[Brooklyn] Baby Landon

14 Jun

w baby Landon

Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, NY is a book lover’s dream. The entire upper floor is devoted to children’s books, and the incredible staff is devoted to children and their parents. Events for kids—planned with excellence by the ever lovely and hospitable Rachel Person—are always happening at Northshire.

Because my family lives nearby, I am considered local artist. Northshire has been extremely gracious, inviting me to participate in some very cool kid-friendly events celebrating independent bookstores, and also events designed to promote specific books I have written and/or illustrated for duopress. One little guy and his amazing mom have tied all of these experiences together for me in a manner that can only be described as uncanny.

w Michele & LandonWhile signing copies of Isabella’s Shoe Studio at a Northshire event in January 2014, I was entranced by the little red-headed sweetie pie shown in the photo above—and by his beautiful mom! I made a mental note of her cool, arty look as she handed her baby across the table to me. I got to hold him for a few minutes. What a sweet, pensive little bundle. In my imagination I was reliving my now teen-age, still carrot-topped son’s precious babyhood. (For a glimpse of my son Gray’s road-cone orange locks, see the post just before this one.)

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 7.12.59 AM

At the time I was in the middle of a new illustration project, Brooklyn Baby. While drawing characters for the busy farmer’s market scene shown here, the little red-headed baby and his mom from Northshire came to mind. I put them at the pickle stand. Purple hair didn’t seem inappropriate for Mom, and I am Violet after all—so I painted her with purple hair. This image is one of my all-time faves, in large part because of these two characters. Written by Lisa McKeon for duopress, Brooklyn Baby was released in the fall of 2014.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 7.58.34 AMFast forward to May 2, 2015. Northshire invited me to read from my favorite Dr. Seuss books at an in-store event celebrating independent bookstores. While reading aloud from Oh, The Places You’ll Go, I noticed a red-headed toddler in the crowd, sitting with his very stylish blonde grandmother. Later, these two were joined by the toddler’s mother—whose hair was a glorious shade of violet—and who was carrying a new baby. I recognized the family and approached them while frantically scrolling through Facebook photos on my phone, searching for the farmer’s market scene from Brooklyn Baby. The mom and I peered at the image together on the tiny screen, both of us amazed at the connection between us. In my mind, this was the penultimate Sisterhood Moment—two artistic women, strangers connected by motherhood, a love of children’s books, and hair color. As they disappeared into the stacks on the other side of the store, I instantly regretted not having exchanged contact information.

Yesterday (June 13, 2015) Northshire hosted an event for my latest duopress illustration project, 100 PABLO PICASSOS (written by Mauricio Velázquez de León). My family is moving to New Zealand at the end of June, so this event was especially poignant for me as I knew it would be my last one in Saratoga Springs.

Northsire TODAY

Families filtered in as we kicked off the event with a game of Picasso bingo. I was delighted when my eye caught glimpses of red and lavender hair in the small crowd. They had come! This time we had a change to chat for a few minutes, and I made sure to jot down names—and get permission to share this story!

w Michele

Class, meet Michele Sperber, the mystery-mom (whose violet hair is now a softer shade of lavender) and her little red-head Landon—who is now a big brother! This photo was taken by Marilyn, Michele’s beautiful, charming mother-in-law. My only regret at this point is that I didn’t get a photo with Marilyn!

Soon I’ll write a post about all of the events we’ve done to promote 100 PABLO PICASSOS. Several incredible local shops have hosted events for me, and the best part about that has been the people; in particular, the hostesses who made it all happen. But for today I wanted to share this odd little story, because stuff like this makes life interesting and beautiful. What a gift.

Hoping you all enjoy your serendipitous moments,

Professor V

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100PP outlined cover100 PABLO PICASSOS (written by Mauricio Velázquez de León/illustrated by Violet Lemay) is available Northshire Bookstore Saratoga, and at bookstores everywhere. Click here to order your copy today!

