Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Groundhog Waltz, Illustration Process - by Diana Ting Delosh

Here's a peek into my illustration process.
My tools from L to R: mechanical pencil, 0.7mm HB black lead, kneaded eraser, Micron  Brush Pen, Higgins Black India Ink, brush, 00 Rapidiograph pen, Black India Rapidiograph Ink Universal waterproof for paper & film, assorted brushes, paint palette for mixing my colored inks.
 It all starts with a rough pencil sketch. Usually I refine it. Sometimes I'm bold and reckless and just plop the sketch on my light box, throw my watercolor paper on top and begin inking. Ideally, IF the sketch is spot on I should be able to ink totally on the light box that way there are no pencil lines to erase. However reality is messy and sometimes in the middle of inking I realize that the foot looks off or whatever and I start fixing it and then it's hard to see where I should ink so I'll finish inking on my drawing board.
Groundhog Waltz - Rough Pencil Sketch © Diana Ting Delosh
Haven't decided if they should wear hats or not.
Lately, I'm using either the Micron Brush Pen, truly water proof -Very  important as I paint over my ink work, or a brush and a bottle of waterproof ink for some of my line work. The problem with felt tip pens is that the point wears down and the black greys out. Love the thick lines and the ability to taper off to nothingness. Some details I add in with  Rapidiograph pens.

Before inking, I decide on the hierarchy of my illustration. What's the focal point? I use the more dynamic thick/thin lines on my primary focus. Thinner lines on my mid-ground/background. I'm right handed so I go from left to right to avoid smudging my ink. I also begin inking something crucial, so if I screw up, I haven't just wasted oodles of time. On the other hand, sometimes I just keep going and fix it in Photoshop later. Scan my inks after erasing any smudges or pencil marks.

After the ink is scanned I'll add in any pencil marks that I want for texture or further delineation.
Groundhog Waltz - Ink © Diana Ting Delosh
Sometimes beginning makes me nervous so I will ease into a piece. Sneak up on it. I'll start by painting the eyes or something else small. Lay down shadows in indigo and or sepia. Before I know it I've found my way into the illo and am painting away. After the paint has dried, I adjust colors as needed. I paint with colored inks, using them like watercolors. I like the brilliant colors. Like watercolors, it is a transparent medium. I can darken, mute or slightly alter a hue but I can't lighten. Thankfully most oops may be fixed digitally. Scan, Photoshop - Voila - it's done. Now off for a sugar fix.
Groundhog Waltz - Final Art © Diana Ting Delosh
Twitter: @dtdelosh

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Q&A - Deborah Cuneo

Self Portrait - Digital Sketch

Hi, I'm Deborah...illustrator, art teacher, Mom, fabric hoarder quilter, lover of marmalade and curator of several, rather large collections of Oaxacan wood sculptures, nutcrackers and sock monkeys (just to name just a few!).

Any Good News? / What are you working on? 

I'm very excited to announce that I recently signed with Sky Pony Press for my first book as both author and illustrator and I'm looking forward to Spring 2017, when Little Dragon makes his debut! Aside from Little Dragon, I'm working on a couple of new picture books and a graphic novel.

Little Dragon - Digitally Colored Character Sketch


What is your Medium? 

Medium has really been an evolutionary process for me. While I started out in kid-lit with pastel pencils, I've created with everything from markers to watercolors, colored pencils and acrylic. Most recently, I've moved on to digital and "whatever". I really like the freedom that painting with a digital tool provides, but I feel I always need to keep my hand in some sort of traditional medium as well. I do love experimenting and playing with all sorts of combinations so, stay tuned!!

Beagles - Acrylic/Colored Pencil
Down the Shore - Acrylic/Colored Pencil/ Digital

What attracted you to the field of kidlit? 

I had an aunt that supplied me with what turned into an incredible library of great picture books! I was never much of a tv watcher so, when I wasn't making art or playing sports, I spent hours looking at these books and loosing myself in the stories the illustrations told. I decided back then, that I wanted to be creating picture books at some point in my life! 

