About this project
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.
"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.
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
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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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