Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The March Experiment

And now for something completely different! This was videotaped without a script as you will see. "And now that the month of March is over ..."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Happy Birthday to a FAMOUS Artist!


March 30th is a very important and significant date in the art world for it is the date that we remember the birth of a world famous artist. The works of this immensely talented man have been viewed by millions if not billions of people.

Happy birthday Vincent Van Gogh!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Common Question


One of the most common questions I receive after people learn that I've illustrated a number of children's books is, "I have an idea for a children's book. Could you illustrate my book?". You'd think that this would be the type of question illustrators are looking for, but finding an illustrator is not the required step to getting published many think it is.

So what's an aspiring author to do? Here are a couple excellent web articles on what to do if you have a book idea or manuscript and you're looking for that artist to add the illustrations:


How to Find an Illustrator for Your Picture Book

Picture Book Manuscripts and Illustrations

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Guest Artist - Dr. Georgia Purdom


Today we had a surprise birthday party for my wife at our house. Part of the surprise came from the fact that my wife's birthday was 2 weeks ago. The party was late because of schedule conflict, not because I forgot. Some dear friends came to celebrate with us and they contributed to the food and drinks too. Dr. Georgia Purdom made the cake and so she is my featured guest artist for today. Thanks Georgia!

Friday, March 27, 2009

After Eden - Behind the scenes 11


Gary Larson of Far Side fame had his cows. I have my car fish. In this weeks After Eden, I return to a favorite topic of mine, the war between the Christian Icthus fish and the Darwin fish. This cartoon is titled, "Car Wars". Click on the image to see the making of Car Wars, step by step.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dead Egyptian Blues by Dennis Jones

Here is another great digital painting video from Dennis Jones.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cows with Guns by Dennis Jones


One of my favorite illustrators of all time is Dennis Jones. Not only is he a great artist, he's also a great Christian artist! I've followed his work for more than 3 decades by finding and collecting his work in magazines, books and various church publications. Years ago, those illustration treasures would only show up every few months or so. Now, through the miracle of the internet, I can find Dennis and his artwork every day on his blog. He doesn't post new material every day, but I do check just in case there is something new.

Here is a recent video that Dennis recorded of himself painting an illustration called, "Cows with Guns". It's fun to see him work (sped up quite a lot in this case) and this almost 3 minute video is set to music by a very funny song called, of course, "Cows with Guns".

Even if you're not an artist, give it a look. You will enjoy it anyway!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Special Guest Artist


Our special guest artist today is my daughter, Hannah Lietha! This is a drawing of the Disney characters, Goofy and Mickey Mouse, all from memory. I love the detail and the word balloon is very good too.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Space Alien Art for Answers in Genesis?



Having graduated from the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon & Graphic Art, one might think that I should be drawing comic book superheroes and space aliens. Well, working for a minstry that doesn't believe in aliens from outer space (nor do I), does limit an artist's portfolio in that way. However, here is a fun piece created for Answers for Kids a number of years ago.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Magic Drawing Board


Does anybody remember the Captain Kangaroo show? I know the show has been off the air for quite a while and the dear "Captain" is no longer with us, but there was a feature on his show that I found fascinating as a kid. It was the "Magic Drawing Board". It's been a while since I've actually seen the show and I'm not exactly sure how they did it, but a drawing would be drawn on the drawing board by an artist unseen by the audience, giving the appearance that the drawing board was doing the drawing all by itself. It was ... magic! Ha ha! I never thought it was magic, but I did like watching the drawing develop before my eyes.

Well, many years later, I've found a web site that gives you simple drawing tools and a small screen space to make and record drawings on. And when you are satisfied with the drawing, you can save it and view the recording and send it to others. It looks like the Magic Drawing Board! You can watch my first SketchCast doodle HERE!
Just click on "Doodle Man" and watch the drawing develop before your eyes, just like the Magic Drawing Board!

