Friday, February 10, 2012

I Work in the Children's Book Field & Happy To Do So!

Guest Blogger
Meet Kristi Valiant!

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© copyright Kristi Valiant

Lean in and I'll tell you a secret. Digital illustrating has come a long way, baby!

Years ago in art school I took a digital illustration class and learned that 1990s-airbrushy-absolutely-made-with-a-computer illustration style. Now I work completely digitally and some of my art directors have no idea that I do so. It's so much faster to move around my characters, resize, and play with color on my computer than if I were to use regular art supplies. And I don't have to worry about my toddler, or more likely clumsy me, knocking my dirty painting water over.

I'm blessed to be illustrating a fun series of chapter books for Random House right now called LITTLE WINGS about Willa Bean, a cupid with a crazy mess of curls. When I visited Random House in New York, I had a hard time convincing one person that all the illustrations were indeed drawn on my computer. My publisher for a picture book called CORA COOKS PANCIT didn't realize that I created all the illustrations digitally until she read an interview I did after the book was out.

How do I make even my sketches look like they were drawn with a real pencil? By customizing Photoshop brushes and using a tablet and pen instead of a mouse. The pencil tool in Photoshop is abysmal. Instead of that, open the Brushes palette, choose a brush with some grit to it, size it down to a pencil line (I use 8 to 12 points), and play with the Shape Dynamics, Texture, and Other Dynamics. I like to control both my Size Jitter and Opacity Jitter with my Pen Pressure. There are also a host of free Photoshop brushes online to download. But even those I play around with in the Brushes palette to make them my own. If you get a hankering to give it a try, there are also loads of YouTube videos to watch for technique hints.

Hope you enjoyed my geeking out post about digital illustration.

Author/Illustrator of: Penguin Cha-Cha (Random House, 2013)
Illustrator of: The Little Wings Series (Random House), The Goodbye Cancer Garden (Albert Whitman, 2011)


Alicia Padrón said...

This was a great post Kristi! Thanks for being a guest blogger. Love your work :o)

Irene said...

Love your digital style. Makes want to pick up that 'pencil' and give it a try.

Kevin Spear said...

Good points on using brushes in Photoshop. And you're right about the pencil tool. It's a carry-over from the first version of Photoshop. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who uses it today.

Gina Perry said...

Kristi - what a great post. Your work is so warm and charming. Thanks so much for sharing!

Kristi Valiant said...

Awww... thanks everyone! How cool to be a guest blogger with the Picture Book Junkies. You guys rock!

roz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
roz said...

Late to this but I wanted to chime in as well and thank you for this fab post. Been a fan of your work and I love what you can accomplish with your digital technique. You're right...can't tell it's digital!!!