I have a new book coming out!

The Blob Blog has been on quite a lengthy break! A few special projects have kept me away. Instead of sharing Blobs today, I’m sharing exciting news! I have finally found a home for my second picture book, I Am Not Leaving Without a Hug! I’ll be working with the team at Page Street Kids to bring this special project to life!

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And what about The Blob Blog?

It’s not time for me to say goodbye…just yet. I miss my weekly posts and discovering new characters and stories. I also miss inviting and meeting Guest Artists! And I just started experimenting with time-lapse videos (Blobs #114 below)!


No - not a goodbye. Just an official Picture Book Make-ation.

I’ll be back soon! When I’m ready, I’ll shout it out newsletter-style. So subscribe here (and scroll really far down)!

Thanks for checking in!

Storymaking Break!

With March is Reading Month coming up and story revisions in high gear, I am taking a break from the weekly blog. Please be sure to check the archive for previous activity sheets! If you are local, visit me on March 10th at the 2018 Young Authors Conference. Find more information about school visits here or contact me with questions at amy@amynielander.com.

Happy Creating!

 

BLOBS #115 RESULTS

Happy Results Day!

This week's Blobs were inspired by a rare yoga outing. I love to exercise (I've even taught classes!) but yoga moves at a s...l...o...w pace for me. I find it hard to be still for long periods of time. This has resulted in only a handful of yoga encounters. But last weekend, my dear spouse and I wanted to be adventurous together, so we tried a class out.

Because it was my out-of-the-ordinary experience for the weekend, I decided to borrow shapes from my peaceful surroundings... 

                MY YOGA MAT, the GIANT WINDOW we faced, an AIR DUCT that was directly above me (my eyes were not closed during back-time), THE CLEAR BLUE SKY when we walked out.

               MY YOGA MAT, the GIANT WINDOW we faced, an AIR DUCT that was directly above me (my eyes were not closed during back-time), THE CLEAR BLUE SKY when we walked out.

I pulled these shapes and converted them into my Blobs #115 Activity sheet...

Blobs115_inspiration_SHAPESBLOCKEDOUT.jpg

A Before and After look at my initial designs (a time-lapse sketch is on Instagram).

And a closer look at each transformation. I decided (and maybe my yoga experience influenced my decision) that my character would be strong and flexible. Introducing - Strong Bug (otherwise known as Poly).

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Thanks for stopping by! And if you came up with characters on your own, let me know! I'd love to see them. Share designs using #theblobblog.

BLOBS #114 RESULTS

Welcome to Results Day! 

This week's normal routine was...not so normal. Two major appliances broke in our house and I was making out-of-the-ordinary trips. With a broken dryer, laundry came to a screeching stop. To make the best out of my routine snag, I decided to look for an opportunity. Maybe I could find shapes to use for my Blobs #114 activity sheet at the laundromat? With a new perspective, my visit turned out to be far more interesting. My eyes were scanning everything! Best of all, drying time flew by. Here's a look at what shapes popped for me during my Saturday afternoon...

Picking out some random objects...

 COIN TRAY with all of my quarters (I needed about $7 in change), a DRYER and a decorative SHELF STAND that was directly behind me. 

COIN TRAY with all of my quarters (I needed about $7 in change), a DRYER and a decorative SHELF STAND that was directly behind me. 

Here is my final sheet plus my quick design sketches...

                                    You can find my time-lapse drawing on  Instagram

                                   You can find my time-lapse drawing on Instagram

Now a closer look at each character...

                                     OPERA CAT

                                    OPERA CAT

 ANTS READING the cookie packaging list of ingredients section while sitting on top of crumbs.

ANTS READING the cookie packaging list of ingredients section while sitting on top of crumbs.

                          BABY BRONTOSAURUS

                         BABY BRONTOSAURUS

                  BOY waking up frightened by something...

                 BOY waking up frightened by something...

Blob 3 & 4 worked together...

                                BOY WAKES UP TO A BABY BRONTOSAURUS IN HIS ROOM

                               BOY WAKES UP TO A BABY BRONTOSAURUS IN HIS ROOM

I hope you enjoyed this weeks characters! Thanks for stopping by!

