Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Made of Lines Has Moved

Greetings Made of Lines friends, followers, and visitors. The blog has moved to If you are a follower, take a few seconds to visit the new site and click follow. Thanks a million ~ Kevin

Friday, April 20, 2012

Running Down a Dream...@NESCBWI

I'm off to Springfield this weekend for the (deep breath) New England Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators Spring Conference (and inhale).  After spending plenty of long post-teaching hours working on my portfolio, I will finally have the opportunity to share it.  Yikes!  Summoning up inner strength.  Reminding myself that this is a marathon, not a sprint.  Deep breath.  Exhale slowly.  Deep breath.  Exhale slowly.  Etc. Etc.

Watercolor on illustration board - click to enlarge

Watercolor on illustration board - click to enlarge
Pictured above are two pieces created recently for my portfolio.  They will serve to remind me that if a little girl can run down and capture bunny monsters, then surely I can run down and capture a book deal. :)  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Thank you for the joy and inspiration you have brought to the world.  Happy birthday, Dr. Suess.
Cat in the Hat - Digital

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Remarkable Proportions

Digital Paint - iPad2 - Click to Enlarge
Digital Paint - iPad2 - Click to Enlarge

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

iPad Is Coming to Town...Digital Painting on the Go

Self Portrait - Digital - Click to Enlarge 
Christmas night.  The Barrys were engaged in the ritual viewing of Christmas Vacation (still funny).  Clark Griswald was engaged in his pool fantasy (Mele Kalikimaka everyone).  I was engaged in a fantasy come true.  I was painting digitally on my brand new iPad - THANK YOU WIFE!

I have to say that I have been skeptical about the abilities of an iPad as an art creation tool.  I adore my Wacom tablets.  With them, I have become so accustomed to pressure sensitivity that the idea creating a painting without it could be likened to handing me a couple of stones and expecting fire.

Mr. Teeth - Digital - Click to Enlarge
I was using the $2 ProCreate app.  I can't express how impressed I was with the experience.  This app emphasizes the paintbrush, smudge, and eraser tools.  This suites my digital painting style perfectly.  Even without pressure sensitivity, I found that the size and opacity adjustments were so easy to access, that I after a few minutes I was no longer longing for my Wacom. 

Ultimately, what the iPad experience comes down to is portability.  Did I create anything that I couldn't create with my Wacom tablet and Photoshop?  No.  But I created something completely comparable while sitting on a sofa, watching a flick with my family.  

Cheers to the iPad.  

More digital sketches to come...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Season's Greetings from Some Vexing Varmints

What are those pesky Procyons up to anyway?  Are they building snowman with a bit of holiday magic?  Or are they ganking all the goodies off of the Frosty that kid spent all day building?

Let me know what you think in the comments...

Watercolor on Arches cold press watercolor board - Click to Enlarge

Presented above is my 2011 holiday card. If you are looking for a last minute card for friends and family, please feel free to download and print.
Free PDFs: exterior art
                  interior art

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Watercolor - Click to Enlarge
Tom is thankful for another year without being shot, plucked, or eaten.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pianos Filled With Flames

Watercolor on Illustration Board - Click to Enlarge

This piece was inspired by the song "Holland 1945" by Neutral Milk Hotel. The song (along with most of NMH's material) is filled to the brim with stunning imagery that jump-starts my imagination.  Great music to play in the background when in need of inspiration.  Today I was particularly inspired by the line:

Now she's a little boy in Spain
Playing pianos filled with flames.

I had been itching to do some wet in wet watercolor painting, and I knew that the flames in this piece would be a perfect place to experiment.  I began by sketching out the figure and piano.  I did a quick google image search of grand  pianos to help.  My sketch wasn't too detailed, as I knew i was going to let the watercolors do a lot of the work.  Next, I covered the figure and flames with masking fluid.  This made it so the watercolors would not cover those areas.  I splashed a dark brown mixture in the top right corner and a bit down the right edge.  I lifted the piece and tilted it down toward the bottom left corner.  I began squirting the wet paint with a spray bottle, letting the color flow and drip naturally across the page.  This creates some exciting effects that I never could have created with a brush. 

While the background was still damp, I painted the piano.  I wanted the piano to blend in a bit with the background, allowing the little boy and flames to be star of the show.  I then had to walk away for a bit and let the background/piano dry.  The piece had to be completely dry before taking of the making fluid, or the surface of the board would have been damaged.

Next was the exciting part, painting the flames.  Excited about the masking fluid, I dashed in some streaks
that would preserve the white of the page.  Next I globbed in some bold yellows and reds, tilted my page back toward the upper right corner and hit my colors with the spray bottle, again letting the paints flow.  I only have marginal control over the directions they take.

