Get Your SketchbookJack Custom Sketch

Now is your chance to get a SketchbookJack sketch of you, your mom, your dad, grandma, dog, tea kettle, teddy bear, gold fish, or maybe just leave it up to Jack. This is a rare opportunity to get a custom original for only $25 via the “The Island and the Plough”/”Captain and Crow’s ABCs” book publishing Kickstarter campaign. Not only will you get a custom sketch, but also a PDF version of the book of your choosing. Share the love: http://kck.st/1kDaMZ6

iPad App is Coming!

 

 

There is big news for SketchbookJack.  An interactive iPad ebook app is currently in the works.  The first app will be “The Island and the Plough.”  All the bold, black and white illustrations will come to life with animations, a narrator, and even an apple-catching mini-game.  I don’t want to spoil too much, so stay tuned and I’ll post a few more screenshots.
ebook childrens book iPad epub black and white bold typography interactive style cartoon illustration art design layout mockup screenshot tree apple words reading design app

ebook childrens book iPad epub black and white bold typography interactive style cartoon illustration art design layout mockup screenshot tree apple words reading design  app

Where are you?

I am sure you are wondering where I am, or at least why I haven’t been posting much lately.  I have had my hands quite full with a few projects that I hope to post results for very soon.  Aside from trying to close out “The Island and the Plough” and shop it around to a few potential distributors I have been working on the next book as well as some super cool commission projects.  I will be doing the album art for Ultraswing, a UK gypsy jazz band.   They decided they wanted a little change of pace from their prior albums and wanted a full black and white illustration spread.  Once they are ready to release on their website I will begin posting some images soon.  All I have to say right now is that this was a really great project, creating some awesome little characters and vignettes and had a lot of fun.  Can’t wait to show it off.

6 Things to learn from the Book Proof

   The proof print for “The Island and the Plough” has officially arrived!  I must say, it is very exciting to see it in physical print.  Regardless of my thoughts on ebooks, and digital media, there is something really great about a book.  I am still sorting the official business with copyrights, and the ISBN registry, which will allow some time for the printers of the final version but it is so good to see this in near finished form.  I want to thank everyone who helped me along the way and have been so patient as well as those who follow and support the entire process.  I can’t wait for this to be a completed project, and then start the next!

  Here are six preview images of the book proof. I tried to choose six images that sort of represent something we can learn from this entire process.

1: First Impressions Are Important

the island and the plough children book sketchbookjack design layout cover black and white cartoon illustration

The front cover of “The Island and the Plough”:

First impressions certainly aren’t the be-all-end-all, but despite the old saying to not judge a book by its cover, people do.  I know I do, but more importantly than judging it is calling attention to and grabbing the eye.  Something catchy, simple, and strong is often a great idea for the front, cover, or introduction of any project. A book calls you by its cover.

2: Dot your Is and cross your Ts.

the island and the plough children book sketchbookjack design layout black and white cartoon illustration page inner

Inner cover pages of “The Island and the Plough”:

The “legal/acknowledgments” section of any project is of the utmost importance.  Noting your sources and identifying yourself is crucial, even on a single image.  There is nothing I hate more than finding a great image or illustration on the web but there is no identifier as to where it came from, so I can never find more of that goodness!  Thank Google for the reverse image look up. Don’t forget to acknowledge those that may have helped. Be gracious, thank those that have honestly helped you, because no project is done alone (even those that physically are done alone, mental, emotional and inspiration support comes from everywhere).

3. Set yourself some rules.

the island and the plough children book sketchbookjack design layout black and white cartoon illustration page play work papa

The children play but Papa warns them of the great white sea in “The Island and the Plough”

Like Papa warning the children of rules of the island, be sure to set yourself some basic ground rules.  Projects very easily get out of hand, grow larger than expected and veer off into unexpected territories.  Be clear with yourself about goals and expectations.  Most importantly make sure your project is manageable!  It is much easier to grow any project than to trim back an unwieldy beast.

4. Know your strengths and embrace weaknesses.

the island and the plough children book sketchbookjack design layout black and white cartoon illustration page tree apple

Papa throws an apple down to Eli in “The Island and the Plough”

Papa has the wonderful idea to throw apples from the tree down to his son Eli who catches them.  This works well until he throws an apple too far, setting forth the entire story.  Know where your strengths will take you and what weaknesses you have that might hold you back.  Focus your strengths to really drive the project and carry the bulk of the work. You may even tailor a project (Like this project I focused on constrast with black and white) to your specific strengths. Work with weaknesses, not against them. Composition, for me, is tricky. To be frank, the children’s books out there have little of it (mostly just an image with text below); finding reference or examples was quite difficult. I needed to be creative and make composition a focus but not let it hold me back as I wanted a very graphic style and include dense typography to help tell the story.

