Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Pattern for Spring

©Lesley Breen Withrow
Here's a snippet of a fun new pattern I just created! It makes me think of Spring flowers and sun.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Feather of Memory

©Gary McCluskey

Check out my husband, Steven Withrow's, new project called Feather's of Memory. He is writing a verse novel about a futuristic time-traveler. He's also been recording it into audio files so you can choose to read and/or listen to it weekly as the story unfolds. Pretty cool! Also, the fabulous art above of the time ship was illustrated by my talented friend, Gary McCluskey.

THE FEATHER OF MEMORY -- a verse novella

The Feather of Memory, my first experiment in writing a short novel in verse for young adults, will make its official debut on Monday, March 15th, the Ides of March, a date that plays an important part in the story. The series will update weekly until the story is completed.

The main narrative will be written in blank verse -- unrhymed iambic pentameter -- and each installment will also include an audio file of me reading the poem aloud.

Hope you'll come along for the ride, add it to your blog reader or bookmarks, and help spread the word!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Children's Illustration - Step by Step tutorial

Unfortunately, you cannot show most illustrations that you are working on due to contracts and all so I try to create some art just for promotion. Here is a step by step of an illustration I made of two small cats baking cookies in a kitchen. Yum, I could go for some cookie dough right now. Hope you enjoy!

This is a sketch with pencil or pen on paper. I then scan it into the computer and don't worry too much about the quality of the scan because it is just so I can get an idea what I want to paint.

Next I open the art in a program called Painter. There I use the oil and or real bristle brush to paint the basic colors and shapes of the art. Painter is a fabulous program. I am able to achieve the look (paint strokes, blending texture, etc.) of real paints. In this step I try to capture the expressions on the cats faces keeping them as lively as they are in the sketch. I also make choices about what colors I want to use. I decide to paint bold colors with the understanding that the green table top will be used as an underpainting.
Then I like to save my art as a flat file and bring it into Photoshop. For me, this is where the real 'magic' happens. Here I like to add lots of texture and patterns to my art. Photoshop is the perfect program for this. For example, In this step I added a scan of some wood I have, to create a wooden table top.
Next, I refine my wooden table top texture and trim around the art to create a soft irregular border. I add more art, like the cookie sheets, cookies etc.
Here I refine the art even more. Adding more elements but more importantly I start to bring depth to the art by adding shadows and highlights. As you may notice, the cats look more rounded. I added blush to their cheeks too as well as some white lines to the wood table pattern. I continue to add lots of details too, like the recipe card, bag of flour and broken eggs and a subtle dot pattern to the background.
Now I added a white line shelf in the background . I continue to add more shadows and highlights and textures.
Finally, I adjust the white line shelf more, changing the scrolls at the top to a clock. I think this looks more refined and gives an element that I am looking for. It's nice working digitally because changing something like that is easy but would be much more complicated if I was working reflectively. I add the stripes to the cats and continue to bring out the shadows and highlights until I am happy. Then wha-la! I am done.

©Lesley Breen Withrow

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


©Oxford University Press
Here's a snippet from a piece of art I'm working on. Gotta love drawing colorful bugs!