Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Blog Moving to Website

Yes, you read that right! I've finally decided to make the switch. I am going to be moving my blog directly to my website. It will be a new blog. In fact, you can see it here. It's sad to say good-bye to my old blogspot blog. We've been together for 9 years now! But it is much better nowadays to have everything on the same site.

In honor of the old blog, over the next little while, I will be moving over and revising old popular blog posts to the new blog. I will be posting every Wednesday! I will keep everything here also- at least for a while until things are really established over at the new blog. Thanks everyone for reading, and I hope to see you over at my new blog. There is an email subscribe button, and and RSS feed on the new blog, so I hope you will come on over and subscribe. 

Here is the link again for the new blog. Or go to my website:, and click on the blog tab.

Brunhilda's Dress

I recently finished the artwork for my book Brunhilda's Backwards Day. The book will be published in fall 2016 by Sky Pony Press. 

Although I can't share a lot of images from the book yet, I wanted to share a little sneak peak of Brunhilda's dress. In the story, Brunhilda wakes up one day to find things quite different than she is used to, and all she can find to wear if an annoyingly fluffy pink ballgown! Well, I just coudn't skip on the opportunity to make this dress look as ridiculously ruffly as possible. 

But then, guess what?! I had to paint the darn thing no less than 20 times in the book! And I had to adjust it all according to the lighting and mood in each picture. Yes, it was a pain. But in the end, it was all worth it. Long live the ridiculous fluffy pink ballgown! I can't wait to share the book with all of you next year!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Two More Wizards!

Willow the Squirrel

Rowena the Porcupine

Greeting blog friends! Do you remember the game, Wizards of the Wild which I helped illustrate that was funded on Kickstarter back in March and April? Well, since the Kickstarter campaign reached so many stretch goals, I was able to make two new characters for the game. This time two female wizards. 

Introducing: Willow the Squirrel and Rowena the Porcupine! These characters were so fun to do, and I learned a lot while doing them.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Artist Round Table Episode #3 with Mallory Carlson

Good day friends! Over the weekend, I once again hung out with some of my art friends to bring you another conversation about being a professional artist today. You'll notice I was not in Episode 2, as I was speaking on a panel at a local writing conference that day. But I was glad to be back, we had a great conversation.

This time we interviewed Mallory Carlson. We talked about not shying away from the things that are your weaknesses in art, because if you take the time to really work on those things, they will soon become your strengths. We talked about the challenges of taking care of our bodies and taking time to socialize and other things that are important that we sometimes neglect as artists. We also talked about where we are most inspired.

It's a great conversation to listen to while you draw today! If you like it, share it with friends!

In other news, I also need to mention that the game I helped illustrate- Wizards of the Wild was successfully funded on Kickstarter! In fact, it ended up being funded way over the original goal mark! And since the project reached so many stretch goals, I get to illustrate 2 new characters! I already have them designed and ready to color! Thanks to all the backers!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wizards of the Wild on Kickstarter!

I'm happy to announce that the game, Wizards of the Wild, for which I was one of the illustrators is now funding on Kickstarter! Click here to go to the Kickstarter page!

I had the great opportunity to participate in this fun project! I illustrated the cover, the character cards and some of the magic cards. I especially loved creating the characters! I am posting the full illustrations of the characters below. Enjoy! And please come help back the game and pass the word along! I would love to see this game be published!

Monday, March 02, 2015

Artist Round Table #1 with Jose-Luis Segura

Greetings friends! Over the weekend, I hung out with an awesome group of artists, and we had a great discussion about our careers as artists. We started by interviewing artist Jose-Luis Segura, and then broke into a group discussion. Come and listen while you work! We hope to do more of these in the future, stay tuned!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sketching Sketching All Day Long!

Some sketches of a character I have been working on from my sketchbook!

