Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 22, 2013.

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A supercharged sketchbook designed to help you add the "spark" of life and personality to your characters. Includes ebook.

THANK YOU ALL! If you missed the Kickstarter campaign you can still pre-order copies at  cedricstudio.com/sparkbook

More about the hardcover options here.

What Is A 'Sparkbook'?

Master storytellers at studios like Disney/Pixar and comic book greats like Will Eisner have all understood a fundamental principle: "Show, don't tell". In other words, it's more entertaining for an audience to *see* what a character is thinking or feeling rather than to have the character express it with dialogue. It's a principle that's been true from the days of silent cinema right up to today. Remember the "married life" sequence in Up that made everyone in the audience cry? Not a single word was spoken for several minutes, and yet everyone who watched it was deeply moved.

If you can master the skill of using drawings to communicate thoughts and feelings, you'll go a long way towards becoming a successful storytelling artist. That kind of expressive drawing connects with an audience. It helps make your characters relatable and causes us to care. 

I plan to create a super-charged sketchbook designed to help you capture that "spark of life" as you draw. It's more than a sketchbook, it's a SparkBook! This is not your typical "how to draw" book. Instead, there will be snippets of acting instruction and inspiration with lots of space to practice, practice, practice! You can finally draw in a book without getting into trouble!

There are three things that make the Sparkbook more than a typical sketchbook:

1. Acting Lessons For Your Drawings

The Sparkbook includes 32 pages of instructional text, with illustrations, sprinkled throughout the book and covering several topics. Things may change and evolve as I write but for now I'm planning to cover the following:

• Acting For Artists: Making Drawings That Entertain
• Understanding Facial Expressions
• Acting With The Entire Body
• Thumbnails: Small Drawings That Make A Big Difference
• How Personality And Emotions Affect Behavior
• Pantomime: Actions Speak Louder Than Words
• Resources For Further Study

2. Acting Exercises For You To Sketch

The bulk of the book consists of 100 drawing ideas, or “sparks”, printed right on the sketchbook paper! Each one is a brief story situation or scene printed at the bottom of a blank two-page spread. Some will be dramatic, some humorous, but each one will be carefully crafted to give your character(s) broad possibilities to act, emote, and entertain.

Each of the 100 "sparks" is designed to meet four goals:

Emotional: Gives the character a clear thought or a feeling to express.
Physical: Can be shown with the entire body, not just the face & hands.
Entertainment Value: Relatable situations with dramatic or humorous potential.
Narrative: Each idea could be a springboard into an entire scene or mini-story.

EXAMPLES:
"Trying to stop a baby from crying.”
“In pain but trying to hide it.”
“Just lost everything in a card game.”
“After nine cups of coffee.”
“Holding a gun for the first time.”
"Walking on thin ice."
"Trying not to laugh."

Some of the "sparks" are heartfelt ("Reunited with a lost pet"), others are more humorous ("Trying to close an overstuffed suitcase"), but all are open-ended with lots of room to play around. Ask yourself "Where is the entertainment value in this situation? What poses could best communicate this idea? How would my character feel in this situation, and how can I show that in a drawing?" The more you practice, the better you'll become at showing your audience what your characters are thinking and feeling. That will make you a more engaging storyteller!

3. Hundreds Of Bonus Drawing Ideas

In the back of the book will be several lists carefully selected to give you more expressive drawing ideas. Once you fill up your SparkBook you’ll have plenty of "sparks" to carry forward into future sketchbooks, such as:

"A Day in the Life" - 100 situations that take your character through a typical day.

100 Phrases for your character to act out (Examples: "I'll never forgive myself!"; "Put that down young man!"; "I challenge you to a duel!"; "Give me a big kiss"; etc.)

100 Emotions & Moods for your characters to portray (Examples: Nervous; Defiant; Sarcastic; Curious; Hopeful; etc.)

• 100 Props for your characters to interact with. (Examples: Blanket, Gift, Mirror, Water Balloon, Back Scratcher, etc.)