GUEST ARTIST Debbie Ridpath Ohi RESULTS

Guest Artist: Author Illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Welcome to Results Day! If you're dropping by for the first time this week, we've been celebrating the work of Author Illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi each day on Twitter and Facebook. She has illustrated many picture books including NAKED! , I'M BORED and the upcoming I'M SAD (June 2018) by Michael Ian Black, as well as written and illustrated WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? and the latest SAM & EVA. I hope you enjoyed sneak peeks, interviews and learning more about her creative process.  

I have never met Debbie before. I first discovered her months ago on Twitter. I can’t remember what post led me to her but I do remember quickly becoming a "follower". Her world was brewing with fun, kindness and loads of creativity. She reached out to everyone. Teachers, readers, illustrators, authors, parents, publishers, librarians. I loved her openness and ease. I looked forward to seeing posts filled with pick-me-up cartoons, encouragement, kidlit events and then...food doodles. It was then I strummed up enough courage to reach out to her and ask if she would like to be a Guest Artist on the blog. I really (really!) wanted to see how blobs worked for her and what characters she could create.

When I reached out to Debbie she kindly responded and was completely up for the creative challenge (even with a broken wrist!). I was thrilled she accepted and am eager to share her designs with you but first, a little about where Blobs #113 came from... 

...a wintry, evening stroll downtown Royal Oak where every block beamed with light. Each shape I picked came from that light-scape, except when we were indoors having dinner. Can you spot that moment?

Here are the shapes I pulled to create Blobs #113...

Now, a BEFORE and AFTER peek at Debbie's designs...

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Let's take a closer look at her playful characters...

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This mixed collection makes for one colorful party of characters! 

Below is Debbie's interview...

Who was your favorite book character as a child and why?

Douglas Spaulding in DANDELION WINE, because I loved how he thought about things….so many truths, and that made me think more deeply about similar topics. I was also inspired by how he saw beyond the surface of things and people.

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Which character in your books was the most fun bringing to life and why?

The Potato in I’M BORED, without a question. I loved how crabby he was in the first book. In I’M SAD, the sequel that comes out from Simon & Schuster in 2018, the Potato is crabby but also hilarious. And I was delighted to recently find out that Michael’s working on a third in the series that I’ll be illustrating: I’M WORRIED.

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Where do you find the most inspiration for your characters?

That’s a tough question! It depends on the character and the story. For the little boy named Spencer in WHERE ARE MY BOOKS?, for example, I was inspired by my nephew, Spencer — he loved to read books when he was little.

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Which BLOB inspired you the most and why?

All of your wonderful blobs inspired me! I think the one I eventually turned into Little Red Riding Hood was the most challenging, so I found it the most inspiring since I had to work harder at coming up with something I wanted to draw.

Thank you Debbie for generously donating your time and creating characters this week! 

Happy Holidays to everyone and check back on January 8th, 2018 for Blobs #114!

BLOBS #113 GUEST ARTIST WEEK

The Blob Blog is topping 2017 off with a Guest Artist this week!

I am so excited to welcome the mega creative Author Illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi today. You'll get to know her everyday this week on Twitter and Facebook where I'll be sharing video clips, sneak peaks, interviews and more. 

Her character designs + an interview will be posted on Friday.

If you want to create along with Debbie, download an activity sheet here and use #theblobblog to share.

Join me on Instagram to peek at my weekend inspiration!

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BLOBS #112 RESULTS

Welcome to Results Day!

It has been a snowy week here! Our first big snowfall hit us this weekend and snowy conditions helped me come up with Blobs #112!

Things that caught my eye...

                        An outdoor metal chair, my sweet daughter, a bootprint, vent

                       An outdoor metal chair, my sweet daughter, a bootprint, vent

Now zooming in and plucking specific shapes out...

...so they can turn into Blobs #112. After cleaning them up I created my Activity sheet. Here is a quick look at Before and After rough designs.

Now a closer look at characters...

