Thursday, December 15, 2011

Quick Sketch

Today they passed around a sketchbook for everyone to sign as a going away present for the doorman who just retired.  I did this quick little sketch of my panda character for him.  It was a sad day to see him go - but hopefully he can find some happiness and fulfillment in his time away from Nickelodeon.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

November Microstock Report

This is November's Microstock Report:

Shutterstock led the pack once again.  Along with Istockphoto, they're one of the biggest agencies that deal with licensing photographs and vector illustrations.  It's strange that all this time Shutterstock has maintained an average over $100, whereas (which had a couple of months with the century mark about a year ago) has faded, and was overtaken by Dreamstime last month.

Vectorstock is a site that a few vector artists don't care for - the reason why is that the payouts are very low per image.  I'll have a ton of sales each month (which i like because I visit each site at least once a day, and it's a lot more fun when the dollar amounts change, even if it's just a little), but it only amounts to just over $20.  I like to stick with them though because sales are sales - and Vectorstock is one of the more consistent selling sites I'm affiliated with.

There are a bunch of other sites that I signed up with that aren't really doing much of anything.  Crestock is one of the original sites I joined and it's made zero monies in four of the last five months.  Some other dud stock sites (for me) are Stockfresh (which just started, so I'm waiting to see if that changes) and Veer (another new site, but another one that doesn't sell much).

With that said - I think it's better to have a portfolio of illustrations across a variety of microstock agencies.  It means that more businesses and people in need of images have a better chance of finding your stuff and purchasing the license.  If you're thinking of selling your own vector artwork (or photographs) - I'd say start with Shutterstock - it's one of the easier sites to get into (you have to have 10 images approved, but their approval process is lax compared to an agency like Istockphoto).  But once you get going, I'd suggest at least signing up with the big three (Shutterstock, Istockphoto, and Dreamstime) and then think about the rest.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A boy and his puppy

This is another illustration that I did for Dreamstime.  I had an idea to draw a kid with big round eyes getting a puppy on Christmas so I drew this on my wacom tablet using Adobe Photoshop:

What's great about using Photoshop is that you can easily lighten and darken the lines and work on separate layers to quickly and easily draw and edit.  What isn't so great is using a wacom tablet to do it.  But it still gets the job done - because it's just a sketch that I transported to Adobe Illustrator (in stock image sites like Dreamstime, they always like photographs and vector drawings...vary rarely will a raster illustration do as well).

I might have made the eyes too big and round...but he looks happy (if slightly alien).  Anyhow - I wanted to do a very subtle background, so all of that color (not the ornaments) is a gradient mesh with a few lines for the fireplace.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Squaremania: Panda has an Epiphany

Here's the final illustration:
I think it turned out quite alright!

Squaremania: Happy Panda

I printed out the rough drawing and revised it with a red pencil:
After scanning it back into the computer I completed the revisions in Adobe Illustrator and then transferred the lines into Photoshop to color.  So far I'm done with the Panda, and now I have to work on the background:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Feeling Great, Feeling Happy...with a kite!

This illustration is for the Dreamstime contest.  This month's topic is "Feeling Great, Feeling Happy."

This is the rough I did in Adobe Photoshop:
I took that into Illustrator to clean it up and color it:
I, personally, never got into kite flying as a kid.  I had a couple of kites, but  each and every time I took them out a tree came out of nowhere and swallowed them whole.  I felt like Charlie Brown...all I needed to find was a jerk girl to pull a football away when I tried to kick it.

Anyway - kites don't agree with me, but these two kids seem to be getting a kick out of it.

Here's a variation:

Happy Panda Rough Drawing

This is the baby panda surrounded by sunlight.

The ears will be a little smaller in the final version.

Friday, November 04, 2011

This is Halloween, 2011

Last year we got a group together to do a Mario Brothers theme.  This year we visited the Tim Burton exhibit at the LACMA.  It inspired us to make our own costumes using the Nightmare Before Christmas as our theme this year.

My wife and two friends were Lock, Shock, and Barrel - the three little kids who kidnap 'sandy claws'.  I wanted to be something a bit harder and went with the Mayor.  Every year at Nickelodeon Animation Studio (where we work) they do a costume contest.  So while we were waiting for our turn, a girl dressed as Sally joined us and we all went together. 

