Dec 20, 2013

Ambushed by a hermit crab!

Here is the start to a new illustration.

Ollie's at the bottom of a shallow ravine on the sandstone beach after being chased by a hermit crab.

Snarz, her brave little crab friend is busy trying to claw at the joints of the attacking beast.

This scene happens at night so it will be interesting to try and get my watercolor look working with a darker scene. Looking forward to painting it.

Nov 30, 2013

Ollie and Snarz leap!

Another finished pencil-ink-watercolor.

Lost on the shoreline, Ollie and Snarz leap from a great height, risking everything for a clue to lead them home.

I worked on this painting over two nights and I'm pretty happy how it came out. I like having the partial background. I actually had the sky completely filled in behind them at one point, but found that the characters felt better silhouetted against white.

I feel I've been pretty consistent in how I've been drawing Ollie and Snarz lately, having settled on the basics of her outfit and gear. Two-tone blues for tank-top and skirt. gladiator sandals, backpack, hair in braided dreads with thread and beads woven in, and her bandolier of cinderblocks.

To find out what she's doing with the line she'd just let go of you'll have to read the book.

Nov 29, 2013

New illustration

Start of a new illustration. Here Ollie is jumping down from a great height while holding Snarz.

Nov 23, 2013

Under a piece of bark

Ollie and Snarz take refuge from the exposed beach. They shelter under a piece of curved bark washed up by the tide. Waiting for them is a purple shore crab lurking under a ribbon of seaweed.

Nov 20, 2013

speed painting

This was a quick exercise to see what I could achieve from start to finish in 30 minutes.

Nov 13, 2013

Pencil, ink, and watercolors

I think I've found what I'm going to use for a final look. Pencil base to rough in the forms, sketchy inked lines to sharpen everything up and then the watercolor I've been practicing with to bring in the lighting and color.

I'm satisfied with this result. If the environment isn't a focal point I kind of like the simple splotch of color for sky, it lets the characters keep your attention.

I'm also happy with the scratchy ink lines crisscrossing Snarz the crab. Gives him a slightly weathered look and makes it clear he's made of harder material.

Nov 3, 2013


I'm getting excellent notes from my beta readers! It will take a while to correct all the issues in the story but it will be much stronger with these fixes.

In addition to editing the manuscript I'm still working on art. Here is a quick painting of Ollie about to set free a contraption. The contraption is the three legged little robot she's about to put down. It's made out of the blocks she's usually wearing over her shoulder.

Oct 25, 2013

Ollie and Snarz, taking a break

Another watercolor experiment. Here Ollie and Snarz are taking a break from their adventures.

Oct 6, 2013

Anemones in watercolor

Again I'm using an older pencil sketch as a base for a watercolor experiment.

I really like how you can blend the colors and use layering to simulate painting again on older dried paint.

I think I need to make sure the characters are more visible in the future but I'm pleased with the results overall.

Oct 5, 2013

I might go back to a watercolor look

Trying out watercolors again was inspired but the art from the Studio Ghibli film 'The Tale of Princess Kaguya' (unreleased). I might try sticking with a watercolor style.

This was a quick test over an older pencil drawing I had to see if its something I might want to go with.

Sep 7, 2013

Another take on the tidepool painting

I did a repaint of the same idea. I like the results a lot more. I was more careful about the choice of colors and relied on the pallet knife a lot less smearing things around. Also adding the hilight helps give Ollie and Snarz more definition.

Sep 3, 2013


On the way to find some high ground to climb Ollie and Snarz have to go around a tide pool surrounded by periwinkles. I wanted to try a view from across the other side so I could put shells in the foreground.

I'm not sure about the colors I used but otherwise I like this view of them running across the beach.

Sep 1, 2013

Aug 26, 2013

Speed painting of Snarz the crab

A quick painting of Snarz the crab before I go back into editing mode. Still lots of work to do on the edit. I just checked the word count and I'm up to 22150. It seems to slowly be getting bigger, I'm not sure if editing is supposed to mean 'add more'...

Aug 25, 2013

Still going....

Work continues on the story. The beautiful summer weather has slowed down progress a little but things are still moving forward. I've let a few beta readers chew into it and I've changed some things based on their notes. Overall the feedback has been very positive.

The best kinds of notes are from people that can imagine how else the story might be instead of how it currently is. I love getting notes like "I'd like to know what she's thinking at this point..." Helps me see things I might have missed along the way.

Aug 11, 2013

Jul 28, 2013

Styrofoam Trampoline

She thought she could hear a faint squeaking sound from the other side of the oyster shell.
Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak.
Not recognizing the sound she crept around to the other side, one hand dragging along the wall of shell next to her and the other on her loop of metal blocks.
What was that squeaking noise?
Rounding the other side of the shell she found Snarz.
"Oh no..."He'd been lured by something irresistible.
The waist high chunk of styrofoam debris squeaked with every jump. The sight of the grinning orange crab bouncing up and down on the spongy white fragment made her laugh and angered her at the same time.
"You scared me. What are you doing?" As soon as she said it she realized it was a pointless question. He was clearly having a great time being crazy.

