Thursday, December 27, 2012

How To Price Your Illustration For Clients

I've been wanting to make this video for quite sometime. I get asked all the time by students, people at conferences, and visitors to my blog - how should I price my work? In this video I share my opinions about figuring out exactly how much to charge and how it can vary depending on many factors that are happening in your life. I realize it's a bit lengthy but I didn't want to leave stones unturned. I wanted to have a detailed answer that I can email out whenever I get asked this question in the future.

If you've even wondered how much to ask for on an art project I hope my ideas help you.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Nice To Take A Little Break

WOW! I can't believe this year is coming to an end so soon. I've been so busy - this year went by in a blink!

I started this little painting in class a few weeks ago and decided to finish it for fun. I love Christmas imagery - I've always wanted to make a Christmas children's never know :)

I wish all of you the best of luck on your art projects in the coming year! ...and have a wonderful holiday with your families and loved ones.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Experimental Demo

I painted this as a demo in my media techniques class a few weeks ago. I'm not very proficient with watercolors so I decided to combine it with photoshop for a hybrid traditional/digital piece. I really like some of the accidental textures watercolors (or watercolours for those across the pond) provide. The pooling water and pigment dry in some unique patterns that are nearly impossible to generate digitally (unless you have a smoking machine).

You can see that the texture is a little heavy in the original but I was able to "tame" it using opaque layers of digital paint in the final.

What I really wanted to accomplish was the texture in the larger areas...hmmm...I might want to do a few more this way.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Are You Killing Your Blog? - RANT!

Ok from time to time I make a nuisance of myself and do a little video rant. Spoiler alert I'm going to type it out as well for those using google translate - so watch the video or continue reading...

This is going to be pretty short but basically it's like this:

Sometimes before I get going on my own sketching or designing I like to blog hop other illustrator's sites to get some inspiration (aka creative borrowing). Inevitably I'll find my way to an image that really stops me and I get totally absorbed in it's amazing qualities....and sometimes I'm moved to leave a comment to compliment the creator. Most of the time I say a few words and move on but every now and then I run into a blog (usually composed in Wordpress) where the blogger has made it extremely difficult to leave a little comment. Upon typing a few complimentary words I'm smacked with: "You must first login to leave a comment on this site". Hold up. Back up. What the? Are you kidding me?

I'm not going to sign up for your blog. I like you but lets get something straight. I want to give you something. I want to tell you how awesome you are. I'm not going to jump through hoops to do so. I'm already feeling like I need to get to work.

If we were to meet at your gallery show and I found myself diggin your art and I finally get to meet you and tell you how much I love your art - are you going to put stipulations on how I do it?...then why do it online?

I already know the want to be able to spam me later when you have a new "fill in the blank" for sale....sorry...I care...but not enough to jump.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Buy One Get One Free - Folio Academy!

For the month of Dec Folio Academy is running a buy one get one free! (equal or lesser value)

How it works: If you already bought a video(s) or if you buy a video at Folio Academy in the month of December 2012 you can simply go on the Folio Academy website and send an email to Folio Academy asking for your free video. Just make sure you specify which video you would like to receive for free and it needs to be of the same value or lower than the video you purchased.

We're working hard to increase your video library and we just got this one (Learn To Draw Cartoon Zombies)  in from Justin Cook - our friend from across the pond.

Friday, December 7, 2012

New Photoshop Tutorial Makeover

I'm happy to announce that I just finished another tutorial and this one is a re-make of "Digital Painting in Photoshop". I bought better screen capture software so I decided to make another tutorial that displays higher quality video so viewers can see the settings more clearly. If you've already purchased the old version of this tutorial - you get this new one for FREE! You can still view the old version but you'll now notice that this new tutorial has replaced the old one. To view the old version you'll have to click the link at the top of the Digital Painting video page at

In addition I demonstrate how to actually make several physical textures - scan them - and manipulate them to be used in digital paintings.

I begin with a sketch and describe how I begin adding value and then work into color.

I also made a sped up version of the painting and put it up on my Youtube channel. I love making these tutorials because I get to paint something I love - and talk about it - I love helping others unlock their potential!

Note: This is not a general "how to" in Photoshop - rather it's how I use textures to paint illustrations in Photoshop. You can purchase the tutorial here!

Also, we are doing a buy on get one Free (of equal or lesser value) at for the month of Dec.! More on that in my next post but if you want to take advantage of it simply purchase a video and then email us from the folioacademy website which video you would like for free and like Christmas Magic it will appear in your account!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Secret To Your Success

How's that for a title? Like I have the answer right?

I often run into budding artists either in person or online that ask me what I think they can do to be successful. Aside from portfolio advice, going to school or getting tutored, blogging, sending out promos, making awesome art & products, etc (all of which are super important) here's what I think the most important thing is:

Drum roll....

I think you have to be committed for life. Some plan on writing and/or illustrating a book but if it doesn't get published they'll move on and find something else to do. Some plan to apply for studio jobs but fall back on something else if it doesn't pan out. Just the other day someone told me they were going to try making a story app to see if it will sell. I think this is the wrong attitude. What if it doesn't sell? Does that mean you didn't learn something valuable for your next one?...and the one after that?

One thing I've come to realize is that the truly successful artists have been and continue to be - committed for life. It's all they want to do. It's all they live for. It's what they do. It's who they are. If they have a set back they accept it as part of the journey. I dare you to show me a successful artist that doesn't have his/her fair share of bumps and bruises. I can't count the number of time I've had to lick my wounds - but they scab up over time and those scars become great stories later on.