Gray

9 May

thinking I couldn’t let Mother’s Day go by this year without mentioning Gray, my only child, who happens also to be my occasional co-conspirator in the realm of book illustration. This ginger fellow may be taller than me now, but is barely a teenager—he turned thirteen last fall, just a few months after he contributed drawings to one of my latest book endeavors, duopress‘s 100 PABLO PICASSOS. blue period Summarizing the incredible life of Pablo Picasso for a 32-page children’s book would be a difficult task for anyone, but author Mauricio Velázquez de León made it look easy. There are 14 two-page spreads in the book, each devoted to a different topic: Picasso’s Blue Period (above), his Rose Period, the years he spent chumming with the likes of Max Jacob and Henri Matisse in Gertrude Stein’s studio (below), etc. paris The first spread in 100 PABLO PICASSOS is devoted to the artist’s early life—and this is where Gray comes in. hillside sketch Gray is DNY QR codean amazing artist—he made the above sketch, which is such a tiny sample of his overall body of work that it is laughable. In my house, storage tubs filled with thirteen years of this kind of thing are stuck in every closet and under every bed. Because of my son’s particular interest in architecture, duopress contracted then-nine-year-old Gray to doodle some famous Big Apple buildings for the web component of Doodle New York (by Puck/illustrated by Violet Lemay/2012). A handful of QR codes are sprinkled throughout Doodle New York, which are linked to downloadable coloring pages—several of which were drawn (with a blue ball-point pen!) by Gray… whose professional name is Graham Fruisen. The coloring pages are still available, but you can only see them if you buy the book and scan the QR codes. When you do, imagine a skinny, freckled, bespectacled teenager groaning with despair. “That is not my best work!” carrot top As soon as I read Mauricio’s manuscript for 100 PABLO PICASSOS, I knew I would enlist Gray’s help for the “Picasso as a boy” spread. The mom in me was excited because school was out for the summer, and I was looking stuff for Gray to do. I asked him to contribute drawings of donkeys, doves, and bulls—not Gray’s typical genre, but he was willing to dabble. My hope was that my new assistant would just draw them already! As a boy Picasso drew in a classic style, very similar to the way Gray tends to draw—but my son went the extra mile. He researched Picasso and did his best to draw donkeys, doves and bulls as he imagined Picasso (the grown up, world renowned artist) would have drawn them. The result (below) is beautiful, even if it isn’t exactly what I had in mind. But hey, this is what happens when illustrators pay their assistants with Little Debbie Swiss Rolls and blueberry freezes from the corner Quickie Mart. 100PP_boy spread Our resulting collaboration, 100 Pablo Picassos, is newly available everywhere books are sold. Click here to order your copy today! And THANK YOU, Gray! You’ll always be my baby. Mama loves you, boy. baby gray

Promoting 100 PABLO PICASSOS, part 1

11 Feb

Over the summer I worked very hard illustrating a new book duopress book, written by Mauricio Velázquez de León: 100 Pablo Picassos.

100 Pablo Picassos is a 32-page children’s picture book, every square inch of which is crammed with full-bleeding spreads as well as tons of spot illustrations.

100PP studio im progressI got to draw Picasso doing everything from painting and sculpting masterworks to doodling on a sketch pad in the bath.

After the release date, I’ll write a nice long post about how we made the book, which is the brainchild of the author Mauricio Velázquez de León.

It is February as I’m writing this post, three months before the official release date of 100 Pablo Picassos; however, hard copies are already available for pre-order and will actually materialize everywhere books are sold in April, and the e-Book versions are good to go now. As a contributor, it’s time for me to start making some noise!

Making Some Noise

Thanks to my former life as a professor of self promotion, there is a small part of my brain that is always clicking away, trying to come up with innovative ways to publicize whatever project has been holding my attention. The obvious first step is always social media, because it is easy and free.

