There Be Dragons

August Contest

So as to not scare myself away from finishing this post, I will avoid the temptation to show every step and document every thought that went into this recent piece. Aiming for the barest of information first, below is my entry for the Digital Double Monthly Contest as an August Finalist and then Runner Up. I won a $45 coupon to be used in the armature store!

The contest requires using one of more of the Armature Nine products, and the prompt for August was “Warrior”. So of course I went with the concept of a Female Chinese warrior who had discovered an orphaned tiger cub. While she laughed at it’s scrawny appearance, she found herself being drawn to the knowledge it could become her companion.


Armature Nine Ranger Pose Used


Mechanical Pencils with 2B and 4B leads on Bristol Paper 8 1/2 x 11

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Digital Color with Photoshop CC 2015.5

September Contest

Below is my September entry, which I entered in hopes of winning another store coupon. The contest prompt for September was “Composition” so I went for an epic feel, with a combination of fantasy medieval landscape, dragons, and mercenary soldiers, known as Landsknechte.

“The German Landsknechts, sometimes also rendered as Landsknechte (singular Landsknecht, pronounced [ˈlantsknɛçt]) were colourful mercenary soldiers with a formidable reputation who became an important military force through late 15th- and 16th-century Europe. Consisting predominantly of German mercenary pikemen and supporting foot soldiers, they achieved the reputation for being the universal mercenaries of early modern Europe.” -Wikipedia


Liquid Graphite base with Mechanical Pencil Details 8 1/2 x 11 Bristol Paper


Liquid Graphite base with Mechanical Pencil Details 8 1/2 x 11 Bristol Paper

It is clear to anyone who has studied the Northern Renaissance I have been heavily influenced over the years by Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Johannes and Lucas van Doetecum, Albrect Altdorfer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, and Joachim Patinir (swoon). And of course the contemporary painters Thomas Cole, Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, M.C. Escher, and a few of the Surrealists, Max Ernst in particular.


Characters Drawn with Graphite and Collaged into background with Photoshop

After sketching the dragon rider, I began to suspect I might have been influenced by my recent watching of The Three Kingdoms, although I was not aware of it at the time. One of the more interesting characters is Zhang Fei, a fierce hothead who knows no fear.

Considering which brain folder I was tapping into, the one labeled “wild faces with black hair”, it could also have been Jack Black. If I had actually used these photos of Jack, I believe my warrior would have been much more interesting!



Running short of time I added some color to pop out the main characters using Photoshop. If I have an opportunity to return to this piece at a later time, I plan to work in some clear aqua colors into the foreground plateau. But at this point I am generally pleased with the overall “composition” and eye movement.

I am a Finalist! Voting is open to the public, so feel free to check out the Finalists and vote for you favorites. Check back after 10/7/16 for news as to who the winners of the September contest are.


Three Girls Process Part Two- pdf

Part One can be found at the kidlitartists.blogspot where I post as one of the “mentees”, Portfolio Mentorship Winners from the SCBWI LA Summer Conference.

Download the Three Girls process part 2 pdf below for more views of my “now let’s make her hair blue just because we can” extended or perhaps overextended digital process. And yes, that is a royal we. ;)

Three Girls process part 2


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And here are a few variations on the other two girls. Keeping in mind there are over 400 different combinations of colors, textures, and patterns, just think what will happen when I start giving them backgrounds and a variety of poses. P.S. Never show all of them to a client, their brain will shut down. Only show the final favorite 3. Trust me on that one. ;)


And there were over 100 different faces sketched for the Part One pencil process.

The good news is I feel I am getting closer to each of the characters. As I spend time with them they are whispering about their favorite colors and sharing little secrets they would only tell someone they know loves them.

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For this last one I just started her process so we have much work to do before she is willing to tell me who she is. A survivor of the holocaust who is welcome in my home and heart. Or should I say any holocaust or genocide. Any place or time where children have been seen as less than, or god forbid, vermin. Perhaps that little song I sang as a six year old in vacation bible school created the foundation for who I am:

Red and Yellow,

Black and White,

They are Precious in His Site,

Jesus Loves the Little Children

of the World”

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Or it could be the love demonstrated by my mother who treated all people with kindness and love, offering them the better seat or the better food, and in turn was loved by all people. She is still my role model and inspires me daily to reach out, to volunteer, to love.

The Yellow Dirt Road

The Yellow Dirt Road

Perhaps freshening up ye old portfolio site will entice me back into blogging again. I retired my old illustration process blog which was maintained for about six years, starting at the time I began to wander down the kidlitart yellow brick dirt road. Along the way I certainly faced my share of flying moneys and poppy fields. . .

