MerryDay Goes to School Week 3 assignment : children's book illustration


So we have come to week 3 of Make Art That Sells class already! There are 5 weeks altogether and everybody began to say how much they would miss this class after the school ended and already talked about doing our own weekly assignments after that which I would definitely be in! :D The class weekly schedule (mini exercise on Monday, main assignment on Wednesday and deadline by Sunday) is really effective and it would be a good strategy to succeed whatever we dream of if we can make it into a habit :)

In week 3 we focused on the most anticipating turn-out-to-be-so-tough subject, children's book illustration. I love beautiful books and have been collecting children's picture books for some years already. I actually have a facebook page sharing lovely books I collect. So this topic really excited me.

The lesson began with introduction to children's book market. The main focus was on characters realization. A picture book wouldn't be attractive to readers if it lacked charming characters. Here came the mini exercise on Monday. I had expected to have some kind of animal-drawing practice but never thought of drawing snails. It really surprised me (and other students). But snails we drew and a lot!


It's interesting that all the snails we drew were in cuteness direction. We actually had a hint of what would be the main assignment with Monday's other mini exercise, to do hand lettering of 'The Snail and the Rose Tree'. Still, I was a bit stunned when I read the story of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snail and the Rose Tree. The main assignment was to design and illustrate a book cover or inside spread of the story.

I was stunned as the story was quite gloomy and seemed too philosophical to understand at my first read. It took me a deep breath then rereading to actually grab the sense of the whole story. The whole cuteness of snail was changed into grumpy and moody one. Luckily, we were allowed to do whatever we interpreted. So I focused on the rose tree's happiness instead.


I said this turned out to be so tough as I had never illustrated a complete illustration with settings, characters, background details before. I got stuck with the tree sketch and just didn't know how to go from there. At the time, other students already started sharing their works in progress and they really intimidated me. I spent a night agitated with my single sketch but luckily I woke up the next morning with fresh energy and was able to continue on my own work :D

I remember once I talked with my friend who had already been a children's book illustrator that I would want to practice drawing more of background details. So I took this opportunity to draw as much as details as I could. Click on the first image above to see the details on flickr.

This assignment is very challenging for me as although I did a lot of book covers, I never did inside spread of children's book before. It's very hard to tell the story and draw little details. I think you can tell how proud I am when I can finally complete it :)


What I have learned from this week's assignment :

• Don't compare your work with other's. This is a general rule in artists' lives. We know we shouldn't but sometimes we just can't help ourselves comparing. Just admit to yourself that it's natural and go on with your work.

• Be persistent. I thought the tree sketch would never work but deep in my mind I felt that it could. So I persisted. I realized after that that it's just a matter of adding and tweaking things around. You just have to have some endurance working extra hours :)


I think my moody snail and the overall spread could have been developed more if I had more time. But for now, it's good enough and I'm really happy about it :)

That's the end of my week 3. This week, week 4, is about Wall Art. We get to do abstract art which I have never done before. Excited already! :D

Thank you for coming. I hope my class progress could inspire you in some ways. Have a merry day :)


Sunday Break


Merry Sunday! I have just submitted my homework for Make Art That Sells week 3. This week is very tough. It's to design/illustrate a book cover or spread for Hans Christian Andersen's The Snail and the Rose Tree. I struggled so much but glad I could make it. I will talk about it soon. Just need a break for today :)


MerryDay Goes to School : Week 2 assignment homedecor plate design

I intended to post my initial sketches for Make Art That Sells class' week 2 assignment first then write another full post for the final artwork. But I just got so involved with all the process that I decided to give it all my energy and blog about it later, which is now :).

I think I could say that last week's exercise is something like an eye opener to me. I did a lot of things I never pushed myself to do in the past. It's a lot of hard work and I felt so exhausted but relieved when I finally finished it.

In week 2 we learned about home decor. Lilla showed us lots of beautiful products and talked about why they were successful in the market. There were many items I never saw before and the idea of my artwork might have a chance to be produced just like those lovely items really excited me. I know though that that possibility depends on various factors, which some I cannot control like timing, competition, people's taste, the market etc. But I do believe in what Lilla always says in the class that you have to work hard, draw, draw and draw, keep improving your skill. I know from my past experience that it's the only thing that works.