We won for 'best entertainment characters'.

There's also a pumpkin carving contest that we entered:

My wife stayed with the theme and carved a Jack Skellington head and painted it white.  It also won!

I changed my plan at the last minute and went with an Angry Birds theme:
the red bird is an orange and the little blue bird is a lime.
 Angry Birds in their natural habitat.

This was part of the process of painting the Mayor head - I did a layer and then hung it to dry while I worked on my pumpkin.  I cut out the pieces for the eye, the nose and the mouth (which is where I saw out of).   The other cone (the white one) was the bottom part of the hat.  The material I used was a light weight black foam, so I had to do an undercoat before painting it gray.

And here are a few pictures of the making of the pumpkins:
The pear was too difficult to work with, so I ended up not being able to do a yellow bird.
precision cutting for Jack Skellington's eyes

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Lil' Kid

Here are a couple of drawings I did in Adobe Illustrator:

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Nightmare before Christmas Girl

Tim Burton's artwork was on display up until last month in Los Angeles.  There were drawings from his childhood, random sketchbooks and each of his movies.  One of his most prominent motifs are stripes.

I've had Nightmare before Christmas in my head for the last month.  It's not just that it was the season for it - but my wife, a couple of friends, and I made Nightmare before Christmas costumes for our company costume contest (our group won for best entertainment characters).  I still have to post the pictures of the costumes, but in the meantime I've had this illustration of a girl in cute hats and I wanted to do a Jack Skellington version:

I thought the girl looked a little too cute with that hat, so I thought I'd see about pushing it a little if she was stitched together like Sally (from the movie).
That's probably a little too stitchy though, so this is my final version:

cute and scary - and I thought I could make it a little more Tim Burtony and goth by giving her a desaturated skirt and matching striped scarf.

Little girl with bear hat

I have a couple of variations on the little girl in an animal hat.  This is the little girl in a bear hat:

Microstock report for October 2011

This is our microstock report for October 2011.  We uploaded a couple of new images, but they were for Halloween and I wasn't able to finish them until the end of the there wasn't enough time for them to get accepted and be available for people to download...

The thing is, if you're going to make pictures for a particular day, you should probably have them up and ready to go at least a month before.  And it might be better if you have it 2 months before that holiday.  My illustrations weren't available until the week before Halloween, so we only got a couple of downloads and now everyone is focused on thanksgiving (and the big one) or Christmas.

Here's the October breakdown:
Shutterstock is the only site that seems to keep delivering month after month.  Since we started doing microstock in February of 2009, we have only had one month where we didn't make the $100 minimum to get paid (If you make less than a hundred dollars, it just rolls over to the next month and so on until you do reach a hundred).

I might try to put some Christmas images up in the next couple of weeks, so we'll see if that helps spark more interest in the rest of the portfolio across the different microstock sites....

123rf and Vectorstock are both doing fairly well too.  Those are two smaller sites that seem to stay very consistent each month.  We had our best month ever on 123rf this month...and Vectorstock seems to hit around $15 each month.  Both totals are kind of on the small side, but it's nice to check every couple of days because they always have sales.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kid in a Frog Hat

Why are kids in frog hats so cute?  And why are there so many hats out there (these days) that have animal faces?  They look horrible on regular people...just incredibly dorky - but you strap one of these on a little kid and suddenly even the ugly ones are sorta cute....

And then you get a hat on a cute kid and watch out!  You'll go home and punch your own kid for not trying hard enough.

I was drawing a lot of scary looking characters (a toy line I'm working on) and somehow this drawing found it's way into the mix.  I thought it'd be funny to create a line of cool toy monsters in those blind boxes (where you buy one in a toy line, but you don't know which one you'll get until you open the box)...and every once in a while you'll get this little girl toy which would be the completely opposite of every other toy.

One day that'll happen, and it'll be funny...unless you're the boy that opens the box...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kid in frog hat head

I'm working some toy designs...this is one of the first thumbnails that I wanted to finish up:

I haven't finished coloring the body, but I'm currently working on it...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Scary designs!

I'm teaming up with a couple of other talented folks to create some vinyl toys.  This is one of my concepts that we're thinking about..