“Poppies! Poppies! Poppies will put them to sleep. Sleep. . .”

Henry never needed a poppy field to put him to sleep. And taking a nap to forget it all certainly tempted me along the way.

But eventually I stood before the wizard, the judges at the SCBWI Summer Conference, with my band of stalwart travelers. We were told, “Good start! Now go on an even more perilous journey if you want to attain your heart’s desires.” Am I equating finding an agent with killing the wicked witch and returning with her broom? Um. . .yes.

As a “mentee” I began to take my turn posting illustration process and tips over on the kidlitartists blog, as well as ramping up my participation on Twitter and Instagram (per Debbie Ridpath Ohi‘s suggestion), leaving me little time to post on my own blog. However the last week or so several people have commented on how much my process posts have meant to them, so I am setting a timer.

Speaking of, have you seen my latest post over on the “mentee” blog?

And now several of my band of companions from that year have returned with the broom, secured their agents, and are working under contract on their debut picture books. Can you hear all the munchkins cheering and dancing?! So they’ve settled into their studios. . .

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Yet I am still on the road. And as many times as I have exalted “the process” over the end product, it is not surprising I am working methodically through researching agents, art directors and publishing companies. . .the second part of the adventure. As I participate in groups such as the SubIt Club and the weekly Kidlitart Twitter Chat, I find my focus has been shifting from craft over to Presentation for Representation. In the first part of the journey the responsibility fell squarely on me. . .to devote myself with passion, perseverance, patience, practice and presentation. Yet now I find the next level of my journey can only be achieved by the actions of someone else. . .the opening of the door. I can only knock. And knock, and knock, and knock.

You’re out of the woods, You’re out of the dark, You’re out of the night.
Step into the sun, Step into the light.
Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place
On the Face of the Earth or the sky.
Hold onto your breath, Hold onto your heart, Hold onto your hope.
March up to the gate and bid it open – open.

Reading comments like the following over on the SubIt Club Facebook Group page has been very educational, and somewhat terrifying. Cue the Flying Monkeys again. . .

“Today I offer statistics from my one year query journey: Queried 98 agents;”

“This post resonated with me. I sent 97 queries in 2014.”

I. Had. No. Idea. Even attending the SCBWI conferences each year and hearing the stories of being rejected for 12 years before finally selling a book, I had not imagined such a high number of queries per year. (editing to add: Want to Play Rejection Bingo?

Fortunately I have now received my FIRST REJECTED query letter for a picture book manuscript:

Tin Man
Oh, well, what happened to you?
They tore my legs off, and they threw them over there! Then they took my chest out and they threw it over there!
Tin Man
Well, that’s you all over!
They sure knocked the stuffings out of you, didn’t they?

stuffings knocked out

So 96 letters of query to go, 96 letters of query, take one down, mail it to town . .

But Wait! that’s only 10.6 per month. Ah, that sounds much better. Up with the curtain! Watch me click up my heels in these shiny ruby slippers!


All images copyright 2016 Kathryn Ault Noble.

Shhhhhh! I’m trying to be creative this month.

Not that I don’t attempt to be creative every month, but November affords that delightful romp known as PiBoIdMo. . .Picture Book Idea Month. Several of the manuscripts I am working on now came from previous years of bolting the door on my cave and brainstorming along with Tara Lazar’s Esteemed Guests. Today is Day 10 and I hope everyone is buzzing with new great ideas!


Kidlit Creature Week with Henry Herz!

Had a blast making creatures for Henry Herz’s January Kidlit Creature Week. This is the one I sent, but it was hard to choose a favorite. This was sketched with soft graphite pencils and painted with Doctor Martin’s Dyes.


These are roughs that I plan to continue working on. Each has a different personality. . .grumpy, scary, clueless. . .and represent different age groups. Very unhappy kitties! They want their chair back.

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Another color variation (Instagram filters, wee!), shot with my phone, so it’s a bit fuzzy.


New Interview up on KidlitArtists!

KidlitArtists is a blog created by some of the first illustrators selected as “mentees” at the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA. The class of 2010: John Deininger, Kimberly Gee, Ashley Mims, Andrea Offermann, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, and Eliza Wheeler.


Brooke Boyton Hughes,, class of 2013, has so patiently worked with all of us new kids to get our interviews finished and posted. Thank you, Brooke! We are a bit more than halfway through the interviews with Suzanne Kaufman and Ana Aranda Balcazar coming soon.

