

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With all of the additional funding I am hoping to order a slightly larger first run of books from Bookbaby. That way I’ll have enough for all of the backers who have reserved their copies first, and some left to bring to the local indie bookstores and libraries here in Portland on consignment or donation. I want to see if the same library on Belmont where we hold our monthly Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators Meetup group would be willing to take one off my hands.

Some pictures I posted on Instagram featuring the custom Krampus button sets that my husband Martyn is making as rewards for the backers. In case you didn’t know, he runs his own button company out of our house called Power Pop Pins, and his buttons kind of rule!

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Close up so you can better see the designs on the smaller vintage Krampus buttons. I’ve always found Victorian Krampus Christmas cards, or Krampuskarten, to be simultaneously beautiful and hilarious!

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On Saturday Martyn and I spoke with four different independent comic and book shops that had an interest in stocking my book during the holidays (and a few that might even let me read my story to some kids!) One is a children’s book store on Alberta Street called Green Bean Books, and the other three were all on Mississippi Avenue–Bridge City Comics, Another Read Through, and Reading Frenzy. I also hope to speak with Floating World Comics sometime soon and possibly some people at Powell’s Books. The Fernie Brae on Hawthorne is my favorite place of all of these, and they’ve always been there to cheer me on as I worked on my book. It’s going to be the biggest honor of all to see my book on the shelf in their little bookshop this Christmas right next to their various signed Brian Froud books!

Another photo I had posted of all of the buttons pinned to my stocking. I really didn’t want to have to look at any of the Christmas stuff in the garage at this time of the year, but I figured that I should share because it was kind of a clever gift-giving idea that Martyn thought of last Christmas when he made me some special “I don’t like Star Wars” buttons as presents.

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Beyond my daily annoying posts about Kickstarter on the Official Kris & Krampus Kringle Facebook page and my working double shifts at both jobs multiple days in a row to save up some extra cash for an upcoming big purchase, I haven’t had a lot of time for much else. I did get a very brief start on the illustration for my own Krampuskarten that I’m making as part of the backers rewards packages. They’re going to be based off of this vintage Christmas card of St. Nicholas and Krampus on a motorcycle:

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Only my version is going to be of my own characters when they were reckless teenagers. This was the pencil sketch:

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Here’s it with some of the inking done, but as you can see I haven’t quite finished with that step yet:

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If you’ve been following me on Facebook I apologize that I don’t really have any new visual material to share with you. Thankfully this weekend I might get a few seconds of free time so I can finally bust this one out and post it again when it’s all finished! Overnight Prints did such an amazing job with my last professional artist postcards that I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

In case you haven’t seen them, these are my professional artist postcards. Overnight Prints printed them with a beautiful soft matte finish that really lends itself to my style.

Postcard Front and Back

So anyway, that’s it for now. I CANNOT WAIT for this campaign to finally be over and done with, it has been more hard work and headache than I ever could have imagined, but I’m forever grateful that it’s already funded so I can stop stressing about it so much. I’ll post on here again after it ends!

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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!

 

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!

 

My Three Jobs

Published March 23, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

So I was just going to do another illustration in progress post when I realized that I also have a few cool work in progress photos from my other two jobs. The week before last was the release of the March Fearless Flyer at Trader Joe’s. I usually have very little emotional attachment for the artwork I create at T.J.’s because it’s often so strictly regulated, overdone, and such a long shot from any of the subjects that I would willingly choose to illustrate. Also, due to the frequent impossible time restraints I sometimes either have to crank out something of substandard quality that I would never bother to post here or anywhere else, cut out lots of artwork and original ideas entirely, or just finish the Flyer artwork a week after the Flyer has already landed. This past week was the latter but at least it afforded me enough extra time to actually make some things that I could be proud of.

March is the Spring Flyer so I wanted to make some kind of visual reference to blooming flowers. St. Patrick’s Day and Easter are both this month so I also wanted to sneak in some clover and pastel, Spring-y colors. The boss wanted us to include this Victorian clip art dude from the front page of the Flyer.

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I don’t know why he is a goose-stepping scuba diver with riding pants or what that has to do with springtime…maybe a reference to a certain song from The Producers? Whatever this dude’s problem is, I did my very best to incorporate him into the seasonal theme on the template I made for all of the Flyer shelf signs.

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I redrew him in that same black and white woodcut style and colored in the rest of the template in an attempt to create that whole colorizing effect they used in Wizard of Oz and Pleasantville…like he’s bringing back color and life to the landscape with his scuba diving riding wizard staff. For some reason, something about this seems very post-apocalyptic to me.

Later I also designed a big sign of the same weird dude to hang in the entrance of the store. Here’s my thumbnail sketch:

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Here’s what the final sign ended up looking like. You probably can’t tell from the photo but the guy is somewhat 3-D and pops out from the background.

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Then, as if I hadn’t drawn that stupid guy enough, I also made a chalkboard sign for the entrance of the store. This time I only drew his helmet to mix it up a bit and suggest that maybe he eventually perished in said post-apocalyptic world and was returned to nature.

March to Value Chalkboard

Today I was working on a thumbnail sketch for my next big sign project. It was requested that I just make a giant garlic clove to point to the often overlooked crushed garlic in the frozen section. This will be interesting. So far I’ve drawn a Victorian garlic clove hot air balloon since this company really loves its nonsensical Victorian clip art. I might even donate one of the plastic garlic cloves that I have at home in my craft supplies to use as part of the anchor. Yes, I do have a bag full of plastic garlic cloves at home. You really can find anything at SCRAP PDX.

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After my last shift of the week at Trader Joe’s on Friday I went over to the Vine Gogh painting studio in Sellwood so that Paul could teach me the painting I would be teaching on Sunday. In case you didn’t realize, my second job is teaching part-time as an art instructor.

A little backstory: After six years of working five days/forty hours a week at Trader Joe’s while I struggled to complete my own artwork and serious portfolio stuff on the side, I had a major mental and psychical burnout. I came to the realization that I no longer saw T.J.’s as my desired long-term career, but as just a job to pay the bills and keep me afloat as I work hard on becoming who I actually wanted to be when I grow up. To this day I am still struggling to work all of that out, but my decision to cut back at T.J.’s from five days a week to four days a week at the end of last year has so far proven to be one of the best that I have ever made. At first I was terrified of the pay cut and of the possibility of losing our health insurance, so I made sure that I still worked the minimum 30 hours required to qualify for insurance each week and I found a second job to use as my financial safety net. I had never really thought of teaching art before I started teaching at Vine Gogh–but as it turns out, not only am I really good at it, but I also really love doing it. It’s a pretty fulfilling feeling when someone over the age of 60 tells you that they have never painted before in their entire life and that you have just taught them something that they wish they had known all along…and given them enough confidence in themselves to finally give it a try. After my class on Sunday a woman slipped me an extra twenty buck tip and personally thanked me for being such a big help. I’m pretty sure that I have never gotten that kind of appreciation at my day job before!

I teach these painting classes at art studios in Sellwood and in Tigard. Each class is only about three hours long, so whenever I teach on the weekend I usually still have the rest of that day to work on my own artwork. Both studios have a bar, so people will attend the classes as a social outing, order drinks, and then create a painting as I break it down for them step by step, Bob Ross style. Right now they’re building a second studio right next door to the one in Tigard called Vincent’s Loft. It’s going to have turn of the century, steampunk kinda decor and offer classes other than the usual acrylic paintings on canvas. We’ve been throwing around ideas of me teaching illustration classes, cartooning and caricature, other mediums like watercolor, colored pencil, and pen and ink, and even polymer clay sculpture. I can’t wait to see how it’s all going to turn out…it’s just really nice to have something to look forward to again!

The work in progress pictures I have from the painting classes actually aren’t of me or my painting. I just took these photos of Paul in action when he was teaching me one of his own paintings on a small canvas so that I could teach it on Sunday. I guess you could say that they’re more like my notes than anything, but it’s cool to see how he busted this quickie version of it out in like ten minutes.

This is the painting that he was teaching me, Mountain Lake:

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Here’s him working in the same sequence that I later used to teach this painting.

