Tropical Birds: A Coloring Book for Adults

A bit belatedly, I'm excited to announce the launch of my second coloring book, Tropical Birds.  If you've followed my work over the past two years, you'll know that I'm a bit bird-obsessed, so it's probably no surprise that I've indulged in more birdiness for this coloring book, right?  

For this coloring book, I started by researching tropical birds and ended up making a long list of possible candidates for my coloring book.  After settling on 50 as the number of illustrations for this book, I narrowed my list down to 50 birds and started with some rough sketches.  These coloring books are a passion project, something I like to work on in my down time.  To ensure I could break away from my studio while working on these coloring book pages, I decided to illustrate them on my iPad Pro.  Using the Graphic app--it's a bit pricey, but the best vector app I've found--I was able to create crisp vector line art that could easily be imported into Illustrator.

I absolutely loved the portability of my iPad Pro for this project.  The process was so enjoyable and relaxing; I'm already planning out my next coloring book!

After finishing the lineart on my iPad Pro, I imported everything to Illustrator for last minute tweaks and nudges, and then on to InDesign for the final layout of the book. 

For my coloring books, I'm self-publishing through CreateSpace.  And although I ran into significant snags in the process with Garden Tea Party, my first coloring book, the process with Tropical Birds was much smoother overall.  

You can buy Tropical Birds and Garden Tea Party on Amazon.  

If you're enjoying either of my coloring books, please take a moment to leave an review on Amazon.  And that goes not just for my books for but any books you might be reading or coloring. Reviews are a big help, especially to independent creators, in driving sales.  Every honest review is so appreciated.  

My next coloring book will focus on books/reading and I can't wait to get started on it.  I'll be posting a few snaps of the process over on Instagram if you'd like to follow along.

Happy coloring,

Steph

A Photoshop Live Drawing Video: Cardinal

Excuse me while I dust this space off, after nearly a year's absence!  It seems a bit unreal to have been absent from this space for so long, but it's lovely to be back and to be inspired to share again.  

I've used the past few months to continue to share my work on Instagram and other social media platforms, to focus on my freelance work, and to slowly decide what the heck I would blog about when I decided to start blogging again.  Actually, I started Periscoping a few months ago, sharing weekly videos of Photoshop tutorials or live drawing sessions, and it reignited a fire in me, a desire to share my knowledge and help other artists along on their journeys.  

So in bringing back the blog, I'm planning to share my process and knowledge with you, keep you updated on my work, and share my inspirations as well.  New posts will be added on a semi-irregular basis at first, as I work regular blogging back into my schedule and my mindset.  

Part of this reignited fire to share lead me to teaching online classes again.  It's been a few years since my last class, but I'm bringing my Photoshop illustration skills to you with a new series of classes over on Atly.

My first class in this series, Photoshop for Illustrators: The Basics just launched this past week, and am happy to say is already helping students to create beautiful digital illustrations.  This class is beginner level and covers setting up your Photoshop workspace, importing sketches, the basic Photoshop drawing/painting tools, modifying your completed work, and keeping your Photoshop work organized with layers and groups.  The class is a combination of written lessons paired with 18 videos(3.5 hours total) including two full Photoshop illustrations demos.  

This class is the culmination of countless of hours of work - writing and recording lessons, and finding that perfect balance of enough knowledge to create successful Photoshop illustrations without feeling a thousand percent overwhelmed.  It will be followed up later in the year with two more classes that I'm already planning and dreaming up.  

Before you run off to sign up for the class, here's quick drawing demo I did for my class intro video.  Only a tiny portion of this was used for the video, so I wanted to share the whole thing here:  

Happy drawing!

Blog Break!

Before I post this week's 52 Birds art, I wanted to let you--the few of you who still keep up with this sporadically updated blog--that I'm taking a blog break.  Maybe for a few weeks or a few months or maybe just forever.

I know for a lot of artists, blogging is an integral part of what they do, but for me, it's become a thing I feel guilty about not doing.  Because I post so often on my other social media accounts, I'm usually left feeling that there's nothing new to share here.  It's been a struggle and, for right now, I'm letting it go.  

I'm going to let it marinate a bit, whether or not I want to give it another go at some point, with a new focus and renewed energy.  

For now, you can always keep up with my work on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.  I post daily in at least one of those places, usually all four.  

But before I go, here's this week's 52 Birds illustration, a blackburnian warbler:

You can keep up with this illustration project by following one of my social media accounts listed above!

Best,

Steph :)

52 Birds: Cerulean Warbler

One of the other nerdy fun things about this illustration project is learning new birds from my region, some that are harder to spot, and generally more elusive than your common cardinal and robin.  Enter the cerulean warbler!

I didn't even know these little birderson existed until I sat down yesterday to flip through my bird reference book, in hope of inspiration.  Turns out they are quite small and spend most of their time high in the treetops, so they are quite tricky to spot.  I'm going to be on the lookout now, but in the meantime, I settled for drawing one:

As always, prints and stuff can be found in my shop.

Happy weekend!

52 Birds: Downy Woodpecker

Other than the drawing, of course, the research part of this project has been most exciting for me.  The history nerd in me relishes any excuse to pull out the reference books.  Every time I spot a new bird, I'm rushing off to my little stack of bird books to identify it.  