Jeslyn Kate went first followed by Dorothia Rohner, Robin Rosenthal, and now yours truly. I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know these ladies and their wonderful illustrations. I hope you will stop by, prop up your feet, and read through each post. I cannot say enough how honored and amazed I am at being part of this stellar group of illustrators!

Come back often as the various Mentees take turns posting “helpful info and news for children’s illustrators as well as updates about past and present Mentees”. Over the last few years I have poured over their advice on portfolio development, tips on which portfolios to buy, and how to put them together.

Eliza Wheeler:

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Juana Martinez-Neal:

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And take a look at the looooong list of their published books!

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And a shelf load more coming out in 2015 and 2016. What a busy bunch they are! Did I mention how honored and amazed I am at being part of. . .yeah, but it just cannot be said enough. wow. just wow.

New Interview up at Miss Marple’s Musings!

Very excited to have been invited by the fabulous Joanna Marple to do an interview as her back to school kick off.

We had some fun realizing that one of the characters I sketched for my process was my interpretation of her!

miss marple

I had intentionally done a girl peeking out from behind frosted glass. It’s hard to hide behind glass, which is basically how I feel each time I do an interview. So in my head the little girl was doing the interview.


Basically I had two sketches having a conversation. The creative mind is a strange place to hang out. Haha!

Post LA Sketching on Assignment


Eyeballs! That is my assignment. To fill pages with eyeballs, trade eyeballs to be specific. One of the mentors, Cecelia Yung, AD, Penguin, said I have a trade portfolio but some of the characters have mass market eyes. Oops! One too many episode of Saturday morning cartoons. So I pulled some books from my shelves to do copywork from, in this case it was Bennett Cerf’s Book of Laughs, illustrated by Carl Rose.

The main character is a little boy named Marvin, but because I was interested in just the facial expression, I ended up just throwing some spiky hair on top. Before long I found myself making it longer and adding a bow. When I added the bodies in, I ended up with a little tom boy which is much more fun that what I would have drawn had I started out to draw a young girl. I probably would have been tempted to head towards those Disneyesque Cinderella type eyes, which is the wrong direction!




One of the things I am also incorporating from the mentor’s comments is to do one style that does not have backgrounds. Because I have a tendency to really work into a piece with a lot of graphite and cross-hatching, it has been fun to literally scribble as fast as I can, then move onto the next image. Of course this is all copy work, so my own interpretation will come at a later point, but for now it is about reinforcing trade eyes instead of mass market eyes into my character work.




SCBWI Summer Conference in LA

Some General Highlights from the Conference. . .


Besides winning a Mentor Award, I met some new friends, and reconnected with some buddies from Seattle! I was afraid to sleep, there was just so much to do and see and so many people to find and gush to. . .your art speaks to me, or your blog posts have been so helpful, or weeee!!! so happy to see you again!


There is probably more than one photo of me slipping into a session late due to squeezing that last bit out of the last session. Here I am standing as the last person in line at the diversity lunch gathering by the pool. I did not even get seated before having to dash to another room for my personal paid critique with Laurent Linn.

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And here I am slipping back into my seat after a break during the Illustrator Intensive on Monday afternoon.


Terribly fuzzy shot of me with the wonderful Dana Armin, Co-regional advisor of the WWA-SCBWI. I was definitely giggling too much to be holding my phone still. But the smiles say it all. I do miss that lady!


And I got to sit with Tina Hoggatt and Dana during several of the large keynote session in the big fancy room with all the big fancy chandeliers. I have a collection of chandelier photos from every hotel I’ve stayed in and to date the big ones at the Queen Kapiolani were the winners. But the giant cluster in the middle of the “ballroom” was pretty impressive for a person who likes little sparkly lights.



When I managed to get settled in the first morning I was treated to Judy Schachner. And I do mean treated.


As soon as Judy finished her keynote I jumped up and was practically in tears at what she had said, and how it had connected with me so deeply. She was very kind and said, “We’ll talk!”. Then I stepped aside for the next person, and managed to pull my camera up and start shooting. I am guessing this is how I looked when I was talking with Judy, so my apologies to the wonderful hand talker here.


And while I did not manage to get a photo with Judy Schachner, I followed her around two evenings like a lost chihuahua (er, siamese cat)! And she was very kind not to shoo me away! Judy told someone she looked out into the crowd and saw this shiny round bobble head looking at her and it eased her nerves. Yep, that was me. I’ve been on the other side of the podium and I always give the speakers as much of an engaged face as I can muster! But I related very deeply with so many things Judy talked about, I truly got my money’s worth from her keynote and illustrator intensive demo. Don’t get me wrong, everyone was fabulous and well presented, but that ended up being the cherry on top of an already well baked and iced cake.

