Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Two More Wizards!

Willow the Squirrel

Rowena the Porcupine

Greeting blog friends! Do you remember the game, Wizards of the Wild which I helped illustrate that was funded on Kickstarter back in March and April? Well, since the Kickstarter campaign reached so many stretch goals, I was able to make two new characters for the game. This time two female wizards. 

Introducing: Willow the Squirrel and Rowena the Porcupine! These characters were so fun to do, and I learned a lot while doing them.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Artist Round Table Episode #3 with Mallory Carlson





Good day friends! Over the weekend, I once again hung out with some of my art friends to bring you another conversation about being a professional artist today. You'll notice I was not in Episode 2, as I was speaking on a panel at a local writing conference that day. But I was glad to be back, we had a great conversation.



This time we interviewed Mallory Carlson. We talked about not shying away from the things that are your weaknesses in art, because if you take the time to really work on those things, they will soon become your strengths. We talked about the challenges of taking care of our bodies and taking time to socialize and other things that are important that we sometimes neglect as artists. We also talked about where we are most inspired.



It's a great conversation to listen to while you draw today! If you like it, share it with friends!



In other news, I also need to mention that the game I helped illustrate- Wizards of the Wild was successfully funded on Kickstarter! In fact, it ended up being funded way over the original goal mark! And since the project reached so many stretch goals, I get to illustrate 2 new characters! I already have them designed and ready to color! Thanks to all the backers!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wizards of the Wild on Kickstarter!



I'm happy to announce that the game, Wizards of the Wild, for which I was one of the illustrators is now funding on Kickstarter! Click here to go to the Kickstarter page!

I had the great opportunity to participate in this fun project! I illustrated the cover, the character cards and some of the magic cards. I especially loved creating the characters! I am posting the full illustrations of the characters below. Enjoy! And please come help back the game and pass the word along! I would love to see this game be published!









Monday, March 02, 2015

Artist Round Table #1 with Jose-Luis Segura


Greetings friends! Over the weekend, I hung out with an awesome group of artists, and we had a great discussion about our careers as artists. We started by interviewing artist Jose-Luis Segura, and then broke into a group discussion. Come and listen while you work! We hope to do more of these in the future, stay tuned!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sketching Sketching All Day Long!

Some sketches of a character I have been working on from my sketchbook!

In the month of December, I drew in my sketch book nearly every day. I skipped a couple weekend days and Christmas, but I was proud of the fact that I sketched nearly every day. I managed to keep it up a lot of January, but slacked off a bit near the end of the month. But I'm determined to keep going. I started this challenge because I got some feedback from Stephen Silver at CTN on my character drawings. He told me to just keep practicing and drawing my characters in motion. I haven't ever been really good about sketching in my sketch book regularly. I came to CTN with a blank sketch book with the first page cut out because my first drawing was really bad and I was embarrassed.


Trying out different mediums! Pen and Ink with Watercolor!



Sketching daily feels a lot more comfortable now, and I don't need to be embarrassed about what is in my sketch book. One thing that helped me in this was remembering that it is all just practice, which means I'm not obligated to show any one else my drawings. I have been doing my own drawings, and I have also been copying other people's character sketches for practice and study. It has been great. And I'm going to continue it this year, and I know I will get better.
Join me this year, and challenge yourself to sketch more! In fact, if you want an official challenge, the #kidlitart chat community is doing a challenge to draw every day in February. Check out the details here.

Sketching on the Ipad! This one was done in the Procreate App.

To help you get motivated and inspired, here are some prompts and tools that I have been using.

First, Here are some things that help me think of what to sketch every day:
- Draw your own already designed characters in different poses.
- Use Stephen Silver's Character Design Shuffle app to come up with new character ideas.
- Copy another person's character design sketches. Of course, these are for personal study, so don't post them on the web, but keep them for yourself.
-Try different mediums- pens, watercolor, markers different art apps on the Ipad etc.
- Choose a photo from Pinterest and draw it.
- Use images from the apps Posebook or Posetool for reference.
- Prompts from Sketchdailies.
- Color studies from nature in watercolor or on the Ipad.
- And of course the best idea is to just draw the things you love!