Use Existing Art

minotaur sculpturePerhaps most obvious way for an illustrator to promote her upcoming book is to generate interest by sharing the art that she’s already created for the project on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and etc. I’ve been taking advantage of the plethora of illustrations that we created for 100 Pablo Picassos, posting little bits of it daily—along with interesting photos and facts of Picasso’s history acquired from the internet—on my Violet Lemay Illustration Facebook fan page. I’ve been pacing myself, “leaking” the art slowly, a task made easier for 100 Pablo Picassos because it contains many, many spot illustrations; however, the same approach can be applied to a book whose every page is covered with full-bleeding two-page spreads. The artist of such a book could tease her audience and draw out the promotion process by posting close-up detail shots from each spread, leading up to the big moment when she posts the whole image in its entirety.

Make New Art

One advantage that book illustrators have over authors in the area of promotion is that, for any given project, we can create as many additional visuals as time and interest allow. As you can imagine, immersing oneself in the history of Pablo Picasso, one of the world’s most colorful and prolific artists, was both humbling and inspirational. Picasso’s life and his work drew me in as an artist, inspiring a bevy of personal work aimed at promoting the book.

Portraits of Friends

First, I dabbled in acrylics creating Picasso-esque portraits of friends and family members for some upcoming gallery exhibitions.

MargeauxThis was so much fun, and was one of those roads down which I had to walk—it was either that, or die. You artists know what I mean. Some inspirations tickle a little and make you twitch; others come at you with a whip.

I will write about those portraits and the gallery shows in greater detail later this spring as the dates get closer. Or perhaps after, so I’ll have photos to share. Let’s wait and see.

Portraits of Picasso’s Ladies

More recently, spurred on by the approach of Valentine’s Day, I’ve been working on a series of small, quickly-done watercolor portraits of Picasso’s many love interests.

Even a tiny bit of digging into Picasso’s romantic life produces results that can only be described as spectacular. Because 100 Pablo Picassos is a book for children, the author handled the entire topic with grace, tact, and an absolute minimum of words.

100PP_rosesWe show only one of Picasso’s many lady friends in 100 Pablo Picassos, so I had only one existing painting on the topic to share for Valentine’s Day (above), which features Picasso’s first girlfriend/muse, Fernande Olivier.

Knowing the truth about Picasso’s romantic life as I do now—so many women, all who had an impact on his art in a profound way—the idea of posting only a single image on the topic seemed underwhelming. I could have devoted my daily facebook posts to photos of all of his varied wives and paramours, but I am an illustrator after all. Instead, I decided to paint them—quickly this time, and much smaller that my previous Picasso-inspired portraits.

The result is a new and ever-growing series, including this watercolor portrait of Eva Gouel.

eva

I will be posting my portraits along with interesting photos and facts about these lovely ladies (including Bridgitte Bardot, the object of a Picasso crush!) on my Violet Lemay Illustration Facebook fan page, as well as on Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest—all for the cause of promoting the upcoming release of 100 Pablo Picassos. I would love it if you’d follow along.

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Mme P coverIf all of this has piqued your curiosity about the women in Picasso’s life, you may enjoy reading Madame Picasso by Anne Girard (Harlequin MIRA, 2014). Madame Picasso, a novel (historic fiction), tells the story of Eva Gouel; it’s a fascinating read that slows down a few years in the life of this great man, whose timeline is regularly assessed in large spans. Click here for more details.

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100PP outlined cover*

To order 100 Pablo Picassos, click here.

Printing Spot Colors

12 Oct

A Story, and a Tutorial

This post begins with a story and ends with a helpful spot-color printing tutorial. If you’re a designer in a rush, by all means, scroll! 

isaHomePage

The Story

In the spring of 2013 I was putting final touches on the art for a project that will always be near to my heart: Isabella’s Shoe Studio (duopress/2013).

duopress Doodle books

Isabella followed a string of Doodle books which I also illustrated for duopress. Every book in the Doodle series has a 4-C cover (standard 4-color process printing), and a black and white interior — basically, a pre-press breeze.

Like the Doodle series, Isabella would be an activity book, but would also tell a story.

Isabella’s Shoe Studio is something completely unique: a Doodle Storybook™. We decided to use the the Doodle books’ 8″ square trim size and French flaps to give Isabella duopress’s house look; to set her apart we would do something special in the realm of color.