Who are your creative influences? 

For writing, I would have to say my grandfather, a former teacher, who was always writing and telling his own children's stories. Illustratively, when I was younger, I loved Rockwell, Sendak, Little Golden Books, Dr Seuss and of course, Disney! As an adult, I came to discover and appreciate the amazing work of David Wiesner, Chris Van Allsburg, Sophie Blackall, Shaun Tan, Chris Sheban, Renata Liwska, Helen Ward and Brian Wildsmith, just to name a few (ha, ha). And with each new illustrator I discover, I always take away something that I learn and love from their beautiful artwork and then I have to add them to my ever-growing list! 

Down the Rabbit Hole - Acrylic/Colored Pencil/Digital

Your Picture book process: Do the words come first or the images or both?

Definitely the pictures. When I get an idea, it's like a movie that suddenly starts playing in my head! 

GN Sketch - Pencil


What inspires you?

Everything does...For me, life is one big inspirational, shiny button moment after the next! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Q&A - Jason Kirschner

Jason Kirschner

Hi everyone. I'm Jason -set designer, illustrator, author, comics enthusiast and occasional maker of kale chips. This is my first ever blog entry so bear with me.

Any Good news?
Yes!! My very first picture book, Mr. Particular:The World’s Choosiest Champion will be in bookstores everywhere on May 10!! It's the most exciting thing that's happened since the birth of my kids and the invention of sliced bread.
Mr. Particular's Cover!

What are you working on?

I am working on a ton of stuff--or maybe it just feels that way. I'm always juggling a bunch of things which keeps it really interesting. I’m working on a new picture book manuscript that I really love. I've dipped my toe into the “trying-to-write-a-middle-grade” pool-- not sure how that's going to turn out. I've got some magazine illustrations on my plate. First and foremost, I’m working on all of the marketing and promotions for  Mr. Particular, which is due out in May people! I can hardly wait. Mix in a day job, my lovely wife, and 8 year-old twins and I barely have a second to spare.

What inspires you?'s just us here so I feel I can admit something. I'm a...a...nerd. I grew up reading/watching/inhaling comic books, sci-fI and fantasy. If someone made a pork chop in outer space I wanted to know about it. And so as a “grown-up,” I love delving into those worlds and trying to make my own small additions to those genres. Mr. Particular is my shot at writing superheroes --with a dash of personal experiences and a kidlit twist. The pb manuscript I'm working on is drawn from a love of “monster movies” and the middle grade is my outer-space adventure.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Petri dishes of inspiration I live with and provide meals kids. They're a constant source of ideas. Anything from everyday occurances to strange turns of phrase can spark ideas. If you don't have kids, I highly recommend visiting your local megamart and picking some up. Very useful.
Mr. Particular - Interior page

Super...Raccoon? Not sure. I just liked that it looked like he was wearing a mask.

If you were an animal what would it be?

It's probably the most widely picked answer but I'd probably be a dog. I really like having my back scratched. Not my ears so much- but i’m open to it.  I eat most things out of bowls and I'd bet I'd like the crunch of kibble. Ooh- and I'd love one of those plaid doggie coats. They always look so comfortable. Not sure about the little booties though. I like bare feet.
I will share, as a bonus, that my daughter would like to be a giraffe and my son, a penguin.

Just a girl and her space lizard.
Your Picture book process: Do the words come first or the images or both?
I think the image comes first. I'm an illustrator first. I still look behind me when anyone looks in my direction and says the word “author. I usually start with some character sketches so I know who I'll be writing about. I feel like I can hear their voices a lot better when I know what they look like. Then I go to the manuscript. I try to get that to a really finished place before I start a dummy. Otherwise it's an endless cycle of revision. Once I feel the manuscript is done-ish, I start the dummy. It's sort of freeing-- like drawing someone else's script. I don't have to worry about word changes or plot revisions. When it's all drawn, I can go back in and edit. I tend to be able to edit out a lot of words once I see the pictures. Not sure if you can tell but, like me, my manuscripts…wordy.

