March 29, 2013

Decide, decide, choose and decide...

Struggling with decisions? I think that's about all I do all day long as an illustrator. Decide, decide, choose and decide. But I've perfected the art - with the help of Photoshop and Indesign. All day long I switch back and forth between Indesign and Photoshop... checking the latest version of a drawing to see how it looks from Photoshop to Indesign.

Somehow the distance of placing the drawing into Indesign helps give me 'new eyes' when I look at the drawing. It also is a huge help to see it next to the text. It really helps to come upon the drawing almost by accident, like 20 minutes later. And often I copy a layer with 'command + J' on an indecisive drawing. That way I can change back to the previous version after a day. Decisions, decisions, decisions. I guess when I don't have to change anything, then I'm done. lol!

I'd guess I've changed at least 150 drawings today.

March 28, 2013

A fun new book...

The Marshmallow Man - a fun new book with lots of design challenges.  It's a story about two brothers who go to the state fair and get into a bit of sticky mess.

March 21, 2013

Next Big Thing Blog Tour - John Nez

1) What is the working title of your next book?

I have two new paper books in progress, but today I'm featuring my latest interactive e-book apps that I published recently.

I'm the actor, writer, producer and director. I do the set-design, lighting, costumes, makeup, stunts, choreography and special effects. I'm also the cameraman, technical wizard, animator and I make the coffee.

If I hadn't already made more than 50 printed books I'd never have known how to make these electronic gizmos. They were awfully fun to make since I was completely in charge of everything.

An undersea page with dozens of interactive elements - including a hidden treasure and a whale!
3) What genre does your book fall under?

'Mousey the Explorer' and 'Piggles Goes to School' are interactive ebook apps.  They are totally different from a flat ebooks, where the only action is turning the pages and narration. An ebook app is a multi-dimensional structure that relies more on interaction than on a progressive plot dimension.

A first sketch of the clubhouse page.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Charlie Chaplin inspired Mousey in a roundabout way. The book started out as a mystery story with a very distinguished dour mouse character. Anyhow, one thing led to another. I axed the mystery idea... and it turned into an explorer book instead.

Believe me, there is no structured rhyme or reason to creativity. One thing leads to another in an unpredictable way. That's why it's important to just do it and see what happens.

I love books and documentaries about faraway places... probably because in real life I never go anywhere. So maybe that's why it's an exploration book app.

Available from Interactive Touch Books.
See the YouTube app trailer here.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I acted the parts myself using GarageBand and a USB microphone. It was tons of fun! The trick is to transform the voice from my regular non-descript voice into the high pitched squeaky voice of Mousey. Since I'm a natural born geek it wasn't too hard to figure out a filter that worked fairly well.

All these technical skills enable some sophisticated app concepts. The complexity of the medium shouldn't be underestimated. I'm still not sure if the monetization is worth the effort though. I'm also learning Kwik2, which allows creating apps through Photoshop.

I still like paper books the best though. They too have their own magic and they seem to pay a lot more.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Mousey explores his way around the world to visit jungles, oceans, the arctic, outer space and solves lots of interactive puzzles on his way there.

6) Who is publishing your book? and Apple. I am my own publisher in that respect.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Three days. The thing about an interactive ebook is that the final writing happens last. This is similar to writing the script for a book trailer on Youtube. The images comes first and the words fit best afterwards.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It's always good not to compare, in my experience.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Jenny Harris, Charlie Chaplin and Stuart Little.

This shows the process of apps from rough sketch to published book online.
Available from Interactive Touch Books.
See the YouTube app trailer here.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

They might like the clubhouse page, where Mousey has to choose his gear for exploring.

Or they might like the jigsaw puzzle page, where Mousey asks the reader to put together jigsaw puzzles.

Or they might like the coloring book page, where Mousey colors in the adventures he's been on.

The Piggles app has lots of fun puzzles too. There's a witch to contend with, a goblin under a bridge, a pirate, a dragon and a UFO filled with fun aliens. Lots of fun.

The Next Big Thing Blog Tour continues next week on March 28th with Susan Miller and Jane Dippold:

Susan Miller

Jane Dippold

March 6, 2013

Your coffee shop fix...

Here's a fun site...

It's a simple soundtrack of a coffee shop atmosphere. It's supposed to increase one's creativity. I like it. But we'll see if it lasts. I hope they make it into an app so it doesn't need to be online.

I couldn't live without coffee or without a daily trip to my coffee cafeteria. I'm sure I'm still living a socially deprived life, which is one of the hazards of freelancing in my experience. What do you all do on a daily basis to keep from going off the deep end from the ISOLATION?

The doctors tell us that isolation and sitting are the worst things for one's health. But that about sums up the life of a freelancer doesn't it?