Stan Lee - creator of Spider Man said, "Mine is the longest overnight success story of all time!"...he was committed even when his comics were being canceled by his publisher - he stuck it out...what if he had quit? Think of all the super hero movies he's responsible for...

The piece above was a pretty crappy demo in class but I love working on art so much I came home and played with it in Photoshop for two hours. I love art and I'll be making it for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NOW! - Get My New Tutorial - Free!

The first 10 people to enter their email in the comments section below will get a free copy of my latest tutorial - "Making Art For eBooks & Story apps" !

But please don't get it if -

You're an expert in photoshop. This new tutorial was designed for the person who isn't very familiar with digital graphics and illustration. It is a basic tutorial on scanning, cleaning up, working in photoshop, creating assets, managing an image library, working in layers, making animated GIF's, making PNG images, light animation techniques, etc. It really won't teach you anything new if the a fore mentioned is well within your wheel house.


I also made an hour long Youtube video that teaches how to make a story app using (below).

This video will take you through the entire environment of This is a companion video to the paid videos. Think of it as "part 2" The reason I didn't want to include it in the paid series was to separate myself from Talespring as far as any liabilities or responsibilities. Also, if Talespring decided to upgrade or change their online tools I didn't want it to detract from the overall resource that the paid version is meant to be...and, the paid version will deliver good information for working with many different app builder tools.

I will be fulfilling the free videos on or before Wednesday, Nov 27th.

Good luck!!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Get My New Video Tutorial - FREE!

I'm finally finished!!! Wow - these videos take a while to put together...and then there's the normal mishaps that take place like my kids barging into my studio asking if they can go to their friends house...or one of my personal favorites - the unplugged mic that you notice after a half hour session - trucks driving by etc.

So lets do another give away!

"Making Art For Story Apps & eBooks" will be live at Folio Academy in the next few days. I'd like to give away 10 copies to you guys.

THIS IS NOT THE GIVE AWAY YET - how it will work:

1. Sometime between Monday & Friday the 30th of November I'll make another blog post announcing the give away.

2. If you see the blog post - quickly enter your email in the comments section below. Please use the email that's already associated with your Folio Academy account - or if you don't have an account just enter your primary email address so I can set you up with your free account and video.

3. I'll give a free video to the first 10 people who leave their email in the comments section.

Last time I did this if I recall right we gave away 25 copies of my last video in just over an hour! Here's a link to that one.


1. Have your email address an anything you might want to write ready to just paste in the comments section so you don't have to worry about spelling under pressure.

2. Some people use Google Reader to keep up on blog updates quickly so they won because of that - simply "join this site" on the right in order to get up to date information.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Having Fun In Photoshop

Here's a quick one I just finished -  I'm trying to gear up on my Photoshop skills for an upcoming video tutorial that I'm working on.

Other things I'm currently working on:

Video Tutorial for Folio Academy - Making Art For eBooks & Story Apps - almost finished! check back after Thanksgiving for the give away! I'll be making the announcement so if you want to get my public updates you can follow this blog.

Working on a new Picture Book for next Halloween! - I wish I could show character sketches.

Working on a few freelance projects  - also can't show them :(

Working on my next story app - I'll be using Kwiksher - a photoshop plug-in and it looks really sweet!

and....the semester is coming to a close! Time to get some stuff done!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Learning From A Master: Donato Giancola

Last night Donato Giancola spoke to BYU, UVU, USU, and SLCC students about his work. I couldn't fight through the crowd to get to meet him but in his talk he mentioned that he was going to go out today and shoot reference for up-coming Lord of the Rings Paintings and he really needed good pictures of mountains.

So I weaseled my way into taking him for a hike with Justin Kunz (former Blizzard Studio artist). Note: sometimes good weaseling skills are better than money, degrees, connections, bow hunting skills, etc.

I asked if he knew where to go to get some good shots and he said he was just going to drive around and shoot whatever he stumbled on - no no no...we can't have that...

If you're one of my facebook friends you know I go hiking every now and then and post a few pictures :)

So naturally I had to inflate my knowledge of the Utah mountains and offer my services as his guide - and I took him to my stash.

Donato is very personable and I related to many of the things he pointed out in his lecture about teaching, making art, and life.

He's a great example of a man committed to excellence, teaching, and family.

Thank you Donato for making Nov 15th a great day!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Tutorial! Beginning Photoshop - LIVE

I just finished a new video tutorial for Folio Academy - a basic video series on how to get started in Photoshop. We had been receiving requests over the past year to offer a video that would help the person who has never used Photoshop get started.

This tutorial is a focused on helping the student learn Photoshop for painting in my Digital Painting in Photoshop tutorials Parts 1 & 2. Instead of being a general beginner course I leave out all the photo editing specific tools and methods. I only teach the tools, settings, windows, and controls that I need to make a painting in photoshop. I do share my Wacom tablet settings and opinions as well.  If you're familiar with Photoshop you won't need this video but will probably be fine jumping into parts 1 & 2 of Digital Painting in Photoshop.

If you know anyone who has wanted to move from traditional mediums like acrylic, watercolor, colored pencil, etc - this video might be just the thing to get them started.

If any of you have already purchased my Digital Painting in Photoshop parts 1 or 2 and would like this beginner course please just leave a comment below - make sure you leave your email address associated with your account so I can look you up - and I'll GIFT you this new tutorial for free!