Jul 27, 2013

Green shore crab

I was trying out a few ideas with this older pencil sketch. I like how this is framed with the crab in the foreground.

Jul 16, 2013

Color and Light quick painting

Just a quick painting exploring some color pallet ideas. I like the general feel of how this turned out. There is a moment in the story where they go under a piece of washed up bark that might end up looking like this.

Jul 15, 2013

Ready on a sandstone cliff

High up on the side of a sandstone cliff Ollie scoops up Snarz and is ready to go.

It feels like I'm getting closer and closer to nailing down the look for these paintings.

Jul 14, 2013


Another quick painting of Ollie and Snarz on their adventure. Here our heroes have come across a small herd of periwinkles (small sea snails). This painting took around two hours using Art Rage.

Jun 22, 2013

Climbing a barnacle

Ollie climbing up the side of a barnacle. I'm trying out a night color pallet to get a sense of how much I want to see in the flashes of lightning.

I feel pretty good about this one and can see something similar making it into the book as a final piece of art.

Silhouettes on Sandstone

I'm still trying different looks for the sandstone.  When you go to a sandstone beach the rock tends to be a flat grey, at least the ones I've been to aren't very colorful. It's been worn into amazing shapes by the tide but very dull in color.

The good part about that is I can bring in as much color as I want from the sky or sun. In this painting I was really trying to limit the pallet of colors I was using which feels more successful than some of my other works so far.

I like the depth of the different ridges of stony beach receding into the distance in this one. Having the bright light in the background also allows for keeping our heroes mysterious.

Jun 20, 2013

A quick pencil sketch

Just another pencil sketch. Playing around with posing, both Ollie and Snarz look pretty happy here.

I created this using the digital pencil tool in artrage.

Jun 7, 2013

Crab claws quick sketch

Just a quick sketch of Snarz showing his menacing pincers, and Ollie copying him. I'm going to try and get in the habit of posting more quick little ideas like this.

May 24, 2013

Sandstone inspiration

We're still editing the story. It's a lot better but the process is slow, especially as it's our first book.

I though I would post some photos I took of the type of beach where the story takes place. Smooth sandstone beach, sculpted by the ocean into a unique coastline.

And just for fun a crabshell covered in perwinkles. It's a kelp crab (also known as spider crabs for their long thin pointy legs)

Apr 21, 2013

Refining the look

Here's yet another experiment in nailing down the look I want for the artwork. This is Ollie and Snarz trekking across a sandstone beach.  I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, it took about three hours and I could probably invest another two in cleanup. But I don't really mind the rough edges here and there. I have to be mindful of my scale as the eroded crater features would be even larger relative to the characters.

Detailing the lighting on the sandstone takes a while, but all that detail is what gives sandstone such an interesting look, so there's no avoiding it.

I'll need to come back to Ollie at some point and make some decisions on her clothing and color scheme.

Apr 11, 2013

Story text 16,000 words

So the text of the story is finally in a pretty good place. We're going to go over it a little more and then start getting feedback from some select friends and family. As of right now it comes in at a few words under 16,000.
I've been reading about the process of getting works self published, there is a great resource Hugh Howey posted to his blog regarding the kindle.

Hugh Howey blog link

Lots of good information in there for people looking to self publish their books.  And while I'm here I can't recommend Hugh's Wool series enough.  Outstanding sci-fi for an incredible value.

Mar 20, 2013

Simplified clothing design

I'm experimenting with a simplified design to Ollie's clothes.  The blue garment on her upper body would be a poncho style 'jacket' that is a square with a hole cut in the center for her head.  I like the flared 'sleeves' and I might make it just a touch bigger so it comes down to the mid forearm and not just the elbow.

I also might just do away with the handwarmers/fingerless gloves she's had in previous art.  It was getting too complex.

Feb 8, 2013

Tiny shore crab

I'm still revising the story.  It's getting better but it's a slow process.  It's been busier at work lately to I've had less time to refine things.

One the right is a cool pic I snapped with my Nikon D7000 last summer.  It's of a juvenile shore crab, who's pretty much exactly the right scale of the Snarz, the crab in my drawings.  That would put Ollie's height, the girl in my art around the width of the visible fingernail.

I might post up some other pics of the beach where I found this guy, it's the inspiration for the setting of my novel, you can get a sense of whats there from the header pic at the top.  Sandstone.

Jan 7, 2013

Sketches (Ollie and Snarz)

I've been doing more sketching in between trying to rework the text of the story.  Here are three pencil sketches all featuring my main character Ollie.  She's supposed to be about ten.  I tend to draw her a little lanky if I'm not careful and she comes out looking older.

By her side in two of them is Snarz, her eight legged crab companion.  Snarz' design has been changing a lot as I've been experimenting with his eyes and pincer proportions, also with how pointy to make his 'eyebrows'.  I've gone back to an earlier design here that I like a lot better than my more recent attempts.  This pointy look for the shell/carapace above his eyes was inspired by a cat ears.

The other feature here is the loop Ollie packs around.  The square spiral patterns decorating the loop in the third drawing is where the design is going.  They will be an important part of the story.