I transferred it (from Adobe Illustrator) to Photoshop to do a color version:

Friday, October 07, 2011

This is an illustration for the microstock site Dreamstime.

They do a monthly contest based on an idea.  Most of the submissions are photographs, but I always like to throw in an illustration to add some creativity to the whole thing.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Microstock report for September 2011

Another step backwards in the licensing world.  It's only microstock licensing, so no big worries.  We haven't put any new files into the sites this month (and really only two illustrations since spring) it's to be expected that there won't be big returns.  With that said we still are averaging above $200 a month without having to do any more work.

Shutterstock is the best microstock site out there.  From the very beginning (when we started in February of 2009) we uploaded 10 images and they immediately started making money...and it has stayed consistent ever since.  We've just crossed the $5,000 since our start with this site.

Istockphoto changed their rates for people who aren't exclusive with them and it's really hurt our numbers.  Istockphoto started to net over $100 a month for a time, but it now fails to bring in anything worth being proud of.

Dreamstime is a site that I was starting to think would pick way up.  They have a contest every month with a theme that you can upload to...and so any new illustrations usually went into that.  Not to win, but because each illustration would be worth more if downloaded.  Now the majority of our downloads on this site are from our contest illustrations, but they're still not selling too frequently and Dreamstime still finishes behind Istock...

Everything else stays in the $10-$25 range for the other sites...they're small, but you can usually count on them to bring in some loose change.

I signed up with two new stock sites a few months ago - Veer and Stockfresh.  Neither one is selling terribly well...we've had a total of two sales on Stockfresh and are averaging one download per month from I lump them into the same category with Thinkstock (another site that doesn't produce much) and together they combined for $13.80 in sales.

So that wraps it up!  Go sign up with Shutterstock, it's worth the time!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Harry Potter rough drawing

I was one of the lucky few that was invited to experience Pottermore before they went live in October.

It's a pretty fun site - they're still working out a lot of kinks - the biggest being that the server isn't big enough to handle all the traffic just yet (so the site keeps kicking people out).  Anyway - it's quite nice to go through the books and further experience the world of Harry Potter.  The nicest thing is there are a lot of unpublished writings of J K Rowling about characters (and backstories), objects and scenes.

I was inspired to draw this (on a cintiq in photoshop):
And I guess it's not terribly accurate to the story...because Harry Potter was never in his cupboard under the stairs reading his Hogwarts acceptance letter...but I could clearly see it in my head and wanted to draw seemed like a nice reveal - to have this kid who spent the first 10 years of his life in misery and to suddenly have that all flip to become the most popular kid in the entire (wizarding) world with the arrival of a single letter would be mind boggling.

Here's the Adobe Illustrator cleanup:
I was hoping to convey the mix of emotions that would hit Harry upon finishing the letter.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Squaremania: Pig color

I'm doing a series of illustration of each of the different Squaremania characters.  This is the little girl pig.  This is still considered a color rough because I did the whole thing in adobe illustrator.  I still need to finalize what the color combination will be and then color it (for real) in Photoshop.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Squaremania Roughs

I'm working out some of the characters - and in the process I want to spotlight them with their own illustration that spotlights their particular trait or something significant about them.  Here are two characters - a female panda and a little gal piggy.

Monday, September 05, 2011

microstock report for August 2011

 Shutterstock made a lot of cashola this last month.  It was a nice upswing from the last couple of horrible summer months.  They say that microstock sells poorly in the summer, so it's nice to pull out of that as we registered lows in Dreamstime and Istockphoto last month.

in August Shutterstock sold 2 ELs for us (that's a $28 compared to the usual subscription downloads of 35 cents each or the ODs of $2.70).  With those two ELs Shutterstock powered our monthly earning back over $300.

Dreamstime and Istockphoto did the normal $40s in sales.  And everything else just puttered along as they've done since we joined their sites.

So far it's still a lot of fun to check the totals and see what's sold on a day to day basis.  It's nice that old images that were done a couple of years ago are still selling well...and that even though we're uploading few, if any, images each month we're still making money!  It could be more, but we haven't been investing the time.  You have to put in the work if you want to see results...

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Squaremania: Rough drawing

This is a rough drawing I worked up in Adobe Photoshop.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Squaremania: Panda Family

We're working on a project and this illustration is one of the first to come out of it.  It's an alternate version of a previous Panda Family piece where you only saw the backs of the parents...Anyway - i wanted to change it around so you could see the entire family.

