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Illustrators, earn your Raccoon Badge of Honor?

Illustrators, earn your Raccoon Badge of Honor?

Vector art illustration — not just for business logos and T-shirt designs anymore.  Children’s book illustrators like Wendy Martin use it in their fine art creation and the books they illustrate for publishers of all kinds.

The short video below catches a short dialogue between Wendy and me on this topic during last week’s Marks and Splashes group critique. (Wendy was our ‘guest critiquer’ for the session.) It links to a longer presentation by her about how she and some of her illustrator pals achieve lovely, painterly effects with this math/geometry-driven software.

First brought out in 1986 as a companion to Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator application was used primarily in “typesetting and logo graphic areas of design,” according to Wikipedia. It’s come a long way since then, growing and maturing through 17 generations. Now the world’s premier graphics software has ascended into “the cloud”, which makes it handy, commonplace and more affordable for the rest of us.

In the hour-long workshop replay (not the video above but the one it links to) Wendy explains how it’s actually possible to paint in Illustrator, “only you paint with shapes and lines,” she says.

You then command those shapes and lines to sit up, bark, and fly their crazy gradient colors for you. It’s what gives vector art that peculiarly crisp, glossy, highly commercial look.

Vector art has lots going for it. In addition to the spiffy visuals, it’s scalable, which means you can enlarge your cartoon doodle to Times Square billboard size if you want to, without losing a scintilla of image resolution. And it’s fast, once you get the hang of it, which makes it good for illustrators on a deadline.

It’s become the medium of choice for many educational publishers, kids’ game app developers, stock art houses, and other companies that license artwork for products, ads, and different kinds of merchandise.

In the free workshop video Wendy demos her favorite Illustrator tools (brush, rectangle, blend, blob brush, gradient mesh) and how she wields them. She shares how she likes to blend her digital art tools with traditional mediums, like watercolor and color pencils for the sheer fun and happiness of it.

Above, we fill you in on the Raccoon Badge of Honor and the one-third-off Valentine’s Day Sale (one third off, good through February 20) on Wendy’s complete, fabulous, completely fabulous Vector Your Kids Book Art! video course. You’ll find the details of the course and the ‘secret’ sale code spelled out on the linked-to page.

Note: If you’ve arrived here anytime after February 20, the page will still work for you. You’ll be able to watch the free workshop and order her full course, though not at the 33 percent discount.

"Seeds for Success" vector illustration by Wendy Martin "

“Seeds for Success” vector illustration by Wendy Martin. Click the image to see Wendy’s video workshop, “Adobe Illustrator for children’s book Illustrators”!

* * * * *

Dan and Nick discuss creativity and picture book art

Illustrators of every stripe will enjoy this candid, open, and terribly lucky interview of the 2015 Caldecott Medal winner Dan Santat by illustrator Nick Patton on his (terrific) Picturebooking PodcastNick caught up with him two weeks before the ALA announcement so this is Dan, generous, inspiring, and vulnerable pre his Caldecott win for Beekle.

About The Author

Mark Mitchell

Award-winning children's book author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell teaches classes in watercolor and children's book illustration at The Contemporary Art School in Austin, Texas.


  1. Mary A. Donato

    I sent a check for the vector course using Illustrator but have not heard how to access it he course. Please let me know what to do next.
    Mary anne

    • Mark Mitchell

      Hi Mary, Thank you for checking in with me. I sent your welcome e-mail with log-in and access info back on Feb. 27 but perhaps it landed in your spam folder?
      I’ve re-sent your welcome e-mail by way of this e-mail address and also my gmail account. It has your log-in information for the course and also kind of serves as your course ‘user’s guide.’ Please let me know if don’t find either of these in your in-box and we’ll figure out a Plan B to get all of your lessons to you immediately.



  1. Interview with Mark Mitchell | Bob Ostrom Studio - […] This is an interview I did with the amazing Mark Mitchell of Marks & Splashes Learning a while back.…

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