Some crazy person had the idea to give Isabella’s Shoe Studio a 2-C interior. Somebody else (or possibly the same crazy person?) suggested a 3-C cover. I love the retro look of two- and three-color printing, and we all agreed and it would be a fun, inexpensive way to set Isabella apart.

ISS Pantone swatches2-C = printing in two-colors; in our case, black + PMS 196, a gentle petal pink.

3-C = (you guessed it!) three colors.

For Isabella’s Shoe Studio’s 3-C cover, we added PMS 304, a turquoise-y blue, to add a some punch to our soft pink.

Class, don’t trust your computer monitor! The color you see on your monitor is generated from a luminous mix of RGB (Red, Green, Blue), not CMYK—see below—and the appearance of color varies from one monitor to the next. To select colors with confidence, use a Pantone swatch book. These are expensive, but well-worth the cost. If you can’t afford a swatch book and you’re working with a local printer, stop in and ask to have a peek at theirs.

Printing: Color Basics

Process color (CMYK)

If you’ve ever had to replace ink cartridges for a desktop printer, you understand the mystery of 4-color printing, known as PROCESS color, or PROCESS printing. The full spectrum of standard* colors are created by a mix of CMYK inks: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK. This is The Process. Standard Operating Procedure. Every printer on the planet (and every pre-press operator) is programmed to print in CMYK.

*Special colors like metallics and fluorscents can’t be created from a standard CMYK mix. Those colors have to be added in a separate print run, and are called SPOT COLORS. You’ll find them at the back of your Pantone swatch book. :)

Spot Color (1-C, 2-C, 3-C, etc)

Rather than resulting from a CMYK mix, a SPOT color comes from a can; or more likely, an industrial-sized drum. Spot color is pre-mixed ink that is identified by a PMS color number—very similar to the way house paints are organized and presented. A spot color can also be a recipe of multiple inks stirred up into a color cocktail.

In book publishing 2- and 3-C printing is much more rare than CMYK, but spot color images surround us every day on screen-printed textiles and bottles. Imagine a two-color graphic printed on a T-shirt, or Coke’s trademark red and white logo printed on a bottle.

The Story, cont’d…

duopress is a fairly young company. In the spring of 2013, although we were working with a highly excellent printer, our inexperience coupled with a language barrier added layers of confusion to our tech-talk.

My only experience at the time with 2-C printing was from the year I spent managing a full service print shop at the Savannah College of Art and Design in the mid-nineties. Every term, graphic design students were given a 2-C, screen-printed logo assignment. Our shop techs printed those bad boys by hand, dragging goopy Chroma/Tech ink with a squeegy over templates that had been burned onto film—usually multiple times before achieving a perfect print—for every student. (Think T-shirt screening by hand, times a million.) This task kept us busy around the clock for weeks at a time, and it remains etched in my memory.

The Chroma/Tech assignment taught me how to manually set up files for 2-C printing; in other words, how to separate the colors.

Manual Color Separations

The image above is an actual example of the color separation plates that we made for Isabella’s Shoe Studio. I created 2 separate plates in grayscale mode for every image in the book: a pink plate that showed the printer where to put the pink ink, and a black plate for the black ink.

halftone dots

Any gradients or tints of pink had to be converted to a HALFTONE DOTS, just like vintage comics. We converted the pink cheeks for all of the characters in the book, which had been created by smudging charcoal, to halftones—see above. (Halftone How-To: Convert image color mode to BITMAP. Select “halftone screen” on the new menu that pops up, then play with the sliders until you’re happy with the size and density of the resulting dots.)

Isabella’s Shoe Studio’s designer Charla Pettingill created two InDesign documents of the book’s interior to send to the printer: one for the black ink, and one for the pink. She placed any type that would be printed in gray or black in the black document, and pink type was set in the pink document.