That’s a grand total of 500 character ideas for you to sketch! Just think how much your drawings will improve!

BONUS! Free Download

To promote the project I'm giving away a list of bonus sketchbook ideas from the back of the book: 100 Props for your characters to interact with. Each prop is carefully chosen for it's versatile acting potential. Feel free to download and share the link with your friends. All I ask is that you also point them back to this project.

E-Book Version Automatically Included!

Many artists prefer to draw digitally, so every Sparkbook will come with a "basic" e-book version (or you can buy the e-book by itself). The e-book will include everything from the physical book, except all of the spark exercises will be printed in list form instead of one per page so that you don't have to scroll through tons of unusable white space.

If you back it at the $35 level or higher your e-book will be upgraded to an "expanded" edition. It's just like the basic version except each of the bonus lists in the back of the book will be bumped up to 150 items. That's a total of 700 drawing ideas! (NOTE: The bonus lists will only be expanded in the ebook; the physical copy of the book will not change.) 

Includes Sparkbook Online Gallery!

If successfully funded, I'll create and manage a SparkBook page (perhaps using Flickr or Facebook) for at least one year as a place to showcase the drawings everyone creates from their SparkBooks. (Note: I want the gallery to be very family-friendly and G-rated so there will be a few guidelines for submissions.)

Pose Drawing Bookmark!

Everyone who contributes at the $35 level or higher will receive a sturdy bookmark, printed on both sides with a few tips from the book. 

Book Specs:

Size: 7in. x 10in.
240 pages (120 sheets)
Metal wire-o double loop binding
Paperback cover (Hardcover upgrade if stretch goal is met.)

Each challenge will be printed in light-gray type to minimize any distractions as you draw.

The book will be printed on real sketchbook paper, but because the paper has to run through a printing press it will be flattened out and the "tooth" of the paper will be lost. However, it should still be able to withstand more abuse (erasing, wet media, etc.) than typical book paper would. 

Extra's and Add-On's:

Everyone who orders the physical book will automatically get the ebook version (either Basic or Expanded, depending on your contribution amount) and access to the SparkBook online gallery. Additional add-ons are also available, including:

Additional copies of the book in discounted two-packs, five-packs and ten-packs.

Bookmark printed on both sides with tips from the book (automatically included with any contribution of $35 or more). Available individually or in discounted packs of ten.

Webinar: "Bringing Your Drawings To Life"

6-Month Sketch Club Membership: Each month I'll send out a special character-related drawing assignment (Example: "Draw five different poses to show a tired man sitting in a chair"), followed by a brief personal critique of your work.

Original Sketch by me from an example "spark" assignment from the book (in order to preserve my sanity I'll choose which spark to draw). Available in black-and-white or color, with optional mat and frame. Mat will be white, frame will be thin black metal.

Workshops and Lectures: I'll travel to you and give a 3-hour drawing workshop, and/or my 90-minute lecture Freelancing Tips and Tricks.

How Will The Money Be Spent?

Your contribution will help cover the costs for my time and effort in researching and writing the book; marketing and advertising; creating the artwork and layouts; printing costs; shipping the books to me, and then again to you; design and production of reward items; admin fees to Kickstarter and Amazon.

Who Is Cedric Hohnstadt?

I'm a professional illustrator specializing in character design, toy design, and advertising concept art. I've designed toys for Disney and Hasbro; created advertising comps for Coca-Cola, Target, and Best Buy; illustrated packaging for Orville Redenbacher; Supervised the animation of Mr. Potato Head for the Hasbro website; and designed characters for VeggieTales and for the animated TV series 3-2-1 Penguins! I've also been a guest speaker at the CTN Animation Expo and the Motion Conference. For more about me visit my website, www.cedricstudio.com.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Though I've illustrated several books in the past for other publishers, this is my first time publishing my own book. There will no doubt be a slight learning curve, but I've done my research and planned ahead. I've worked on hundreds of client projects in the past and have a lot of experience in solving problems and meeting deadlines.

