Camping at Bookie Cliffs, SA

By heather at 1:31 am on Friday, February 5, 2010

heather castles bookie cliffs watercolour landscape

We often go camping on the Murray River in Berri, SA at Bookie Cliffs… the water’s as brown and murky as can be, but being the only fresh water to swim in around here, not to mention the beautiful red and yellow cliff face, it’s a welcome change of scenery. Last weekend when we made the trip again, I brought along my watercolours and managed to squeeze in an hour long study of the cliffs. I don’t get many chances to study landscapes on site, was fun making the most of Hera’s naptime! After that, Hera was very keen to “paint” with mommy on the beach, and that I paint “e mama bear e baby bear” holding “hands.” I even had a bit of fun sketching her while she enthusiastically flipped through my Australian bird guide…. until she noticed that what I was doing was more interesting than what she was doing and insisted that I draw her “hand,” which I was all to happy to oblige.

heather castles hera baby camping sketch

heather castles hera baby camping sketch

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Riley’s Lost Tooth | Animated Trailer!

By heather at 3:07 am on Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wow, I just watched the trailer for Riley’s Lost Tooth… I’ve never had an animated trailer made of my work before, is a bit weird and cool at the same time seeing your characters come alive and move! Here’s the Riley’s Lost Tooth trailer on YouTube. RLT is currently at the printer, am waiting eagerly to see how the finished product turns out!

Filed under: illustrations, childrens books, Riley's Lost Tooth3 Comments »

Children’s book illustration contract

By heather at 9:20 pm on Thursday, January 21, 2010

heather castles illustration contractA signed contract between the Publisher/Author and Illustrator is the very first thing that should be in place before delving into illustrating a children’s book. When you work with a Publisher, they will provide their own contract and terms tailored for your project. But when working with self-published Authors, it is even more important to have a contract. Most first time Authors aren’t familiar with working with Illustrators, and a contract both educates the Author and protects both parties from things going pear shaped.

I’ve been fine tuning my contract (or Illustration Commission Agreement) ever since my first book, and it is still a work in progress, always being adjusted to match the project I’m working on. Feel free to download a copy of my contract (by clicking on the image) and use it as a launching pad for your own contract. The main details I include are :

  • Name and Contact Details of both the Author and Illustrator
  • Title of the work
  • • The number of illustrations to be commissioned
  • 1) Commission and Grant of Rights : this section describes that the Illustrator is selling the rights to USE the artwork to the Author… they are not selling the original artwork specifically, and it goes on to state that original artwork belongs to the illustrator.
  • 2) Sale & Purchase of Artwork : States clearly how much money the illustrator will be paid as well as exactly what the illustrator is selling to the Author. It is good to be specific about what currency you are to be paid in, especially when working with international clients.
  • 3) Royalties : establishes how much the Illustrator is to be paid in royalties for various types of sale of the book.
  • 4) Project schedule & delivery : including dates here both helps the author know when to expect the art and give you space during that time, and also gives you a deadline to be accountable to.
  • 5) Illustrator’s Copies : establishes how many free copies of the printed book you will be provided, typically between 10-20.
  • 6) Copyright : states very clearly that the copyright of the illustrations still belongs to the illustrator.
  • 7) Credit : How you as the illustrator wish to be credited in the book
  • 8) Promotion : says the Author can use your illustrations to promote their book free of charge.
  • 9) Failure to Deliver and 10) Cancellation : in the unfortunate event that the book is cancelled or you are unable to finish, these sections set out how much you will be compensated for the work you have completed, as well as what the author can expect from you if you do not deliver what you’ve agreed upon.
  • 11-16) Legal Stuff : covers a lot of legal jargon that is also important. Some of the points it covers are establishing that you are the sole creator of the artwork, stating you will not create competitive works, the Author has control over when/if they publish their book and details on assigning the agreement to another person.
  • • Signatures of both the Author and Illustrator

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Filed under: childrens books, business of illustration31 Comments »

Spotty & Eddie Visit Percé | Off to the printer!

By heather at 1:00 am on Friday, January 15, 2010

spotty and eddie visit percé illustrations heather castles

Well, Spotty & Eddie have headed out for another adventure… off to Trafford to be published & printed! Was very satisfying finishing up the illustrations and layout right before the holidays, and then after having the author, friends & family put a fresh set of eyes on the book, made some minor improvements to make the book “just right” before sending it off.

I had a lot of fun working on this story… aside from drawing turtles which is so much fun, I like adding little personal touches like using my red sneakers and Hera’s top & necklace for inspiration for Trixie’s outfit. Trixie herself is inspired by a photograph of the author’s mum. I grew up watching the Ninja Turtles, so personalized the cab driver’s license plate to “TRTL PWR” for those other children of the 80’s who may read this book to children of their own.
Looking forward to seeing Spotty & Eddie’s second adventure printed and in my hands finished Here is a sneak peek at a few of the final spreads from the book (clicking on them makes them larger.)

spotty and eddie visit perce illustrations heather castles

spotty and eddie visit perce illustrations heather castles

spotty and eddie visit perce illustrations heather castles

spotty and eddie visit perce illustrations heather castles

spotty and eddie visit perce illustrations heather castles

Filed under: illustrations, childrens books, Spotty and Eddie5 Comments »

2009 Illustrations | Year In Review

By heather at 10:14 pm on Tuesday, December 29, 2009

heather castles 2009 illustrations

As another year fast approaches its end, looking back I realize how busy a year 2009 has been! I kept my paintbrush and pencil busy with completing just under 100 illustrations… wowsers, that’s a new illustration every three days! The illustrations include three children’s books (Celebrate! by Rubicon Publishing, Riley’s Lost Tooth by Diane Cantrell, and Spotty & Eddie Visit Percé by Lisa M. Chalifoux), a collection of green themed illustrations for ImageZoo, and several more little illustrations for my illustrated diary of Hera’s outfits. Looking forward to 2010!