For week 2 homework, we had to do plate design for home decor. We started with mini exercise of flower sketching. A simple and general subject we tend to draw first when have a pencil in our hands. This time we really looked into details and studied tiny lines, shapes and colors. I did several pages in pencil. This is one of them.

flowers pencil sketches

Then to follow Lilla's instruction of using different medium and go beyond our comfort zone, I tried  to push myself doing sketches in wet paint like acrylic here.

homework sketch with acrylic

I was not really comfortable with this paint at first. It was so hard for me to mix colors and have different shades other than the ones that already in the tubes. That's why you can see only red blue green here. I posted this photo in the class' facebook group and got a lot of encouragement to keep trying. So I did. This time I added water color paint.
homework sketch
I had no idea about painting techniques and decided not to care about that and just went with the flow. With computer turned off, no internet connection, no facebook, I really focused on my sketches and became more at ease and actually enjoyed my sketching :D

homework sketch

I did pages of water color and some of Copic markers. What attracted me most was the blue plant group in picture above (the left side). I really liked its colors and shapes and started to visualize in my head what my plate would look like.
Secret garden plate deign development
Since I'm not so good at painting traditional medium, I went back to my comfort zone, digital drawing. I drew in Illustrator but made it different than usual by adding some effects to make it look like hand drawn and painted. In picture above, the left design is my first version (you can look at the details by clicking at the photo). You can see that each flower (and plant) stays so close to each other and the group looks uncomfortable sitting on left side of the plate. So I spread them out, gave each flower some air and worked with different border. The idea was to make it lighter and more airy.

secret garden plate design detail

Then I added some story with my little bunny admiring flower. I really loved the blue plant and it took some time to adjust the bunny's color to go with the blue. The bunny was supposed to be a bit sneaky while not too lost in the crowd of flowers, a very difficult part.

secret garden plate design detail

Final adding,  the bird and the dragonfly and a bit of decorating on border (See the first image).

secret garden plate design detail

The final artwork is not really what I expect at first. I thought I would do something in more graphic style and maybe more modern? The overall look of this final design is more traditional to me, with everything in border. No quirky elements as I wanted to do. But I love it anyway. I feel it has gone through a lot of well-thought steps that I pushed myself to do. I would have gone with the first cluttered design with no bunny, bird and dragonfly as I began to get tired after long hours of drawing. But the facebook group really pushed me forward. The students there were so full of energy and did a lot of wonderful designs. I looked at my work and thought that it could be improved more so I added more hours of working and it turned out to be what I'm so proud of here :)

What I have learned from this class so far :

• Hand drawn and painted in sketching is a very important step.  You will get a better sense of lines and colors than doing it digitally.

• Work on details a lot. tiny lines and shapes really add charm on final artwork :)

• Try to add some story, animals, settings, moods etc. Think about it as picture book.

• Don't give up just because you are tired. If still have time, take some rest, do something else, come back with fresh eyes, new ideas may come :)

That's it! Week 2 has ended and I'm starting week 3 now with the topic of children's book. Most exciting! :D

Thanks for coming. It's a long post but I hope you enjoy my process and have a merry day!


MerryDay Goes to School : working desk

coloring desk

Still here... working, drawing, sketching and enjoying my class of Make Art That Sells so much! This week's assignment is designing a plate collection. I will post all my work process here as soon as I finish it :D

Have a merry day everyone :)


MerryDay Goes to School : week 1 assignment vintage kitchen pattern design


Here is the main assignment for Make Art That Sells week 1. The topic is designing vintage kitchen pattern. We spent time drawing and researching mushrooms and pyrex to warm up and then here comes this assignment.

I really enjoyed drawing these little things and realized how much I loved doing details. It seems that recently I tend to rush myself in doing each illustration that I didn't pay enough attention to making details. I should remind myself constantly that what I like to see in other people's work (details, interesting color palette and composition) should be in my work too :)

The class has been a great experience for me and it's only the first week! :D What I love most is facebook community there. Everyone is so eager to create and generous to share what inspires them. I'm glad I eliminated the feeling of competition just in time before other students started sharing their works. You cannot work well on your own way if you keep looking at and comparing with other great works. Without that feeling, I really enjoy doing my piece while letting myself be inspired by other's.