I'm working with a printer who specializes in sketchbooks. It's a little unusual for them to print on the sketchbook paper itself but the samples they've sent me lead me to believe they will do a good job. They will print the book on real sketchbook paper, but because everything will be run through a printing press the "tooth" of the pages will be smoothed out. As a result the pages will feel similar in texture to those of a normal book. However, they should be able to withstand abuse (erasing, wet media, etc.) better than normal book paper would.

Portions of the book are already written. I will continue writing and drawing as the Kickstarter unfolds and will post snippets on my blog to keep interest going. If the project is successfully funded I will set aside chunks of time in between my normal client projects over a period of approximately 4-6 weeks to finish the book and create all rewards items. The book will be printed in the USA so turnaround-time should be relatively short (no "slow boat from China"). Once the Kickstarter campaign is finished, I expect to begin shipping the books to backers within 8-10 weeks if not sooner.

I want to be as open and transparent as possible so if any problems do arise I'll be sure let everyone know what's going on and how I plan to handle it.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you have and I'll try my best to respond within one business day.

FAQ

  • Not really. There's already a zillion "how to draw" books on the market. It's more of a "how to think about acting and posing as you draw" book. I'm going to assume you already have at least some drawing ability and a basic understanding of the human form, so there won't be any step-by-step instructions. Instead, I'm going to sprinkle the book with short articles discussing various topics and principles that I hope will inspire you to and help you to think more about acting as you draw.

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  • Both. In the comic book industry it's been said that a great story can save bad art, but great art can't save a bad story. In other words, when it comes to visual storytelling doing beautiful drawings is not as important as telling a strong story with appealing characters. A drawing can be technically accurate and anatomically correct, yet still feel lifeless and uninteresting. Likewise, crude drawings can sometimes be very entertaining (remember "The Far Side"?)

    My goal with this book is to help you practice communicating the thoughts and feeling of your characters as you draw. That's an important thing to learn at any skill level. Being a strong draftsman will definitely help, but you don't have to be a master artist before you start learning and applying these principles. In fact the sooner you learn to think about acting as you draw, the sooner you will start becoming a more skilled visual storyteller.

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  • The physical book itself never changes. Everyone's copy will be identical. However, the free ebook version comes in two "flavors", Basic and Expanded.

    The Basic ebook contains the exact same content as the physical book, with one modification: All 100 of the "spark" challenges will be printed as a big list instead of one per page. That way you won't have to scroll through tons of unusable white space on your Kindle/Nook/iPad. As a result the ebook will have a lot fewer pages than the physical book, but it will also be much easier to navigate through.

    The Expanded ebook is exactly like the Basic ebook, except the bonus lists in the back of the book will expanded from 100 to 150 items per list. That's a grand total of 700 drawing ideas - two hundred more than what appears in the Basic ebook or the physical book.

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  • Yes. I'm working with a publisher that specializes in making sketchbooks, so the paper will be filled with actual drawing paper instead of normal book paper. However, because the pages will have words printed at the bottom it means the pages have to go through an industrial printing press. The heat and pressure from the press will have a flattening effect on the paper. It will lose most of it's toothiness and feel similar in texture to regular book paper, but it will still be slightly thicker and stand up to abuse (erasing, wet media, etc.) better than typical book paper would.

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  • Glad to help. Kickstarter allows you to contribute more than the value of your chosen Reward. When you type in the actual amount of your contribution, put in the total of your combined rewards. Then, send me a note via the "Contact Me" link on the main Sparkbook page and let me know what you would like. I'll add you to a list I'm building of special orders.

    Also, Kickstarter allows you to change your rewards and your contribution amount at any time until the campaign ends, so making adjustments up or down is easy.

    If you aren't sure what the correct total would be of your combined rewards just contact me and I'll be glad to help.

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  • Kickstarter processes all payments through Amazon.com. If that is a problem for you, send me a note using the "Contact Me" link. I think I have a workaround that allows you to pay using Paypal, while still ensuring that Kickstarter and Amazon get their cut.