One more thing - I do not paint in this new video but I do explain how to get around in photoshop in the most basic ways - and how to use many of the tools. Check it out at Folio Academy - click here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Have You Ever Cried Over Your Art?

Have you ever shed tears because your art didn't turn out the way you wanted it to?...then you're an artist.

Have you ever gotten angry over your art?...then you're an artist.

Have you ever torn up your art in frustration?...then you're an artist.

Have you ever burned a painting in anger?...then you're an artist.

Have you ever quit being an artist?...then you're an artist - face it.

Have you ever been defensive of your art?...then you're an artist.

Ever purposely hid your art?...then you're an artist.

Had a temper tantrum over your art?... you're an artist.

Felt like you'll never be as good as _________?'re an artist.

Wish you were appreciated for your creative contributions?...sounds like an artist.

If you answered yes to any of the questions above you my friend are an artist - deal with it. You cry because you care. You're anger will make you better because you have a  vision of what it could have been - should have been. Your passion fuels you to push on - push past. Your fear is motivating. Your emotions are a result of your desire. You are learning to speak a visual language. You may stray but were meant to create. You have a calling.

I was never the best. I am not the best. I almost got kicked out of my college illustration program. I later taught in the same program. I don't draw as well as some of my students. I cringe at the piece above and remember the feelings of disappointment because it didn't turn out half as well as the vision in my mind of a cool family portrait. I'm glad I can laugh at it now - you can too - we learn by doing. Doing and failing and doing and failing...and failing again but learning from our failures.

This process should be taught in public schools. It's not. It's a beautiful natural way to learn. The reason we struggle is because we've not been taught to embrace this process. We take it personally when we fail.

I have cried, gotten angry, yelled, torn up, quit, and shed tears over my art. I was never content. I am not content. I won't be content. I love what I do. I love sharing what I do. Do you?

I am an artist and so are you.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My New Story App - I Eat You! - Live!

I'm really happy to announce that I Eat You! is live in Apple's app store! I learned a ton working on this little puppy - I mean fish. And as fate would have it my sister found a typo right after we submitted the app! Dang it! Even after my wife and I went over it a bunch of times! Well - I'm not going to tell you which word it is - you might not be able to find it either - and no this isn't a marketing stunt - I'm not that clever. Anyway - the good thing is I can make the fix and offer it as an update - presto! Can't do that with print...or with Amazon or Pubit ebooks. If you take your file down to replace it on Amazon or B&N you will lose your sales rank - kiss of death if you were getting more example of how Apple thinks things through before they launch.

My next story app will be a bit more complicated - working out the story now - I love working with sound, animation, illustration, and voice! So much fun!

I'd love to get feedback on this app if you decide to check it out. The target age group is about 3-6. As soon as the update goes into effect I'll start submitting it for review. Check it out here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stuck In DC From Sandy...with iPad

Just updating since I have no idea when I'll be able to get back home. To my students at BYU and UVU - keep working on your assignments I probably won't see you until next week.

To those planning to attend the Missouri SCBWI event - I'm trying to get a flight directly to Missouri so just know that I'm doing all that I can to get there for this weekend.

My plans to finish the beginner level Photoshop course before this weekend have been put on hold but I'll get it finished next week if all goes well.

Being stuck with the iPad is a pretty good way to be long as the power stays on....

Back to work on projects...

What a storm!!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Getting Ready To Make Your 1st App!

I've received quite a bit of interest in making a tutorial on "How To Make An App Using TaleSpring" and offering it at Folio Academy So I'm going to make it but I thought this would be a good time to offer some advice for you to get your story and art ready to use the tutorial that I WILL be producing sometime in the next month. I just pulled the trigger on "I Eat You!" and submitted it - should be live in Apple's app store by the beginning of November!!!!

The first order of business is to let you know that I've talked to the CEO of TaleSpring and he has assured me that they are backing way down from the "rights ownership" part of their contract. He reports that they are drafting a new document that will protect their rights to own, distribute, advertise, etc. -the app that their software produces. He also assured me that the new contract will make clear that artists will own the rights outside the app produced by So this is really good news because there was quite a bit of concern over this issue.

Let me also re-state that I do NOT have any financial obligations to Talespring or receive any moneys or discounts for writing about them, using their tools to create my own apps, or making the tutorial on how to use their tools. I like this separation because I am free to remain objective about the value they provide.

Ok - the following are my general pieces of advice to get you thinking about and preparing yourself to make your own Talespring app.

1. Keep it Simple! If you're going to do this the last thing I want or you want is a big ball of frustration and NO app at the end of the day. This is your first app so please save your grandiose ideas for later apps. What we want at the end of the day is for you to learn how to use the tools and how to finish a project. I would highly suggest you go to the bookstore or library and check out Jon Klassen's books "I want my hat back" and "This is not my hat". These books would work extremely well in a Talespring app but with the enhancements of light animation they could be a little different from a book book.

2. Keep it REALLY simple! Notice a pattern here? I really want you to get your feet wet on this project and you won't be able to do that if your dreams and crazy imagination can't be done using Talespring. I would keep animations down to moving an asset from A to B. Rotating and asset. Replacing an asset. Fading an asset out (like a ghost)Fading an asset in. Growing/shrinking etc. I'm making it sound like there's not much you can do when actually there are really cool things you can create but I think your emphasis should be on story rather than high end animation.

