Roy and the Rhino for Kindle

Roy and the Rhino Kindle Fire It's been a minute since our last post, sorry for the delay. We're still here to keep you up to date on all the exciting happenings from headquarters. Well, we finally decided to enter the publishing world of the 21st century and produce a version of Roy and the Rhino for the e-reader/tablet market. Since we already have an established relationship with Amazon we will be initially releasing this for their Kindle line of e-readers (no offense to the ipad, Nook, etc...).

Because of overwhelming demand and to satisfy some personal needs, we decided it was time to give Roy and the Rhino some proper treatment and publish in full blazing color. I am in the process of working the images up in color and re-formatting them to fit the various Kindle screen dimensions. I had looked into the possibility of publishing this as an e-book awhile ago, but put it on the back burner because of some of the limitations with technology and a lack of understanding on my end. But now, armed with a little more knowledge and a better method for picture e-book publishing, I decided to give it another shot. I have some interesting info to share about this process and a whole lot more. Talk to you soon.

Winos for Rhinos

Great local fundraiser coming up in a few weeks. The 2nd annual Winos for Rhinos event hosted by the American Association of Zookeepers takes place Sunday August 18, from 4-7pm at Wine Bar Rocky River. Looks like there will be wine tastings, snacks, a silent auction, door prizes, music and more. The cost is $50 per person, with proceeds to benefit rhino sanctuaries in Africa, Asia, and Indonesia. Tickets are available online @ Eventbrite . 4C's Studio are donating a few rhino themed giveaways, and are planning on making a rare public appearance. Should be a nice evening for a very worthy cause. Here's your chance to start making a difference. Hope to see you there.

2013 Winos for Rhinos

Guardian Angels Do Exist!

Just stumbled upon another avoidable pedestrian traffic mishap. Luckily, it appears that everyone is going to be okay, hopefully they were only just a bit shaken. There seems to be an endless amount of these videos turning up lately with the advent of dash-cams in more and more vehicles. This might be good for video based media sites, but when I see this happen to unsuspecting innocent children, I have to admit, it makes me cringe.

Is it still possible in this day and age, an apparent loving guardian might possibly be the cause of serious injury or even the death of a loved one? I can't totally fault the lady for walking into moving traffic, she did look down the street in the direction traffic would be approaching, but there is no excuse for not looking both ways before crossing the street. As I've said before, you have to take full responsibility for your personal safety, and are risking it if you think all drivers are paying attention to you.

Children are our greatest asset and we should do everything to protect and arm them with the knowledge they will need as they traverse the auto populated landscape. I am tired of preaching about these obvious dangers. You know what to do!


Coloring is the New Meditation

Just found some interesting articles about the psychological benefits of coloring and have decided to share one of them here. I am aware of the use of art in therapy, but never considered coloring a existing picture to be a form of mental relaxation. I know it is calming for children and helps develop their eye hand coordination, but being able to naturally quiet the mind of an adult is very comforting to know. I guess the act of choosing your color and putting it to paper reconnects you to some part of your childhood that we just don't access anymore because of the on the go demands of modern living. I have mentioned before that Roy and the Rhino was originally going to be published in full color just the same as any typical children's age book, but somewhere along the way that all changed thanks to my nephew Eric. I remember being over my Dad's one day while he was babysitting my 2 year old nephew and talking about how we were going to pull this project off financially.

While we were discussing or arguing this, my nephew was keeping himself busy pointing to and identifying all the different animals and vehicles he could recognize and pronounce, from the fairly detailed storyboard book art hanging on the wall in the studio.

I was kind of half paying attention to him and it dawned on me that Eric was able to recognize all the images simply as uncolored outlines. A light bulb went off, and I jokingly said we should publish this as a coloring book, because it was obvious a child didn't need the book to be in full blazing technicolor to understand what was happening.

Sometimes you should keep your ideas to yourself and maybe express them in a different way because once I mentioned the coloring book idea there was no other way for my Dad, we had many a heated discussion about this and in the end this idea prevailed. I'm actually very happy about this decision because as soon as this does publish in color it will give someone the option to purchase the version they prefer.