This process is great if you want to give your project an authentic retro look, with a bit of off-register color here and there, but be advised: there is a ton of extra work (look up TRAPPING before you make your decision!), and you will have to explain to your printer what you are doing. Modern pre-flight technology is automated, even for 2- and 3- color print jobs. A printer’s RIP (rastor image processor) software creates separation plates automatically. If you submit manually separated plates, you run the risk of throwing everyone into a tizzy.

Carries book

I write this from experience! We had a a bit of trouble with Isabella’s Shoe Studio‘s printing process—but class, I have to say, in my humble opinion it was all worthwhile. The way those inks rest on that creamy white paper and interact with one another is a joy to behold. Isabella’s Shoe Studio is the kind of tactile experience that causes designers to salivate. The above photo shows 1-C on the inside front cover (PMS 204). The 2-C title page (PMS 196 + black) is reflective of the entire interior of Isabella’s Shoe Studio.

IMPORTANT NOTE: People in general and printers specifically prefer not to be thrown into tizzies. If you are using spot color, even if you have tons of experience, ask your printer to provide a file set-up guide. There are multiple accepted methods, and preferences vary. Copy and paste this sentence into an e-mail: “Please send your pre-flight requirements for spot color printing.”

At duopress, we’ve produced several beautiful books that include 1-, 2-, and 3-C elements since paving the way with Isabella’s Shoe Studio, all with much less stress. Here’s how we currently set up 1-C spot color files:

The Tutorial

Prepping Images for 1-C (spot color) printing

Grayscale Mode

Open the art files in Photoshop. If necessary, convert to grayscale (Image –> Mode –> Grayscale). If you file is not in grayscale mode, Photoshop refuses to allow you to convert it to monotone mode, which is your end game.

Level Check

Adjust levels (Command + L) until you have a true black and white image. Open the info menu (Window –> Info). Hover your cursor over the image and check the color mixes in the info panel: in black areas, the K on the left should read 100%; in white areas, it should be 0%.

Monotone

With your PMS color number in hand (Class: swatch book!), change your image’s color mode to DUOTONE. (Mode –> duotone.) Note: Eventually your file will be a MONOTONE, but for some reason this is not given as an option in the drop-down menu. Do not panic, just keep reading.

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When you select the duotone option, a  “Duotone Options” menu appears.

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Set MONOTONE as your file TYPE. Click on the color box next to “Ink 1” to reveal a color-selection menu and corresponding eye-dropper tool.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 8.44.51 AMSelect “Color Libraries” to reveal yet another menu—this one is a list of the world’s color systems.

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Scroll to select your printer’s preference. If you’re unsure, ask! At duopress we use PANTONE solid coated, which is pretty standard.

Scroll to find your color number, or type the number and its swatch will appear at the top of the list. (Note: type fast! pauses between numbers cause Photoshop to get confused.) Photoshop requires that you enter a name for the color into the field next to the swatch.

Voila! Your grayscale image is now a monotone. It may look slightly different than your color chip but don’t worry, that’s why you invested in that swatch book! The ink will match the printed color swatch, not the color you see on your monitor.

Monotone files can’t be saved as a TIF. Save the art as a .psd file (.eps works, too), and place it in your layout.

Pantone colors can be imported into InDesign’s swatch palette, for any lettering or graphic elements created in InDesign that are to be printed in the spot color.

In InDesign, click the arrow in the top right corner of the SWATCHES menu, then select “New Color Swatch” at the top of the list. Select your color mode, and import the chosen spot color into your palette.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 11.45.01 AM

 

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Violet Lemay, the author of this post, is an illustrator, and is also the art director at duopress. Credit for all duopress book concepts goes to the publisher, Mauricio Velázquez de LeónClick here to see all of duopress’s books.

PARK!