3. Create an original story. If your motivation to create a story app is to sell a few copies to your family and share it with your kids or grandkids than tell whatever story you desire. If you want to have the chance of selling lots of apps and enjoying royalties you need to write or partner with a writer who has created a compelling story. I'm not suggesting that you create a story like, "Go The F@#k To Sleep"...but then again I am. Look - I wouldn't write that story - I couldn't put that out there - It goes against my mission - but I still laugh when I hear it and that little laugh is why it's currently #128 on Amazon right now in ALL BOOKS. Do you know how ridiculously high that is? The author is making a killing! Not because of marketing and not because of luck. It's because you either think it's hilarious or you hate it to death. People need to have a strong opinion of what you create in order for it to do well financially. It must be: amazingly sweet, rude, inappropriate, touching, cute, funny, etc.

4. Have your story set in stone before you start illustrating.

5. Did you read #4?

6. I feel like you didn't really read number 4 :) If you're coming to this from an illustrator's perspective like me you probably feel more comfortable drawing rather than working on your story. STOP. If you kind of get your story ready but perhaps it still needs a little work and then you dive into sketches and heaven help us - paintings you'll do one of 2 things: Make compromises on your story because you already have the art or get really frustrated when you realize you have to change your story a little - making some or all of your art obsolete.

7. Get a critique. After your text is finished and you're really happy with it (and hopefully workshoped it in your critique critique group?...start one!...and beg for honesty)

8. Limit Pages. Remember - theoretically you have unlimited pages but this doesn't mean you have carte blanche to waste your viewers time by including superfluous pages. The essence of good design is reduction - so have a purpose for every page. Don't need it? Yank it out! You can start doing thumbnails and story boarding out how your app will work. Pages in Talespring are 1024px wide by 768px tall so unlike a book you don't have a two page spread to work with. Think of the iPad screen. Every time you touch the page turn arrow at the bottom of the screen you get a new screen - not a page turn - but similar.

9. Perhaps work on your character sketches but get that story figured out first! Get your ducks in a row!...or chickens.

10. Number ten is a tuffy -or great news depending. You need an iPad. I know I know this is a hard pill to swallow if you're funds challenged like many right now but you need one to download your book as you produce it so you can see what it looks like and how it behaves. Talespring has a really good simulator so you could get by without one especially if you're not timing sounds to animations like I did in my app - "I Eat You". I had to download my book 9 times to get the timing right because it's a little different from the simulator to the iPad.

Ok, so that's about it! My tutorial will cover you if you're going to be working traditionally or digitally to create your artwork. But here's what you will need to have for a full robust Talespring app:

1. Computer
2. Photoshop(perhaps elements- checking on it) or Gimp (google it - free)
3. scanner - if you're working traditionally
4. Wacom tablet if you're going to be creating your images digitally.
5. iPad app "Tiny Vox" (a few bucks) for voice recording on your iPad (what I used) Audacity (free download)
6. Audacity (free download) and a mic for your computer if you're not going to use your iPad.

Oh - and I'll be releasing a "Beginning Photoshop for Painting" video tutorial on Folio Academy in a few weeks! This will be a great tutorial if you're brand new to Photoshop but don't want to learn about all the tools you'll never need for painting your images. This video series will get you up to speed on how to work with your drawings in photoshop and prepare you for my "Digital Painting in Photoshop" vids.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

School Visits and Pranks in Katy Texas

I just got back from a week of school visits in Katy Texas this past week. I had a great time and the librarians that hosted me were amazingly kind, organized, and very helpful in making the presentations very successful - THANK YOU!

The following video shows a few pranks, librarians, and part of my presentation if you're interested in what I do when I'm at a school. I have so much fun working with the kids!

I signed a ton of books, gave a ton of drawing lessons, and made a lot of friends. The kids in Texas are great!

I love how the kids get quiet when it's their turn to draw - and they're really good at it! I think Picasso was right when he said that every kid is an artist.

I even met a facebook friend - Katarina Perez an up and coming illustrator/animator from Katy who skipped school to check out what we were doing.

I made this bookmark one night in my hotel room on my iPad for the teachers and librarians to pass out to kids just for fun.

Each school had a bunch of books to sign so we would arrive at the schools early and I would get to work. I usually had to stay after school to finish them up...some things never change :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My App Is DONE!!! - Tutorial?

I'm finished! I'm just checking spelling and functionality one last time and then it's hit the submit button.

I Eat You! was so fun to make using the Talespring tool and now I want to share my process with you. If there is enough interest I would like to make a video tutorial and sell it at Talespring is really easy to use if you know your way around the computer but if you're a bit iffy on preparing your artwork, making audio files, and using internet tools a tutorial might be for you.

What I would cover: How to start your story app on Talespring. How to use the text editor and highlighted text. How to attach voice recordings to your text. Ways of making voice recordings. How to clean up your voice recordings using audacity. How to optimize your images. How to prepare your images as .PNG or .jpeg files and when to use one vs the other. How to make hot spots. How to move assets using the talespring animation tools. How to string animations together. Work arounds for some of Talesprings limitations. Incorporating interactivity. Etc.

 So here's my iPad/iPhone story app cover - if you watch the video you can see some of the light animation I've used in the app.

Here are my little fishies - I love drawing and rendering fish - so much fun. I enjoyed both the writing, illustrating, voices and formatting... wait - that's 4 things! Wow! So cool to be able to do everything. I must admit that working this way opens up all kinds of new possibilities and my brain starts to hurt when I think of all the them.