Do you all have any other ideas when it comes to sketch books? (Share in the comments below!!)

Trying some totally new mediums! This one was done with pen and Ink and Copic Markers!


Second, something that has been helpful to me, it to replenish and revive my sketching supplies. Here's a picture of some of my recently replenished supplies:



Just incase you were curious, here is my #weaponsofchoice:

I am enjoying my new sketch book! It is a Trav-e-logue Hand-Book Sketch Book , and it fits perfectly in purses, and other bags. It also has strong enough paper for watercolor washes and such! 

For sketching in my sketch book I like to use Prismacolor Col-Erase Erasable Colored Pencils , or a regular mechanical pencil with a  Kneaded Eraser. For pens I am trying out new brush pens  from Jetpens.com and Micron Pens. I have also just purchased and started trying the Copic Markers Sketching Grays set

I LOVE my Sakura Koi Portable Watercolor Set Sakura Koi Water Colors Field Sketch Set with a Water Brush. So nice! 

I also like to sketch on my ipad. My favorite apps are Procreate, and Sketchbook Pro. My favorite stylus so far is an Adonit Jot Pro Fine Point Stylus . I also like to use the Wacom Bamboo Stylus

For all my finished illustrations, I paint in Photoshop on my Yiynova MSP19U Tablet Monitor

Hope this helps inspire you! Happy drawing everyone!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

2015 Utah SCBWI Illustrators Conference with Art Director Kristine Brogno

Artwork by Shawna (that's me)!

Utah and Southern Idaho Illustrators Unite!! Mark your calendars!

Utah/ Southern Idaho SCBWI presents, our 2015 Illustrator's Conference, February 21, 2015 with art director Kristine Brogno from Chronicle Books! Other speakers will be Author/Illustrator Mark Pett (The Girl and the Bicycle), and Illustrator Guy Francis (Clark the Shark). Come join us for a day full of fun and inspiration!

Keep up to date on the Drawing Sunshine Blog: http://drawingsunshine.wordpress.com/

Also, you can register here: https://utahsouthidaho.scbwi.org/events/utah-southern-idaho-scbwi-illustrators-conference-2015/

Monday, December 01, 2014

PiBoIdMo Winner 2014! And Daily Sketch Commitment!


Hurray! I participated once again in PiBoIdMo in November- 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. It was a little tricky with CTNx and Thanksgiving, but somehow I managed to come up with 31 ideas! I can guarantee that the majority of them are pretty bad ideas, but maybe there are a handful of gems in there that might become great picture books someday! I'm happy that I did it once again. I think one of my favorite things about PiBoIdMo is all the inspiring blog posts by guest bloggers on Tara Lazar's blog. They give great ideas for coming up with picture book ideas, tell about their experiences, or just give great encouragement. This is definitely going to continue to be a yearly tradition for me.

As for the month of December, I have decided to do one sketch a day. I am not good at doing daily warm up sketches, I'm really not. I think it is because I have such a limited amount of time working as a freelance illustrator and then trying to do all my mom duties as well- I guess the daily sketch usually gets pushed to the back burner. But I am going to commit to it for one month. I know December is a weird month to do it, but I was so inspired after CTN, and I just want to start now. So here I go. I am committing to sketching every day. I may or may not post sketches. Some of my sketches may be copies of what other people have done for educational purposes- so I definitely won't be posting those. I know I will probably come up with some pretty bad sketches. But the thing is, if I am sketching more, I am going to get better. So I am committing to do it today!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy News!


Happy Happy News! I just wanted to share that my book "Bruhilda's Backwards Day" will be published by Sky Pony Press in 2016!!!

Here's some more posts about Brunhilda that you might enjoy! I have been sharing much of my process on this project!

