This is my journey in creating concepts, writing, illustrating, finding a literary agent, and becoming a published children's book author and illustrator for the picture book genre.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Making a T-shirt illustration

Yesterday, I received a brand new t-shirt with my illustration on it. I was commissioned by Lucas County Pit Crew to create an illustration with the logo "sleeps with Pitbulls". They are a rescue group that works in Ohio and Nationally to rescue dogs with an emphasis on pit bull like dogs. That is really a fancy term for "mutt". Our dog, Waffles, came from this rescue and we love her so much. This was a big honor for me and a way to give back to an organization that I am very passionate about. I love dogs. I love companion animals. They bring out the kid in me.
I found this to be a flattering request, but there was also a challenge in bringing the vision of the rescue to my art. In the end, I created an illustration that was gender unspecific and resonated peace and nostalgia to the wearer. It was a fun journey creating this piece. I am so excited to see it worn and loved by many.
The illustration was first created as a sketch.
rough sketch
After watercolor
Once the sketch was approved, I took it to water color using black to create shading and definition of the piece.

Digital file submitted to the t shirt company
Once that was finished and approved, I added the digital text of logo and business name.
There were 4 different versions. It is funny how a font can change the illustration's overall feel. Finding the right font is just as important. Adding text to a piece is an art form in itself. It makes the statement. This was a great learning experience for me. I hope to create more for this organization that I hold so dear to my heart.
The final product

2nd draft

1st draft
This was my first attempt. It was cute, but not the right message that they wanted to use. The second draft was too feminine, but getting closer to the idea. I used the 2nd as an opportunity to try my watercolor style that I envisioned for the piece before taking it to the approved illustration. It is definitely note card worthy. This was a great experience. :)
2nd draft with black watercolor

 If you would like to purchase a t-shirt, donations of 25 dollars and 3 dollars shipping can be made to Lucas County Pit Crew via paypal/ donation link. Please state color and size in the comment section. If your shipping address is different than your billing, please state that as well. Please post a picture of yourself wearing this shirt and I will add it to my blog and FB page!
Link below:
And, this is my sweet puppy that was rescued by Lucas County Pit Crew. Thank you for saving this little girl's life and sending her to my family. Your work is amazing and we are so proud and grateful to help in your journey to make a difference.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A little Winter digital art...

It is that time of year when the weather changes and the cold comes breezing in. Living in Ohio has already brought a bit of shock to my system as the windchill plummeted into the negatives...brrrrrr
We have had snow on the ground, ice cycles hanging from the gutters, and there are Christmas trees all lit up in neighbors windows. I am a bit of a traditionalist and keep thanksgiving decor up until after thanksgiving before Christmas goes into full swing. That doesn't mean I won't share illustrations of snow related things. here are illustrations that I created using my Wacom last year. The first two were my first and second tries at exploring this new type of illustration. My third illustration was after I had some experience under my belt. :)

Digital is a bit different my water color, but does offer the ability to really utilize textures. The old fashioned water color is my favorite type of medium. It holds true to my vision of children's illustration. Digital does allow that feel with some more updated techniques and layering. Happy Winter to all my friends.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to all my friends! It is a wonderful holiday full of imagination and smiles. Who will you be this Halloween? I am going to put on my Dorothy Gale dress complete with my toto basket purse and have some fun with 20 plus little ones. One of the teachers is dressing up as the Halloween Kid. We read this book once a week in the classroom. The kids are eagerly awaiting the arrival of him this afternoon. It is such an honor to read to little ones. I get it now. I can really see what they see. As adults, we miss the details. These are the little things that illustrate the story without words. A color can dictate the feeling and mood of the story. The illustrations that are chock full of detailed illustration tend to over stimulate the kiddos. Bright colors hold their attention more. The opportunity to work with my target audience has made me a better illustrator/ author.

Below, you will see the final sketch that was approved for the sweatshirt design. I am working on finalizing it in pen and paint before I add the digital enhancements. It is quiet adorable. I am so excited for this opportunity to give back.