The following video will show a little of the app and I talk about and show you the Talespring work space. Again let me know if you would pay money for a video tutorial that walks you through the creation process.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Plea To SCBWI

I hesitated to write this post and questioned if this was the right way to do it. You're reading it so obviously I I decided this was right. I really hope that I don't offend anyone at SCBWI with my comments.

First let me start out by saying how much I love this organization. I attended my first SCBWI meeting back in 1991 in Utah. It was like a whole new world was opened to me. I was surrounded by like minded people outside my school setting. Professionals, novices, and everything in between. I knew I was in the right place. Since that time I have been a member on and off over the years. Currently I get asked to speak at SCBWI events from time to time - I get to participate in one this November in Missouri and in Atlanta early next year. I love the SCBWI.

Ok - deep breath. I was having lunch today with a friend who I shall not be named. This person has been an SCBWI member for many years and is an extremely competent author/illustrator. This person also told me today that since he/she has been in and around the publishing industry and gone to numerous conferences over the years - the biggest reason for continuing to attend is the ability to get past the firewall at publishing houses.

This is probably the part where I should give a brief explanation of that firewall - you can skip a couple paragraphs if you already know this. Basically most publishers do NOT accept unsolicited manuscripts. In other words an un-agented or un-published author/illustrator cannot simply send in their book proposal to a publisher without having a connection to an editor and essentially having permission to do so. If such an a person did send in their manuscript or book dummy it would be discarded or mailed back un-opened if a SASE was provided.

One of the main advantages conference attendance provides is the magical access given to attendees via the editors that are presenting at the conference. In other words conference attendees are granted contact information for the specific editors who are flown in to speak to the audiences. They even go one step further by providing special stickers that say "conference attendee". The idea being that when the intern is going through the mail they will set aside the parcels that bear this marking. These packages are then opened and read and then issued a response from an editor.

The reason that they lift the ban on unsolicited works for conference goers is that they feel that submission quality goes way up. If someone is willing to spend their time, money, and effort attending writing workshops they will more often than not - write a decent story and follow instructions on submission guidelines. This makes the publisher's job much easier.

Now to the point. My aforementioned friend attended an SCBWI conference last year mainly to get the contact information to submit to the three editors who presented. He/she like I mentioned has been through and around the game for a while so I'm not talking about some kind of rube. The manuscript was well written and printed and packages were carefully prepared and submitted with the required stickers and included SASE. My friend waited...and waited...and waited....and never received ANY kind of response - not even a form rejection letter and it's been well over a year.

Now you might be able to make the case that if he/she had submitted to one house or one editor something might have been misplaced or lost but with three submissions I find this highly unlikely. My friend reported today that he/she will probably not attend future SCBWI conferences since one of the major benefits seems to have turned out to be not much of a benefit at all.

This is tragic and I put this out there in hopes that some of the very dedicated staff at SCBWI will find this link in an email forward. Why do it publicly? Because things tend to get done when more people know about it. I don't know if this happens all the time. I do know that there are many caring editors who take time out of their busy schedules to come and speak to conference attendees and who follow through with their promise. I also feel that some of them might not follow through on their commitments.

My hope is that SCBWI staff take extra pains to communicate to editors that attendees are paying for their flights, meals, hotel, and honorariums and that they need to keep up their end of the bargain - or turn down the gig. I would hate to see us lose such a valuable organization over something like this - if it's happening regularly.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Getting Your Story App Reviewed - Interview

I believe there are 3 main ways to get your new story app or ebook noticed and bought many times over. 1. Make something AMAZING that changes the user/viewer/reader emotionally. 2. Tell your friends about it via social media and 3. Submit it to review sites. I strongly believe that advertising is for boring products so if the people you shared it with don't respond your time is probably better spent back at the drawing board. That's my plan anyway.

I'll have an app in Apple's app store in early November if all goes according to plan (and I'll be making tutorials on how I did it so check back soon) so logically I've wanted to get to know who and where I should submit my app to for review. Why mess around I thought - go for the most prominent children's story app review site and ask the reviewer directly. What I got was very unexpected. Straight talk. You guys know I love straight talk.

I love the answers Carisa Kluver of Digital Storytime gave me (some of her advice is what I've been preaching) and I'm so grateful that she was willing to give me her time. If you're at all interested in producing story apps you NEED to read this article

Will Terry: What do you review and how can someone get reviewed by you?

Carisa Kluver: When I began this site in late 2010, I would review things in the order they were submitted, but eventually got overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content coming into the AppStore (and my inbox), everyday. I decided it was better to continue to provide a solid resource for parents, teachers and librarians, than to cover everything. But that means some titles I enjoy, but don't love, may never get covered by my site. There is a sea of content out there, and it just seems to grow exponentially every six months.

I choose what to review a couple days in advance, giving me flexibility to cover whatever I'm most interested in at the moment. This helps me to be more engaged in the writing process, which is really important for good content. I'm particularly looking out for truly original stories and innovative use of the tablet medium. I'm also, personally, a sucker for gorgeous illustrations. I'm the daughter of an art teacher and really love the visual nature of picture books, which is probably why I'm reluctant to review for older readers.

Titles previously published in print are very popular, as are popular topics (like robots, princesses or dinosaurs) or titles from big media names. These reviews drive a lot of traffic to my site, so I try to sprinkle them in liberally as I'm reviewing. I make an effort to balance my readers general interests (everything in the top 200 book apps in the app store) with my own family's taste and a sense of obligation to the creative community. I'm also on the lookout for things that no one else is reviewing.