Wow! it's amazing... what can't this book do. I am thrilled to find out that coloring has benefits for people of all ages, as well as all the other life enhancing values mentioned in earlier posts.  Now if we could only get this thing selling.

Coloring is the New Meditation.

Writing Inspiration

I was recently asked about the inspiration for "Roy and the Rhino", and how to be inspired to write for yourself. I decided to turn this over to my Dad for a little Q & A. Q: What inspired you to write this story and where did the inspiration come from?

A: The inspiration for the story came from a picture my son had sketched of a man being chased by a rhino through the forest, and the expressed desire to create a children's book eventually. The idea for the story came to me the next day while driving past a large electric generating plant on the way to work.

Q: How do you think the idea for the story came about so quick?

A: I was recently reading "The Dilbert Future-Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st Century" by Scott Adams, and it was mentioned that the brain may be a sort of receiver for ideas much like an antenna pulls radio signals out of the air. If you get a chance you should read his book especially chapter 14 page 225, and maybe it will show you a different way to perceive reality and open your mind to the knowledge of the cosmos.

Wow! some pretty insightful thoughts to ponder. Well there you have, it seems that the image I drew sparked some sort of connection in his brain and the story was delivered fully formed. I clearly remember telling him about my idea to do a kids book one day when he was over visiting, and the next day him stopping by again to tell me he had a story figured out. In less than 24 hours we had a full story, characters, setting and all.

Self Publishing

I realized that I have yet to write on the topic of publishing, and after stumbling across a recent article about another big name publisher getting on board the self-publishing bandwagon, I decided now was as good a time as any to share some info, and tell our story.

I always envisioned Roy and the Rhino as a full color, hardcover book, published by one of the many 5th Avenue children's book publishing houses. Maybe I was a bit naive, or was possibly trying to feed my ego, thinking our book might be bought up by a big publisher, and sold to everyone that could read on the planet. To be fair that is how I thought the publishing world worked. I was going to submit a mock up (dummy) book, a couple tight renderings, and a manuscript to a bunch of publishers (or have an agent handle that, as I later learned), and try our luck that way. It was going to work, I just knew it.

Working with a partner has its share of ups and downs. Sharing the work load is a great benefit, and if you are doing something creative it is great to have some one to bounce ideas around with. Among the down sides of a partnership are the differing views that will likely arise, this project came with it's share of those. My Dad had a little experience in the pre-digital printing world, and always made a point to say, "One way or the other Roy and the Rhino will it make to print, even if that means hand printing and binding each book ourselves." I always cringed when he would get on this idea of mass producing a 40 page book by hand, but we were not even close to that stage of the game, so it really was just a way of staying optimistic.

I held on to the belief that we would go the traditional route and be published by the pros, but my Dad had it in his head to publish it on our own, and maintain control of the whole process. I honestly thought he was crazy, but just kind of played along while staying busy producing the art and story. I didn't realize how right this idea was until I started taking some art classes at night and decided to give a computer class a shot.

I have plenty more to share. See you next time.


Halloween Safety

Hey everyone, It's that fun and frightening time of year again. I just came across some scary stats that will spook you straight. It has long been warned that Halloween is the most dangerous night of the year for younger pedestrians. Data from the U.S. Government shows there were 115 pedestrians under the age of 18, killed on Halloween night between 1990 and 2010, an average of 5.5 deaths, compared to 2.6 on other days. It seems that the real danger out there is one that should be taught from the earliest age possible. Pedestrian Traffic Accidents are easily avoidable, this lesson should be instilled in a child as soon as they are able to recognize what an automobile, or a large crashing rhinoceros is.

I don't mean to be a downer, but these are the facts, I'm just reporting them. I hope every child and adult has a good time, and lives to trick or treat for years to come. Halloween can be hair-raising, but the real horror show happens November 6. Don't forget to vote! there is no telling how terrifying this election might get.