There are lots of computer programs available these days that make it possible to record one's activities on a computer and play them back and many artists have produced tutorial DVDs and web videos with their recordings. I'm looking at a few of these programs now and will hopefully post art videos on this blog in days ahead. But for now, the Sketchcast web site will be my art video home. More videos to come!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

After Eden - Behind the scenes 10


If you look over my entire collection of After Eden cartoons, you'll see a number of them were produced in memory of people that have died. Again, some may think of cartoons as only fitting for purposes of humor, jokes or mocking, but I disagree. I believe cartoons have the possibility for other kinds of communication, and serious editorial comment is part of that communication.

Last week, I learned of some sad news (scroll down to "
Sad News—But Good News") about a 12-year-old girl named Elizabeth, that had lost her battle with cancer. Last year Ken Ham had written about her in his blog because of her desire to visit the Creation Museum after a long treatment for her cancer. Elizabeth's story touched me, so I honored her memory and Her Savior with this cartoon.

Thank you Lord, that Elizabeth is now with You, her Creator.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Haul It Home Friday


It's Friday! The day the weekend starts, the work week ends and the day I pack up my Cintiq and haul it back home for the weekend. As I reported in a previous posting, a friend of mine gave me a Cintiq to produce my art on and now I can't work without it. The Cintiq usually spends the weekdays at my AiG office so I can use it for my artwork there. And then on the weekends, I use it at home for freelance projects.

The only way for me to safely transport the Cintiq back and forth is to pack it up in the box it came in. As you can see in the photo, I've fashioned a homemade handle made out of twine and masking tape to make it possible to carry the box as I would a suitcase. The handle on the box broke, forcing me to either carry the box in both arms (which I did a few times) or get creative and make a different handle. I'd love to have a special case for my CIntiq like this, or this, or THIS! But, those cases are pretty pricey, and the last REALLY COOL one is only available in the UK!

Unless I hit the jackpot at a garage sale this summer, it may be quite a while before I own one of those cases. So, my box and twine will continue be called upon each Friday and Monday to haul this high-tech art tool to the next place it's needed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Currently on My Digital Drawing Board


The newest addition to my list of regular AiG cartoon features (the others being CreationWise and After Eden) is an editorial cartoon titled, "Let There Be Truth". This cartoon is produced for Answers Magazine four times a year.

Out of all the forms of cartooning, I enjoy editorial cartooning the most. My other cartoon features are a comic strip and a one panel gag cartoon, and both often include an editorial leaning, but LTBT is a true to form editorial cartoon.

The sketch sample above is a section of my current LTBT in process. I'm not sure the final will reflect the direction seen here, but this is the latest LTBT as it is, at this moment.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

After Eden - Behind the scenes 9


I've known Stacia McKeever's family for almost as long as I've known her. And over the years some of them have made their way into my cartoons. Here is an After Eden cartoon that was created as a birthday card for Stacia's mom, Nancy. The woman in the cartoon is based on Nancy. The man is just a generic person.

Also, here is a recent CreationWise comic strip in which I based one of the characters on Stacia's father, Bob. The likenesses are not quite on the mark, and really weren't intended to be as I have only so much time to create these cartoons. However, I do enjoy placing people I know in my cartoons ... every once in a while.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

After Eden - Behind the scenes 8


Casting characters for After Eden is an interesting job. Most of the time, the characters are just nameless, generic people and it's not too critical for them to look a certain way, unless of course, they are specific, real people. When it comes to biblical characters, we have very little knowledge of what they looked like, so there's lots of room for artistic license. But, it is important to develop a look for them so that they are recognizable and consistent if used again in future cartoons.

For this cartoon about Seth, the lesser known, yet very important named son (There were many other children with names not given in Scripture. Genesis 5:4) of Adam and Eve, I used an approximate likeness of a real-life Seth. This is the husband of Stacia McKeever, the same Seth who's name is hidden on the book covers in the previous post. To me, he looks like a Seth, so why not go with known success?!