5. Be willing to accept non-perfection.

the island and the plough children book sketchbookjack design layout black and white cartoon illustration page sleep bed

Mama consoles Papa in “The Island and the Plough”

There are many things, even in this final piece or a feature film I may have worked on of which I still want to change. The viewer almost never notices them, so learn when good is good for the sake of the project, time line, goals, and just over all sanity, to not obsess. Like Papa needing consolation from Mama, don’t be afraid to ask for help, critiques and comments. You are your own worst critic, so fresh eyes that aren’t directly attached to the project are best, but try to make it someone who will be constructive and give reasons to what they think rather than claiming something is not working.  Surely, too many comments can lead to a mess, but none is far more dangerous. I suggest getting feedback early on in the process, then work on it a bit for yourself, and then comments near the end (but not so far to the end you can’t take them into account). Try to ask someone other than your mother.

6. Just do what you want.

the island and the plough children book sketchbookjack design layout black and white cartoon illustration cover back description

The reverse/back cover of “The Island and the Plough”


Some of my story ideas are certainly a little “off the beaten path.”  An editor I once talked to said my work is wonderfully unique, but impossible to categorize (and therefore, market).  I was unsure if I should take that as a compliment or a critique. It may be true, and I might possibly only live in a niche market, but that is all I know; do what you know.  I write about what I think about, and things I would enjoy to read or illustrate.  Perhaps, this story is a little heavy for children and I wouldn’t even dare to call this book for children, rather an story for those who also like illustrations. If something is deemed “unmarketable,” I always go back to the fact that someone marketed and sells (a lot, mind you) rubber dog poop and plastic vomit.  Anything is marketable.

Book Proof on it’s way

the island and the plough children book mockup layout design cover

I have the first actual printed proof of “The Island and the Plough,” on its way to me.  I am awaiting eagerly for it to arrive.  This puts me ever so close to the finish line for this project.  Meanwhile, I also am working with a friend who is a developer to release an App version of the book with some fun interactive tid-bits and animation.  I hope to have that out soon after the print release.  The above is again, just a nerdy digital book mock up, but I will be able to finally post an actual photo soon!

Finishing One and Starting Another

The Island and the Plough book page preview mockup layout design

While I sort out the ISBN registries for “The Island and the Plough”, and navigate the intricacies of publishing a picture heavy book to the many eBook formats that are out there, I am busily working on writing and roughing the designs for my next project which I will begin to post about very soon.   I am super excited about my next book, as the story is really getting to me.   Everything is falling together pretty well.  Interestingly, it certainly has, unintentionally, some of the same themes as “The Island and the Plough” but in a very different way.  I have a pretty strong outline completed, promising concept sketches, and a few ideas for page spreads that I think will look really great.    I have yet to find a title that suits it but I am sure that will come along in time, but for posting purposes I will refer to it as “Salvador.”

The basic concept is a story of a fishing boat captain and his young ship mate, Skip.  The two are amidst a sleepy fishing village perched at the rocky cliff’s edge where the land meets the ocean. Their ship is but a small, single sail boat that barely seats two, not to speak of nets full of fish.  The captain also has an old tugboat, in severe disrepair, that he wishes to fix up and use because it is larger and could get them to deeper waters and carry more fish.  The naysayer villagers laugh at his inability to catch fish as well as his dream of using the tugboat for fishing.  Whilst readying themselves to push out one morning, a very unlikely new friend washes ashore.  The story unravels into three parts as the Captain and Skip adventure out to include high sea sailing, wrangling/wrestling with nature, and a hunt for an unusual treasure which can only be had with the help of their newly found friend, all while the cynical villagers laugh from afar.

Until then, I leave you with this book page layout-mock up of “The Island and the Plough” until I bring more news of a release date.

The Island and the Plough : Cover Art Redux

I have reworked the cover art for “The Island and the Plough” a bit to include the house as to bring in a bit more of the human element considering the story so heavily revolves around a man and nature theme.  It seems to have lost some of its perfect symmetry, hopefully for the better in an asymmetric sort of way.  It might still need a little more attention to keep the balance right.   I am nearly finished with the internal illustrations and hope to post some here; however, not too many as to ruin the story. ;)

SketchbookJack The Island And The Plough Cover Art Image

Sketchbookjack Island and the Plough Book Mockup

Oh yes, I am a geek. I mocked up what the book might look like ;p