Anatomy for the Artist

Hello, thought I would share what the staff at 4C's Studio consider to be, the best book on Anatomy and Figure Drawing we have yet to come across. "Figure Drawing for All It's Worth" was written by Andrew Loomis, and initially published in 1943. After years of searching I finally have rediscovered this gem. When I decided to get more serious about art, the hunt was on for a agreeable book about rendering the figure. I've looked at, and bought a few over the years, but I could never find one that illustrated quite how to draw the basic stick figure/mannequin effectively. I had books that were either way to slick and stylized, or just showed life drawing approaches. I wanted a book that built the figure from the bottom up. My Dad had taught me a lot of drawing fundamentals since a early age, and would show me his approach to drawing the figure from imagination, starting with a skeletal frame (the hips and rib cage were crucial), then adding muscle etc... He said he had drawn the studies from a book loaned from the library in the 1970's, and it showed him the way. Of course he returned it, forgot to write the title down, and had been wracking his brain about this elusive mystery ever since. "I think it was yellow, and had a woman on the cover" he would try to recall,"Come on Dad, give me a little more to go on!", I would always insist, but nothing more was remembered. The investigation was on, I would always bring any newly discovered book to him for inspection, and hope for a "You've finally found it" response, but it never came. He went back to the library and combed, but never turned up anything. It was almost as if this book had disappeared from the face of the Earth, or had never existed at all, I often thought. Fast forward, one day while browsing some random art blogs, I come across this book that was being touted as an artist's must have. I started looking at the posted images, and instantly recognized this guys stick figures, Loomis...could it be?. I had been looking at this exact approach to figure drawing for quite awhile, as interpreted by my Dad, and was sure I had uncovered this elusive gem. I jumped on Amazon, did a search, and bought the book. The book arrived a few days later, I showed it to my Dad, and finally heard "That's it!". Case solved.

This book gets my highest recommendation, and has been mentioned by many talented artist's through the years. It is definitely a worthwhile investment, for beginners and pros alike. Loomis really breaks down the process of figure drawing in a way that is very approachable for all; he is an exceptional artist and an effective writer, he really knows how to get information across. Look for it, you will not be disappointed. Talk to you soon!

Pedestrian Traffic Accident

Hello, back with another exciting and ouch inducing post from everybody's favorite blog site. The video you are about to watch comes from the streets of our Russian friends. Apparently someone over there has yet to read "Roy and the Rhino", or they would have never carelessly walked into moving traffic. Let's take a look.

Thankfully this didn't appear to be too serious, and in all fairness it looks as though the couple did look both ways, but as I have said before you cannot count on drivers to always be paying attention to the road, especially with all the distractions that are around these days. I have to admit that we do not currently have a Russian language version of our book available yet, or any other non-English language for that matter, but we are looking to remedy that situation as soon as possible, and make it safe for pedestrians worldwide. Look Both Ways!

Clovis Point

Just came across an article about the recent discovery of stone spear points belonging to a culture believed to be older than the prehistoric Clovis culture of North America. These narrow-stemmed points are different than the graceful fluted Clovis points, and were shaped by different flaking techniques. The recent discoveries were uncovered from the Paisley Caves located on the east side of the Cascade Mountain Range in Paisley, Oregon. The points are carbon dated to 13,000 B.C. making them the oldest known human by-product in the Americas. These finds are important because it means there were         two cultures with distinct technologies (not one as previously thought) that shared the continent around the same time period.

In the fantasy part of Roy and the Rhino, I decided to place the action in a Stone Age location equal parts Asia and Americas. Our friend Leroy is a hunter and an obviously talented artisan-tool maker (not everyone has the skills to craft a spear point from rock).  On this fateful day our friend almost ends up going to the big hunting grounds in the sky, whilst caught not paying attention, strolling through the forest. Curious about how this unfolds? Stick around, I'm sure that eventually we will give up the entire story right here on this site, unless of course you can't wait and want to find things out for yourself, than I would run out to your nearest big name-online-book retailers, that is named after one of the largest rivers in the world, and order yourself a copy. Talk with you soon.

Rhino Rescue

I never realized this was how rhinos and other large mammals are relocated in the wild. This is a project that the conservation group Worldwide Wildlife Fund is involved in.  Check out this interesting article and video. They are doing some incredible work, hope it makes a difference.

Cleveland Hit and Run

I just stumbled across this video of a hit and run accident that happened recently on Public Square in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Warning! this might not be suitable for young children. Proceed with Caution.