Monday, March 16, 2009

More Hidden Names


As mentioned in a previous posting, my wife Marcia is not the only one to have her name hidden on some of my book covers. If you know where to look on the Answers for Kids curriculum covers, co-written with long time Answers in Genesis coworker and friend Stacia McKeever, you will find the name "Seth". Stacia's husband's name is Seth and I thought since we were a team on those books, her spouse's name should be hidden on the covers.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

After Eden - Behind the scenes 7


Years ago on the Answers in Genesis website in the After Eden section, I had a step by step, start to finish After Eden art feature. Here is that step by step art all in one file.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Today is the day!


Marcia is a birthday girl today. Happy birthday to my lovely wife. Thank you Lord for my wife.

Genesis 2:18
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."

Proverbs 12:4
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.

Proverbs 18:22

He who finds a wife finds a good thing
And obtains favor from the LORD.

Proverbs 19:14
House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the LORD.

Friday, March 13, 2009

After Eden - Behind the scenes 6


Some of you may be wondering, since I often hide my wife's name on book covers, do I draw her in my cartoons? Well, I have, along with our daughter Hannah in this cartoon below. And I wrote about it in my book Welcome to Life AFTER EDEN. Here is a section of text from that book written in 2003:

As I put this book together, my wife and I are expecting out first child; and yes, this exciting event hasn't gone untouched by my cartooning. On 24 February 2003, I posted the cartoon below on the After Eden website–a few weeks before my wife and I made the official announcement.

I received many emails complimenting the message in the cartoon but no comments about any possible hidden meaning. Because my co-workers had made comments about my previous baby cartoons, I expected at least some speculation.

After we made our baby news public, several co-workers admitted that they had suspected something when they saw the cartoon, but they were afraid it might be nothing more than just another baby cartoon. This time, however, the cartoon was inspired by a real baby!


By the way, my wife and I still don't know our daughter's name.


Isaiah 43:1
But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hiding Marcia - Part 3


Late this past summer, I finished my most recent childrens book project. It's a book entitled Absotively Posilutely Best Evidence for Creation, written by Answers in Genesis speaker, Carl Kerby. This would have been the latest book to have my wife, Marcia's name hidden on its cover. However, the cover I designed and illustrated was never used. Instead the publisher replaced it with some of my illustrations from the inside of the book. So Marcia's name is not hidden on the cover of this book.

Included with this post are the printed book cover, the rejected book cover and the location of Marcia's name hidden on the rejected cover art.



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hiding Marcia - Part 2


A is for Adam is the first childrens book on which I hid Marcia's name on the cover. But, it wasn't the last. Here are the other books with her name hidden on them.

I'm still not going to reveal the location of the hidden names, but on the When Dragon's Hearts were Good cover, Marcia's name is NOT under the CD shown in the photo.

There would have been one more book on this list, but something out of my control prevented that from happening. More on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hiding Marcia


Artists have long been known to hide things in their artwork. Sometimes the items or words hidden are meant to be found and other items or words hidden are more for the artist's private purposes. Some things hidden have been quite harmless and funny, and other things have been obscene (if seen) and scandalous. One of the most famous artists that openly hid words in his drawings was famed Broadway caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. He hid his daughter's name "Nina", in most, if not every caricature he drew since her birth in 1945 until his death in 2003. That's a lot of hidden Ninas! He would even hide multiple Ninas in some caricatures and then place a number after his name to let the viewer know how many times her name was hidden in that drawing.

Over the years, I've also hidden words in my artwork. Nothing too daring or mischievous, just fun stuff. The only word hiding I've done over the past 13 or so years have been the names of people's spouses (more on that will come in a future blog). Most notable to me is the name of my spouse, Marcia. Her name is hidden on the cover of the book, A is or Adam. The reason for this was not to be daring or anything like that. It was done to say, "thank you". You see, when I produced the artwork for A is for Adam back in 1995, we lived in Minnesota and I was working as a staff cartoonist for a company that made children's products such as scratch and smell stickers, fun meal type boxes, and school lunch posters. Illustrating a children's book was a freelance job that I worked on in my off hours. And it took me 4 long months to complete the project. Almost every day during those 4 months, Marcia would see me just for a little bit after I got home from work and then during supper after I'd taken a good 2-3 hour nap. Then I'd disappear into my closet of an art studio and not be seen again until the next morning when I'd leave for work and the cycle would start all over again. Yet, she was very supportive, patient and helpful during those long stressful months. I'll always be grateful to her for her loving support, especially on that project.

I finished the artwork for A is for Adam in April of 1995, but Marcia never saw the little surprise I hid on the cover until August of that year when we flew down to visit a very new ministry called Creation Science Ministries (later to be renamed Answers in Genesis), headquartered in Florence, Kentucky. Ken Ham invited both of us to come down to meet the staff and see the operation, and also to see the first copies of A is for Adam that had just been shipped to him from the publisher. The first time I saw the actual, finished, printed product was in the Cincinnati airport. The gentleman that was sent to pick us up was holding up a copy of A is for Adam instead of a sign with the name "Lietha" on it. He figured we'd know he was there to pick us up and he was right! Thinking about seeing a grown man holding up a children's book in the airport still makes my chuckle. And it was on the ride from the airport to a restaurant that I revealed the special little secret I'd been keeping from Marcia for the previous 4 months. I held the book up so Marcia could see it and I said, "honey, I want to thank you for being so patient and supportive for the 4 months that it took me to complete this book. And as a way to say thank you, I've hidden your name on the cover of this book". And then I pointed to the spot on the cover where her name was hidden. It was a very touching moment. My voice cracks when I tell the story to this day. And I still enjoy sharing that story with visitors that come to see me at my AiG office. But, not everyone can visit me there, so here the story is for you to enjoy as well.

Where is the location of Marcia's name hidden on the cover you ask? You'll have to visit me at my office or see me speak this summer to get the answer! Or you can buy a copy and find it yourself.

Monday, March 09, 2009

After Eden - Behind the scenes 5


Once upon a time (2002 in fact) an After Eden cartoon about fish knees was very popular and lots of people were sending emails requesting that it be printed onto t-shirts. So, Answers in Genesis had a bunch of t-shirts printed, announced and offered for sale on the ministry web site. We waited for a wave of web shoppers and buyers similar to the previous wave of fan email.
This wave never happened. Some shirts did sell, but not to the extent that we hoped or thought they would. So much for my super-popular cartoon shirts. I felt pretty let down. What happened? Why didn't they sell? It was puzzling to say the least.

Flash forward to early 2008. The Creation Museum had opened the previous year and almost 400,000 people had visited to that point. My boss at AiG asked me to design some t-shirts for the museum bookstore. These designs weren't to be just for decorative t-shirts or to be only a museum souvenir, but to have a firm Christian message on them. I came up with a number of ideas for the new shirts and somewhere along the way, shared them with my wife. I remember Marcia liking the ideas, but she noticed one particular idea wasn't included among them, so she asked me, "why don't you try printing that After Eden fish knees shirt again"? I liked the idea, but would it sell this time around? Having a popular museum bookstore could make a big difference. I presented the idea to use the After Eden fish knees design again and it was accepted along with two other shirt designs. After a little tweaking to the fish knees cartoon to simplify it, I sent it off to the printers with the other two designs.


Flash forward to the present. Good news! As of the writing of this blog entry, the three shirts I designed for the Creation Museum bookstore are the three top apparel sellers. Even better is that the After Eden fish knees design is the number ONE apparel seller! Thanks Marcia for your great idea and encouragement to try that shirt design again!

And, if you (my readers) should want one of these shirts, you can buy one HERE!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

After Eden - Behind the scenes 4

About 4 years ago, some friends/coworkers of mine were in a very bad and very strange automobile accident. The van they were traveling in at around 55 mph, was struck on the front passenger side by a car that was traveling in the same direction as they were. This car was apparently pushed into them (that was the claim of the driver) and the impact of the collision collapsed the front tire on the driver's side of the van causing it to flip over onto its top and literally slide down the highway on its roof, windshield and hood until it came to a stop. Check out the damage to those sections of the van in the photo below. This amazing accident should be featured in Ripley's Believe it or Not some day! A miracle for sure.

The potential for injury and death in this mishap was great, and while there thankfully was no death, the injuries suffered were painful and not easily overcome, yet they were not as bad as what you might imagine them to be. Above you can see the After Eden cartoon that I produced a few days after my friend's crash. It features a van and a car that have been involved in some sort of accident and both ended up upside down. This didn't happen to the car in the real accident, but for the purposes of the cartoon, this addition to the cartoon version of the story worked out quite well. Below you can see the photo of the actual van that I used as reference for the cartoon.

Knowing that this cartoon is based on a real accident may cause some to think I'm making fun of this very serious event. Far from it. It was my way of expressing thankfulness to God for His protection and preservation of Dave and Lynn Jolly's lives. And it was an opportunity to show that even something that we see as an "accident" can help us to see that life is no accident.


Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind?
Job 12:9-10

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Notable or Non-notable? That is the question!


Back in April of 2007 I was sent an email informing me that " an entry for Dan Lietha has been targeted to be eliminated off the Wikipedia site". The reason was I was a "non-notable". I was shocked! I had no idea that there was a Dan Lietha entry on Wikipedia! However, I wasn't shocked that I was deemed a "non- notable.

A few days later I checked the Wikipedia link to the Dan Lietha entry that was included in the elimination announcement email and found that somebody unknown to me (probably the same person that made the entry in the first place) had written a nice little bio on me and posted it to the Wikipedia page. That bio must have done trick because the entry was not eliminated, so I can only assume that I had graduated from "non-notable" to "notable". I'm still not sure I qualify as "notable", but if Wikipedia says I'm notable, who am I to argue?

Friday, March 06, 2009

After Eden - Behind the scenes 3


There are days when even artists don't feel like drawing. That doesn't change the fact that deadlines still must be met. But, there are also ways to make those two facts of life come together. This cartoon was one such solution. And now you know.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Next Lietha Artist?


Another question that I am asked from time to time is if Hannah has her father's artistic ability. For us it's hard to answer that question because we don't see much of any other child's art to compare her art against. Hannah's Sunday school teacher once told Marcia and me that Hannah's drawings stood out from the other kid's in the class and she could tell Hannah has an artist in the family, so that was a nice compliment to her skills.

If Hannah does have advanced skills in that area, it isn't because we are pushing her in any way to be like me. We do see that she likes to draw and paint quite a lot. She often likes to draw when she sees me drawing which is quite funny and touching to me. And Hannah has a very nice collection of art equipment like a kiddy drawing board with a lamp and built-in lightbox, and also a nice dual-sided easel with a chalkboard on one side and a
marker board on the other. And she often draws and paints on my Cintiq in either Photoshop or Art Rage2.

At this point I could digress into one of those "I never had any of that stuff when I was a kid" type of rants. I won't, however, when I was a kid, the first lightbox I ever had was a bedroom lamp placed in a tall cardboard box with a sheet of plexiglass laying over the top of it. WOW! That thing would get pretty HOT and I could only use it for minutes at a time before I had to turn it off or suffer damage and pain from the heat. And I'm glad I can still see OK because I had to stare at the overly bright lamp with only a couple sheets of paper to block the lamplight through clear plexiglass. Proper and safe lightboxes today have clouded plastic to dim the light passing through it and lights that are just bright enough to allow you to trace the image through a couple sheets of paper without burning your eyes out like when you stare at a solar eclipse! Kids, don't try to build a bedroom lamp and cardboard box lightbox at home! Thankfully Hannah has better drawing supplies than I did.

But, does she have art talent? Time will tell. For now, she is just a cute little girl that likes to draw and paint, and she makes her parents very proud.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

After Eden - Behind the scenes 2


People often ask me where my ideas for cartoons come from. For the After Eden cartoon featured in my previous posting, it began with the news of my brother's skiing accident and broken collar bone. My original thought was to somehow do a cartoon about the broken bone, but then I turned the focus onto the "fall" aspect of the story and things fell (pun intended ... sorry about that) into place. Almost immediately after that redirection took place in my mind during a Friday morning staff meeting at AiG, I did a quick sketch. That quick sketch sealed the deal for the direction of the cartoon.