Filed under: illustrations, childrens books, business of illustration, Spotty and Eddie, Riley's Lost Tooth1 Comment »

Painter’s Tip | How to Clean Hardened Paintbrush Bristles

By heather at 12:23 am on Sunday, December 20, 2009

watercolour paintbrush illustration

This week I discovered one of my good acrylic paintbrushes was as hard as a rock… I obviously didn’t clean it properly the last time I used it! Hoping to recover the brush I did a little online search for ways to soften up the bristles. I was pleased to discover that the solution was in my kitchen cupboard… white vinegar.

Here’s the method I used* :

  • • Place the brush’s bristles down into a glass or jar.
  • • Fill with white vinegar just to the metal ferrule.
  • • Let sit for a few hours. At this point the bristles will have softened up considerably.
  • • Pour some white vinegar into a shallow pan on the stove, and place the brush’s bristles into the vinegar until are submerged.
  • • Gently heat the white vinegar (not to boiling!) until paint is loosened from the bristles.
  • • Rinse the brush in water, then use gentle hand soap to suds up the bristles to remove any vinegar.
  • • Rinse well. Condition bristles with a brush cleaner optional.
  • • Make a mental note to wash the brush more carefully next time it’s used!

*Inspired by eHow.com (How to Soften Paint Brushes and How to Clean Paint Brushes That Have Hardened)

Filed under: business of illustration, tutorials1 Comment »

Spotty & Eddie Visit Percé | Before & After Colour

By heather at 6:03 am on Friday, December 18, 2009

spotty eddie visit percé rock quebec sketches children's book

spotty eddie visit percé rock quebec sketches children's book

Am about halfway through digitally colouring my pencil illustrations for Spotty & Eddie’s latest adventure by Lisa M. Chalifoux… wanted to share a couple before and afters of my illustrations (clicking on them will bring up a larger image). The colouring has been going very quickly thanks to my new Wacom tablet… I bought my first one this summer and taught myself how to use it, so this is the first big project I’ve used it on. And I LOVE it. Also, here is a snapshot of how the layout is turning out in the InDesign file… I find it helps dropping in the colour illustrations into the layout as I go so that I can make sure the colours balance nicely.

spotty eddie visit percé rock quebec sketches children's book

spotty eddie visit percé rock quebec sketches children's book

Filed under: work in progress, sketches, illustrations, childrens books, business of illustration, Spotty and Eddie3 Comments »

FAQS | A Few Questions About Greeting Cards

By heather at 9:00 pm on Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I just sent this email off to a fellow greeting card artist who had a few questions… thought I’d share!

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Q: Is it acceptable to just work digitally or does the original have to be done in traditional paints (or what have you) and then scanned?

A: You can illustrate with whatever medium you want, digital or traditional, whatever is your style! (See FAQ: What Medium Should I Use?)
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Q: I read your bit about resolution size for cards.  8.5 x 11′ with an inch at least of bleed over… but what about for other illustrations? Will this be specified by the client?  Also scans should be done at 300dpi correct?

A: Yes, sizes will often be specified by the client. The letterhead size recommendation illustrations is only for ease of scanning, don’t feel limited by it if you’d prefer to work to different sizes. And 300dpi is high resolution, perfect for scanning illustrations. Often I scan at 300dpi and 125% just so that I have a little flexibility with the final size. (See also FAQ : What Size Should I Illustrate Greeting Cards?)
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Q: I’m wondering how lucrative or not  the greeting card industry is? It must also be very competitive like the rest of the business.  Is it very difficult to land a gig and is that done using an agent as well?

A: Greeting card work is seasonal, so there are certainly dry periods. The industry is a bit slow at the moment. Landing gigs isn’t difficult when it’s in a busy season, simply getting your work in front of the art director’s eyes by sending samples is the best way to make contacts… no need for an agent to do this for you.

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Q: Guess it’s not necessary to watermark?

A: It’s always a safe idea to watermark any illustrations that you send via email or post online as it helps to protect from theft.

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Filed under: business of illustration, greeting cards, FAQS1 Comment »

Calling All Eco Art Supplies!

By heather at 4:26 pm on Friday, December 11, 2009

environmentally friendly eco art supplies

Finding eco-art supplies has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while now, and had a chance a couple weeks back to really do some research and order some environmentally friendly alternatives to some of the art supplies I use regularly. Being a full-time Mom I’m also keen on green art supplies for children… and happily there is more demand for eco-kids art supplies than for professional grade, so I was able to easily find a selection of crayons, paints, markers, pencils & papers to try. I’ll be posting reviews here on my blog of both professional grade and children’s eco-art supplies, and compiling them all on my new list of Green Art Supplies. Am so excited to give these a go, especially my new Canadian 100% Recycled Eco-Jot sketchbook.

If you know of any great environmentally friendly art supplies, or have tried any yourself that you like please let me know!

P.S. To reduce the carbon footprint of ordering these art supplies online, I ordered all my new supplies (save one item!) from the same online shop. Making one order from one location, rather than ordering individual items from multiple locations, is an easy way to care for the environment as it saves on the extra resources (fuel, packaging, purchase orders) used to ship multiple items.

Filed under: inspiration, illustrations, business of illustration2 Comments »

ImageZoo | New Green Themed Illustrations Available!

By heather at 4:32 pm on Friday, December 4, 2009

green environmental image solar panel houses illustration

Ten new environmental images have been added to my range of royalty-free illustrations at ImageZoo.com. Illustrated with pen and coloured digitally in Photoshop.

Filed under: illustrations Leave A Comment »
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