How Illustrations Are Born

John Manders' revised illustration for "Pete"

John Manders' revised illustration for "Pete"

Have you ever wondered how illustrators come up with the images they’ve rendered? I grew up studying cartoons and illustrations trying to figure out how they got from “here” to “there” and learned an immense amount just in studying published works.

John Manders, a friend of mine and fellow member of the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators, is a long-time illustrator of children’s books and has captured the personalities and features of many species of animals in his illustration library.

A recent blog post shows how he created the characters for a children’s book by author Jenny Tripp entitled Pete and Fremont (linked in his blog post). He includes reference photos and a few versions of each character, and it’s fascinating to see how the image grew.

Enjoy “Character Designs” on “John Mander’s Blog”.

Farewell to an Artist Friend’s Bird


An artist/illustrator friend of mine lost his bird today, a real character who appeared in many of his illustrations.

Speaking as one whose cats are inspirations and models as well as members of my family I can tell you there’s an extra pang of loss, but joy when you see the images of them you created, and know that others will see them too.

Here is his blog post: A Very Sad Day.

Also, be sure to visit his website at You’ll see Sherman and John’s other pets in this opening illustration of his studio, and you many even recognize some of his books. Many include animals, and I love to share the animal art of  other artists.