24 Jul

PARK

This fall my favorite publisher duopress is rolling out a cool new project: PARK: A Fold-Out Book in Four Seasons. PARK is an oversized book with an accordian-fold interior that extends to almost five feet in length.

fold-out in grass

duopress’s goal for PARK was twofold: 1) Celebrate the beauty of Central Park, which represents city parks in general, and 2) Take full advantage of the uniqueness of the fold-out.

hipstersWe envisioned an abstracted, exploded view of the Central Park stretching across the five-foot spread, with the seasons evolving from left to right to show the passage of time—something that couldn’t be done as fluidly in a traditional book. Additionally, we decided to fill the park with characters whose stories develop as the seasons evolve. For example, we meet a pair of hipsters in the spring on the left. As we see them in the summer and fall their beards are longer and longer until, in their final appearance in winter on the far right of the book, they actually come alive.

The next challenge was finding the perfect illustrator and designer for the job.

ILLUSTRATION

In early 2014, riding waves of success from his blog-turned-book All The Buildings in New York (Universe Publishing/2013), James Gulliver Hancock signed on to illustrate PARK. James, a globetrotting Aussie and part-time resident of Brooklyn, NY, created all of the art from his home in Sydney.

James working 2

PARK was a dream project for me! To draw Central Park, an icon of New York City, and play with a whole bunch of quirky characters through the seasons would be so much fun. I also loved that duopress was up for doing a different kind of production in the form of the fold out and the large scale.

kid on bikeThe drawing on the back cover of the kid on the bicycle showing how big the book is really sums up the playfulness that I loved about the project from the beginning. And which kid didn’t love Where’s Waldo? it was a dream to be able to make my own take on that style of project. Also having lived in New York through the seasons, it was so fun to represent some of my experiences through the seasons—because the weather in each season is so graphic and obvious in the northern hemisphere.

It was definitely an ambitious project for me, but like most I started in the begging and worked to the end. :-)

It was fun to do really rough sketches at the beginning, basically just circles for placement, then build that up to a second sketch and then take it all the way to final. I had to draw quite large to get all the detail in there, so there was quite a lot of collaging together of drawings to make the huge final. It was always a matter of zooming in and out to get a sense for it on the computer as it came together, but there was nothing like the moment when I saw it produced in all it’s finished glory!

DESIGN

beatriz typography

From her studio in Toronto, free-lancer Beatriz Juarez joined the team to design the book, including the title type treatment, which she created by hand.

I start with a blank page and sketch the title in as many styles as possible with markers. For Park I tried many styles, with letters that were totally script and fluid, until I got to a more cartoonish style. When I think I can get more organic options to a a particular style, I switch to my brushes. I probably filled a whole notebook with 250 pages trying different styles. When I chose the 4 characters I was happy with, I put them together in Photoshop. Retraced them and clean them up.

LAUNCH: Book Expo America

James & Mauricio at BEA

In early June, team duopress met in Central Park’s hometown of NYC to debut an advance copy of PARK at Book Expo America. All new book projects are a roll of the dice, especially for small indie publishers like duopress, but PARK: A Fold-Out Book in Four Seasons was extremely well received, and publisher Mauricio Velázquez de León (seen above with James Gulliver Hancock) is optimistic:

At duopress we focus in publishing books that can’t translate too easy into the digital world. All the hand-held devices and high-tech tablets in the world can’t really compete with the size of a fold-out or a board book. I believe fold-out books are making a comeback. I see more an more coming into the market (That’s great news for Park!) It seems that Fold-Out books are becoming what pop-up books have been for years; a real competition against a world saturated with screens.

kids looking at Park

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PARK, A Fold-Out Book in Four Seasons (duopress/2014) is available now. Click here to order on-line.

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Since its inception in 2006, duopress—a small indie book publisher currently based in Baltimore—has been producing award-winning, innovative   books and gifts for curious children.

duopress specializes in city-specific books and puzzles that reflect the company’s love for kids in a contemporary cosmopolitan style. Visit any US metropolis and you’re bound to see Cool Counting books, Doodle Books, Local Baby books, Foodie books, and puzzles produced by duopress. See them at the publisher’s website, here.

Violet Lemay joined the duopress team as an illustrator in 2010 and since then has collaborated on more than twenty duopress projects, eventually becoming the art director in May of 2013. See Violet’s portfolio site, here.