OUCH!!!  I have been reading that the pedestrian who was hit has been treated and released from the hospital, only suffering bruises, soreness, and a torn ligament in the knee where the car struck him. The police are still seeking the identity of the driver. This accident should have been another pedestrian traffic fatality, but this guy was fortunate enough to have someone from beyond watching over him. Apparently he was just leaving the new Horseshoe Casino and had a few drinks that evening (If he had this kind of luck inside the casino, he is probably retired somewhere tropical right now). It is obvious from the video that the guy was not paying attention to traffic, he just walks right into the crosswalk like he is invincible, and that all cars will simply yield to pedestrians. You need to be aware of your surroundings at all time, and not assume everyone else is paying attention to you. This type of accident can be easily avoided. I doubt that this guy will ever forget to look both ways before crossing the street ever again, but if he had read Roy and the Rhino and the cautionary tale it tells, he could have saved himself the pain and suffering he is more than likely feeling right now. Spread the word!!!   Pedestrian traffic accidents are preventable!!!    Sorry my posting schedule has been a little erratic lately, I just finished a hectic schedule at school and am right in the middle of a move. I am getting back on track and will be posting more great info on a regular basis. Be back soon...

Rhino Art Chauvet Cave

Hi back again, I decided to share some info about the prehistoric paintings located in the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave located in southern France. These caves contain the earliest known cave paintings discovered so far. The paintings date to the Aurignacian era (30,000-32,000 years ago) and were discovered in 1994. Hundreds of animals have been depicted including horses, reindeer, cave lions, bears, owls, panthers, bison, and rhinos.

The Chauvet Cave walls are the canvas for the world's oldest known art work! It's pretty amazing when you think about it. The drawings are predominantly done in charcoal blended and shaded by hand just like today. There is a sense of composition and pictorial depth in the way the animals are intentionally overlapped and interspersed. The sophistication of these drawings is obvious when you consider their age.

The caves are not open to the public, in fact they have been sealed off with a solid door and are under 24 hour surveillance, only authorized persons who follow a set protocol are permitted to enter the caves for research purposes. Director Werner Herzog was granted privileged access to the caves and filmed and released  Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011) a 3D documentary about the Chauvet Cave art and it's inhabitants. I doubt if access will be granted for a Roy and the Rhino research project, so this movie might be as close as I get.

I wonder how these people found the time to create works of art when living in an environment filled with all the physical challenges and threats they encountered daily. I can picture them gathered around a fire at night using these images to tell stories of a woolly rhinoceros or two crashing through the forest, and of a hunter from the group that's not paying attention, almost being stampeded . Sounds like a good idea for a children's book.



Snail's Pace

Running a little behind over here at the moment, so here's a quick post while we work up the next epic full length blog. I recently made a connection with a blogger named Aputsiaq from Denmark who posts imagery about everything and anything snails (photos, art, books, etc...). She recently used a couple pictures from Roy and the Rhino that contain snail art, and kindly gave the book a mention also. The name of her site is S for Snail and it is definitely the place to go to get your fill of everything Mollusca Gastropoda. I dug up a couple snail studies sketched for the book and decided to include them here. Enjoy!

Printmaking Process 6

Hi, I know its been awhile, so I decided to continue with the Printmaking Process used for the cover of Roy and the Rhino. I was about to remove the rhinos ear in the previous post, and that's where I will pickup from. After removing the rhinos ear with the scraper and burnisher tools (what a process the whole time I worked on this plate I thought there has to be an easier method for correcting mistakes)  anyway after removing the ear I re-etched it and pulled another proof. I was satisfied with the results, the ear now looked like it belonged on a rhino not a rabbit. I just went through and reinforced some of the line work on this next proof and decided it was time to add a background to the image before I started a final fine tuning.

I had envisioned a background sky at dusk so the sky would have had a gradual gradation from dark at top to a bright sunset on the horizon. I was going to use an Aquatint to achieve this. Before I started I decided to try a test and see what a color background would look like. I took a couple of pieces of printmaking paper, made a paper mask, and airbrushed a back and foreground in. I was then going to print on top of this and get a rough idea of how a sky would look. I was so used to working in reverse that I made my mask backwards and didn't realize this until I was in the studio ready to print.

