Middle Grade Character Studies



I was recently working on some character studies geared towards middle grade. The characters were *almost* 12 years old.

I’ve mostly worked on younger Picture Book age characters before, so there was some testing to do. In the image below, you will see my three rounds of sketches for the main character. The sketch on the right was the first one. She looks a little too old – about 16. The sketch on the left was my second attempt. She looks a little too young – about 7 years old. The one on the middle was my third attempt. She is just right – *almost* 12.

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Illustration Friday Farewell



Penelope Dullaghan has decided to leave Illustration Friday. It is sad to see her go but I’m excited to see what she does next! She created a fantastic community where so many of us illustrators started getting the courage to show work. I was one of them :)

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Storybook Brushes



A few months ago, I received an email from Maria Bogade inviting me to be part of a small group of children’s illustrators. The idea was to join forces and make quarterly mailers. Our first assignment? A fairy tale, 12-month calendar where each one of us would illustrate 3 months of the year.

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Rendez Zoo



Illustrations for Rendez Zoo

Last Saturday, the Phoenix Zoo held it’s Second Annual Rendez Zoo. By supporting the event you help sustain the Zoo’s conservation efforts, contribute to the care of the animals, and assure the Zoo will continue offering educational programs.

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Ceviche for “They Draw and Cook”



Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell started the blog “They Draw and Cook” a while back. There, illustrators submitted recipes that they felt like sharing. And although I hardly ever cook, I loved the idea of illustrating a Peruvian recipe so I picked my recipe immediately. Last week, I made time to start and finish the color illustration and type. Mainly because the deadline for submissions was October 10th.

My recipe: Peruvian Ceviche
| Click on images to enlarge the illustrations |

An interesting aspect of the project is that I tried to use Mochica iconography throughout the piece. The pre-Inca culture had one of the richest and most elaborate iconography of all of the Pre-Inca and Inca Civilizations. You may have read about the Lord of Sipan. If that’s the case, then you have seen the Mochica Civilization and the wonderful jewelry, pottery and iconography that they made. My mom’s side of the family came from Trujillo (province of La Libertad in Peru) one of the areas where the Mochicas flourished many, many years ago. Needless to say the piece has a lot of meaning to me and the research was a LOT of fun.

And don’t forget to stop by Nate & Salli’s blog to see more of the fun recipes other illustrators have created: theydrawandcook.com

————
UPDATE: And something I forgot to mention is that “They Draw and Cook” will be a book. There will be 100 recipes in the printed version. I’ll post something later once the book is ready so you can buy your copies. I certainly will.

Peruvian Ceviche - They Draw and Cook

Peruvian Ceviche - They Draw and Cook | Illustration

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New Directions – AKA Transportation



These last couple of months I’ve found a new direction to my work. I have looked back to my culture and ethnicity. With this I hope to bring a more meaningful body of work. There will be exploration, successes and failures. It’s how it should be and I’ll share as I explore.

Now, this week’s Illustration Friday coincides with a piece I just finished – Llama Ride. I painted this personal piece for the Call to Hispanic/Latinos Multicultural PB Artists I posted yesterday.

Hope you enjoy the piece :D

Llama Ride

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IF – Dip



From “Lellie the Different Elephant” coming this Summer :)

Lellie's dip

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Of How Juana Celebrated Fans



Many personal traits may question my mental sanity. If numbers are involved, then the answer becomes clear to people: Juana is nuts! I can say to my defense: I’m not crazy, I’m precise. And the hubs can attest to that.

So 2 weeks ago I jumped on the bandwagon, followed the trends and opened a FB Fan Page. I know what you are thinking and I can assure you that these two paragraphs will connect. Bear with me. Opening the FB Page was not an egotistical move. It was all about networking. I can confess the sole thought of creating the page sent cold chills down my spine. 14 hours of chills later I clicked on “Make Page Public” and I had Juana Martinez-Neal – Illustrator Facebook Fan Page.

I stepped up to the plate and sent my invitations, emailed my suggestions, twitted my tweets, and status updated my LinkedIn to let people know that I had a FB Page. It was official and I preferred facing the embarrassment of self-promotion through all my networking avenues than to have my FB Page with 3 fans – one of which was the hubs.

Seeing the number go up was exciting. It really was. Again, we are talking numbers here. Did you see the pattern? In my excitement, I set a goal… 150. Why 150? I dunno but it did sound precise enough to my standards. 150 it was. When we (me and my work) hit 150 FB Fans we were going to celebrate. So here I am to officially announce you that it happened yesterday!

— This illustration is to celebrate YOU, all of YOU who support and cheer me on and my work. To all of my 150 and all of YOU reading me now: Thank you, Danke, Gracias, Obrigado, Toda raba, Terima Kasih, Xie_Xie, Nandri, Gràcies and in all of the other languages that you can imagine. It means the world. —

A little inside on how this piece happened below and the commercial break at the very end with a FB “Become a Fan” link. If I’ve got this far, I may just bluntly ask for more fans.

Let me know what you think of this article, of the new site, of me actually *writing* a post. Your comments feed my blog! And don’t forget to click on the images so you can see them closer.

We are *CELEBRATING* 150 FB Fans!

THE PROCESS

I thought this piece may help me show my working and thought process. Hope you enjoy it! Remember to click on the images so you can see them bigger.

I normally start with a very general idea of what I want. In this case, I wanted a “150” so I started with the numbers and continued by adding characters. The more the merrier.

the initial 150

As I was working, I knew I wanted to have me in there so I drew myself in a different paper. More often than I’d like I run out of room.
*Hint: look 4 and 5 photos down and you’ll see how I had to masking tape my legs to the rest of my body*

that's me :D

Do you think everything is really planned ahead of time? Wrong! In the middle of my sketching my 4.5 year-old stomped in the room with a Lucha Libre hat on and his knight, silver fabric boots. He was in!

My sweet boy

Well, it looked good in my head and placing paper after paper on top of each other but I really wanted a fox.

the fox and some add-ons

Here are all of the illustrations together. I kept adding pages as I felt I needed something else. I ended up with 7 sketched pieces of paper. And now what?

Lots of illustrations for one big Celebration
How should I do this?

I scanned everything in Photoshop and saved all at 300dpi as psd files. You can see them here.

All in my HD.

Once everything was scanned, I created a larger canvas for my file where I added a layer for each illustration or element as I saw fit. I rely a lot on masks and use the multiply type layer quite often when I work.

All files in one big psd file

In Photoshop I played with sizes and moved elements around. But something was missing and I was feeling a disconnection in between the elements. So I did a print out in an 8.5″x11″ and sketched what I felt was needed.

Almost done but there's corrections...

Then sketched, scanned, saved as different files and added to my main psd file. And I was done!

We are *Ta da!

And here a couple of girlies that didn’t make it in the illustration but still say thank YOU. They were actually the first 2 sketches that I got done.

Thank You!

No, really... thank YOU

COMMERCIAL BREAK

And if you are still with me, if you are not an official fan yet and if you don’t mind my bluntness, here’s the link to *My* FB Page.

Become a Fan

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IF – Packed



Blankie and all here I go!

Lellie escapes to Wildflower Field

IF – Island



Lellie - Island
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