I finished the illustration by painting in the figure.  I dipped back into my background colors so that the figure's color world would match the rest of the piece, but added bits of blues, yellows and reds to provide interest and attract the eye.  I went back in with my pencil and added some details that got washed out while painting.  I signed my name, and called it done.  A fine Sunday morning.  Special thanks to Neutral Milk Hotel for the inspiration.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween from a once terrifying comic book villian!

Digital - Click to Enlarge
For your Halloween viewing pleasure, I bring you what was once the most menacing villain in mainstream comic books:  Venom.  The character has changed in many ways over the years.  This is the version I prefer to remember:  No pointy teeth.  Not as big as the Hulk, but Spider-Man's better in every way, and, you know, insane.

Digital - Click to Enlarge
This drawing is a couple of years old.  It was created in Photoshop.  As I recall, I used a mix of the paintbrush, dodge/burn, and smudge tools.

Bonus Drool Monster
Digital - Click to Enlarge

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Harry Potter is Made of Lines

Graphite - Click to Enlarge
While I love to use many media (brush in ink, watercolor, Photoshop), what I find myself drawn to (PUN!) is simple pencil on paper.  There is something about the feel of the graphite breaking down on the fiber of the paper that is absolutely comforting.  It probably comes down to the fact that pencil is the medium I have used more than any other for my entire life.  While I have certainly come to love the spontaneity of watercolors, the boldness of ink, and the seemingly limitless potential of Photoshop, putting pencil to paper is like coming home.  It is comfortable, and I can apply the lead without fear of losing control or making an irreparable mistake.

Fearless, I can dig in with my million little lines.  I used to try to smudge my lines away to create sleek tones, somehow thinking that belief in a 2-D reality had a direct correlation to drawing realistically.  Now, I am making a concerted effort to let the lines shine.  The tiny hatches and visible paper fibers can do just as much to create a reality as the most
labored/photo-realistic drawing.

Graphite with Photoshop - Click to Enlarge
So what next?

I've been playing with the next step off and on for years (the first time being for a close-call picture book submission - post to come).  How do I add color to my drawing?

In Photoshop, there are many different ways to go about this.  You could paint right over your drawing, using it like an under-painting.  You can set your drawing layer to multiply and color it like you would a coloring book.  This is a great technique for comic book style illustrations.  There are countless other ways, I'm sure (feel free to add them to our comments section).  The problem I have found is that my darling little pencil lines end up washed out or completely obscured.  And I love my pencil lines.  They are my home.

What I have been playing with recently is using the selection and colorize tools as my primary coloring device.  I used the lasso to select specific areas of the sketch (hair, hood, shoes, etc.) copy/pasted them to new layers, and colorized them.  This way, instead of color on top of or behind my pencil sketch, I am actually changing the color of my original grey work - preserving what I loved about the drawing while adding color.

I did have to monitor the contrast of the drawing as I worked.  The art became washed out at points, but the fixes were easy.  I could either adjust my levels to bring the punch back to the piece, or I just hit small areas with the dodge/burn tool.  I did feel that the highlights of the original piece got lost in the digital color.  You can see that I added new highlights to the piece, being sure that my marks fit in with the style of the original sketch.

Ultimately, this is the best technique I have been able to find to preserve the feel of my line drawings while bringing them into a colorized world.  I am using it for a picture book project that I am putting together (sketches to come).  Give it a shot.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Francona Goes Down with His Ship

Graphite - Click to Enlarge
Terry Francona was given a sinking ship and told to sail.  As manager, Terry's job was to provide the rudder. He did.  Since 2004, Francona guided the S.S. Red Sox through treacherous waters admirably, twice returning to port with a World Series trophy.  This year, however, Francona was given a mutinous crew of spoiled ballplayers who seemed to expect the sails to raise and fill with wind just because they stepped on board.  A doomed voyage from the start.

Terry Francona provided the rudder, but he could not put wind in the sails.  Ever the captain, Tito went down with his ship.

Thanks to Francona for 8 years and 2 Championships.  He will be remembered fondly in the hearts and minds of Red Sox fans.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001 - Ten Years Later

September 11, 2011
Black Guache on Cold Press
Ten years ago I was assigned to create an illustration in reaction to the events of the September 11th attack on the United States.  I was at a complete loss.  There was no clever way to sum up that day.  There was only reaction to a living nightmare.  Sky promising and threatening.  World familiar and foreign.  Heart full of fear and resolve.  Hurt and love.