I have always been curious about how this would have turned out, and until now never thought to take a look. I opened the image in Photoshop flipped it horizontally and placed it on top of the image I was working on at that time. It would have been a lot easier to do this from the start, wish I would have thought of this earlier.

That's all for this week... back with more info shortly. One more thing before I signoff, we are strong supporters of pro ecology issues here at 4C's Studio and were just made aware of a recent issue Natural Resources Defense Council alerted us about. Some foreign owned mining companies want to dig one of the world's largest open-pit mines in the heart of the watershed that feeds Bristol Bay, Alaska. The world's largest sockeye salmon streams run through here and the effects of this mining could have devastating effects on the entire ecosystem of this area. They are going to mine for gold and copper, I mean seriously how much more damage are we going to do to this planet before we reach a tipping point and cannot undo all the damage we have done. Some people would have you believe that we can do whatever we want to the earth because God will put a band aid on it and make it all better, that is like comparing us to little babies, let's grow up and take some responsibility for this gift that was given to us. Anyway take a look at their site and help spread the message about these urgent problems. Thanks for looking.

Drawing Pictures

Hello again! Let's get back to where we left off. Because I created all of my art at 18"x 24" dimensions it was easier for me to do a full illustration in parts, basically a piece would be worked up in quarter page sections so I could keep everything in check. Once I had the whole picture roughed out I would work up the details a bit at a time.

Once I had all the elements of my picture in place I transferred everything onto my final paper and worked the whole picture up in pencil. Making pictures up out of your head can be quite a challenge especially if everything is based on our reality. This landscape doesn't exist as far as I know, so it was up to me to make it as plausible as I could without any photo references to work from, until...

I decided to build a model of the landscape so I could get a better idea on the placement of shadows etc... This picture takes place at sunrise and I was not sure how this would effect the position of the tree shadows and Leroy's silhouette. I constructed this set out of cardboard tubes and brown butcher paper, I placed a light at the horizon line about 12' away (the max distance I could get in that room) and took a few photos. I am really not set up for any kind of good photography, but this image was a enough to get me by.

Before I started any final inking I did a bunch of studies to get my confidence up and to solve any problem areas beforehand, and once satisfied I worked up the finished piece. I hope these " making of " posts are of some value to anyone considering an artistic endeavor of their own. This project was quite intimidating because I am pretty much a self taught artist, and being self taught usually equals making a lot of mistakes. I always learned something from the mistakes, but would have welcomed any information about the picture making process I could have been taught. See you next time.

Sketchbook Artist!

Hey There...Back again with some more information about the creative process involved in our book. I am going to take a look at the first interior spread, leading the reader into the fantasy land of Roy and the rhino.

Before any of our pictures reached their final states, quite a bit of preliminary work went into each drawing. I have to admit that I often procrastinated knowing the amount of effort that would be involved in each image, and found that just sketching randomly was a way for me to avoid the task at hand, it was actually a good way to waste time.

This picture started life as a flash of an idea much like every picture in our book . The above rough was made by my Dad. As you can see the basic elements are present (A path, bird, foliage, Leroy) but the picture needed some major fleshing out. I have mentioned previously that we intended to do the book in full color (more on that in a future post), so I started to mess around with some color ideas just to get the juices flowing.

These pictures were all done as studies to establish mood etc... I have a bunch of this kind of stuff which I am just starting to re-discover. I also have pages filled with sketches and doodles of flora and fauna, which without realizing at the time, is the way most artists work. Duh!!!

I have recently started reading and buying any books I find about Disney, Pixar or other animation studios, particularly anything by John Canemaker, regarding their way of creating stories, characters, backgrounds, etc. Although they are involved in a bigger production involving many people, and much, much more conceptual art, the same amount of work (relatively speaking) is involved in the creation of a book full of text and images. I know better, but often see good art and forget that a lot of labor is done upfront before the final piece is complete, so I am always fascinated and stimulated when I get a chance to see books devoted to the working processes of these artists. I hope these pages inspire you. See you soon!