I even shamelessly asked if I could buy one of the pieces she made for a demo, and while she said she needed them back in the studio, she did grab this little sketch she had done right before walking up to give her presentation. A true treasure that will be gracing the wall of my studio. We had a few giggles, winks, and nods akin to being sisters from different mothers, so I’ve met another hero and hopefully friend through SCBWI and social media. I love our small world!


2014 Mentees! Winners of the Mentor Awards!


The judging! More than 200 portfolios!

When they finally let us in to see the portfolios, I was trying to see each one but the room was very crowded with excited people as we bumped elbows, clamoring to see the work on each table. I was lost in the sea, about half way through from A to Z, when they began to call out the names of the winners.

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I kept looking at the portfolios, and clapping. Clapping very loudly and squealing with happiness when I heard them call Suzanne Kaufman’s name! YAY!! I was so happy for her. Suzanne and I had attended the Seattle SCBWI conference each year, as well as the monthly meetings.

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I never expected to hear my name called next as one of the six mentees for this year, but the last name called was me! I was and am so incredibly grateful for this wonderful honor and opportunity.



A steady line of people filed past to congratulate us! It’s hard to describe the feeling, but I knew in that moment my life shifted. It was a powerful shift. I was pretty sure it was some cosmic mistake that I was up there instead of the people who did the beautiful portfolios I had looked at that evening, but I figured for as long as it lasted, I would soak it up! And meet the challenge!

The Mentors pulled us outside shortly after that to explain what had just happened to us and give us a run down on how the rest of the conference would go. We were to meet them the next morning for round table critiques. . . fifteen minutes with each mentor!

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I suspect my shiny shoes may have had something to do with the win. I think they may have hypnotized one of the mentor judges.

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Debbie Ohi may have taken the photos above.

me in LA as winner
Photo by Michèle Griskey

Shortly after I heard my name called at the portfolio awards, I dressed for the Tomie dePaola “Old Italy” party and wandered down by the pool. The beautiful wisp of a jacket is beautifully embroidered down the back. I felt that if I were to lay down in the grass, someone might mistake me for a tea party. haha!

And I’m pretty sure my feet were not touching the ground! Michele Griskey saw me and snapped this great shot to send out to my well wishers back home. You would be hard pressed to find photos of me from the last six years, so I was a bit nervous about having something sent out that I did not get to see first. But I am just so happy with this photo! Look at the honest joy on my face. No fake smiling there!

During the Awards Luncheon on Sunday we were invited to stand and receive kudos from our peers. Peers that in my opinion are just knock your socks off good!

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All of the mentees this year and from the previous years are extremely hard working successful illustrators, so be standing there at that moment, well. . . it as one of those life moments. The kind of moment that says, ok, I could die happy, feeling I had accomplished a significant mark that I had not even imagined to have considered a goal. BUT if given another day, and another and hopefully another, I will take this opportunity and keep pushing up hill as long as I’ve got breath left in me. One of the mentors said we were selected because we are on the cusp of greatness. Think about that. Imagine someone saying that to you and feel both a tremendous weight being lifted, and yet an equally heavy burden of responsibility being placed back on. To him who much has been given, much will be required, is something my mother taught me. Resting on laurels was not in our vocabulary!

This image was up on the big screens. Up on the big screen. . . has a nice ring to it!


After the conference a group of the mentees gathered for a quick dinner by the pool before we headed out of town. I look like I am starting to turn back into a pumpkin at this point.


And I believe the photo is from Debbie Ohi 
who did a fantastic job of documenting the whole event.

A whole flock of mentees! I was delighted to just be standing close to them, so much more to become part of their ranks! Wowee! I had poured over the posts written by them on how to create a strong portfolio presentation and I followed it as best as I could. I made my portfolio check list from their suggestions. You can tell from the look on my face I am having fun with my WWA sister Suzanne Kaufman who was also awarded the mentorship award this year. Suzanne and I were in round table critiques at the SCBWI conferences in Seattle more than once so it’s been fantastic to see our level of work increasing exponentially. See kids, hard work pays off! Like I always say, Never give up, never give in! And I say it a lot. Out loud. Sometimes through my tears.

SCBWI LA 2014 Mentees!

Another photo taken by Debbie Ohi as we handed off cameras.

the professionals

And lastly our illustrious mentors! The professionals, in full color!

David Diaz, Cecelia Yung, Paul O. Zelinsky, E.B. Lewis, Priscilla Burris and Laurent Linn (being adored by fellow characters from Old Italy). I pulled these shots from the SCBWI site so I’ll have to find the photographer’s names.


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