Saturday, June 6, 2015

Student of the Year Toni Ritchie on Art & a Glimpse Inside Rabbit in Red

I recently interviewed one of Illinois Central College’s 2014-2015 Students-of-the-Year, Toni Ritchie. Toni is a graphic design major transferring to Illinois State University in the fall. She has a huge passion for art and design. She sketched a little something that will give you a peek at some of the characters inside my upcoming novel Rabbit in Red.

Her passion is to create comic book art and game characters. She was first inspired by Japanese art, and she has a motto that is inspirational and applies to many artists: “There’s no wrong way to do it.

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Her favorite artist is Ako Shimaki who does manga in Japan. For you aspiring artists out there, Toni stresses the importance of determination and practice. Toni got started by putting paper over various images and simply tracing them. This strategy lets your hands build muscle-memory as they get used to various shapes and designs. From there, you try to look at images and draw without tracing. All of this takes time, but with patience and persistence, everyone gets better.

Toni is continually updating her online art portfolio and is working on a fighting scene for Blizzard Entertainment. With her graphic design degree, she hopes to eventually work on book covers and movie posters. Below is her favorite drawing, an Arabian Knight sketch. She created it with graphite and touched it up in Photoshop. The animal is similar to a horse and an antelope. 

She was selected as student-of-the-year for all of the extra-curricular responsibilities she does outside of the classroom, including—but certainly not limited to—being the student president of the Cougar Karate Club and designing a website for her college biology class.

You can follow Toni on Twitter!

For Rabbit in Red, my upcoming horror adventure series, she sketched two sisters who play an important role in the story. Here you’ll see Jaime and Tara Stein. They’re sitting on Jaime’s bed, Skyping with best friend and another main character, Bill Wise. The relationship between these sisters is one of my favorites in the story

They are raised by their mother. Dad walked out on them years ago. Mom is addicted to Lifetime Original Movies, while Jaime writes horror stories with strong, independent females who don’t rely on a guy to save them. The women in her stories are the heroes, and Jaime is always dragging Tara out of the living room, away from the TV shows that make it look like a boyfriend is the most important thing a girl can have. She’s trying to raise Tara to be tough and independent, like her own characters. Tara has a relatively small role in book one, but I promise you, the relationship that you see in book one between the two girls is very important for the series. Tara will have a significantly more important role to play as the series progresses, but you’ll just have to read to discover all the magical mystery that is yet to come!

Book one of Rabbit in Red releases this September. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter to stay tuned for updates! And more art!

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