Most importantly, happy Halloween from my boys, the Dunbridge brothers, a.k.a Super Brothers Detective Agency!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

sketch sketching away...

So the day goes. Then the week travels at uncertain speed. before you know it, a month has come and gone. Where are you? You are still trying to find the motivation to get the laundry done. Yeah, that is about right. I have committed to working on a project with the lovely Alicia Sprinkle and I have also accepted a spot illustration project for a sweatshirt. My first project is about storyboarding. The second is about sketching. I guess I can't forget about the third project. I am going to be giving my first illustrator talk in Toledo soon. I am excited to announce that my target audience will be the audience.
The current project that I am trying to have ready by Saturday is a sketch  that is below. This wonderful organization has requested some more to the piece, so that is my next step before I finalize it. Here is the work in progress:

I will keep posting as the work continues. I can't wait to show you all the sweatshirt when it is finished!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall is here!!!

That time has come for me to make some note cards and send them off to some art directors and agents I have met during my journey. My art has come far and I continue to grow as an illustrator from the wise words of mentors and those who have become successful in the field. Below is the sketch and progression of the illustration that I am working on. I am painting it in gouache. When Ms. Ruth Sanderson (author and illustrator of Cinderella and other retelling of fairy tales) critiqued my work, she told me to explore shades of colors. Well, she wasn't quite that gentle, but that was the meaning of it. I am really trying to integrate her wise words into my illustrations. I remember opening her books and appreciating the art of it. It is easy to get lost in a visual fairy tale. Below is the illustration that I am creating to send off in a note card. Please let me know what you think. Halloween allows us to be whomever we want for a night. Who do you think you will be on the last night of October?

I am beginning to add color and layers. I love palette paper for this and the hues of good quality gouache are wonderful!

I am incorporating some light to more finished areas and beginning some of the background. Leaves were something that was noticed at my last conference. I am making sure to add that touch again. It helps identify my work and style.

I will still need to add a few edits, but here is the close to done illustration! I call it "Punkinmouse"

Friday, September 5, 2014

Huffington post live!

So, I was contacted by an assistant producer inquiring if I could be a part of their interview of Ben Mezrich. He has crossed over into multiple genres book writing and if I could be a guest. Well, it happened to be at 3pm...right when I am wrangling in 20 some kids with another co-worker. I didn't want to miss the opportunity, so they offered me to send in a video question. Actually, they requested 4 and were going to pick one out of that 4. The interview link is below. It is a step toward the dream for sure. Thank you to Huffington Post Live for reaching out to me. I had a small window of time to get the videos to them.

It is always wonderful to see those who have made it and know what inspires them. Imagination is the the common thread that links us together. Even non fiction requires imagination to translate words into images within our minds.
Imagination is the greatest gift we can possess. It is a catalyst for life and the adventures we seek.

Friday, August 29, 2014

a new type of illustration for me...

Illustrating allows a freedom of media and technique. There are rules that must be adhered to, but the freedoms of children's illustration are vast and differ by personality. I have recently found another form of illustration that brings a smile to my face and a spring to my step. I recently visited the Toledo Zoo with my children and brought our camera with us. I took over a hundred pictures of many scenes. As I looked at those photographs, I challenged myself to illustrate them. Could I create a mini story by use of editing? Well, you tell me. What do you think of these photographic illustrations. Do you see a story or maybe a character that is story worthy?

The curious Meerkat

The primates were so inspiring. When you go to a zoo, you don't really expect the animals to interact with you. Well, the primates were full of interaction. The above photograph was the silverback, Kwisha. He was leaning up against the wall, staring at his mate who was hiding behind the rock across the enclosure. It was a warm and humid day at the Toledo zoo. Kwisha had a majestic presence. I brought out the camera and snapped a couple of pictures. He noticed me and looked at me. This picture was the result of the interaction. 