I did all the lines in Adobe Illustrator, and colored it in Photoshop.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Illustration Friday's topic this week is Influence.  I did a piece already for that, but had another idea - it wasn't really the same word, but it sounded a lot like it!  Influenza!

It's like the Italian equivalent...only it means something completely different.  The idea stuck with me, so i had to draw it:
I also wanted to draw a different kind of stylized kid - usually I have really round cutesy faces...but that didn't seem like it would work for this illustration. 

And this is the cleaned up and colored (in Adobe Illustrator) version.  I might revise it to push the sickness a little more.  When I get sick, this is all I do - sit in bed and moan and whimper...but a cartoon character should have an ice pack on his head and maybe a thermometer in his mouth...and maybe some sweat from the fever.  So we'll see...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Squaremania: Peeking

I did a similar drawing previously...but This one is the panda as a baby that I'm developing for another illustration - I cropped the picture at the lower part of his eyes so that way it looked like he was peeking over something.

It was drawn by hand and then cleaned up and colored in Adobe Illustrator.

I thought of this as part of creating mock up pieces for licensing artwork.  A company slogan or logo could go below the panda...and how could those cute little eyes do anything but influence someone to purchase whatever the panda endorsed!  That's the idea anyway...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Squaremania: Panda on a square hill

This is the latest illustration for Squaremania.  I wanted a triumphant panda standing on a square hill.  I working on getting the whole world feeling like it belongs together by trying to incorporate a square motif.

I thought it'd be nice to add a couple of the other characters, so I went back in and quickly drew them on their own hills.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Wario time!

I just did a picture of Mario, but I couldn't stop there because he's boring.  Ever since Nintendo debuted Wario, I've been a big fan!  Especially for all the mario kart and mario party games.  He's terrific and we've had a successful partnership.

"I'muh Gonna Win!"

Mario Kart is an obsession, if there ever was one.  You  win all gold trophies in the easy level, then the medium, then hard...and then it opens up mirror mode where everything is backwards and you have to win gold there as well.  THEN (!) there's an online option where you can play against real people and you play random levels in hopes to finish in the top three to win points.  It's fantastic.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Microstock Report for July 2011

This month took another hit...a lot of our regular companies, like Dreamstime and Istockphoto, just did not sell.  Shutterstock remained consistent.

Also - two smaller companies that we upload illustrations to (Vectorstock and 123RF) have both done nicely the last few months - with 123RF having achieved our best month in sales for the site.

We uploaded several files to each of the sites, so it was nice to see a little spike in activity after that, but we're still missing that big illustration that'll jump start the selling back to where it was just over a year ago...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

What a square adoption

I was working on this illustration way back in February when my computer fell apart on me and I was left without Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop.  I had to wait until the computer came back from the shop and I could see whether or not any of my files were salvageable.

The computer decided it wasn't on it's last leg, and I upgraded to CS5...and then I forgot about this illustration.  I'm currently updating my website ( and I discovered it again while going through my files.  I didn't have a background on it, and while i originally was going to have them in front of a supermarket, I went with a more whimsical background.  I almost drew eyes in on the hills, but everyone is doing that these days, so I refrained.

I did the illustration to commemorate our adopting two little kittens from Forgotten Animals of LA.  They're a fantastic organization that goes in and rescues strays and finds homes for needy animals.  And what's nice is that they have huge hearts and really care about what they do.  They even take in sick animals that the owners have given up on and get them treated.

Our two cats are the ones in front - they're twins. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mario plays the Wii

I've been holding off buying a Wii because I knew I'd get addicted.  Sadly that resolve to stay away came to an end when I was offered one for free.  So what was I supposed to do but take it?  That was a month ago, and I've been playing Mario Kart ever since.  Its an obsession that just got worse this morning when I finally hooked the Wii up to the internet.

At work someone e-mailed us that there's an art gallery called "Super Iam8-bit" with artwork based on the old 80's video games.  So all of that inspired me to paint this.  I drew a rough in photoshop, cleaned it up on a separate layer, and then colored it.

Of course, I look more like this playing video games:
Free Hit Counter