The Showcase: Will Your Personal Project Make Money? On chrisoatley.com

Picture Book Dummy Part 1- Making the Dummy Book

Picture Book Dummy Part 2- Preparing the Dummy Book to Send to Publishers

Picture Book Dummy Part 3- Sending the Dummy Book to Agents and Publishers

Painting Drama 2 at the Oatley Academy

Visual Development for Brunhilda's Story: Today Strange Plants

Today was really not going well for Brunhilda! Another Illustration for my Book!

Another Sneak Peak into my Book

"Then one night, the cat made plenty of trouble." Process to Final!

Be a Vis Dev Children's Illustrator!

Finding a House for my Characters

Designing Some Characters




My Amazing CTNx Experience

I had a most amazing time going to CTNx (Creative Talent Network Animation Expo) in Burbank this past weekend. Here are a couple highlights from my trip.

The day before the Expo, we got together with people from the Oatley Academy. We had breakfast together and then we went to the Getty Museum. It was amazing to be with wonderful people who I have taken classes with at the Oatley Academy who have become some of my best friends. 

After looking around the museum, we had "OA family time." Chris Oatley, Lora Innes, and Justin Copeland gave us some great talks on what to expect at CTN, longevity of careers in art, and not quenching our passions because of what other people think.


Here's a picture of some of my favorite people. 
Some of the group that took Painting Drama 2 this last year. 


After the Getty, we went to the Center Stage Gallery to see the Lovely Ladies of Animation exhibit. It was awesome to see their original artwork in person! Here is a picture of us gathered after to eat and visit. We ended up in a circle of drawing awesomeness.

The Expo itself was amazing. I met so many people that I knew from school, from Utah, and from the internet. I met new amazing artists. I got to talk with artists who I really admire in person. Glen Keane's opening speech almost had me in tears. I took many amazing workshops. I bought far too many books. I laughed until I almost fell over, and I got lots of giant hugs. 

Helping out at the Oatley Academy Booth.

With Peter De Seve.

With Pascal Campion.

Hanging with friends. The Muppet Crowd of Awesomeness!

Now you might be wondering what a children's illustrator is doing going to an animation expo. Well let me tell you. I have learned so much from the animation industry over the last couple years. I had a very good education from BYU, where I got my degree. But character design, and story boarding were not really part of what I was required to learn. I think these are important skills for anyone wanting to make children's books. After all, making a children's book is almost like making your very own personal movie (without the animation part). Having well designed characters is going to be a big part of the appeal of your picture books! 

Also, a lot of people in animation are also into the children's illustration world as well. I picked up a few picture books while I was there! I thought I would feel silly saying I was an illustrator (not a character designer or visual development artist), but it turned out that many of the people there exhibiting are illustrators just like me.

While I was at CTN, I got the chance to see so much good good art. The expo floor is like a giant Comic Con, but all the art is actually really really good (no crappy fan art). There was so much inspiration there. Some amazing character designers there that gave me some good advice for my character designs. I also went to a few workshops that were really inspiring and helpful to any artist.

Also, being at CTN was like a giant family reunion where so many of my friends were gathered. I loved going so much, and I hope I can go again in future years. I hope to see some of you there in future years!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Going to CTN and Other Updates!


I was going through some old photos and found this little gem. This is me 11 years ago, 2003, my senior year in the Illustration department at BYU. We went on a trip to L.A. where we visited museums and some studios. I remember when I visited the studio, they were working on The Incredibles, and they had in the works and planning stages, a Rapunzel movie...which wouldn't come out for quite some time! This was also at the very end of most of the 2D animation. Brother Bear just was about to come out. Fun to look back on this trip!

I have never been interested in working for a big studio, mostly because my most important job is to be a mom. Which is why I chose the path of being a freelance illustrator. In fact, at the time this photo was taken, I was 6 week pregnant with my first baby. Sometimes it is really hard to be both a full time mom and a full time illustrator, but I am really glad I can do both!

Despite never really wanting to be part of a big studio, I have learned so much from the animation world! And although the studio route is not for me, I have thought it would be fun to try out some freelance character designing and such. Because of these things (and also to meet up with some good friends), I will be going to the CTN animation Expo next month in Burbank California! I am very excited!