                    POLAR BEAR ENJOYS ICEBERG DIVING

                   POLAR BEAR ENJOYS ICEBERG DIVING

                4th GRADE SNOWFLAKE GODDESS SUMMONS A SNOW                                    DAY with her giant Snowflake wand

               4th GRADE SNOWFLAKE GODDESS SUMMONS A SNOW                                    DAY with her giant Snowflake wand

                                                                 SANTA GETS STUCK

                                                                SANTA GETS STUCK

and the last Blob...

                     FRANK'S SNOWWORM WITH HORNS is a little unexpected.

                    FRANK'S SNOWWORM WITH HORNS is a little unexpected.

What did YOU come up with? 

Next week will be my last post before the holiday break and we have a super special Guest Artist stopping by! Please check in on Monday to find out who it is...!

BLOBS #111 RESULTS

Welcome to RESULTS DAY! If you did any character creating this week, share your designs using #theblobblog! I would love to see what you imagined!

And if you wondered where my Blobs came from...

...they were inspired by some holiday preparations! Last weekend we went tree shopping and I was on the lookout for interesting shapes. Here's what I found...

 We went to two different tree stands to find the right tree for our home. As we searched I found a STONE TILE, a wreath with a PINE CONE and some exciting PEA GRAVEL. After we came back, I noticed the bright sun casting all kinds of SHADOWS on our wall (can you tell what kind of windows we have?).

We went to two different tree stands to find the right tree for our home. As we searched I found a STONE TILE, a wreath with a PINE CONE and some exciting PEA GRAVEL. After we came back, I noticed the bright sun casting all kinds of SHADOWS on our wall (can you tell what kind of windows we have?).

Next, I converted shapes into Blobs...

...and after I created my Activity sheet, I did some sketching!

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Character creating usually happens late Thursday night for me. But today I was able to spend a few minutes doing initial character sketches earlier. I ended up using my eraser quite a bit - oh no! I was stuck after only a few seconds into creating characters! I started with the bumpy pine-cone inspired Blob first. I was going to turn it into a pet, but I couldn't quite figure out what kind of pet. Maybe an IT pet? I decided to keep trying and a reptilian creature started to appear...then an iguana popped from my page. From what I could remember, they had a flappy spine of some sort. 

After playing around more, I added some holiday spirit. What if someone was getting an Iguana for Christmas? That sounded fun to me so I did more digging and finished that character sketch. I moved onto my first shape and stuck with the holiday theme. Below are all of my transformations.

                         OWL'S STOCKING

                        OWL'S STOCKING

                     ZIGGY LOVES IGGY (her new pet iguana)

                    ZIGGY LOVES IGGY (her new pet iguana)

I wanted to add more of a scene, so I spent lots of time designing this...

There's not much here though! Most of my time was spent tweaking my character to make it look like she was giving her new pet a hug. I wanted IGGY's scales to look like they were pressing (gently) into her cheek and went through many, many, many versions. 

My last Blobs looked like they could work together. Yaay! Almost like they were having a conversation. And since I just posted my Holiday cards on FB earlier this week, I decided to create a new SWEET DEAR. But, who could he be talking too...  

                                                    SWEET DEAR and his neighbor BEAR

                                                   SWEET DEAR and his neighbor BEAR

Deer's bandana was inspired by a special someone who visited the beauty parlor today...

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our cute pooch (with half the amount of hair he woke up with)! Instead of doggy paw prints I used deer tracks on my deer's bandana. I love when real life inspires character details. It makes new characters more believable.

And that's it for characters this week! I hope you had fun coming up with designs and maybe even imagining a story. 

Thanks for stopping by and check back on Monday for a new batch of Blobs!

 

BLOBS #110 RESULTS

Welcome to Results Day! 

This week's batch of Blobs were inspired by our Thanksgiving weekend road trip! We went to Indiana. I kept my eyes peeled for shapes that popped out to me throughout the weekend. Here are a few...

 Rolling out dough for yummy pumpkin pie, spiky looking flower, shimmery leaf bouquet filler, and a familiar ceramic sugar pot with cap. 

Rolling out dough for yummy pumpkin pie, spiky looking flower, shimmery leaf bouquet filler, and a familiar ceramic sugar pot with cap. 