These two were taken in the polar exhibit are. The brother bears were rough housing as mom watched from beyond the exhibit cliffs. The boys sure put on a show for us. The penguins were quite social, but I swear they were going to break out in song at any minute :)

It is amazing what you can do with an editing program and the right picture. I have many more and will try to post them on my blog. I tend to update my FB page more often. Please look over there, too.

I am still working on my pay it forward project. I must admit, my kidlet hawks are mighty cute! I hope to have spot art ready for internet posting in the next day or so!
As always, aspiring and achieving illustrator/ author dreams!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Paying it forward...

Great news! I get to use my talent to help out my kids' school! One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received is one that has been repeated over and over... Immerse yourself in the industry. Read children's books. Read them to kids. Find out what sparks their little brains into a tidal wave of make believe! I am doing just that. In the afternoon's, I am working with the pre school and kindergarten age group. I get to read to them, play games with them, and be a part of the world I left behind decades ago. This is the latest spot illustration. The school would like a newsletter to give to the parents. They are the Hawks. Here is my latest spot art. I may redo this in Gouache, because...GOUACHE! I love the beauty of bright colors and effortless imagination that it conveys. Layering pencil colors are nice, too.  I can't complain.
It feels great to be able to use something you enjoy and offer to a place that is educating your children.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

two illustrations, two styles

Here is an illustration of Sparky and a kind, small, bluebird friend. This is my first scanned version of "small gestures". I still need to add some more shadowing and background, but the colors are nice. I have a smaller sized scanner than what my paper calls for. Here is an excerpt of the illustration.I have decided to call it, "small gestures". Kindness can come from anywhere. Here, Sparky receives a flower from a bluebird after a cold night being lost in the woods. Friendly reassurance can brighten any dark experience. The outside is a scary place for a little kitty who doesn't venture far. Friends can always be found in times of need if you ask for help. 

This is another little sketch piece that I have been playing around with. I am trying to incorporate some advice that was shared with me at the last conference I attended. I still need to play a bit more with the scanner. This is a piece that I used to incorporate my prisma pencils and practice layering colors. I find that it is similar to using water colors. 

These two illustrations are polar opposites of each other. The above focuses on demonstrating a different color palette that is similar to what mainstream illustration is using. The second is sticking to my life bright and rich colors that I feel invoke merry imagination. The puppy just wants the tree spark and the sprite is conveying to the puppy that the tree spark is not a toy.
Thank you for taking a look. I am really trying to broaden my technique and portfolio while utilizing all the critique that I have been given from SCBWI. Soon, I will be creating new cards to mail out. I wonder which illustrations I should attach to it?
Continually creating and ALWAYS aspiring,
Cassaundra Dunbridge
Children's Book Illustrator and Author

Monday, July 28, 2014

Over mountains, hills, and through the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio...

Well, I made it. We made it to Ohio and now reside in the beautiful city of Toledo where the weather is so agreeable and your neighbors welcome you with smiles and brownies at your door. I am still not unpacked yet, but who really ever is after less than a month. Good news is that I have my office/studio mostly set up and a computer ready for editing my wonderful illustrations. Tonight may be the night to get my art groove on. It has been far too long since my water colors have graced paper. I have been scribbling in my downtime, but color is where I thrive. Story ideas are always present and waiting to be dictated, too. I must admit that I miss my southern breeze community. NW Ohio SCBWI isn't near as active, but I have two other regions that I can look into that are very near to me. An author friend of mine came to the Spring-mingle from another region. It can be done! I was unable to finish my "Sparky and friend" illustration due to the move. I think that may be the first project in the new digs!

This house offers another exciting feature. I am working on creating a small kids' library with shelves of kids' books. I love children's literature because it is an opportunity to introduce a child to literature and art at a place in their lives where imagination hasn't been overthrown by technology. I want to be a part of that. My kids are surrounded by books and I am happy that they have an ever growing library to enjoy them.