In addition, I find that authors and illustrators who were previously published in print are easier to review, since the job of 'vetting' indie work is very hard. People say such harsh things sometimes about the publishing industry, but they did set some pretty phenomenal standards for picture books. I didn't appreciate this well until there was no filter on my child's content.

Will Terry: How long does it take to get reviewed?

Carisa Kluver: I hate to say it, but the reality is that getting reviewed by my site

(or any decent sized site for app reviews) is one of those "6 months to never" situations, depending on the

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Illusion of Security

In 1992 I was at a crossroads. Try to find a full time job illustrating /graphic designer or take the road of uncertainty and dive into a freelance illustration career. I gambled. To this day I don't really know how I did it. I was married with one kid and they were depending on me to earn a living. My wife had to have been scared but was supportive. My parents I'm sure thought I was nuts - but were also encouraging. My friends said little. I think everyone expected it to last a little while but that eventually I would have to suck it up and get a real job.

Why do we make decisions that go against our passions? Why did I feel like I was taking the risky road? Why do people think that doing what they're naturally good at is a risk? Maybe taking the road well traveled is the risky road...I would submit that we're often motivated by FEAR.

We all crave security. We think we want to know what will happen tomorrow. We hate not knowing where we're going.  We imagine horrible things that rarely come true. We want to know what we're going to be. What we're going to do. How and where we'll live. How we'll pay for things. etc. These aren't bad things to want but they do feed our often irrational fears. Personally I don't know anyone who is homeless. I know people who have had to live with relatives - I lived with both my parents and in-laws in the early part of my marriage. My point is that no matter how bad it gets it's still not as bad as what we imagine.

There is no such thing as security.

The person who has a nice house is worrying about their drug addicted child.
The person who has a nice job just found out that his spouse has cancer.
The person who just got a promotion hates her job.
The person who is fully prepared for retirement just learned that her husband has been cheating.
The person who has the nice car, house, vacations feels empty and perhaps suicidal.
The person who has done everything "right" just got layed off because of the economy.
The person who followed the advice of parents, teachers, and councelors owes more money in student loans than his/her job will ever afford.

I have a lot LESS fear than ever before. I don't chase security. I try to make decisions based on my ability to achieve the goal - not because it's what others think I should do or what I think will make the most money. This has lead to some AWESOME FAILURES! Like my Kickstarter a few months ago. I won't pretend that that one didn't sting. I felt like I got the Sh#% kicked out of me by kickstarter - but it was totally worth it because it armed me.

While those who did it the "right" way might worry about getting a pink slip I find it ironic that by doing it the "wrong" way I have a little less stress about that part of my life. My income comes from many places now and if one falls off - big deal. I earn income from:

freelance illustration
video tutorials
original sales
stock illustration
school visits
youtube partner

Some of these don't pay very much but it all adds up. Earning income from many different places was never written down as a goal or plotted out -it just sort of happened from working each day on that which I love - creating art. The piece above was one of those pieces that painted itself. I was watching the clock while working on it - wondering how hours were melting away as I tried to finish it before I had to run off to class.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Call For Folio Academy Instructors

Folio Academy is extending invitations for quality instructors to contribute their expertise and paying 60% of retail if we receive videos by Jan 1, 2013

Our website was holding us back and the poor organization caused us to halt adding content and focus on the site. We wasted about 6 months when our first programmer didn't pan out. We learned. Ouch. Then we went back to the devil - I mean angel we knew. Sometimes the answer is right under your nose but you're too busy smelling the cookies in the oven...I have no idea where this is going.

Anyway - now we're ready to start extending invitations to participate in the creation of tutorial videos and there are two ways to participate:

1. We have limited times and space for instructors to be recorded in our Utah studio - email me at if interested. We're mostly working with in-state people and those visiting. (not eligible for 60% comission)

2. Produce your own video series for us to upload to the site. If you're interested in creating your own videos here are some guidelines:

DO NOT MAKE VIDEOS until we've seen a sample of your video quality and send you a contract. What we would like to see is a proposal of what you would like to teach, a web portfolio, and a 1-2 min youtube sample video.

The video quality needs to be good - a nicely lit studio or workspace. No water heaters in the background or your mother-in-law walking through your shot asking if the beans are done? Videos need to be shot in HD (720p is a good size)

Good audio that's clear and loud enough.

Great instruction that's easy to follow and understand. No long periods of dead space. Energetic or enthusiasim for the subject that displays your passion.

Videos broken up into logical segments to make searching for specific parts easier.

Screen capture that clearly shows what controls, buttons, and tools you are clicking on.

Again, if you're interested in receiving 60% of the retail sale of your video series you would need to deliver videos to us by the 1st of January 2013. We have an FTP link that's a snap for you to select your video files and upload to us.

Here are some subjects we are looking for.

Figure drawing, anatomy, sculpture, graphic design (beginning, intermediate, advanced) drawing animals for kids, animation, drawing for illustration, drawing for animation, head painting, digital painting in Corel Painter, producing story ebooks & apps, drawing manga, writing children's books or if you have an idea that you think would fit our site - contact us.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Free Folio Academy Video - NEW SITE!!!

We're celebrating the launch of our Folio Academy 2.0 website by offering a free video tutorial to anyone who would like to blog about us. It took us longer than we thought but we now have a website that's much more functional than our first version. We figured what better way to say thanks to the people who already know about us and our customers than by offering a little trade - a  blog post for a free video series of their/your choice.