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Note: This is the point where, when I was teaching this painting, everyone took a drink break and let the background dry.

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Additional Note: That highlight on the mountains is a total Bob Ross palette knife technique that we modified for an acrylic paint brush. This is probably the most Bob Ross painting I’ve taught so far.

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Happy trees.

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That’s it! Seriously, this whole thing only took him about ten minutes. It took me just under three hours to teach it (on bigger canvases than this, though.)

So Vine Gogh has been a very good thing for me so far. Although a second job generally means more work, I feel that it has actually allowed me more time to work on my third, last, and most important “job” that I have–making my children’s book. I really have been treating this more like a job than ever lately because that is what I want this to eventually become. I no longer want to be stuck in this place where I have to rely on doing something that I find boring for the majority of my time in order to make a living, and as a result am forced to treat my own artwork and true passions as just a cute hobby whenever I can get to them. I’ve devoted most of my life up to this point to becoming a serious working artist with my art as my main profession, so I’m still just doing whatever I can to shift things around until I can finally feel like I have achieved that goal. It’s been a very interesting ride so far.

Here’s some few work in progress photos from my latest pages.

The pencil drawing. This photo is cropped oddly but you can see about where the center fold of the book would be (it’s going to be a double page spread.)

Hug Pencil

Inked over the pencil:

Hug Inked with Pencil

Pencil lines erased:

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I hope to either finish the coloring on this tonight or come really dang close to it. I will then have pages 30-31 out of 32 completed! After that I will only have the cover, title page, and dedication page art left to go (and formatting all the text…but at least I will have some help with that part!) Yup. Takin’ names.

 

 

Another Illustration in Progress Sequence

Published February 10, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

I just wrote another “odd happenings” post, so just like last time I’m going to follow it with another work-in-progress photo sequence of my latest illustration from my children’s book “Kris & Krampus Kringle”. Again sorry for the poor photo quality. I’ll probably post the much better scanned version of it later…or maybe I’ll be a big meanie and just make you buy the book.

Here’s what I was able to get with my phone to sort of give you the idea of my process. First the final pencil sketch. It was a more complicated one that required me finding a lot of reference images online; taking me almost five hours to complete from scratch.

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Next I inked it, which took me about another hour. You can see that this photo was taken before I attacked the whole thing with a kneaded eraser to clean up all the graphite, so you can see both the pencil lines and the inked outline simultaneously.

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I let the ink completely dry overnight this time before I hit it with the eraser. It’s not necessary to do that and usually I’m not even patient enough, but the ink from these pens can dry deceivingly slowly. The heat of my desk lamp probably doesn’t help the situation, and there’s nothing worse than cleaning up my nice perfect ink outline with an eraser and dragging a big black smudge across the page in the process. So pretty much if I’m at a place where I can either take a break or let it dry overnight, I always try to do that.

Here’s the inked outline with the pencil lines erased:

Inked Cleaned Up

Then I started the coloring with my faithful Prismacolor markers. I colored Kris and Dasher first, and also a tree for some reason. My desk was a mess.

Messy Desk

Then I started on the underpainting of the snow:

Snow Underpainting

Maybe you’ve never thought about it before but snow is never just white (insert yellow snow joke here.) Seriously though…because of the way it reflects light and shadows snow is actually pretty colorful. Here’s it after I added more layers of color to the snow and also some of the shadows:

Snow Before Ice

Then I realized I hadn’t colored in the frozen creek yet, so next I did that.

Just Snow

Then I did a bunch of other stuff because I couldn’t stop. I basically finished the entire illustration, minus the falling snow from the blizzard.

Before Snow

Yikes, the colors look horrible in these pictures. The scan will be much, much better!

Here’s one more crappy photo of the final piece. In case you were wondering, I painted in the snow with a white-out pen in order to give it that classic Rankin/Bass look. All of the coloring took me about five hours to do, so all in all this is about an 11-hour illustration. Yep, contrary to what so many may unfortunately believe, quality artwork takes time!

Final Crappy Photo

Oh well, what did you think you were gonna get for free anyway?

