Daily sketch challenge

I’ve decided to give myself a daily sketch challenge. I’d like to create a morning routine that kicks me right into creative work mode (instead of loafing around in social media land), so the plan is to make a sketch first thing when I enter my studio, before I even turn on my computer or check my phone. I’m tempted to post on instagram, but I think I’ll limit myself on that too. I might choose my favorites from the previous week on Mondays and post a couple as part of my new and improved ‘internet presence’ routine. But I will post them here, at least a few times a week — fair enough since more frequent blog posting is one of my goals this year.

The challenge paramaters (for now):

• materials: dip pen and ink, plus one additional color if I want it

• theme: kids and pets

• bonus: a hand lettered word or phrase relating to the image

Here is day 1:



Note: noodlers ink BLEEDS on watercolor paper.


Character Creation

{Previously published in the SCBWI Oregon Newsworthy under the title From the Drawing Board: Exploring Animal Characters}

Who doesn’t have a story gathering dust in a drawer? I recently pulled one out that I’d never created a dummy for, let alone submitted. The obstacle?  Though I know, deep down, that my main character wants to be an animal – a badger, to be precise – I’m inexperienced at creating critters that convincingly combine human and animal characteristics.

Inspired by Dan Santat’s talk at the SCBWI Western Washington Conference in 2011, I decided to give anthropomorphism a whirl. Cribbing his approach, I first explored character concepts from imagination; then drew from reference; and finally blended the two in a character who has real Character.

My first sketches generated costume and personality ideas, but didn’t convey Essence of Badger:



My sketches from reference made lovely wildlife drawings, but lacked individuality.


Finally, armed with a new understanding of badger markings, anatomy, and proportions I ditched the photos and revisited my vision:


Progress! This guy feels like my character: a slightly anxious fellow whose limbs are flexible enough to gesture, but whose body and head feel truly badger-like. A true Character who can hold his own as I dummy up this book and send it out into the world.