Hey, Illustrators! Animator Len Smith wants to see your character's front-to-back model sheet

Sparky character model sheet by Len Smith

You know, those three basic views that show your story character 'in the round' and make him easier to render through all a story's pages?

"How do you keep someone looking the same from scene to scene?"

It's often the first question a beginning illustrator asks. And it's the first skills a professional animator must learn.

This week Len Smith will share some of his best 'process tips' gained from his career as an animator, concept and licensing artist for cartoon studio Hanna-Barbera (where he started working right after high school), Disney, Disney Publishing, Disney Pixar and Mattel Toys.

Come join us Tuesday, December 13  for the Marks & Splashes Guest Group Critique starting at 6 p.m. (U.S. Central Time.)

Save My Seat!

Art by Len Smith

Len was a lead artist for the 'Toon Town' sequence of the once- groundbreaking Disney animated movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. (Disneyland’s Toontown today uses many of his original concepts.)

His work appeared prominently in The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which won four Emmy Awards. For Disney TV he developed characters for The Muppet Babies and TailSpin. He's also illustrated many licensed character children's books, like the Disney book version of its Pixar film, Ratatouille.


Art by Len SmithArt by Len Smith

And he has an assignment for us for Tuesday:

Draw three views, 'front-to-back' of a character. Your story character) person, child, animal  – vegetable or mineral, too if it's your character. Your character seen from the front, side and back. (Or if you want to get fancy – 3/4 view front, 3/4 view side and 3/4 back, like Len's image at the top of this page.

It can be a single face or a complete figure. Rough sketch or final art, whatever you can muster in the time available.

We'll tell you where to upload your work and where to be – when you register!

Monthly group critiques are 'perfect practice'

They tell you...

  • What isn't working

  • When to push harder

  • When to just stop

And help you to...

  • Get a fresh perspective

    Our guest critiquers – illustrators, author-illustrators, children’s literary agents, art directors, maybe an editor or two  – examine your final in a spirit of teaching and mentoring.

  • Think more like a pro

    Watch up close and personal how full-time creatives evaluate and troubleshoot their own and others’ pieces.

  • Prepare for that thing

    That upcoming kidlit (or illustrators’) conference, important promotional mailing, post or sit-down with a client.

  • Sharpen your discernment powers

    Remind you of those bedrock principles of draftsmanship, design and communication. (Funny how they keep bringing you back to those.)

  • Meet your tribe

    Your colleagues and the expert practioners. Who share their What I Wish I Knew Then stories and become your contacts in ‘the biz.’ (It’s called networking.)

  • Get better at getting better

    Practice with critiques helps you understand the hierarchy of feedback and how to navigate it wisely – knowing what’s valid for you now, vs. what to set aside for later.

Participate in new, live, online group sessions every month!

Group critiques – in the classroom or around a cafe table with friends – have been training artists for centuries.

Subscribe.For monthly group sessions, including Dec. 13 with Len Smith!

Only $8.95 monthly.

Improvement comes from consistent focus

Sometimes it will be your work being discussed. More often than not, someone else's.
You'll benefit just by being there. By being in the conversation, you'll absorb the insights to help you later, when it's just you behind the drawing board making all the choices for your illustration.

You don't have to go it alone...

You can participate in all of our monthly live programs and access replays of all past sessions...

Like these  we've enjoyed and learned so much from this year, taught by wonderful children's publishing professionals:

Mira Reisberg

Mira Reisberg, author-illustrator, teacher and founder, Children's Book Academy

Author-illustrator Jeff Crosby

Jeff Crosby, author-illustrator

C.S. Jennings

C.S. Jennings, author-illustrator

Penguin Random House art director Giuseppe Castellano

Giuseppe Castellano, Penguin Random House art director

Jodell Sadler and KidLit College

Jodell Sadler, founder KidLit College and agent

Karien Naude

Karien Naude, illustrator

Marsha Riti

Marsha Riti, illustrator


Nicole Tugeau, agent and artists' rep, Tugeau2 Children's Illustrators

Annette Simon

Annette Simon, author-illustrator

Renowned author-illustrator Robert Quackenbush

Renowned author-illustrator Robert Quackenbush (Halloween Critique Bash)

Terry Widener, illustrator

Terry Widener, illustrator

Karien Naude

Chris Schechner, designer, illustrator and art director for 20+ years for "Pockets" magazine

Christy Stallop

Christy Stallop, illustrator

Award-winning children's illustrator Larry Day

Award-winning storyboard artist and children's illustrator Larry Day

Mark Mitchell, http://HowToBeAChildrensBookIllustrator.com

Mark Mitchell, author-illustrator and moderator

Wendy Martin, author-illustrator and teacher

Wendy Martin, author-illustrator and teacher


Kelly Sonnack, senior agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

Loraine Joyner

Loraine Joyner, senior art director for 23 years with Peachtree Publishers

ustyme books art manager Nick Balian with the cover of his

Nick Balian, illustrator animator, art manager for digital publisher ustyme Books

Denise Fleming

Denise Fleming, award-winning author-illustrator

Mary Sullivan

Mary Sullivan, award-winning author-illustrator

It's a bit like being in art school...

For $8.95 per month.

Click Here To Start Now

We'll keep it real by limiting enrollment...

Secure your spot at the table while you can.

30 Day Money Back Guarantee!

Try out the subscription. You can easily cancel at any time. If you find your first experience of a session not helpful or just not your cup of tea, write me (c/o the How To Be A Children’s Book Illustrator blog) and I’ll refund you same day, no questions asked and no worries (and we’re still friends.)