Hopefully a bit self-explanitory - except for the dog.  What's he doing?

Who are your creative influences? address either your illustration or writing or both influences.

My take on Nanny Piggens.
So many. I taught myself to draw by copying comic strips like Jim Davis’s Garfield and Charles Shultz’s Peanuts. Like I said, I'm a tremendous comic book nerd so artists like John Byrne, Alan Davis and Art Adams had a huge influence on me. And in the kidlit world, first and foremost, I love love love Maurice Sendak. The way he drew kids was a revelation to me. My other real kidlit love is Lisbeth Zwerger. One of my set design professors turned me on to her long ago. Her take on things is always so different than anything I would have ever chosen… And, of course, super-beautiful.

See more of my work or get to know me better at:

my website:

Facebook: JasonKirschnerStudio

Twitter: @jason_kirschner

represented by Rachel Orr at Prospect Agency

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Q&A - Mike Ciccotello


Hi, I'm Mike Ciccotello.

Dad, Husband, Art Director by day... Illustrator by night... 


1. What are you working on?

Currently, I’m working on two picture book manuscripts, developing characters, creating new portfolio work, and illustrating regularly for 

All the Wonders – Storytime: Wishes!

2. Any Good news?

I was hired at the end of last year to create illustrations for a picture book published by Room to Read. I had the opportunity to work with freelance editor, Tamra Tuller, and Room to Read’s Associate Director of Global Book Publishing, Alisha Berger. It was my first picture book and the project wrapped up at the end of December 2015. The book will help educate children in low income African countries.
Elephant Runs, Room to Read, 2016

3. What attracted you to the field of kidlit?

I am new to the world of children’s literature. I always wanted to be in this space, I just never knew how to get here. (Thanks for the map I have always been keen on creating art for children, whether it be cartoons, comic strips, or murals. Also, as an ex-mime and devil-stick juggler, I enjoy entertaining children. In January of 2015, I took a class from, they spoke about SCBWI. In February 2015, I became a member. I attended the NJSCBWI 2015 Summer Conference and I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. A cosmic force came up, smacked me in the head, and said, 
I have so much to learn, and I look forward to it every day.

The Carrot Thief

4. What inspires you?

This list is much longer, but here are some.
Wonder in a child’s eyes, cookies, children in general, animals, cookies, sunrise and sunsets, wonky butterflies, clouds of any type, drippy ice cream cones, cookies, a blank canvas, talented artists and writers, engineers and technology, telephone poles, people, my wife and kids, love, cookies, and coffee… lots of coffee.

Once Upon a Time

5. Your Picture book process: Do the words come first or the images or both?

Well, as I mentioned, I’m very new to the world of children’s literature. I don’t think I have been doing this long enough to have a process. I’m sure I will go through many phases until I find something that works. This is how I’m currently working. I get my initial idea as a glimpse of a scene, from a story. I sketch the idea and work out any issues I have with it. Then I start daydreaming and let the idea gel into something that can be written into a manuscript. When that manuscript is submission ready, I will start adding in some character designs and sketches. That’s were I’m at right now. Check back in two months. It will probably be a little different.  

Miss Penelope

6. What's your illustration process?

I have three different styles that I’m comfortable creating consistently. Each require a slightly different process. I have been known to do work completely digital in Photoshop, or traditional, using artist markers, colored pencil, pen and ink, and acrylic paint. For the purpose of this post, I’ll outline the style I’m working on more these days. It’s a little traditional, a little digital, and requires a whole lot of love. 

Rainbow Tongue, process illustrations

I sketch ideas either on paper or digitally on a tablet. Once I have a sketch that I’m happy with I’ll transfer that, using a light board, into pen and ink on paper. I scan the pen and ink illustration then start working in black and white values in Photoshop if I’m on my desktop or ProCreate if I’m on my iPad. Once the values are set, I start working in layered color, also in Photoshop/Procreate. Above, you see the four step breakdown. Sketch, Ink, Value, and Color. Here's a movie clip showing the digital value painting.

Twitter: @ciccotello
Instagram: @ciccotello