Archive for November, 2011

Nov 23 2011

Credit card apps follow-up: the stress-test!

Published by under reviews,tools & tech

This is an addendum to my lengthy review of the Square and Intuit GoPayment credit card processing apps. I have now used both apps and card readers under a heavy-use and, as it turns out, a poor-signal scenario. I processed over a hundred credit card sales on my phone at the NCTE annual convention last weekend, and here are the results.

In short: Intuit won, because Square choked on a weak signal.

I started out with Square, and the first two transactions worked fine, although they were a little slow because the exhibit hall was IN A BASEMENT (what were they thinking???). I had 1-2 bars of cell, and most of the time no 3G. So anyway, on the third transaction, the Square app froze at the receipt screen (wouldn’t allow any text input), and I had to cancel out the sale and do it on Intuit’s app. This happened again on the next transaction, and that was it for Square. In better signal conditions I expect Square works fine, but not in a basement. Intuit kept working like a champ, so Intuit got all my business last weekend.

Plus, as I mentioned, Intuit lets you set up item prices, so it does the math for you and generates an itemized receipt.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Nov 23 2011

NCTE 2011 recap

A huge thanks to all the great attendees of NCTE 2011 in Chicago last weekend. It was a wonderful show. I sold lots of books, got incredible feedback, and had great conversations with lots of smart, passionate educators, authors, and publishing folks.

If anyone is reading this who took pictures with me, please send me a copy or a link. Also, if you or anyone you know bought a copy of Gifts From the Gods, please check it and make sure it’s signed and personalized correctly. A few people left signed & personalized copies at the table by accident (and presumably walked off with unsigned copies). I’d love to get these books to their intended recipients.

Thanks! More Romeo and Juliet samples coming soon.

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Nov 17 2011

Romeo 3D

Published by under romeo and juliet,shakespeare

I thought it would be interesting to see if sculpting a few of my main characters in 3D would improve my ability to draw their likeness easily and consistently. I built a low-poly 3D base head and used Mudbox to sculpt the details. Obviously I didn’t take it to a fully-finished level, especially the hair, but this is more or less what Romeo looks like.

The jury’s still out on whether this was useful or not, but it was kind of fun anyway, and makes me feel just a little less out of the loop as far as 3D graphics.

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Nov 15 2011

Hamming it up with Hamlet

Published by under shakespeare,sketchbook

I did this micro-adaptation of Hamlet for a bookstore mailer a few years ago, and thought I should share it here.

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Nov 13 2011

NY Sketchbook backlog

Published by under sketchbook

Yesterday I had a brunch with a bunch of Otherworld folks, after which I was planning to head over to draw at the open house at Dalvero Academy, which is run by friends and fellow Dave Passalacqua disciples Ronnie and Margaret. However, the trains were somewhat messed up, and the brunch ran late, and when I got outside I found myself standing at the edge of Central Park with the last brilliant pre-sunset light making the fall foliage (yes, we get that here) glow with brilliant colors, and I thought, sorry Ronnie, I’m just going to sit down and draw this.

Then I went home and scanned a bunch of stuff from this sketchbook — which, as it happens, I started right after moving to NY, and which contains a few nice sketches I don’t think I’ve shared yet. First, there’s The Cloisters:

And two views of the trees and gate house at Fort Tryon Park:

Then the crowd at a Weepies concert we went to:

Then some sketches from the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met:


And finally a couple of sketches from the African exhibit I went to around the same time (it appears this is still up through January).

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Nov 09 2011

Gifts From the Gods – process

Here’s the process post I promised for Gifts From the Gods. This process is an evolution of the techniques I used for The Odyssey.

First I read through the text a few times, then started doing some rough sketches on paper. At the same time, I was discussing the page dimensions, typography, and other design factors with my designer at Houghton — in this case, the extremely talented Scott Magoon. Once we nailed down some of that stuff, I scanned my sketches and started experimenting with the page layouts.

I also made sketches directly in InDesign, using the vector pencil tool, as you can see in the right-most panel.

When the rough layouts were edited and approved, I printed each page in very light blue on cheap drawing paper and did a pencil drawing over it. I scanned that back in and removed the blue lines (using the “black and white” filter in Photoshop), darkened the lines to a truer black, and made any necessary edits to the drawing.

In some cases, I “test-colored” the drawings in Photoshop, so that I could play around with the colors a bit before using watercolor.

I enlarged and printed out the darkened-and-corrected pencil drawings on a piece of 140lb. cold-press watercolor paper, using my Epson Stylus 2200 printer, which prints up to 13×19″ and uses ink that is waterproof under most conditions. Actually, it kind of repels water, so I often have to go over each stroke twice to get the paint to cover the linework. I painted the art with watercolors, scanned it back in, and made any additional corrections — for example, I decided later to remove Achilles’ helmet, since he was bare-headed in the previous battle scenes.

Lastly, I had lots of fun creating the decorative borders at the beginning of each story. The linework for these was drawn directly in InDesign and cloned for symmetry. Again I printed them out on watercolor paper, and I painted them with acrylic. I composited the faux-stone painted texture behind the borders using Photoshop, because I didn’t want to accidentally splatter paint over the border art.

That’s it! Sorry, I didn’t take any videos this time — but I AM taking videos of Romeo & Juliet as I go along, and I will start posting a few tidbits from that soon.

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Nov 05 2011

Teen Read Week (better late than never)

Published by under press,Uncategorized

Wow, I’ve been so busy, I think I forget to advertise that I was the featured artist for YALSA’s Teen Read Week materials this year. I did a painting for them which is on the official Teen Read Week poster (pictured), bookmarks, and other swag (available in their store). They also interviewed me here.

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