Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Microstock Report for March 2010

Microstock is still alive and well.  Maybe I shouldn't be the person to toot this horn too loudly - because while I'm involved enough that it's not just recreational, I'm not that far into it that it accounts for any 'real' money...but it's pretty terrific month after month.

And quickly - Microstock agencies are websites where you upload your images (photographs or illustrations).   Then people pay per download to use one of your images.  It can vary from site to site and even from download to download.  We've had sales of .25 cents and up to $28.

Shutterstock, once again, leads the way!  We bumped up our portfolio with almost 50 images this month - and it paid off with our first $200 month since last April!  This ended up being our third highest month ever, which is pretty great considering just last November we were struggling to make $100.  This month was also the third EL sale (which is one of those $28 ones).  They are few and far between, but they're always nice to receive.

Second on the list - and coming in with it's best month ever was Istockphoto.  This is the second time we've passed $100 (this is our newest site as it took the longest to get approved...we've only been up and running since May, whereas we've been members of every other site since the end of February of 2009).  And while it's still the hardest site to get an illustration approved from (this month two different images were denied because they thought it was too hard to see the illustration in the preview window.  I completely disagreed and challenged the that's still pending.  What sucks is that it's a page of fish and marine life and it won't sell as well if I have to break the fish into smaller sections and into pages of fewer fish.  I actually tried that and got one approved and the other was rejected for being too simple).  Istockphoto, while hard to upload, is still completely worth it.  And the more images we have on that site should net us more money.
 This is the illustration that was too hard to make out in the preview window...

Third place, as per usual, is Dreamstime.  I originally hated this site because of their uploading method.  You have to upload a high quality jpg and add an illustrator file at the end.  And then it takes about 3-6 days for the jpg to get approved and another couple of weeks for the illustrator file.  And while it's a process, they make up for it with consistent sales.  This was the most sales we've had for a month...but because a lot of them were subscription sales (which are cheaper) we ended up not making as much as some other months.   What makes this site unique and which commands a lot of my time is that they hold a monthly contest (or about every month and a half) where the prizes range from 100-300 dollars.  This month we've slowed on uploading images to all the sites so I could concentrate on this contest.  So far we have three images in, and we'll see how they do (results are tallied in a couple of weeks).  The contests, even though I haven't won, have paid off as all images approved for the contest go into my portfolio at a higher price point (and, about 4 images from contests in the past, have sold multiple times so far).

The rest is a jumble of good and bad.  I've had a best moth ever at Vectorstock, and it replaced Fotolia for 4th highest total.  Everything else rounded out around the $10 range for the month.  They've all been sort of disappointing as it means that most don't sell an image for days at a time.  Vectorstock is different though because they are only a subscription based microstock agency and each one sells for making 10 dollars is a lot of quarters per month!

Disappointing me most of all (besides the closure of Stockxpert last month) is Fotolia.  It used to work quite well, but now, even with more and more uploads, the sales have been few and far between.  And it's gone from a solid 4th place to 8th (and it'd be lower if I was on any more stock sites)...

Overall it was a great month.  It was my best month so far overall - with a total of $417.  Last April was a great month, and hopefully that proves to be true once again this next month!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

IF: Rescue

I did this illustration for the Dreamstime contest about spirituality.  I took my time with this one and completely finished it in Adobe Illustrator.  For stock illustration sites (like Dreamstime) you have to save them as Illustrator 8 files, so a lot of the newer advances in filters and things aren't available (like if you tried to use a transparency it'll become a bitmap which is horrible for a vector image).

At least version 8 of illustrator lets you use blends because thats what I used predominantly to get the soft light effect on the girl.

Now, before I did this one, I already finished 4 other illustrations for this month's Dreamstime contest.  The first two were denied as being too generic and simple (I disagreed, but it's not up to me).  Those two were silhouette illustrations of the three wise men following a star:

Okay - now it is simple, but the sky was a lot more complex, as was the star...and I thought the overall effect was quite nice (and good color)...I tried challenging the ruling and was told that I needed to make it more complex...

It's annoying when it's my own illustrations that they turn down (the last contest had about 80 images and over 500 turned down...), but at least it means that the contest will usually consist of the best images the Dreamstime community is producing.

Anyhow I spent almost a week on the little girl praying image to help rescue my chances of winning one of these contests.  It takes about a week to get approved (it's agonizing watching the image countdown from 160 hours...and it's approximate, so one day it could say 140 hours left and the next it'll be 145).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

new piece - praying....

This is something I"m working on - I have most of the illustrator line down, I just have to rework the hands and feet.

This sketch was done on my wacom in photoshop.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Expired and gone to heaven

I'm working up this illustration for Dreamstime.  It's a stock artwork/photography agency that holds a monthly contest.  This month is spirituality and other nonsense.  So I figured I'd see if I couldn't figure something out for it.  You have to be a member of Dreamstime and have a stock portfolio of at least 50 approved images to compete, but other than that, it's free for all.

This is the first attempt:

This is the finished version below:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

From a project I was working on

These are a few new characters I've been developing.  I'm hoping to do something with them, but we'll see.  I have a couple of rough outlines for children's book stories, so maybe I can head in that direction and dummy up a book and see if I can't get it published.

In several of the stories I've been working on for these characters, I always liked the idea of the little guy (a ground squirrel named Earl) being too small to actually help out, but making the effort with mixed results.  But because of his lack of ability, combined with his lack of bravery, he keeps the other two from getting too wild or out of control.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

lots of kids

I've done a lot of illustrations of anthropomorphic's all an excuse to not draw kids.  I just had no interest in it at all...and there really hasn't been a reason if you can turn a character into a panda kid or a little square skunk.

But the more I draw, and the more projects I have, I've realized that I should probably practice it up a bit.  It's time to brave that frontier.  Plus, it makes a children's book portfolio a bit more rounded if there aren't just animal characters.

This was my first attempt at kids:

It was okay - very simple stuff...I struggled with hairstyles...but managed more or less.

Then I had an idea of doing a more stylized cartoon version of a kid:

I thought these would be more of a paper doll type of character.  I just never got around to designing all the clothes that they would eventually I left them like this and forgot about it.

And most recently I finished a group of new kids

This time I actually looked up some hairstyles and I think the results are definitely noticeable.  I'm still working on it.  But I like the direction it's going...especially from where it started.  I actually have about 20 heads and hairstyles (between all the boys and girls) but there' no need to put them all up here.

The next step is going to be drawing them in action - playing softball...jumping rope...and stuff like that.

These are just a couple of other kids I've drawn recently - but they were posted as their own blog, so I'm making the picture really small...

Monday, March 01, 2010

IF: Perspective - Lil' IG-88 takes a break

So this is the final piece.  It's called "Lil' IG-88 takes a break."  It's been about a year since I've done any of these - taking a character and drawing it from my perspective.

The nerdier ones of you will know who this is...and possibly what scene it's from...?  And you might even guess who's standing behind lil' IG-88.

As you can see in the original drawing (that I did in photoshop) I originally thought of having IG-88 on the upper step - where all the bounty hunters stand in the original thing...but then, as I thought about what to draw around him, I didn't want to recreate all the characters (because that's not what this drawing was about)...but give an indication as where they I moved IG-88 lower and drew the legs of two of the more recognizable bounty hunters above him.
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