But it wasn't until our road trip home when a collection came together...

I zoomed in to pluck these shapes out...

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...and turned them in to Blobs #110! Here is a quick look at before and after sheets...

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I was so very happy to have my daughter Anna, join me in creating characters! It's been a while since I had a partner to sketch characters with and I loved doing these side by side. Of course Anna cranked her designs out much faster than I did and even gave me some pointers. Here's how they transformed...

                                                                                   ANNA'S LEFT (CRAB), AMY'S RIGHT (FAMILY OF PEAS ON A SPOON)

                                                                                  ANNA'S LEFT (CRAB), AMY'S RIGHT (FAMILY OF PEAS ON A SPOON)

                                                                           ANNA'S LEFT (ROLY POLY) AMY'S RIGHT (CEREAL LOVING BLOB) 

                                                                          ANNA'S LEFT (ROLY POLY) AMY'S RIGHT (CEREAL LOVING BLOB) 

Since I couldn't come up with a character quick enough for this shape, I turned him in to a purebred Blob (one who belongs to no particular species...except Blobs). Since spoons were on my mind from the previous design I decided to give this Blob a breakfast dish he would somersault out of bed for...cereal! 

Because he was covered up by another character, I spent some time figuring out what the rest of him might look like in color...  

            He looks like he might be friends with the  HUNGRY HALLOWEEN  Blobs!

           He looks like he might be friends with the HUNGRY HALLOWEEN Blobs!

Moving on...

                                                 ANNA'S LEFT (FISH WITH SUNGLASSES, AMY'S RIGHT (DUCK LIKES TO MAKE HATS)

                                                ANNA'S LEFT (FISH WITH SUNGLASSES, AMY'S RIGHT (DUCK LIKES TO MAKE HATS)

Anna helped me with this guy! I pictured a duck sleeping, but it was absolutely not working for me. So she helped draw a better bill and finished off his homemade paper hat. Thank you Anna! DUCK seemed like he needed a friend to give a hat to, so when I cleaned him up I added this little toad...

And the last character...

                                                                                          ANNA'S LEFT (BABY GOAT), AMY'S RIGHT (KING CAT FISH)

                                                                                         ANNA'S LEFT (BABY GOAT), AMY'S RIGHT (KING CAT FISH)

And that's it!

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check in Monday for Blobs #111.

BLOBS #109 RESULTS

Welcome to Results Day! I hope you had fun coming up with characters this week.

My inspiration for Batch #109 came from a Scout Engineering Day we attended this past weekend. It was hosted by the Society of Women Engineers at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The day was packed with activities and speakers for both parents and girls! We kicked off the workshop with the funnest challenge I've seen for kids. I highly recommend it for classroom icebreakers or rainy days. The best part is the limited number of supplies needed! It was called the Marshmallow Challenge

Here's what we were given...

 One yard of tape, One yard of string, One marshmallow and 20 spaghetti noodles.

One yard of tape, One yard of string, One marshmallow and 20 spaghetti noodles.

We had 15 minutes to build the tallest structure we could possibly make! The girls formed teams as did any parents interested in participating versus watching. The structure had to support one marshmallow perched at the very top. Here's what our five-person adult team came up with... 

 Our structure ended up being 27" tall! All possible because of teamwork!

Our structure ended up being 27" tall! All possible because of teamwork!

When Monday rolled around, I decided to use the materials and our tower as inspiration for Blobs #109...

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Once shapes were converted in to Blobs, I started sketching...

If you've been following Character Results for a while, you may have noticed that events/experiences going on in my life usually influence my character designs. This month has been a big birthday month for our family with many celebrations. I decided to have each character celebrating their birthday. Can you find the accessory they all have in common? Check out the transformation...

 Dog does not seem happy about his Birthday...! I wonder why?

Dog does not seem happy about his Birthday...! I wonder why?

                                    Ram's Birthday

                                   Ram's Birthday

 What do you think  Thorn Bug  wants for his birthday?

What do you think Thorn Bug wants for his birthday?

 Rat gets his favorite snack on his Birthday!