 Below is the little stray kitty that we befriended before our move. Don't worry, there are many in the neighborhood that care for this sweet cat. Every 4th day Sparky would stop by to say "meow" and have a bite to eat. He would wander down that  road on the 4th day around 4 pm with loud meows as he made his way to the porch. He would stay an hour or two. He ate his meal and enjoyed cuddles from all of us. This sweet boy cat inspired the art below. I look forward to posting the rest of the progression as I finish it.

Still Aspiring and always drawing!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Newest piece...

The woes of moving. Yes, we are moving. It will all be over soon. The moving truck will be here on the 29th and my family will be dining at the finest of establishments that have playgrounds. It isn't easy to move a family of 5 with 3 VERY active boys, but we make it happen. Unfortunately, the stress is paramount. I have kept a small area available for me to keep up my art and in hopes that long awaited email will arrive. So, I keep drawing and creating. As I referenced before, a cute black, stray cat came our way and found comfort on our porch for a couple days. He has since left but makes the occasional visit for cat food if his travels allow for it. He allows me to pick him up and snuggle him while I am whisked away to happiness by the lullaby of his purrs....
He inspired the drawing below and his wayward life inspired surrounding  background. Perhaps he need the kindness of others to help remind him that there is love in the world. Perhaps friendship is the key to kitty happiness. Or perhaps it is about a small, kind gesture from one who should keep his distance is the one friend who helps Sparky find his place or a family to belong to. Perhaps that sweet bird is his family??? Here is the primary sketch below:

In practicing with the method of illustrating, I decided to take above sketch and draw it out on 11x15 watercolor paper. I needed to re-draw that sweet cat in the same manner that I had done with the sketch.

After the sketch was done, I tried to critique it before I began the color process. What was occurring in the illustration? Can you identify the relationship between these two characters? Something was missing. I needed an action. The relationship was apparent, but I needed a reason for that bird to be there. I drew in a flower between the beak of the bird. Now the action is VERY apparent. Bird is gifting cat with a flower. It is a kind and peaceful interaction.

Now comes the color commitment. I want to stay true to what i have learned from the conferences and critiques. Larger paper- CHECK! Clean drawings- CHECK! Background detail not at the forefront- CHECK! I am trying to utilize my background to emphasize the characters. It is like the purse and shoes for the main-event dress. I decided to try to paint the background first and work inward. So far, the results are good. I am utilizing W&N cotman and Gouache as well as Prismacolor watercolor pencils.
I will post more pics as I start to make progress. For now, I really need to pack...and make dinner!

I really adore gouache paints. They offer a brilliance and creamy texture that is pleasing to paint with!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Creating my new character

Meet sparky! A little stray kitty has adopted our porch recently. He is such a sweet and magical black kitty with pretty green eyes. I brought out my sketch pad and started creating the magi-cat sparky!

This is still in the sketching and outlining phase, but this little magi-cat has won my heart and I hope he will win yours!


Here is another Sketch of Sparky sweetly hiding under a blanket like cats do . The second was color edited via photoshop. I just wanted to get an idea of colors, etc. He is such a sweet cat. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Do you have a writing buddy?

I have been invited to join a writing group by someone whom I met on my Facebook page. She is a self publishing children's book author who gave me some lovely compliments about my illustrations. we have continued to keep in contact as our lives continued to go their ways. She is a lovely person and has a great talent. I was hesitant at first. My experience with writing groups has not been the best. As a person who is primarily an illustrator, groups aren't near as helpful as conferences. Unlike writing, illustrators complete their work...and it is a done deal. Sure, the computer age has brought digital illustration to the forefront and allows for edits during the process, but traditional media tends to be a throw away process. Sketching helps with this, of course. Also, art is subjective. The conferences tend to offer the objective form of the industry. What sells and what is trending is discussed like a broken record. With writing groups, feedback never really helped but enabled the creative process. It isn't as black and white as writing. You can't fix grammar in an illustration. Conferences offer feedback from art directors from established publishing businesses or established artists who are active in the industry and current on trends. The beauty of what they critique is technique. The best advice I have received have been to change my paper size or try a different angle to achieve the desired affect.
This group may help me get back into writing while offering me input based on their experiences. Illustration is my strength and I really love it, but writing is how I started. I often consider rewriting Andy based on all that I have learned. I can then illustrate it using what I have also learned. This may be the platform for that to take place.
 In other news....
The recent edition of the SCBWI Southern Breeze came out and my article was on page 5! It is a short piece that was about the quickfire portfolio review. Those two minutes still make me want to cry. Having your work reviewed in a forum of this set up is hard on your ego but an amazing lesson to be learned in the world of art directors and editors. Here it is below:

Page 5- Summer edition Southern Breeze SCBWI 2014
*illustration used in Summer issue*
The Portfolio Quickfire:
Two Minutes that
Changed My Life
Cassaundra Dunbridge

It was my first Illustrators’ Day, and the moment I’d
been looking forward to—and dreading—had come. My
anxiety rose to new heights as each name was announced
and portfolios were brought to the art directors’ table for
their review.
The faculty panel thumbed through each portfolio,
moving at a rapid pace, marking the pages they thought
were the best.
Then my name was announced. I wanted to cry. They
did not know me and I knew them only from having
listened to their sessions that day. They flipped through
my pages so quickly.
At the end, I heard one sentence clearly. Someone
said a flower was interesting. at was it. A flower in
my portfolio was the only positive I could hear.
I felt confused. Did I fail? I felt as if all the answers
I craved were unattainable and my dream was a
nonsensical illusion ending in sorrow.
en, I changed the perspective. the answers were
there. They were right in front of me and these critics
gave me a gift to ignite my passion. is is how an art
department evaluates incoming work. I was a part of
that process. My flower stood out.
is was not a competition, but a collaboration; not
a judgment, but an opportunity to learn how to sell
my work. My skin grew a bit thicker that day. I lost
my insecurity and gained a like-minded community.
ere is strength in community. I now know how to
achieve my illustrating dreams.
*illustration considered for cover of summer issue*

Cassaundra Dunbridge resides in the lovely city of Rome, Georgia with her darling husband, three young and charming boys, two demanding felines, and one canine princess. She is a whimsical illustrator and author for the 
picture book genre.

I had a sketch and an illustration used in this edition, too (as seen above). This was my first time having my work used this way. I love being a member of the national SCBWI. It has afforded me opportunities to meet others that share the same passion. It is a great tool to help a person further their ambitions! I have also learned that it is important to make connections outside of SCBWI. Everyone has an experience and advice to offer. I enjoy the opportunity to learn from the masses.

As for that writing buddy, I have one at home who sits by my side. He is a children's story just waiting to happen. Meet my buddy, Bacon.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Children's Book Illustrator and Author- Cassaundra Dunbridge: Aspiring writer info!

Children's Book Illustrator and Author- Cassaundra Dunbridge: Aspiring writer info!

Aspiring writer info!

You may have heard me refer to my superhero friend a few times. He is a magnificent copy editor and friend with a passion for all aspects of the English language. He is eloquent in speech as he is on paper. Through my beginnings of my pursuit as an illustrator/ author, this man has stood by my side and edited with a turnover ranging from a few hours to a half day with edits that reflected my authentic voice without excessive verbiage that I tend to gravitate towards when writing. He has started a blog to help aid aspiring authors are their journey. It is a piece on the misuse and over use of the adverb. I highly recommend it as an aid when preparing for your first edits.

All about Gerald Zepeda:

    Who is Gerald Zepeda?

    I am a writer, an editor, and a lover of language. I don't want to wait for an infinite number of monkeys pounding on keyboards to come up with the next great work of literature. I am relying on you to brighten the world with your unique brand of human genius. It's time to write.

This blog post is amazing. Please click here to read: