BLOBS #106 RESULTS

Welcome to Result's Day! If you're stopping by for the first time, here's the scoop: We kicked off a giant Imagination Experiment on Monday. It was an invitation to Children's Book Illustrators to join in the "CREATE A CHARACTER" Challenge using Blobs #106. If you gave it a try, let us know how the Challenge worked for you!

Participating artists will be entered in a random drawing to win a 30 minute phonecall with literary agent, Marietta Zacker. That announcement will be made later this afternoon via Twitter (the winner's name will be added to this post as well).

If you want to check out results, tune in to Twitter between 8am-2pm Eastern time today. Artists will include the hashtag #theblobblogMZ with their characters.

Instead of participating today, I'm focusing on three extra pieces of information for readers/participants:

1) Examples of potential questions you could ask Marietta

2) The inspiration for Blobs #106

3) and the winner of the random drawing (posted later!)

Let's talk about some questions you might ask a spectacular agent like Marietta. And please use these as a guideline to create your very own! If you're the lucky winner - get to know her. Below are a few interviews you can read:

Literary Rambles (2009)

First Five Frenzy (2013)

12 x 12 (2014)

Marietta Zacker: Agent Looking for Diversity (2015)

You'll find a couple of these link to even more. Yes, more reading.

Now questions. How on earth do you come up with questions she has not been asked?

Figure out what YOU want to know specific to where you are in your journey.

Here are some examples to help kickstart your own...

What smaller conferences or writer workshops have helped shape your own clients' writing careers?

How do you lift clients up when you receive multiple rejections on submissions made to editors?

How do clients pitch projects to you? Are they verbal concepts first or do you prefer stories be presented in dummy/manuscript form initially?

How do you approach career planning with your clients? Do you set up goals for the year, number of books to develop, etc?

What is the usual timeframe a writer/client will turn a revision around (successfully) after you have provided editorial feedback?

Do clients often start off as part time writers/illustrators and evolve into full time?

How many projects do you hope a potential client has up their sleeve before signing? What happens if you fall madly in love with only one story and the others are really not so great?

I hope these help stir up some ideas!

Now - how Blobs #106 developed...

Last week we talked about Mother's Day. And because I had such a glorious day (made possible by my loving family) last weekend, I decided to use a couple moments as inspiration for batch #106...

The first three Blobs came from a hydrangea I picked for my mom. It wasn't the usual fluffy white, pink or blue petaled plant you might see. The flowers had a creamy base color with a pop of hot pink on the petal tips. I loved the bold contrast (like my mom). I learned it was possibly a mix between a hydrangea opal classic and magical opal antique. Then I loved it even more because of the name - magical opal antique? A trio of words that were new to me. I zoomed in on the petals to create these guys...

See if you can spot similar shapes the next time you see a hydrangea!

And the fourth Blob came from a photo my daughter took of a tree she liked during our sunny stroll to the DIA...

I used only a portion but enough to suggest some type of character.

And there you have it! Shape collection made simple.

Thank you to every artist who participated in the Challenge this week! I hope you had fun and made some of your own discoveries.

And thank you again Marietta for joining us!

*UPDATE*

The winner of THE CREATE A CHARACTER Challenge is Heidi Sheffield!

You can find her designs here.

We adored Heidi's designs and the execution! Each character had personality and left us wanting to know more! What did that little furball of a pup just do? Thank you again for giving these Blobs a try and making them your own Heidi! 

 

 

 

 

BLOBS #106 CALLING ALL CHILDREN'S BOOK ILLUSTRATORS!

Welcome! This week we are trying something new...

Today we're kicking off an Imagination Experiment for the first time ever. We are inviting Children's Book Illustrators and Author/Illustrators to participate in this week's Character Design Challenge. We hope you will join us in celebrating our differences and using the power of creativity to inspire kids!

To add more excitement to our experiment we have invited a Guest Agent to stop by Twitter on Results Day...

The wonderful Marietta Zacker of Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency will view artist entries posted on Friday, May 19th between 8am - 2pm Eastern time using the hashtag #theblobblogMZ.

All participating artists will be entered in a random drawing to win a 30 minute phonecall with Marietta. A winner will be announced later that day via Twitter.

TO BE A PARTICIPATING ARTIST: 

* Use this week's Blobs 106 to create a Character/s.

* Post your design/s (and original Blob) on Friday, May 19th between 8am-2pm Eastern time on Twitter with the hashtag #theblobblogMZ

* Use any medium, modify Blobs if you like and...have fun!

Marietta's clients include Pat Cummings, Jennifer Black Reinhardt, Ben Clanton, Brooke Boynton-Hughes and Selina Alko. She is also an Agent Liason for the We Need Diverse Books campaign. We asked Marietta who her favorite childhood character was growing up and below is her response:

"Anansi and Swimmy. Oral storytelling played such a role in my youth - in my entire life, really - and Anansi and the work of Leo Lionni (Swimmy, in particular) were perfect, given how crucial it was for me to see and understand the story visually. As I was learning English, those stories were accessible to me and they made me feel successful as a reader. Then later in my life, when they translated these stories into Spanish, I was able to fall in love with Anansi and Swimmy and many other characters in a different way, as an adult, remembering the angst I felt as I learned how to read, but grateful for characters and illustrations that allowed me to feel whole. Memorable characters with outstanding illustrations are key!"

Thank you for being a Guest Agent this week Marietta!

Participating artists can download Blobs 106 here.

A social media badge is available as well!

Happy Creating!

BLOBS #105 RESULTS

Welcome to RESULT'S DAY! How did your characters come out?

When I created Blobs Monday, I needed a new direction. To avoid Same-Shape Syndrome, I decided to use events from the weekend as inspiration. My son's music school had their Spring concert on Sunday and instruments were still floating around in my mind (along with super awesome performances from all!). The form most interesting to me was...the guitar! After studying it a bit more, zooming in on my favorite parts and playing with silhouettes, I had Batch #105. Can you tell which part of the guitar Blob 1 came from?

Here's a look at my sheet before and after characters...

Who knew an instrument could inspire an entire collection!

Before I started the design process I needed a theme. Can you spot what it is from above?

If you guessed LOVE, you win. All of my characters are celebrating...MOMS! With Mother's Day this weekend I created characters built around loving, cozy, sweet caring mama creatures. It definitely helped me sort out the solution for Blob 4! Now that was a tough one.

Let's take a closer look at how these characters developed...

                     MAMA STEGOSAURUS SINGS TO BABY

                     MAMA STEGOSAURUS SINGS TO BABY

 GORILLA DAD GIVING A BOUQUET OF BAMBOO TO MAMA

 GORILLA DAD GIVING A BOUQUET OF BAMBOO TO MAMA

                    MAMA SKUNK GETTING READY FOR A MOTHER'S DAY HUG

                    MAMA SKUNK GETTING READY FOR A MOTHER'S DAY HUG

                           Mama Walrus never takes a break, not even on MOTHER'S DAY! Here, she is a SLIDE for her pup.

                           Mama Walrus never takes a break, not even on MOTHER'S DAY! Here, she is a SLIDE for her pup.

And that's it! Did you feel the love?

Next week we have something very special planned so be sure to stop back in. We'll leave you with a couple hints...it has to do with one enormous experiment and a fantastic prize. And maybe...just maybe, some fun too.

Thanks for visiting and Happy Mother's Day to all the fabulous mamas out there!

BLOBS #104 RESULTS

Welcome to RESULTS DAY! This week I decided to experiment and color all of my characters up! Below you will find...LAZY ALLIGATOR, WILL RHINO DIVE?, CAMEL and a very JOYFUL PRESCHOOLER. What did you come up with? 

First, a look at the before and after collection...

Blobs104_COLORED_BeforeANDAfterPOSE.jpg

Now, let's zoom in...

                                                                               LAZY ALLIGATOR

                                                                               LAZY ALLIGATOR

SHAPE 2 was inspired by an activity my daughter will be participating in soon and has been on my mind...

                                        WILL RHINO DIVE?

                                        WILL RHINO DIVE?

SHAPE 3 was super sketchy to begin with. I liked the original shape but could not get my CAMEL to work. I ended up straying from it to get proportions right...

                                            CAMEL and COMPANION

                                            CAMEL and COMPANION

                                              JOYFUL PRESCHOOLER Looks like she just heard some news. What do YOU think this little girl is so happy about?

                                              JOYFUL PRESCHOOLER

Looks like she just heard some news. What do YOU think this little girl is so happy about?

Thanks for stopping by!

BLOBS #103 RESULTS

Happy Friday! 

Today's results are a little different...

After an unexpected computer system shutdown yesterday, I had to change gears. 

Last night my sweet 5 year old computer was  cleaned out and today I am in the re-installation phase of all programs. Trying to catch up.

With that, the loose character designs below were inspired by Earth Day tomorrow. What inspired your designs?

Here goes! My main character is really Earth - in different forms. If we can picture our relationship with the planet like the ones we have with family, pets, best friends and our cozy homes...maybe we will feel more connected to it (and treat it differently).

Super rough sketches of Earth as Home...Keep it Clean!

     

     

Earth as pet...Play with it!

                      

                      

and a quick sketchbook sketch of a dog playing with a boy hiding under a pile of leaves. A ball is resting on top of his head...

Earth as best friend...Listen to it.

                        

                        

Earth as family...love it...

                       

                       

This is pretty far from the original shape, but what the Blob did inspire was a grouping of some sort. Here is the next sketch of a family on a picnic. Earth is the parent along with mama moon at its side and kids are hovering. Maybe one is handing Earth a sun hat? And could that be sun as a neighboring picnic-er? The next phase would be tightening these characters up!  

Back to nursing my computer to a full recovery and...thanks for stopping by.

BLOBS #102 RESULTS

Welcome!

This week's Blobs were inspired by our recent trip to New York City. We saw so much! Maybe you've seen the same sites too?

One of our first stops was the beautiful New York Public Library. In the children's section we found the original Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animals. Below is Piglet! I took his main body and modified a couple sections to break things up.

Since this weekend is Easter, each of my character designs involved...a bunny. Here is what I came up with for my first blob...

                       Meet EASTER BUNNY ROBOT

                       Meet EASTER BUNNY ROBOT

One of our last stops was the American Museum of Natural History. We spent the day inside because it was pouring outside! Before visiting, we learned some of the exhibits inspired the characters in the movie Night at the Museum. You can even go on a special tour to see them all! We found Tyrannosaurus Rex (below) who went by "Rexy" in the movie. There were many shapes in this guy and I had fun picking one out...

Here is my character...

Easter Bunny overslept on Easter morning - oh no!

Easter Bunny overslept on Easter morning - oh no!

The next shape came from the Staten Island Ferry. We rode this on the sunniest day - yay! When I searched for a shape I zoomed in on the letters. I picked the "y" because it looked particularly happy to me. After creating an outline, I decided to section it off a bit more and ended up with this... 

My character was near EASTER BUNNY ROBOT so I decided to have him react to the situation...

Bunny running away from EASTER BUNNY ROBOT. Maybe he will search for the real Easter Bunny?

Bunny running away from EASTER BUNNY ROBOT. Maybe he will search for the real Easter Bunny?

My last shape was inspired by a show we loved watching last fall: Project Runway Junior. Have you seen it? We could not leave New York without visiting Mood Fabrics and meeting Swatch! Guess who greeted us when we got there? He was parked at the door and ready for a quick pic. I loved the silhouette of his ears and decided this one would be my final Blob...

My bunny character used this shape as a mode of transportation...

Easter Bunny is getting some help from an Egg dispensing Segway.

Easter Bunny is getting some help from an Egg dispensing Segway.

I colored up my first shape, EASTER BUNNY ROBOT. Then added a couple uncertain, but maybe a little curious characters...

Will they fill their basket? You decide!

Thanks for stopping by. Happy Easter!

BLOBS #101 RESULTS

Welcome to Results Day! How did your characters come out this week? Find WISHFUL GUINEA PIG, a questioning KING plus more below...

                                       CHICK DISAPPROVES...then marches off.

                                       CHICK DISAPPROVES...then marches off.

                                           WISHFUL GUINEA PIG

                                           WISHFUL GUINEA PIG

                                        HIGH FIVING WHALES

                                        HIGH FIVING WHALES

                                   KING GIVING ORDERS

                                   KING GIVING ORDERS

I decided to go back and play with my linework for some of my designs...

...then I colored up my CHICK DISAPPROVES because it is always fun illustrating characters with big personalities!

Thanks for stopping by!

BLOBS #100 Aaron Zenz RESULTS

Guest Artist: Author Illustrator Aaron Zenz

Kid Character Creators: Lily Zenz (age 14), Elijah Zenz (age 11), Evie Zenz (age 9) 

I met Aaron during a December book signing at The Bookman bookstore.

I met Aaron during a December book signing at The Bookman bookstore.

Welcome to Results Day!

We have been celebrating West Michigan children's book Author Illustrator Aaron Zenz all week! He has illustrated 33 children's books and 9 are picture books he has written & illustrated. They include I Love Ewe:An Ode to Animal Moms, Chuckling Ducklings and Baby Animal Friends, Monsters Go Night-Night, The Hiccupotamus along with many, many more. We enjoyed learning more about Aaron from his father daughter clip titled 6 Questions in 6 minutes for Claire's Day to the ArtPrize installation "Rock Around" he made with his kids. Aaron's work is wildly fun and full of energy.  He has been a joy to feature (he also has 12 bookcases filled with nearly 5,000 picture books!). We are grateful for his highly creative contribution here which includes an interview at the very end.

In addition to Aaron's designs, his kids Lily, Elijah & Evie created characters for us as well. Thank you kids!

And here we go...first a look at the before and after shapes...

                                                                                                       CHARACTER DESIGNS by AARON ZENZ

                                                                                                       CHARACTER DESIGNS by AARON ZENZ

now zooming in...

shape-1_aaronzenz_NOARROW.jpg

Amazing, right? Now for the equally amazing Zenz kids...

Great job Team Z! We love them all!

Interview

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

When I was a kid, my favorite books were Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. I lived in those books, breathed them, dreamed them, started writing like them. I don't know if I had a favorite character, but I loved Taran, Fflewddur Fflam, and Llonio in particular. And you've got to love Gurgi.

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

In my book Monsters Go Night-Night, all seven monster characters were based on drawings my son Elijah had made when he was 4 and 5 years old. It was great fun to use his drawings as a starting place and to put my own spin on them.

Where do you find the most inspiration for your characters?

When designing the look of a character, I do a lot of research, observation, and doodling. When I got the assignment to illustrate a series of books about a little Bichon Frise puppy, my first step was to spend an entire day at the library with a tower of Bichon books. I made hundreds of little drawings, dog after dog, pose after pose, trying to figure out what exactly makes a Bichon "Bichon-y."

                                                                   I Can Read! Howie Series by Sara Henderson

                                                                   I Can Read! Howie Series by Sara Henderson

When I set out to illustrate a book about orangutans, I spent days google-image-searching orangutans, analyzing how God put them together, trying to figure out how to simplify the forms.

                                                                  Orangutangled by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen 

                                                                  Orangutangled by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen 

Which BLOB inspired you the most and why?

I loved the one that turned into the screaming opossum :) Of my four blob-doodles, it has the most extreme expression and I like that -- I like how the shape pushed me further than I might have normally gone.

                Thank you Aaron, Lily, Elijah & Evie for being our special 100th Post Guests!

Blobs #100

The Blob Blog has reached a milestone!

Since its launch in 2014, this blog has birthed 400+ characters! Some have even inspired my very own picture book dummies. Not only have we (my kids and I) introduced new characters to this world, but I have asked wonderful artists I have met on this journey to join me as Guests. They have been kind enough to share their talents here too so kids can see that Blobs are not about finding the right answer, but discovering your very own.

To celebrate our #100 batch, we have a spectacular Michigan Author Illustrator visiting this week. He has illustrated 33 children's books and 9 are picture books he has written as well. Check back on Friday for his character designs + interview or find out via Facebook and Twitter where I'll be sharing my very favorite links of his work this week. His brilliant kids have had a hand in some of it as well...

Below are the Blobs he will be creating characters with. Please join him and post your own throughout the week using #theblobblog100 on Twitter or Facebook!

BLOBS #99 RESULTS

Welcome to Results Day! I hope you had fun creating characters this week. If you ever get stuck you can always turn your design into a....Blob! Add a nose, eyes, ears or hair, a silly expression, and you're done! Creating characters should always be fun. Here's an example...

                                                    Shape turns into a BLOB!

                                                    Shape turns into a BLOB!

The theme for my characters this week was...dancing! I LOVE to dance...and when I got stuck on my character designs I had to think of a fun activity to avoid frustration. I decided to picture my characters at a dance party where some of them liked to dance, and some did not. Who can YOU relate to? Here they are...

                           PEACOCK LOVES TO DANCE

                           PEACOCK LOVES TO DANCE

ELEPHANT WANTS TO DANCE BUT IS NOT SURE HOW

ELEPHANT WANTS TO DANCE BUT IS NOT SURE HOW

                      POODLE WILL NOT DANCE

                      POODLE WILL NOT DANCE

PENGUIN GETS HURT WHEN HE DANCES

PENGUIN GETS HURT WHEN HE DANCES

Since ELEPHANT and PEACOCK were the more succesful dancers I decided to pair them up. I needed to study peacocks a bit more first...

peacock2_STUDIESFLAT.jpg

This also gave me an opportunity to experiment with different brushes!

Next, I positioned my characters. ELEPHANT got flipped and I finished PEACOCK's stance. I didn't have his full body in my initial character sketches because the shapes were too close together.

Here they are with no shadows...

and once I started to think about backgrounds and dance parties, I wondered if a studio might be best? Maybe PEACOCK was a dance instructor? I liked the idea of playing with a Dance Steps posters in the background. Here's a super quick study...

                                                Colors were adjusted in PS

                                                Colors were adjusted in PS

Maybe there's a dance party in their future. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check in next week for a big giant #100 Celebration of Blobs! We have an extraordinary Guest Artist lined up! See you then.

BLOBS #98 RESULTS

Results are ready! Sketches only this week...getting ready for a school visit and Writers Conference!

          What is a DOUBLE-FINNED SHARK to do?

          What is a DOUBLE-FINNED SHARK to do?

                           HAPPY ANTEATER

                           HAPPY ANTEATER

The third Blob gave me a pretty tough time! I had to spin it around and around and around what seemed like forever. I wondered if I could connect it to my neighboring shape. So, I tried...

and got this guy.

                                         GIRAFFE TRIES YOGA

                                         GIRAFFE TRIES YOGA

Now, Giraffe is clearly off anatomically. Its a bit of a stretch : ) But, it's an idea, right? And that's what Blobs are for. Setting off story sparks. A design/color round would correct him a bit and maybe have other zoo animals join in? Once I created him I started doing something else and when I looked at my sheet again it was rotated. Another character emerged...it looked like a bird creature of some sort driving a convertible? Can you see it?

I liked the idea of that shape becoming a car, so dug a little more. I was stuck on my animal though! What is it? A bird wasn't working, then he started morphing in to a panther...but that just doesn't make sense too. Maybe YOU can figure it out! Let me know if you do!

                                                              Thanks for stopping by!