This week's bird, the downy woodpecker, is one that frequently visits our backyard feeders, but that I only identified when I started my 52 Birds project.  What a kick!

As always, prints and stuff can be found in my shop.

Happy Saturday!

Art Biz: Mini Portfolio Book

Like most illustrators, I keep a flat file. Not even a fancy, lovely flat file though, but a plastic storage box that fits under the bed. I've no room in my studio for a fancy, lovely flat file, but the storage box under the bed works just fine at the moment.

Whenever I finished a project, I gather all of my sketches, notes, reference materials, and printouts of the final illustrations, clip them all together and store them in said storage box that lives under the bed. I like to drag it all out from time to time and have a good ramble through all those pages of art.

That doesn't happen as often as it should. I find myself forgetting about work that I've done and sometimes I find that I stray from a good path I was on, style wise. Or stick on a not so good path when I should move on.

To combat my seemingly endless forgetfulness, I've started keeping a mini portfolio book of sorts. Just for me, for quick reference of the work I've been doing.

For my mini portfolio book, I use a small 6 x 8 photo album, with ring binders so I can add and remove page protectors as needed. At the end of each month, I make a quick list of everything I've worked on during the month, then I print out small versions of each illustration, ranging in size from 2 x 2 inches to 6 x 8 inches.

After cutting those down, I just slip them into their page protectors and add them to the album. My plan is to have a new album for each year.


For me, this is more convenient that dragging out my flat file, because I can keep this mini portfolio book right on my desk, for quick reference. I can grab it if I'm feeling uninspired, or if I want to take a quick look at how I drew a certain thing for a certain project. I can use a quick flip through to gauge recurring patterns in my work, good and bad. Am I being lazy at something that I could easily improve on? Am I doing a pretty kickass job at illustrating animals? And it's a good way to get excited about old work, and maybe remember a subject matter or format that I'd like to explore more deeply.

What's your favorite way to keep track of your artwork or other creative projects?

52 Birds: Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Earlier this week, I saw a rose-breasted grosbeak on the bird feeder right outside our kitchen window, and proceeded to get silly excited about it.  My husband thought I'd lost my mind.  Since I've started this 52 Birds project, I've found that I've become a bit of a bird watcher.  My eyes are constantly peeled, I'm always on the lookout for new birds I may not have noticed.  And when I can't identify one, I rush home to check my bird guidebook.  

It's true, I'm a bit of a bird nerd now.  

Anyway, from what I've read, rose-breasted grosbeaks aren't overly common in this part of the state, and generally only show up when they are migrating.  Hence the excitement over seeing one just chilling on the bird feeder.  

Obviously, I had to draw him:

As always, prints can be found in my shop.  Throw pillows, mugs, and tote bags can be found over on Society6.

And of course, you're always welcome to jump in with your own weekly bird illustrations.  Be sure to post them on Instagram with the tag #52birds, so I can keep up with them!

52 Birds: Rufous Hummingbird

Up to my eyeballs in Surtex prep right now, I almost didn't manage to get in my 52 Birds illustration this week.  While I won't be at Surtex, my art will be, with my agents from Bright.  Exciting stuff!  I'm scrambling to illustrate a slew of new greeting cards before my agents pack up and head off to the big show.  

But I finally sat down for a few minutes today and drew up the last hummingbird in this little series, a rufous hummingbird.  

You can buy small prints of this illustration over in my shop and larger prints, canvas prints, tote bags, mugs, etc, over inmy Society6 shop.

52 Birds: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

It's Saturday, so it's 52 Birds day!  This week it's the ruby-throated hummingbird, which is the only hummingbird found in the eastern United States, according to my bird guide.  They are frequent visitors around here in the summer months.

You can buy small prints of this illustration over in my shop and larger prints, canvas prints, tote bags, mugs, etc, over in my Society6 shop.

52 Birds: Lucifer Hummingbird

This week's bird illustration ended up being a real struggle for me.  I almost ended up not even sharing it, but decided to stick with it since this is a weekly project.  And, happily, after a few adjustments, I'm actually quite happy with it.  Maybe there will be a mini series of hummingbirds for the next few weeks of 52 Birds, we shall see!

For this week, here's the lucifer hummingbird, which isn't all that common anywhere in the US.  It's seen rarely in southern parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and is most abundant in Mexico.


Fact:  I'm scared of frogs.  Also, lizards and snakes.  Or anything that makes sudden movements.  I'm a jumpy gal, that's for sure.  Strangely though, I've found lately that I really enjoy drawing frogs.  They are quite cute.  As long as they are on the page and not anywhere near me in real life.  Here's a recent addition to my illustration portfolio:


52 Birds: Goldfinch

I feel like I've been missing out, having never explored this color palette before.  Expect to see more of it, because I love it, especially right now as I'm hankering for spring.  Seeing the tiny shoots of day lilies, tulips, and mallow begin to pop up around the flower beds has me all excited for warmer weather and an enormous vegetable garden.  

Until then, I'll focus on capturing a bit of birdy sweetness.  This week, it's the American goldfinch, which is quite noticeable at the moment because they are getting their pretty bright yellow feathers back, after a winter of the muddier yellow color.

As always, 52 Birds prints are in my Etsy shop, and throw pillows, etc can be found in my Society 6 shop.

If you'd like to draw along with me on this weekly bird illustration project, just share your bird art on Instagram, tagged with #52birds.