Also, a little update on what I have in the works. Things have been a bit slow, as I have had a bunch of freelance work going on. But I am working on a very exciting project that I hope will be beneficial to all of you, dear readers!  There will be more details soon, and I hope to start posting this super secret project at the beginning of the year in January! Until then, hopefully I will find sometime to post some art work and maybe some more industry tips soon!

Happy October everyone, and keep drawing!


Monday, August 11, 2014

Picture Book Writing Retreat with Literary Agent, Jodell Sadler at Beautiful Sundance Aug 30!!


Come join me and my literary agent, Jodell Sadler at Sundance Lodge Writing Retreats where she will be doing picture book critiques on August 30th!

 The cost for the whole day (including 3 gourmet meals) is $150. If you need lodging for Friday and Saturday night, cost is another $100. Contact Mette Ivie Harrison (mette@argonautfilms.com) to get signed up and get more information. 

Other speakers will be Julie Olson (Discovering America), Kristyn Crow (Zombelina), Sharlee Glenn, and me, Shawna Tenney!

 Great views, great company, the best food, a chance to meet casually with other writers, new and more experienced, along with the chance to talk one-on-one with an agent--it's a chance that's hard to beat. In addition to the critique, you'll have a chance to talk casually with all of the presenters and with Jodell, and to ask all the questions your inquiring heart desires.


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Questions To Ask Potential Illustration Clients


In this video blog post, I talk about questions you should ask a potential client for book illustration jobs, whether they be working at a publishing house, or a self publishing author. It is important to have good communication to weed out potentially bad jobs, and to know exactly what the client is expecting.

Here is my affiliate link to the book I mention in the video, Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators, by Tad Crawford.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Make Your Single Layered Sketch into a Multi-layered Illustration in Photoshop


In this Youtube Video, I share the technique I use to make my one layered sketch into a multi-layered illustration in Photoshop. Please "like" and share if this is helpful to you!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Character Design Sketches




Here are a few character sketches from a new personal book project I am working on! This represents only a very small portion of the pages and pages of character sketches that I have drawn, and I am sure there will be many many more to come.

 Something I am really trying to think about is varying the shapes and sizes and proportions in each character. I am also trying to give them unique silhouettes. This is something I didn't think about much before I started learning from artists in the animation industry. These are principles I think every children's illustrator should think about when designing characters for books.

Another great tip I learned from my friend, and concept artist at Disney Infinity in Salt Lake, Nasan Hardcastle is to start out really small and loose. Draw your character first in very small and simple shapes- almost like drawing a letter. Work loosely. Get the main general shapes first and then work up to a bigger size and work in the details.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Blog Tour: Writing Process

Greetings Illustrator Amigos! Today I am part of a blog tour!


 I was invited by the super talented illustrator and banjo player, Russ Cox! Before I begin, let me introduce you to Russ! 

Russ Cox was raised by a pack of crazed hillbillies in the back woods of Tennessee. Without much in the way of modern conveniences, like a television set or running water, he spent his time drawing and whittling away the hours. All of that drawing paid off. He has illustrated the Freddy the Frogcaster series written by Janice Dean (Regnery Kids). Major Manner Nite Nite Soldier, by Beth and Mike Hofner (Outhouse Ink). A Merry Moosey Christmas by Lynn Plourde (Islandport Press Fall 2014) and his first book that he wrote and illustrated, Faraway Friends, will be released in April 2015 by Sky Pony. 

You can find out more about Russ and see his work at his website, www.smilingotis.com and his blog, www.smilingotis.blogspot.com.




Now on to the questions. This blog tour topic is Writing Process. Here is a little bit about my writing process! 


1. What am I working on? 

I am working on a new picture book- title to be revealed soon- that I have written and am now illustrating. The characters in the book are all sheep and goats set in an ancient (yet strangely modern) middle eastern style royal court. Right now I'm working on character design- it has been a struggle at times, but mostly a blast! Character design sketches to be posted here soon!


