childrensillustrations - John Abbott Nez's Latest Blog Articles View John Abbott Nez's Latest Blog Articles Part 1 - How to run away to NYC to be a children's book illustrator  Arrival in Gotham The skyline appeared in the dim light of early dawn... must have been 4 or 5 in the morning.. there is was at last, we’d arrived. New York City! Skyscrapers bit into the skyline from one end of the horizon to the other. Immense, gigantic, huge... I’d think you run out of words to try and describe the view of New York from Weehawken or Parassamus or wherever the hell the bus was from across the river. But I was there at last... Manhattan. After sitting on the bus for what seemed like 3 days all the way from Denver I had finally arrived!   It was all so exciting... holding my breath as the bus ducked under the Hudson, through the first of many dark subterannean New York City tunnels filled with grime and ancient tiled walls. They all had famous names and bundles of electric cables and ventilation shafts and everything was covered with grime and dirt and beatup and crazy. That’s what I was here for anyhow... to become a real artist. A children’s book artist more specifically.   Continued at - copy & paste: Sat, 18 Jul 2015 11:36:35 +0100 The Picnic  A charming folk tale story about a bunny and a fox going on a picnic. Thu, 16 Jul 2015 09:18:14 +0100 Ladybug Magic  Some magic for Ladybug... Wed, 15 Jul 2015 16:47:39 +0100 Nosey Rosie  I was delighted to receive the sample copies for the November issue of High 5 . It was fun to see how 'Nosy Rosie' came out in print. It's exactly as I hoped.  It's a neighborhood scene filled with lots of details of activity on the street. Digital art can be amazing - but the printing also seems equally amazing to me. I like how the details hold up at every level.     Thu, 21 Nov 2013 12:21:10 +0000 ALA - mid-winter 2013  No, that's not the halftime concession stand at the Superbowl... that's the lobby on a quiet morning at ALA-mid-winter.  Now I know why I work at home alone in slippers. I did have two or three books on the racks there, if you dug deep enough you might have seen them. But despite all the ruckus, I had a great time.   One disadvantage of being in Seattle is that it is 2,000 miles to New York and the east coast, where most of the publishers are.  So I relish every opportunity to get together with REAL editors in person.  I met with the wonderful editors I even landed a connection that resulted in a new picture book with Blue Apple Books!   Yay! Wed, 26 Jun 2013 10:50:40 +0100 Retro-1950's Zoo Scene I had it in mind to create a new sample artwork illustration, but what to draw?  Elephants are always a good place to begin. So I decided to do a retro-1950's digital version of a zoo scene. The pencil sketch was refined after about 5 major theme revisions.  Earlier versions had kids on a pirate ship, kids flying around over the zoo.  I found it interesting that I rejected some of the more imaginative ideas in favor of something closer to traditional. Once I chose the theme, it only took a morning to assemble the elements and sketch it out on regular copy paper with a pencil.  Then the scanning and digital rebuilding begins.  I filled in the color and made about a million changes to balance the colors. I added a filter that I think worked very well, once again this was after trying half a dozen other filters. Finally I decided after looking at it overnight that the background on the right was wrong.  So I recovered the original sketch I'd done about 7 years ago and worked that in.  It was perfect.  I added the colors and then put in some new patches of fence... and it was done.  I think my favorite discovery with this piece was adding the sky and clouds. I used an older clouds file from another painting. That's one reason I love photoshop so much... you don't have to reinvent the wheel every day.   Fri, 21 Jun 2013 20:34:00 +0100 1950's Retro - Digital style  This new book I am illustrating is a fun story set in New York's Central Park Zoo, written by Steve Metzger, published by Tiger Tales.   The real challenge to this project is trying to find a new synthesis of a retro 1950's style and a contemporary digital style.     The art is based on pen brushed line, done on textured watercolor paper.  The colors are bright and bold... with patterns and textures done in photoshop.  I first looked carefully through the amazing artists of the 1950's, whose work seems very much akin to this current age.     I was looking through magazines from the 1950's and found some amazing samples of Alice and Martin Provensen's illustration work from the 1950's.  It still looks very contemporary.  Maybe that's because 1950's design seems so similar to our own decade... or maybe it's just a timeless classic.  Of course they didn't get to use digital tools to embellish their amazing designs, but I guess their work will last the ages.   Some of the hallmarks of the graphic style might be thought to have iconic simplicity, overprinted color areas and simplified color backgrounds isolated by white space.  I tried to get some of that same look, along with an added contemporary cartoon edge.  I hope I've succeeded.   The parallels between 2010 and 1950 seem clear.  The last time I dropped by Crate & Barrel I was equally impressed at how the home furnishings of today seem steeped in 1950's design. I was watching the 1950's classic movie 'Monkey Business' and was astonished at how the styles of clothes, glasses and furniture seemed identical to styles of today.  