Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Evolution of a Kraken Illustration

I've been working on a picture book about a lonely kraken. Besides tweaking the words, I've explored the look and style of the illustrations. Here's how I have reworked a scene with Kraken and some mermaids, including changing the medium, the characters' looks, everything:

1. Mostly digital approach

© Sylvia Liu

APRIL 2014: My first attempt was to create a stylized digital composite based on pencil drawings. I liked the moodiness, but it was a bit too stark.

2. Mostly analog (pastel)


© Sylvia Liu
MAY 2014: I painted the scene in pastels, using bright and saturated colors, changed the kraken and used the mermaids from the first illustration.


© Sylvia Liu
MAY 2014: The digital mermaids didn't match, so I painted them in pastels. This was striking but it didn't fit with the style and direction of my other illustrations.

3. Pencil drawing plus collage of acrylics, watercolor, and digital painting


© Sylvia Liu

NOV. 2014: As a result of a class I took (Mira Reisberg & Kristine Brogno teaching at the Children's Book Academy), I settled on the above look. This is the scene before the singing scene above. The rocks and water were made in analog (acrylic, watercolor and pastel), the sketches are done in pencil, and the characters are digitally painted.

© Sylvia Liu
FIRST PASS: The above was the image I had critiqued in class. Mira and Kristine gave me some great suggestions on composition which resulted in this:

© Sylvia Liu
 4. Reworking the Palette


© Sylvia Liu
JAN. 2015: While I liked the composition and the characters, something about the color palette felt a bit cold. So I reworked the background by adding warmer tones and some different textures. I changed the kraken's look slightly.

5. Final Touches

I'm getting some great suggestions from my friend Kathryn Ault Noble (who was named to the SCBWI Illustration Mentor Program in August 2014) who is reviewing my portfolio in anticipation of the New York SCBWI.  Based on those comments, my final looks like this (very subtle lighting changes):

© Sylvia Liu


Who knows? This illustration may yet evolve some more, but for now, I'm happy with it.






Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review, Interview & Giveaway: Miranda Paul's ONE PLASTIC BAG and Break the Rules Webinar




Today I have a special treat: a review, an interview, and a giveaway to celebrate the upcoming release of Miranda Paul's picture book, One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia (Millbrook Press, Feb. 1, 2015), and her Children's Book Academy webinar with Chronicle Editor Ariel Richardson and Picture Book Whisperer Mira Reisberg, Rules to Break to Make Your Picture Book.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy 1st Birthday, Kidlit 411!

© Sylvia Liu
Most of you who read this blog know that my friend Elaine Kiely Kearns and I run a resource website for children's writers and illustrators, Kidlit411.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Drawing Hands: Some Great Resources

Drawing hands is hard! It probably is what separates an amateur artist from a professional, and I am always working on mine. Here are some excellent tutorials and resources for learning how to draw hands:


(1)  How to Draw Hands- Tutorials - Draw As a Maniac - a series of reference illustrations and instructions on drawing hands

Screenshot of Draw as a Maniac's hand reference post

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Review: My Family Inspires Me

© Sylvia Liu
I am so grateful that 2014 was another creative year with much support and friendship from so many fellow creatives. Last year, I talked about my creative communities, like my picture book critique group, fellow mentees from the Nevada SCBWI mentor program, and 12x12 friends.

I still have those wonderful people in my creative life. But today I'm going to talk about the people who are the very closest to me:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Introducing Create One a Day

© Sylvia Liu

As an illustrator, I know that the best way to improve my craft is to practice every day. So last week, inspired by my friend Teresa Robeson, who has posted One Good Thing every day for over a year, I started a daily creative blog:  Create One a Day.