In the month of December, I drew in my sketch book nearly every day. I skipped a couple weekend days and Christmas, but I was proud of the fact that I sketched nearly every day. I managed to keep it up a lot of January, but slacked off a bit near the end of the month. But I'm determined to keep going. I started this challenge because I got some feedback from Stephen Silver at CTN on my character drawings. He told me to just keep practicing and drawing my characters in motion. I haven't ever been really good about sketching in my sketch book regularly. I came to CTN with a blank sketch book with the first page cut out because my first drawing was really bad and I was embarrassed.

Trying out different mediums! Pen and Ink with Watercolor!

Sketching daily feels a lot more comfortable now, and I don't need to be embarrassed about what is in my sketch book. One thing that helped me in this was remembering that it is all just practice, which means I'm not obligated to show any one else my drawings. I have been doing my own drawings, and I have also been copying other people's character sketches for practice and study. It has been great. And I'm going to continue it this year, and I know I will get better.
Join me this year, and challenge yourself to sketch more! In fact, if you want an official challenge, the #kidlitart chat community is doing a challenge to draw every day in February. Check out the details here.

Sketching on the Ipad! This one was done in the Procreate App.

To help you get motivated and inspired, here are some prompts and tools that I have been using.

First, Here are some things that help me think of what to sketch every day:
- Draw your own already designed characters in different poses.
- Use Stephen Silver's Character Design Shuffle app to come up with new character ideas.
- Copy another person's character design sketches. Of course, these are for personal study, so don't post them on the web, but keep them for yourself.
-Try different mediums- pens, watercolor, markers different art apps on the Ipad etc.
- Choose a photo from Pinterest and draw it.
- Use images from the apps Posebook or Posetool for reference.
- Prompts from Sketchdailies.
- Color studies from nature in watercolor or on the Ipad.
- And of course the best idea is to just draw the things you love!

Do you all have any other ideas when it comes to sketch books? (Share in the comments below!!)

Trying some totally new mediums! This one was done with pen and Ink and Copic Markers!

Second, something that has been helpful to me, it to replenish and revive my sketching supplies. Here's a picture of some of my recently replenished supplies:

Just incase you were curious, here is my #weaponsofchoice:

I am enjoying my new sketch book! It is a Trav-e-logue Hand-Book Sketch Book , and it fits perfectly in purses, and other bags. It also has strong enough paper for watercolor washes and such! 

For sketching in my sketch book I like to use Prismacolor Col-Erase Erasable Colored Pencils , or a regular mechanical pencil with a  Kneaded Eraser. For pens I am trying out new brush pens  from and Micron Pens. I have also just purchased and started trying the Copic Markers Sketching Grays set

I LOVE my Sakura Koi Portable Watercolor Set Sakura Koi Water Colors Field Sketch Set with a Water Brush. So nice! 

I also like to sketch on my ipad. My favorite apps are Procreate, and Sketchbook Pro. My favorite stylus so far is an Adonit Jot Pro Fine Point Stylus . I also like to use the Wacom Bamboo Stylus

For all my finished illustrations, I paint in Photoshop on my Yiynova MSP19U Tablet Monitor

Hope this helps inspire you! Happy drawing everyone!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

2015 Utah SCBWI Illustrators Conference with Art Director Kristine Brogno

Artwork by Shawna (that's me)!

Utah and Southern Idaho Illustrators Unite!! Mark your calendars!

Utah/ Southern Idaho SCBWI presents, our 2015 Illustrator's Conference, February 21, 2015 with art director Kristine Brogno from Chronicle Books! Other speakers will be Author/Illustrator Mark Pett (The Girl and the Bicycle), and Illustrator Guy Francis (Clark the Shark). Come join us for a day full of fun and inspiration!

Keep up to date on the Drawing Sunshine Blog:

Also, you can register here:

Monday, December 01, 2014

PiBoIdMo Winner 2014! And Daily Sketch Commitment!