Maybe it's sunspots... or just history repeating itself.  Maybe it's because people are nostalgic for the simpler, happier times of the 1950's, when life seemed so much easier to figure out and times were good.   Fri, 21 Jun 2013 20:32:14 +0100 Cromwell Dixon's Sky-Cycle My new book from G.P. Putnams has received only fabulous reviews. It's almost odd that every reviewer has seemed to think it's wonderfully written and illustrated. I made up a dedicated website for the book (with some of the reviews) at Cromwell Dixon’s Sky-Cycle is the amazing true story of America’s forgotten ‘Boy Aeronaut’, who actually built and flew his own flying bicycle over the skyscrapers of Columbus, Ohio in 1907. It’s a true story of adventure, determination, courage and perseverance. Cromwell Dixon was the original ‘Balloon Boy’. 1907 was an amazing age of new invention in America. For the first time in history people were flying and even building flying machines in their own backyards. This fascinating true tale of aeronautical adventure will captivate readers. Cromwell Dixon’s Sky-Cycle is written and illustrated by John Abbott Nez. This book is a real adventure book, filled with illustrations of amazing home-made inventions built in Cromwell Dixon’s workshop that capture the spirit of the times of 1907. Fri, 21 Jun 2013 18:02:40 +0100 Ho! Ho! Ho! - it's a digital Holiday Season  The blog for my new book is finally ready... after waiting for the appropriate holiday shopping weather to arrive. This book is 'The 12 Days of Christmas in Washington' and it's published by Sterling Books.  The writing has had excellent reviews and the artwork was fun to create.   Washington state residents will recognize the many local landmarks right off. I greatly enjoyed writing and illustrating this colorful book. It's full of fun scenes in Pike Place Market, Mt. Rainier, Downtown Seattle, Puget Sound, Tacoma, Winthrop, Leavenworth and Spokane. (all my favorite places). This book will no doubt be appearing beneath many an evergreen tree this Holiday season!  I'll be appearing myself at local bookstores and even at Costco to sign copies. Wed, 15 May 2013 14:56:24 +0100 The finish proofs... perfection! Creating the artwork and writing to 'The Twelve Days of Christmas in Washington' was a complicated process.  But it's finally all come together.  Last week I received the printer's proofs to the pages, which I had created using pencil lines scanned and photoshop for color. It was unlike any book I'd done before, owing to the rich color depth and scanned textures which I assembled in photoshop.  I'd never done anything quite like it before.  My Mac Pro was indispensible in quickly opening half a dozen huge files at a time. I often wondered if the print outcome would work with the many new techniques I tried. At times making the paintings seemed almost symphonic, the colors obtained seemed so rich, deep and textured. But I'm happy to report that the printed colors were exactly as I'd hoped. Even details the size of a dandruff speck were matched on paper. It is a joy to spend hours just soaking up the details of every digital brushstroke which previously had only existed only on the computer screen.  The writing was another challenge, since the tast was to match the diverse locations throughout the state of Washington and boil it all down into 150 word pages.  No easy task!  But I think it all came out admirably.     Mon, 13 Jun 2011 12:23:58 +0100 The 12 Days of Christmas in Washington I've been having almost too much fun working on a new book for Sterling Publishing.  The title of the book is 'The 12 Days of Christmas in Washington', a very fun travel book.  The joy of this new approach to artwork has been to explore the possibilities of merging real paint and digital paints.  My new Mac Pro has been key in this project, since the amount of computing required was beyond my previous machine.  Digital art is challenging... it makes an artist think in new ways. The writing was challenging but fun.  I had to create a puzzle where all the elements fit into a storyline that takes the reader on a trip around Washington state.  It was much more challenging than I originally thought. Doing the digital art was challenging as well.  As it felt like I was creating color depths that I'd never been able to capture with just acrylic paints. Digital art can be novel, at least it is for me. There are things that which become possible which I've never been able to do with real paints.  Digital art is problem solving... it requires new learning curves and improvising new solutions. The discovery of various paint brushes and pioneering a new technique has been wonderful.  I can control every aspect of the image... the line color, the texture, the color, shading and surface texture.  Just as when working with real paints, the issues of defining borders and establishing color areas is where difficulties often arise.  Digital art is amazing, at least it is for me. If I'm really lucky it sometimes almost seems like it's painting itself. Digital art is only as good as the artist who dreams it up though. The same basic rules of composition, proportion and artistic discretion apply.  Digital art is fun! Artists do like to have fun. Digital art can be addictive... especially when coloring in the afternoon and listening to Ravel simultaneously. Fri, 18 Feb 2011 13:14:06 +0000