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    Thanks for the support. You have my gratitude for your awesomeness!

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    You'll get a sturdy color bookmark printed on both sides with drawing tips from the book for easy reference.

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    EBOOK: You get a "Basic" digital ebook version. Includes everything in the phyiscal book, only the 100 "spark" assignments are condensed into a big list instead of one per page.

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    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL (limit 50). You get the book! Plus the bookmark, the "basic" ebook version, and access to upload your art to the web gallery - all with free shipping.

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    EBOOK + WEBINAR: You get a "Basic" ebook version plus a download of my webinar, "Bringing Your Drawings To Life".

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    BOOKMARK TEN-PACK: Ten copies of the sturdy two-sided bookmark printed with tips from the book.

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    EBOOK + SKETCH CLUB: You get the "Basic" ebook plus a 6-month Sketch Club membership. Each month I'll send out a special character-based drawing assignment (example: "Explore five different ways to draw a tired man sitting in a chair"). I'll also give you a brief personal critique of you work.

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    SPARKBOOK EXPANDED: You get everything in the $25 level, plus the bookmark and the "expanded" version of the ebook: The idea lists at the back of your ebook will be expanded from 100 to 150 items each. A grand total of 700 ideas to draw!

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    GIVE ONE, KEEP ONE: Two copies of everything from the $25 "SparkBook Basic" level. Keep one, give one as a gift to a friend, student, or colleague. Includes free shipping.

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    WEBINAR BUNDLE: Everything from the $35 "SparkBook Expanded" level plus a digital copy of my webinar, "Bringing Your Drawings To Life".

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    SKETCH CLUB BUNDLE: You get everything from the $35 "SparkBook Expanded" level, plus a 6-month Sketch Club membership. Each month I'll send out a special character-based drawing assignment (example: "Explore five different ways to draw a tired man sitting in a chair"). I'll also give you a brief personal critique of you work.

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    THE WHOLE SMASH! You get the Expanded Sparkbook Bundle (SparkBook, expanded ebook, web gallery, and bookmark) plus the webinar and the 6-month Sketch Club membership.

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    ORIGINAL ART PACK (B&W): Everything from the $35 level plus an original b&w sketch by me from a "spark" in the book. (I choose which spark). You can add matting and framing for $50 (white mat with thin black metal frame), and/or add a copy of the webinar for $15 or a Sketch Club membership for $25.

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    ORIGINAL ART PACK (COLOR): Everything from the $35 level plus an original color sketch by me from a "spark" in the book. (I choose which spark). You can add matting and framing for $50 (white mat with thin black metal frame), and/or add a copy of the webinar for $15 or a Sketch Club membership for $25.

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    FIVE-PACK BASIC: Get five copies of the "SparkBook Basic" pack for a group or class (SparkBooks, basic ebook, website access). A $125 value.

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    FIVE-PACK EXPANDED: Get five copies of the "Sparkbook Expanded" pack for a group or class (Bookmarks, SparkBooks, expanded ebook, website access). A $175 value.

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    TEN-PACK BASIC: Ten copies of the "SparkBook Basic" pack for a group or class (SparkBooks, basic ebook, website access). A $250 value.

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    TEN-PACK EXPANDED: Ten copies of the "SparkBook Basic" pack for a group or class (Bookmarks, SparkBooks, basic ebook, website access). A $350 value.

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    LOCAL WORKSHOP: I’ll drive anywhere in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Iowa to put on a 3-hour workshop, including free copies of the book for the first ten attendees.

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    ANYWHERE WORKSHOP: I’ll fly anywhere in the continental US and put on a 3-hour workshop, including free copies of the book for the first ten attendees.

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    ANYWHERE WORKSHOP + BUSINESS LECTURE: I’ll fly anywhere in the continental US and put on a 3-hour workshop including free copies of the book for the first twenty attendees, plus later in the day I will give my 90-minute lecture "Freelancing Tips and Tricks".

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