2. How does my work differ from others of this genre? 

I have always loved fairy tales and spoofs on fairy tales. My stories usually don't take place in the every day life of a child like many picture books do. I do like to write books that are character driven, but my stories often take place in fantasy or fairy tale- like settings. 

Also a lot of children's illustrations use very flat and stylized and local color , whereas in my illustrations, although stylized, I like to use light and shadow and atmosphere.


3. Why do I write what I do? 

For a long time, I tried to write and illustrate things I thought would work well in the market- what I thought everyone else would want to read. 

But I was not writing what really resonated with me and with who I was.

 So I decided to write and illustrate something that I would want to read, and that's when I really started feeling happy and successful about my work.


4. How does my writing process work? 

When I write my story, I am already thinking of where I can show things with pictures instead of words. I usually write a few drafts of my story before I take it to my critique groups, and then revise it again a few times.  

Then I design the characters and do some other visual development for the book. This takes a while, because I want to get the characters just right for the story. Some of this takes place later in my process- every thing is ongoing. 

Next, I make a pacing book which is 8 pieces of paper, folded in half and stapled together. I tape the words of my story into the book and then turn the pages, and rearrange them until I like the pacing.

After that, I make a storyboard and revise that a few times. At this point I will show the story to my agent and critique group, and do a few more revisions. 

Then I make my dummy book/ more polished sketches, which will also go through a few revisions. 

In other words, write, revise, write, revise, draw, revise, draw, revise, draw again, revise, rewrite, redraw....that's my process!



So now that you know a little bit about my process, I hope you will join my friends next week (July 3rd) to find out about their writing processes. Hopefully hearing from all these amazing talented artist illustrators will give you some good ideas about what you can do to improve your writing craft. 

So without further delay, I would like to introduce you to some of my writer/illustrator friends!




First up, we have Mr. John Nez! I will let him introduce himself. Take it away, John!

I've illustrated over 50 books of every sort, from toddler board books to historical non-fiction. I'm now also writing and illustrating my own picture books and interactive e-book apps, which is a lot of fun.

I draw mostly in a whimsical style with the goal of conveying lots of feeling in my pictures... happy, sad, sneaky, mad, hopeful, afraid... whatever. I'd guess that's about the main point of any illustration.

 I work in Photoshop and Illustrator, which greatly expand the illustrator's toolbox. The combination of traditional and digital mediums allows for amazing new possiblities... and lots of fun.


You can find more about John by visting his website at www.johnnez.com and his blog at johnnez.blogspot.com.





Next up is my food friend, Manelle Oliphant. Here's a little about Manelle:

Manelle Oliphant graduated from BYU-Idaho with her illustration degree. She loves illustrating historical stories and fairytales. She lives with her husband in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

You can see her work and download free coloring pages on her website awww.manelleoliphant.com






And last but not least is another great friend of mine, Sherry Meidell. Here's a little bit about Sherry:

Sherry Meidell loves to tell stories with paint. She is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society, Utah Watercolor Society, and  Western Federation of Watercolor Societies.  She has received numerous awards and is a member and illustrator coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She keeps her paint brushes busy painting watercolors and illustrating children’s picture books.
 You can find out more about her by visiting her web site www.sherrymeidell.com and blog sherrymeidell.wordpress.com.






Thursday, May 15, 2014

Picture Book Dummy Part 3- Sending the Dummy Book to Agents and Publishers



Welcome to Part Three of my Dummy Book Series! 

If you missed it:



Today in Part 3, I will talk about what to submit to Editors and Agents, sending your dummy book out into the world, waiting, dealing with rejections and celebrating successes.


What to Put in Your Package for Editors and Agents

What to put in your package may vary from publisher to publisher. Many editors and agents want you to send everything via email, and others want you to send everything via snail mail. 

How will you know what each Publisher or Agency wants? 