This final design came out just as I wanted it to be even though there's a point of repetition that I can't figure out how to do it properly yet but this could be learned along the way. I especially like my color palette which derived from one of my previous sketches.

mushroom sketch

The original sketch has fluorescent look of yellow, purple and pink. I managed to have the yellow and purple but couldn't make pink glow as I would like. This palette looks a bit different from what I did for MerryDay but I think it still conveys the feeling of happiness and merriment which is my main concept and I'm so happy with that :D

One of my friends said that this could look great as a scarf, the other said she would love to see it on kitchen wallpaper. There are all the possibilities to make my art into various kind of products and it excites me :D

But just like Lilla said 'great art is the best promotion'. I need to make my art great and this is a good time to learn and use my time wisely to make that happen :)

Thanks for stopping by. I will continue sharing my class progress here. Please come back. I'm so sorry that I couldn't reply your comments and visit back your blogs right away but I will do. I think you know I appreciate every comment :)







MerryDay goes to school week 1 : mushroom sketch homework

mushroom sketch

It's the third day of me going to school and still excited! On Monday Lilla kicked off the class very nicely with an introduction of bolt fabric market. I had known that illustration, graphic design and pattern design could be made into various kind of products but never took a serious look at this exact market before. In this first lesson we have learned about the general concept of the market, how to make successful design for fabric, how to look at colors and layout and style. How to see everything in big picture. All the possibilities to make things beautiful and sellable.

The Monday lesson ended with a mini-exercise for students to work which was to draw mushroom and casserole dish. This leads to the main assignment which is already provided today, to design vintage kitchen themed pattern for bolt fabric market.

This may look a bit intimidating especially when I look at other students' mini sketches. They are so good at their own technique and style.  But Lilla always says that this class is not a competition, we all come here to learn, so I try not to think about it too seriously. Relax and have fun, is what I said to myself while drawing and sketching these mushrooms.

I have already gathered some ideas for the main assignment. Have some color scheme in mind, hope I can pull it off. :D

mushroom sketch

mushroom sketch

mushroom sketch

mushroom sketch


MerryDay goes to school ♪

This is me preparing for school days
So, I have been away, trying to clear my work and figuring out how to work best on drawing new collection while promoting my shop at the same time. Unfortunately, a terrible artist's block just got in the way and slowed things down :(

But it's all gone now :D. What helps it is the fact that I'm going back to school! Not an actual one but an e-course called Make Art That Sells by Lilla Rogers. I think I learned about Lilla Rogers Studio via Kelly Rae Roberts' blog (another inspiring artist to follow) and have been following her since then. When Lilla announced this e-course, I was so thrilled and although I was a bit worried that the school's cost would be too high for me, I decided to jump in anyway. Just had a feeling that this would be a great part for my future :)

I have been thinking about my career for some time, for years actually. My work so far has been mostly about book, cover and layout design and some spot illustrations. It's not long before I discovered I enjoyed looking at all wonderful illustration on the web. I began to draw more everyday to improve my illustration skill until I found a style I thought I could call my own.

But it's really just a beginning. There's so much out there I need to learn. I read blogs and books and have just finished Lilla's I Just Like to Make Things, just in time before the class starts.

I just like to make thing - lilla rogers

The book is really easy to read and straightforward. I wish it had more details in each business and interviews. But, in all, Lilla answers most of the questions I have had in mind and I'm even more inspired and eager to learn more from the class :D

The school starts on June 3 which I think in any minutes now while I'm writing this. The school team is really wise to open a facebook group a couple of days before to let students get acquainted with each other. We are such a large group with different stages in art career but with one common thing--a passion to create. That makes the group so fun and inspiring.

I spent last weekend cleaning up my work desk and even cleared out my mood board, leaving blank space for new inspirations. I hope I will see improvement after the class and it should be fun to record my progress here on this blog.

So, MerryDay is going to school! Wish me luck :D


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