 

Vine Animation

19 Mar

ISS_top of shoe

Meet 8-year-old Isabella Ivory Edelston-Finch, the star of Isabella’s Shoe Studio.

ISS_Cover_forweb*

Isabella’s Shoe Studio is a Doodle Storybook™ book that I wrote and illustrated with the help of my friends at duopress in 2013. To help promote the book, I’ve pursued every creative idea that’s popped into my head.

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Felt Dolls

First, I made felt Isabella dolls. We featured them as prizes for social-media-driven photo contests, and gave them starring roles in travel-based slide shows. This photo was taken by fan Christa Bellock of Elgin, Illinois, who won a felt Isabella in a Facebook contest. (Click here to follow Isabella on Facebook.)

1902717_10151994133532196_935633935_nPaper Dolls

Then, I designed paper dolls for promo events. The photo on the left was taken at aMuse Toys in Baltimore.

Seeing all of the cool ways that kids were adding color to the paper dolls gave me a new promo idea: Vine stop-motion animation!

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. . . . . V i n e . . . . .

Vine is a mobile ap/social site owned by Twitter that features 6.5 second videos. To create vines, you have to load the Vine ap onto your phone (no video cameras!) and set up an account, which is very, very basic. Once the ap is loaded and running all you do is click the video icon to get started. Touch the screen to record. As long as you hold your finger on the screen, you are capturing video.

The trick with Vine is logistics. I found it next to impossible to hold the phone, touch the screen and arrange my chosen shot, all at the same time. In order to make frame-by-frame animation, I needed a device to hold the phone for me. I ended up buying Joby’s gorillapod flexible tripod.

vine studio

After coloring a bunch of dresses, attaching the tripod to a stepladder and taping my Isabella paper doll to the shooting surface to keep her from moving, the rest was easy. I recorded her for a few clicks, changed her dress, recorded some more, and so on.

paperdoll vine screenshot

First Attempt: Isabella Paper Doll Vine

Click the image to the right to watch the resulting vine. If you’re unable to view it, create a vine account following the steps above— it’s easy!

While you’re working on your vine, a progress bar on your phone’s screen shows you how many seconds you’ve recorded, so it’s easy to gauge your progress.

The paper doll animation is adorable but we felt it didn’t showcase the true nature of Isabella, or the intention of Isabella’s Shoe Studio—which isn’t really a “fahsion-y” kind of book.

New Concept: Isabella and the Sneaker

After flipping through a copy of Isabella’s Shoe Studio for inspiration, I decided to attempt a more elaborate stop-motion animation in which Isabella actually moves, and interacts with a shoe illustration in the book.ISS_highTop

The high-top sneaker on these pages spoke to me. The text on that page says, “What inspires you today? Draw it on this sneaker.” I saw Isabella popping out the top of the sneaker with a pencil. Isabella would touch the blank surface of the shoe with the pencil, and the shoe would proceed to decorate itself as she slid down the side of the high-top. That was my basic idea, which became slightly more elaborate as I got to work on making the vine.

How-To Guide: Frame-by-Frame Animation

20140319_155308To begin figuring out how to shoot the vine, I made a frame-by-frame storyboard. The storyboard became my go-to reference throughout the entire process.

After watching some incredible animated vines by Pinot and Ian Padgham (see links at the bottom of this post) and counting the clicks, I figured I’d need between 20-30 frames. Because a page from an open copy of Isabella’s Shoe Studio would be the “stage” for this animation, I made 3o grayed-out prints of the page from the book—approximately one page for every frame.

20140319_155953Then, using a light table, I penciled Isabella onto every sheet making her interact with the shoe—old-school animation style.

In addition to animating Isabella I knew I’d have to color the shoe as I went, which meant drawing in a copy of Isabella’s Shoe Studio. I didn’t want to use more than one copy of the book for this project, so I couldn’t draw Isabella directly onto the open book.  Instead, I used the light table again to ink the drawings onto clean printer paper. Then I cut them out and lined them up on my work surface. I quickly shaded her jeans with an Ebony pencil and used a pink crayon stick to blush her cheeks.