Research Publishers and Agents

You can find a list of Publisher who are accepting unsolicited manuscripts, and Literary Agents in either the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market book or in The Book, a publication that is only available to SCBWI members. There are not very many publishers who are accepting unsolicited (unagented) manuscripts anymore, so if you plan to write and illustrate a lot of your own books, it may be better to find an literary agent first.

When looking for a publisher or agent, always go look at their website. Make sure your work will be a good fit with their agency.

 I found that many of the agents listed didn't even have a website. A good agency will have a nice website and be involved in social media. It is an essential part of being successful in this business nowadays.


An Important Reminder For All of Us

Let me pause for a moment to remind you of something very important to remember. The process and timing of finding an agent or a publisher is going to be different for each of us. It may be a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

The process of being successful as an illustrator may take years, or it might happen right away. But more often than not, it will take time.  I have been working in the industry for nine years and I have still never illustrated a trade book, whereas I know other artists who successfully jumped right away into the trade industry. But those cases are rare. It more often takes more time and perseverance to be successful. Remember to be patient.


Submission Guidelines

After finding a good list of Publishers or Agents, and you've checked their website to make sure your work is a good fit, find their submission guidelines. They are usually pretty easy to find on each website. Read the submission guidelines carefully. Everyone wants you to send slightly different things in the email, or include different things in your cover letter.


When Sending a Manuscript Package in the Mail


When I am sending a package in the mail, along with a letter and a printed dummy book, I like to include a business card and a couple of nicely printed post cards. I get my post cards printed at gotprint.com. They do a very nice job, and they come highly recommended!

Just make sure everything looks clean and professional. If you send extras, only send a couple. Don't overwhelm the editor!


Cover Letters

Research how to write a query or cover letter. There are many online resources available. Here is an article that I found helpful: Writing a Cover Letter

When you are submitting a picture book that is both written and illustrated by you, the story and pictures can do most of the talking. So in other words, keep your letter brief.

Remember to be courteous and professional. Make sure you proofread your query letter carefully.

Many publishers and agents like to know if you are submitting to other publisher or agencies at the same time, so make sure to tell them if it is a simultaneous submission.


Sending Your Work Out Into the World and Waiting...

Respect the publishers or agents space. Remember they get hundreds of submissions every month (or maybe even every week), so give them time and space, and don't bother them.

After you hand your package over to the post office worker, or click the send button on the email, you are going to be doing a lot of waiting.

In the mean time, start another personal project. Keep working on your craft and doing what you love to do instead of focusing on the waiting. Sometimes, it may take a long time to hear back from anyone. And sometimes you may never hear back at all. Just keep doing what you love to do and focus on things that are going well.


Dealing with Rejections

When you get a personal reject, remember that is a good sign that your work is getting close to being a success.

There may be a good reason for a rejection. For example, I got a few rejections from agents. In the rejections the agents said I had a good story, and my artwork was great, but the story wasn't right for them. I was happy for their rejections, because I didn't wanted to be agented by someone who wasn't absolutely thrilled by my story, style of writing and artwork.

Try to take time to do something fun to celebrate your rejections. There was one week where I got three rejections in one week. I got really down and depressed and started thinking destructive things about my artwork and career. A better thing for me to do would have been to go on a fun family outing to celebrate the fact that I am actually being brave and getting my work out there.

Rejections are part of the process, so think of ways you can celebrate what you are doing instead of focusing on the negative.

Just remember that if you are working on your craft all the time- learning how to be a better illustrator and a better writer, taking good critiques to heart and improving, if you are persistent and you are working every day for that dream, you will be successful.

Remember it takes time. Don't forget the many famous people in history who took years to be successful. Take hope from their stories, and don't give up!


Celebrating Successes

Don't forget to celebrate all your successes along the way- big or little, whether it be a break though in your writing or drawing, signing on with a new agent, or having your manuscript accepted by a publisher. Tell a friend, buy yourself an new art book, or go out for ice cream with your family!

Remember to look back at where you were 10 years ago, and see the progress you've made. 

For more great information on Children's Publishing, check out Harold Underdown's, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books.