Rat gets his favorite snack on his Birthday!

Rat is a little loose. I really did not want to google RATS for reference. So, I guessed on their hands and feet!

And that is it. What did YOU come up with? If you feel like sharing, post designs using #theblobblog on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram so others can see all the amazing characters brought to life this week!

Thanks for checking in! 

Blobs #110 will be posted November 27th. Happy Thanksgiving!

BLOBS #108 RESULTS

Welcome to Results Day! I hope you had fun with characters this week! I found them to be a little challenging! But more about that in a bit. First, let's take a look at where these shapes came from...

 We love cozy fires! This is the wood pile in our backyard.

We love cozy fires! This is the wood pile in our backyard.

 I didn't need to go too far to find a batch of Blobs for this week. I picked shapes that were interesting to me and turned them in to Blobs #108.

I didn't need to go too far to find a batch of Blobs for this week. I picked shapes that were interesting to me and turned them in to Blobs #108.

Now a Before and After look at how my designs...

 I had a hard time coming up with characters quickly this week! I had to step away and come back again when I got stuck. I could not get my exact blobs to work, so ended up modifying them a bit to make me happy! 

I had a hard time coming up with characters quickly this week! I had to step away and come back again when I got stuck. I could not get my exact blobs to work, so ended up modifying them a bit to make me happy! 

Keep scrolling to see them come to life...

                            PIG TELLS ANT A JOKE 

                           PIG TELLS ANT A JOKE 

This was my favorite character. Who doesn't like laughing!? It's always fun being surrounded by cheerful friends or family, so I turned my blob in to a pig who loves making his friends smile. 

Next...

 LOLA AND HER HOOP

LOLA AND HER HOOP

Can you spot the transformation from my initial design to the color sketch? My character went from human to...GUINEA PIG! Why? We love guinea pigs! We have had three pet GPs in our home. Since my initial blob was very blocky I decided to try a simplified creature shape and chose, the adorable guinea pig. Researching various guinea pigs almost got me off track though! Especially when I came across guinea pigs in costumes.

Blob 3...

                                      THE ANT COASTER

                                     THE ANT COASTER

Ants were still on my mind after blob 1, and led me to creating ANT COASTER. I did brief research on coaster structures and came across these paper roller coasters! 

And my last blob turned in to...

            WALRUS WANTS TO PLAY CHECKERS....AGAIN

           WALRUS WANTS TO PLAY CHECKERS....AGAIN

This was probably the hardest character to create! WALRUS strayed away from the original design, but the tusk-like shape and squared off corner inspired this guy. He is my least favorite aesthetically because his body still needs work as well as the checkerboard. BUT, this is a creativity exercise and I'm not getting too caught up for now. The important takeaway is the concept. Especially if it leads me to developing a story. That is when WALRUS would get fine-tuned and I'd develop more character studies. For now, I like the thought of an adorable, sweet walrus always wanting to play the same game with his friends. Who could possibly turn him down?

Thanks for stopping by! Check back in on Monday for a new batch of Blobs!

BLOBS #107 RESULTS

Welcome to Results Day! I hope you had fun coming up with characters! This week's shapes came from a walk I took on Monday with our little pooch. I decided to look for shapes as we strolled. Here is what I found...

                                 Ivy, a  Ginkgo  leaf, an  Oak  leaf, and the top view of one of our Halloween pumpkins.

                                Ivy, a Ginkgo leaf, an Oak leaf, and the top view of one of our Halloween pumpkins.

Next I blocked out some shapes that were interesting to me...

...created my sheet, then sketched out some characters!

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Now for a closer look at each transformation...

                                                           The Balloon Giver

                                                          The Balloon Giver

                                                           Hippo is shy.

                                                          Hippo is shy.

                                                             A dog dressed up as a lion for Halloween and a little zebra wanting a treat.

                                                            A dog dressed up as a lion for Halloween and a little zebra wanting a treat.

                                           The Bluesy Boos 

                                          The Bluesy Boos 

And that is it - quick character and color studies! I had fun with these shapes and hope you enjoyed seeing the design process. Check back on Monday for a new batch!