Once all of the little Isabella’s were cut, colored and arranged, I stuck some bright orange notes among the cut-outs to keep myself on track time-wise as I shot the vine, and to keep the cut-outs organized and true to their corresponding frames on the storyboard.

isabella cutouts 1

Besides Isabella and the shoe, the third element in the animation was the pencil. My idea had it popping out the top of a 2-D drawing of a shoe, so it had to be flat, not a real pencil. To make the pencil I photographed an actual duopress pencil, adjusted the photo in Photoshop, printed 12 copies on a single sheet of card stock, and cut them out. Voila: pencil!

isabella cutouts 3

The last step (and quickest, by far!) was to shoot the vine. With the book propped up on my trusty Ikea bookshelf, an area that is well-lit by both the sun and overhead electric light, I used double-sided tape to attach each cut-out to the page, one at a time. Between each shot I added a bit more color and design to the shoe—because, after all, Isabella’s Shoe Studio is a book that invites you to design and decorate shoes! The photo above shows the “stage” after shooting…. with the shoe fully illustrated, and little Isabella’s everywhere.

sneaker vine image

The resulting vine is adorable. To watch Isabella slide down a sneaker, click the image on the right.

Once you’re on Vine, follow me, and I’ll follow you!

Inspirations/Extra Help

Pinot on Vine

Ian Padgham on Vine

Tips from Nick Summers

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To order Isabella’s Shoe Studio, click here.

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To view my second vine (Isabella and the Sneaker) on youtube, click here. I used iSkysoft to download the vine and covert it to a .avi file, which I was then able to upload at Youtube. The version of iSkysoft that I use is not free, but is very useful for downloading various forms of moving images—including Picasa slideshows.

Go APE for Art!

23 Feb

APE

Recently I was honored to be included in a local small works show sponsored by Glens Falls NY’s  Art In The Public Eye (APE).

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Art In The Public Eye is a not-for-profit group whose mission “is to cultivate a partnership between the area arts community and local businesses, to promote established and emerging artists and local commerce, and to create greater access to the arts through cultural activities and public exhibitions.”

Gallery 99 is kind of a guerilla art exhibit, occupying a different vacant storefront in Glens Falls every year. The event was headed up by the super-team of Liz Wilcox and Jennifer Kraft, APE’s executive director and director of marketing. These dynamic women co-own Samantha’s Cafe and Catering. (By the way, for you foodies out there: In my experience, Samantha’s is Glens Falls’ most highly recommended restaurant, with good reason. Standard Glens Falls greeting = “Nice to meetcha! Been to Samantha’s yet?” <– well-deserved!

I met Liz and her adorable daughter Daphne at an Isabella’s Shoe Studio promo event at Sketch Design Lounge in Glens Falls a few months ago (click here to read more about that).

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Photo by PJN Photography

Soon after, Liz invited me to Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves, 2013’s APE fund raising auction /costume party, whose theme this year was vintage circus—fun!

Later, Ms. Wilcox invited me to participate in Gallery 99. Despite an over-busy schedule I was able to take part, because I had painted a series of shoes for the event at Sketch, and they were just begging to be shown again—in a box, ready to go. All I had to do was to drop them off.

spectator

guitarThe Gallery 99 show included a broad variety of art—paintings, jewelry, hats, batik scarves… even a cigar box guitar and matching amp! Many of the artists rent space in Glens Falls’s Shirt Factory—definitely worth a day trip, if you’re in the area.

All participants helped out, volunteering a few hours manning the gallery. Our schedules overlapped, giving us all a chance to chat and get to know one another. Spectacular people, each and every one.

Glens Falls has got it going on, Class. I hope you all can come visit some day.

Meanwhile, *like* APE’s Facebook fan page.

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Like the shoe paintings? A few are available for sale as greting cards at my store on Zazzle.com. Click here to check it out.

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