To get your free video you need to:

1. Make a blog entry on your blog between now and Sunday Oct 7th.

2. Mention Folio Academy in your post - but you can write anything about us like:  "I hate Folio Academy" or "Folio Academy is run by a bunch of weirdos" (because it is) or maybe you like us and want to talk about something you've learned from one of our videos. It's totally up to you.

3. You need to link to our homepage here:

4. Send us a message at this link: telling us your blog post is up.


Include the email address you ALREADY used to set up your Folio Academy account OR if you're a first timer with F.A. include the email address associated with your paypal account (this way if you ever choose to purchase a video from us it will be added to the same account/password.)


Most importantly tell us which video you would like us to put in your account for FREE!

So that's it - we're looking forward to adding more and more videos and filling in many of the gaps we have right now. Our long term goal is to be able to offer quality art instruction at affordable prices.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Registering Your Copyright - Pros and Cons

Artists often wonder if they should or shouldn't spend the time, money, and effort to register their copyright. There are some distinct advantages to registering with the US copyright office but there are also disadvantages - some of which you might not have thought of. In the following video I give information from 96 professional illustrators. I asked them if they register their copyrights - their answers might surprise you. In the end it's always good to educate yourself on this subject so you can make the decision for yourself. If you want more information the US Copyright Office has a great FAQ section here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

An Art Related Job -Worth It? Or A Trap?

Do you get a kick out of watching someone else eat a nice juicy steak - or do you want to tear into one yourself? (or a veggie burger :)

I often hear students receive the advice to get an art related job that's "safer" and easier to land than pursuing their desired choice of becoming a freelance illustrator, writer, or fine artist - so they can later make the transition to what they really want to do. The art related jobs are usually something like art director or graphic designer, animator or even an editor. I would think that in some ways this would be somewhat offensive to art directors, graphic designers, animators and editors who really love their jobs. They're living their dreams and probably don't want to work with people who are settling.

I've had many friends, students, and acquaintances over the years who have opted to work in an art related field. Most of them have NOT transitioned into their dream career after many years in their second choice and many of them never do.

Using your creative mind is taxing - your brain is a muscle - so working 8 hours in in an art job will wear you out. As one of my graphic designer friends puts it, "I've just given all I have to do my job - the last thing I want to do is come home and work on becoming an illustrator."

Compare that to another friend who works in a non-art career. He told me, "All I can think about while I'm at work is getting home to work on my painting."

I'm not saying that it's never a good idea to work in an art related career. One exception that comes to mind is the person who dreams of creating their own "blank" and can learn how to create their "blank" while working for someone else on their "blank" and getting paid to do it.

Choose wisely my fellow artists - regret isn't fun and you don't want to be that person who wishes they hadn't wasted so much time figuring out what they didn't really want to do.

I created the painting above about 10 years ago and I can still remember what it felt like to be free to work on exactly what I wanted to paint at that time. Nothing compares to living life on your terms - free to express yourself creatively.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tutorial: Adding A Photo Background

I was playing with this image the other day and thought I'd make a little tutorial to show how easy it is to add a photo for the background. Sometimes you might not need much storytelling in the background but you also don't want a flat color. If you watch the video you will see that if you paint your foreground image as a silhouette you can easily try different photo backgrounds.

Oh - and the meaning behind the image is up to your interpretation but for me it was inspired by the fact that most of us have much more in common that we might outwardly think at first glance.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Are eBooks/Story apps evolutionary?

If you could ride a horse really fast back in 1860 you might have been able to land a job delivering mail for the Pony Express. You might have even delivered one of your own letters to let your parents know you landed a good job - although not without danger. But in less than two years (in 1861) you would have had to let them know that you were unemployed again - replaced by the telegraph which had been gaining momentum and could do what you did in a fraction of the time.

If you manufactured telegraph equipment or sent telegraphs you too were out of a job about 30 years later - replaced by the telephone. Now many people are finding it possible to live without the land line opting for it's cousin - the cell phone. My father worked for AT&T for 30 plus years and saw a lot of technology changes - he even installed some of the first cell equipment for the Montgomery County police in Maryland and pondered, "This technology is too way will it ever be used mainstream." He didn't realize that phone companies would give the expensive cell phones away in exchange for a monthly contract!

So let's examine publishing. Someone long ago figured out that you could flatten clay into tablets and write on them but they broke easily. The Egyptians created the process of pounding out reeds to make papyrus to write on while the Chinese found a similar product - bamboo -and it was about 100 AD that the Chinese invented paper. So for about 900 years we've been using paper to send, store, and share ideas. That's a pretty big tradition.

I get asked all the time if I think ebooks are a fad? If I think it's worth it to produce them? If I think making apps are better? How I found my programmers? Is it better to try to find an agent and get my book published traditionally? How I plan on marketing my apps? What should I do?

I'm flattered that so many would think I have the answers but the truth is that I'm just a dumb guy who fumbled his way into this industry and is now trying to figure out what my next moves will be.

But for what it's worth - here are my thoughts:

1) I've never seen a new technology evolve into the market with as much popularity as eReaders - and then die off. We have some great forerunners to the publishing industry that give indications that ebooks are here to stay. Music is now digital. Movies are now digital. Photography is digital. Periodicals - digital. You can paint digitally and yes books are also offered digitally. You're even reading my blog digitally - a new method of sharing ideas less than a decade old. So where does that leave paper? I think it will eventually be replaced. Sure there will be some who won't want to give up their paper - I see them as part of a significant group like those who still listen to vinyl records. Are they wrong to like paper - of course not - but will paper be the dominant delivery method of books? I don't think so. Will the children of eBook reading parents have a romantic connection to pulp?

