The 9 Secret Steps To Drawing The “Kooky” Illustration

posted in: Art Process, Blog, How To | 0

I documented my work process from start to finish for my illustration “Kooky”. This was drawn for an illustrarticle called “The #1 Secret Ingredient For Baking Delicious Cookies

"Kooky" - Buy Print
“Kooky” – Buy Print

Step 1
Before starting the illustration, I wrote the story “The #1 Secret Ingredient For Baking Delicious Cookies“. These are my initial notes in my tiny moleskine sketchbook that goes everywhere I go. After these notes, I write the complete story on my laptop. Then I edit, edit, edit.

Step 2
I sketched some thumbnails of what the illustration might look like. Since the #1 Secret Ingredient is amazing, the illustration had to be, too. So I chose the last thumbnail and added circles that would later be painted as a bokeh background. Bokeh is a photography term. I love photography and it’s in my background. So naturally, it influences my illustration work.

Step 3
The thumbnail was then redrawn with more detail, on a larger piece of plain paper. This is the sheet that is sandwiched between my lightbox and a sheet of watercolor paper. I turn on the lightbox and start to lightly trace the main lines on the watercolor paper, with watercolor. It’s all freehand-permanent-no-going-back from here so it has to be perfect. I’ve had to redraw and repaint entire illustrations before, if they didn’t turn out like I’d imagined.

Step 4
And when I started working on the final piece, I started thinking of even more ideas to play with. No more lightbox from this step, forward. So, then this goat made an appearance. And a car. The planet Saturn. A shoe. You know, all those things you’d normally find in a delicious cookie.

Step 5
Color! Here, started to color the smoke/steam and the new cookie ingredients. I usually do a few color tests on separate sheets of paper to determine which colors will work with the illustration.

Step 6
Here, I inked the hand and the cookie. And after I painted the background and some bokeh, I decided that the smoke/steam needs to be toned down. Since the story is not “The #1 Secret Ingredient For Making Amazing Smoke,” I painted over most of it.

Step 7
Then, I painted the steam/smoke with a few highlights using acrylic. Now the focus is more on the cookie/bokeh/awesomeness instead of the smoke.

Step 8
Illustration is complete! Yes, total completion deserves its own step. You can see the color layers I added to the smoke, through which some bokeh can still be seen.

Step 9
I was just kidding about total completion. This work process isn’t complete without this step: Put your Kooky where your mouth is!

The story is not far from how I bake cookies… I don’t usually attempt cooking fancy stuff, and stay in the pre-mixed items safe zone. So, one of the recipes I like to do is from the back of Betty Crocker’s Sugar Cookie Mix.

You could use another brand, I guess. But I’ve only tried Betty Crocker’s. I thought it would be good to add white chocolate chips and dried cranberries into the dry mix because I’m adventurous like that. Add 1 cup of each of those, and then add the 1 egg and 1 stick of softened butter that that sugar cookie mix asks for. Mix everything together to make the batter.

Then, after I bake the cookies like a crazy person, I let them cool for a just a couple minutes. Stick them into a ziplock bag or airtight container right after that, so that the steam stops escaping the cookies. That keeps the cookies soft.

I’ve made these White Chocolate & Cranberry kookies for my friends and coworkers a couple times, and they keep asking for more because “these cookies taste like cheesecake.” Since I don’t want to quit illustration to become a cookie-mix baker, I’ve written my recipe here because with practice, anyone can make these into their own recipe.

Now go out there and make some of your own kookies, you daredevil, you 8)

Hear, See, and Speak Like A Crow in 2014

posted in: Blog, How To | 0


This New Year, I look forward to doing a lot of things. In order to stay on track with my goals, I’ve narrowed down my resolutions to these 3 basic principles. They are illustrated in my “Hear, See, Speak” crows illustration, that I created back in 2009 as a twist on the old “Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil” monkeys. To Hear, See, Speak more still stands true, and in this exact order.


Resolution #1: Hear more

– Listen to more music! I’ve already started on this a few years ago by trying to be more open and appreciative to different kinds of music. My favorite types of music have always been and still are classic rock and alternative rock. But 2012 was all about dubstep. 2013 has been mostly about Miley Cyrus. 2014 might just be Justin Timberlake. However, I can pretty much guarantee that I still can’t enjoy country music ๐Ÿ˜€

– Hear people’s stories, if they’re willing to share them. In order to hear better stories, ask open-ended questions. Who, what, where, when, why, and how – these type of questions are open-ended, where there is no “Yes” or “No” answer. Questions like, “So, did you drive or walk home?” are judging and limiting, and instantly create a disagreement with an answer like, “No, I somersaulted home.”


Resolution #2: See more

– Notice more good and beauty in yourself, other people, things, and events. In some of my experience, it’s been very hard to do but always worth trying. Spend less time focusing on imperfections, and focus more on the good traits. Often, even the bad traits are not really bad traits, but traits that are misused or the energy from those traits is misdirected.

– See more places. Go somewhere you’ve never been before. My goal this year is to visit a state I haven’t been to, yet. I’ve been dreaming of visiting San Francisco and California for a long time and will be making this dream my reality this year. The main reason I haven’t been able to go is because I didn’t have enough money. But once I made travel my focus, I saved up enough pretty quickly. And when I do go, I’ll be sure to write all about how I somersaulted my way there!


Resolution #3: Speak more

– For someone who doesn’t speak much in person, I do enjoy words a lot. Maybe you don’t speak out loud as much, but you write. Or you do any of these: sing, act, play guitar, dance, draw, photograph, video, program, play basketball, breathe. Your actions speak louder than words, so your contributions to the world ARE your voice. Since discovering my own voice, through drawing and writing, I’ve gotten even more opportunities to speak.

– With my artwork, this blog, and with IllustrArticles – I speak out my stories, ideas, and passions. In 2014, I choose to focus on this even more. Most of my life I’ve felt like something is wrong with me: “Why don’t I talk more? Do the people around me think I’m really creepy or stuck-up if I don’t say much? Why don’t I participate more in group discussions?” And then I write a giant blog post like this (and this final post isn’t even half of the length that the draft was.) This is an example of how to see the energy of a seemingly bad personality trait that was misdirected.


The result: Feel more

The point of actually practicing my Hear, See, Speak ideals is that I feel more happy, calm, and at peace. It’s harder for things to get me down or to annoy me. And I hope that by sharing my goals and experiences, it helps the people who want to develop these skills, too.

Truth be told: you can hear, see, and speak more clearly through rose-colored ribbons. So whether you’re sozzled or snoozing as the clocks strike midnight, I hope your 2014 is happy!