Here it is, the very beginning of the visual part of the cartoon. The proto-cartoon. However, I would like to think of this as a case of intelligent design and not evolution by random, undirected mutation!

Most of the cartoons I've created that I like the best, have started with a small, simple sketch that hit me just right and gave me a clear vision of what the end product will be. If only this type of clear and quick revelation happened more often. Usually the final idea seems to develop from more random, kind of directed, idea mutations that eventually turn into something useable after long periods of time have passed. That's about as close as evolution ever gets to really happening anywhere in the universe ... but it still ends up being "intelligent design".

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

After Eden - Behind the scenes 1


This After Eden cartoon that I produced a couple weeks ago is actually loosely based on a real event. My younger brother Mark was recently out skiing with his church youth group and while instructing one of the kids on how to ski, caught his own ski on the snow in an unusual fashion and did a flip into the snow and broke his coller bone. OUCH! Fortunately his young student didn't learn the lesson all that well and walked away unhurt.

Monday, March 02, 2009

A blog posting every day in March ... I hope!


March is a wonderful month. Both my wife and I have birthdays in this lovely month. So, to celebrate March, I am going to attempt a new blog posting for each of the 31 days. Some postings may be small, but they'll be new.

For today, I'll give you a sneak peek at the illustration hiding behind my daughter's hand in the previous post. It's from my current at home project of illustrating the Ken Ham childrens book, D is for Dinosaur. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Blessing from Heaven ... and Florida too - part 2


It's ironic that I ended my last blog entry with the phrase "rest of the story" because yesterday I learned that Paul Harvey, the one that made those words famous, passed away at age 90. I have many memories of hearing his voice on the radio at a distance and running to where ever the radio was to hear his news or rest of the story. He will be greatly missed.

And now on to my "rest of the story".

I follow a lot of artist blogs. Going to these blogs is a part of my daily routine for inspiration and instruction. Many if not most of these artists now use Wacom's Cintiq to produce their illustrations on the computer. And each of them LOVE using the Cintiq and have blogged about how it has increased their speed and enjoyment of illustrating digitally. This caused me to look into obtaining a Cintiq myself and I eventually found the 21 inch model on Craig's List for $1200.00! A steal of a deal. I contacted the seller and he still had it and I was the first in line for it. The missing, vital, must-have piece in this deal was my wife's approval. Before I approached her, I prayed and told the Lord that if Marcia said no, I would agree, let the Cintiq go and move on from there. It's important for me to have her blessing on my activities, especially on major purchases. Her response was not one of excitement because we really didn't have the money and in the initial short conversation I never got the definitive "NO", but I could tell that was where the discussion would end up. So, before the topic was fully fleshed out, I decided to contact a friend in Florida that had worked for Wacom and run a few questions about the Cintiq by him. Not long into the conversation, my friend asked me when we were coming down to Florida to visit him. I had to tell him we had just been down in Florida in March to visit my parents and sadly we didn't have time to stop by for a visit. He said that was too bad because he had a Cintiq sitting in a box on the floor of his office ... waiting FOR ME! I was blown away! After asking a few times if he was pulling my leg, he assured me he was serious and the Cintiq was real. What a great friend!

The end result is that I have been using the Cintiq for the past few months at home and at work. I am RUINED for doing digital art any other way! It's everything the others artist said it was and more! My biggest frustration now is sharing it between home and the AiG office. I need a special case to make hauling it back and forth easier and more possible. As it stands now, I only take it home on the weekends so I can only work on freelance projects with it on weekends and that slows down projects like my current illustrating of the childrens book D is for Dinosaur. So a special Cintiq case is my next prayer request.

In the photo above is my daughter Hannah drawing over one of my D is for Dinosaur illustrations. She loves to draw on the Cintiq too and often begs me to let her paint and draw on it. The white glove in the picture is the one I wear while using the Cintiq to protect the screen from skin oil and it helps my hand to smoothly move across the glass. What a blessing this Cintiq has been. Thank you Lord ... and my friend in Florida!