2) If paper goes away what happens to publishers? I think some publishers will thrive in a digital world and I think some won't figure out how to stay relevant. I see a lot of authors and illustrators stuck in old ways of thinking and some keeping an open mind as to how they can take advantage of the coming changes. There are pros and cons of working with traditional publishers and the same is true for indie publishing. Neither one is superior to the other - just different. Is it hard to get an agent and sell your book to a publisher? Yes - and it can take years of trying. Is it hard to publish on your own? No - the hard part is getting the attention of your audience. Becoming a successful author/illustrator will be just as hard if not harder in the future.

3) How can I attract the attention of my audience?  I've read a lot of articles online about marketing eBooks and apps. I've seen a lot of people trying to game the system with fake reviews from relatives and begging "likes" on Facebook. I've heard of people paying for reviews and making up fake awards for their books. Many give their eProducts away for free in hopes of climbing to a higher sales rank on retail sites. I've said it before and I'll say it again: There is no substitution for greatness!

Your product must be AMAZING, EXTRAORDINARY, SUPERB, INCREDIBLE, and UNBELIEVABLE! It has to be extremely beautiful or disturbing or funny or touching or informative or witty etc. I looked on my iPad today and noticed that of the indie apps that I've purchased I found them from friends, review sites, and social networks. None of them came from ads. None of them came from promotional campaigns. None from being asked to click "like". None from FREE!!! None from hype. What they all had in common was an individual sticking their neck on the line and saying, "try this - I like this - you'll probably like it too." And so the "good stuff" will get passed around and generate a viral quality simply because it's good and nothing else.

People say that I'm naive. Perhaps. But I know how and why I buy eBooks and apps. I also know many success stories where the product was so cool that people had to have it - couldn't live without it. When you buy a song on Amazon or iTunes did you buy it because you saw an ad? or did you download it because it was stuck in your head? - in other words it was awesome right?

Am I afraid of making mediocre ebooks/story apps? You better believe it!-YES - it keeps me awake at night. But fear is a good thing - if you're not afraid you probably don't understand how vital it is to create something truly original.

There's no substitute for being awesome! The internet has leveled the playing field making mediocrity hard to sell and celebrating greatness. Be Great! And don't listen to the nay sayers who will tell you that the little guy doesn't stand a chance next to the giants entering the ebook/app craze. There will be many who will write or speak negatively about indie publishing simply because they haven't found success - I would submit in most cases they didn't produce a product that people had to have - so now they're eager to dash the dreams of others - it's just sour grapes.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Creating in a Vacuum Cleaner

A while back my youngest son overheard my wife and I talking about not being able to create in a vacuum. He asked, "why can't you create in a vacuum cleaner?" We both busted up laughing and then moved to damage control when we could tell he didn't appreciate it.

But the question is valid...why can't you create in a vacuum?...or vacuum cleaner?

Everyone's heard that behind every good man is a great woman (so true in my case). I would submit the same is true that behind every good writer is a great critique group.

My critique group is called Brotique probably due to the fact that we are a guys only group. Formed about three years ago - we meet about once/month at El Gallo Giro - a mostly authentic Mexican restaurant in Provo Utah. (A few of us are hiding out just for the food)

Now you might be tempted to think that we're sexist...stupid perhaps but the reason for keeping it guys only is to create an environment free from feminine based censorship - now hold on...we theorized that since most editors are female there is probably a bias in children's publishing away from certain topics or words, issues, etc. We wondered if this would be a good environment to test ideas and stories that might be deemed "inappropriate for children." Ironically we've come to realize that about the only benefit is being able to talk about ludicrous ideas without the fear of being labeled inappropriate, lewd, ribald, uncalled for, or crass.

Still - we feel that there are probably markets that are under represented or completely overlooked that would appeal to a demographic off the radar of some publishers. We like the ability to dream, write, and ponder these types of subjects. In the end we probably perform about the same amount of self censorship that we would get through editors - we just like the idea that we can be rebels - if we wanted to - but we might choose not to rebel - but we could...just so you know.

One thing for certain - we've found a magical combination of talented author/illustrators who are fun loving, thoughtful (when necessary), honest, smart, ingenious, hard working, and encouraging. The unspoken spirit of the group seems to be: "I'll help you - you help me - we'll both help them and in the end we'll all publish fun ideas that change the world for the better."

Meet the bros:

Guy Francis - can MacGyver anything  -  blog!
Adam Griffin - ghost - author/illustrator
Jed Henry - Young Gun - Larper - Amazing Project!
Neil Huges - can work the bowl - raises goats - writes really cool stuff!
Matt Loveridge - has largest collection of dust bunny critters - blog!
Jake Parker - internet entrepreneur - owns 5 small kids - Amazing Project!
Kirk Richards - unsuspecting - fine artist/ illustrator - Amazing Project!
Will Strong - strong - leaps small buildings with multiple bounds - blog!
Will Terry - immature - has been hit by two cars while riding bikes!
Rick Walton - is playing himself - written over 1000 picturebooks - site!
Jake Wyatt - jackhammer - buzzsaw - voltage overload - funny guy - blog!