 

 

 

Back to Work on Kris & Krampus Kringle

Published January 27, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Like I wrote in my last post, HowlCon was cancelled so I got just back to work on my book. If you haven’t heard me mention my book before, it’s a Christmas children’s book that I have written and illustrated myself called Kris & Krampus Kringle. I came up with the basic idea for the story sometime back in 2013, but I didn’t actually start with the writing of the manuscript or any of the illustrations until January 2015–so pretty much exactly one year ago now. Despite being freshly moved to a brand new state on the other side of the country and all of the adjustments that inevitably follow, and also working full-time at Trader Joe’s until the end of 2015 (a job that can really suck out all of you energy), AND all of the other random weekend trips and vacations, costumes, commissions, and other weird projects and events that I’m forever interrupting my life with, I still managed to get quite a lot done on my book in just one year. The manuscript is nearing its final proofreading stage, the storyboard sketches for each page have long been figured out, and I’m currently on around page 25 of the final illustrations. It’s a classic 32 page book, however as you might have realized with other children’s books not every single page is illustrated, and once you count all the publishing info, title pages and end papers the first actual page of the story with illustrations doesn’t really start until like pages 4-5.

Oh, and a little disclaimer–I do know that as far as the traditional children’s book illustrating process goes, you are TOTALLY NOT supposed to illustrate a book from start to finish completing each final illustration one after the other. I know that it’s supposed to go something like read the manuscript, figure out the pacing and the rhythm of the story by plotting out each page of illustration and text on a storyboard, rearrange and edit everything as needed, take a long time designing specific elements and especially the main characters, draw out each page as many rough sketches, which eventually morph into a few tighter, more detailed sketches, which then maybe can eventually form a dummy book and then the final illustrations if they are very lucky…and then redo and revise everything all over again. I’m somewhat familiar with the real process and once made a dummy book of another one of my stories as part of a college course to learn about how its done and to know what you would submit a publisher if you were doing that whole thing. Still, for some odd reason working on this book has caused me to just throw most of my prior knowledge out the window and go with whatever felt right. For instance, using this same example that I know I’ve used before in a previous post: when designing each of the three main characters in my story, Kris Kringle, Krampus Kringle, and Mama Kringle, I drew each of them just once and knew that they were absolutely perfect just the way that they were. I inked and colored them in without screwing them up. I am using the very first drawing as final illustrations in the very beginning of the story. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen, and probably will never, ever, happen to me again. I’m definitely not complaining; in fact I’m doing just the opposite. I’m just going to roll with it and make this book like it wants to be made.

It certainly helps that at the end of the day, I can do whatever I want because plan on self-publishing my book. I figure this way I can guarantee its release date without having to wait on anyone besides myself to finish it, and also I can maintain complete artistic control. As it will be my first published book I have likened it to my weird “debut album” as a new artist, something that holds the express purpose of showing everyone what I’m all about, a portfolio piece or a personal showcase I suppose. I’m still open to the idea of shopping around for publishers and will probably be doing some of that this year…if nothing else it probably couldn’t hurt to introduce myself to some people and possibly meet up with some illustrators agents along the way. A finished book might help me to get future work or just show people what sort of thing I am capable of. Mostly though, I just want this story to be told already and I don’t want to have to wait for it any longer. I actually tried my best to publish it this past Christmas but found that it was not possible with my workload and the time it takes for the book printing and distribution process to commence once everything is finalized. I’m now shooting for Fall of this year at the absolute latest. So anyway…without further ado, here’s a few in-progress pictures I took in my art room over the weekend!

The latest page on my desk, surrounded by previous pages for reference:

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I’ve taped it off like that because this page is going to be arranged in four comic book style panels. Because of the way the tape happened to be set up in the beginning, I went ahead and finished the first panel on the top left before adjusting the tape border and starting on the next panel. When the above photo was taken I had just finished the pencil drawing and started inking over the lines.

Here it is after I finished inking that panel:

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And here’s one last picture once I colored and finished that second panel:

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Stay tuned…the other two panels, and some more in progress illustration photos are coming soon!