Hurray! I participated once again in PiBoIdMo in November- 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. It was a little tricky with CTNx and Thanksgiving, but somehow I managed to come up with 31 ideas! I can guarantee that the majority of them are pretty bad ideas, but maybe there are a handful of gems in there that might become great picture books someday! I'm happy that I did it once again. I think one of my favorite things about PiBoIdMo is all the inspiring blog posts by guest bloggers on Tara Lazar's blog. They give great ideas for coming up with picture book ideas, tell about their experiences, or just give great encouragement. This is definitely going to continue to be a yearly tradition for me.

As for the month of December, I have decided to do one sketch a day. I am not good at doing daily warm up sketches, I'm really not. I think it is because I have such a limited amount of time working as a freelance illustrator and then trying to do all my mom duties as well- I guess the daily sketch usually gets pushed to the back burner. But I am going to commit to it for one month. I know December is a weird month to do it, but I was so inspired after CTN, and I just want to start now. So here I go. I am committing to sketching every day. I may or may not post sketches. Some of my sketches may be copies of what other people have done for educational purposes- so I definitely won't be posting those. I know I will probably come up with some pretty bad sketches. But the thing is, if I am sketching more, I am going to get better. So I am committing to do it today!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy News!

Happy Happy News! I just wanted to share that my book "Bruhilda's Backwards Day" will be published by Sky Pony Press in 2016!!!

Here's some more posts about Brunhilda that you might enjoy! I have been sharing much of my process on this project!

The Showcase: Will Your Personal Project Make Money? On

Picture Book Dummy Part 1- Making the Dummy Book

Picture Book Dummy Part 2- Preparing the Dummy Book to Send to Publishers

Picture Book Dummy Part 3- Sending the Dummy Book to Agents and Publishers

Painting Drama 2 at the Oatley Academy

Visual Development for Brunhilda's Story: Today Strange Plants

Today was really not going well for Brunhilda! Another Illustration for my Book!

Another Sneak Peak into my Book

"Then one night, the cat made plenty of trouble." Process to Final!

Be a Vis Dev Children's Illustrator!

Finding a House for my Characters

Designing Some Characters

My Amazing CTNx Experience

I had a most amazing time going to CTNx (Creative Talent Network Animation Expo) in Burbank this past weekend. Here are a couple highlights from my trip.

The day before the Expo, we got together with people from the Oatley Academy. We had breakfast together and then we went to the Getty Museum. It was amazing to be with wonderful people who I have taken classes with at the Oatley Academy who have become some of my best friends. 

After looking around the museum, we had "OA family time." Chris Oatley, Lora Innes, and Justin Copeland gave us some great talks on what to expect at CTN, longevity of careers in art, and not quenching our passions because of what other people think.

Here's a picture of some of my favorite people. 
Some of the group that took Painting Drama 2 this last year. 

After the Getty, we went to the Center Stage Gallery to see the Lovely Ladies of Animation exhibit. It was awesome to see their original artwork in person! Here is a picture of us gathered after to eat and visit. We ended up in a circle of drawing awesomeness.

The Expo itself was amazing. I met so many people that I knew from school, from Utah, and from the internet. I met new amazing artists. I got to talk with artists who I really admire in person. Glen Keane's opening speech almost had me in tears. I took many amazing workshops. I bought far too many books. I laughed until I almost fell over, and I got lots of giant hugs. 

Helping out at the Oatley Academy Booth.

With Peter De Seve.

With Pascal Campion.

Hanging with friends. The Muppet Crowd of Awesomeness!

Now you might be wondering what a children's illustrator is doing going to an animation expo. Well let me tell you. I have learned so much from the animation industry over the last couple years. I had a very good education from BYU, where I got my degree. But character design, and story boarding were not really part of what I was required to learn. I think these are important skills for anyone wanting to make children's books. After all, making a children's book is almost like making your very own personal movie (without the animation part). Having well designed characters is going to be a big part of the appeal of your picture books! 

Also, a lot of people in animation are also into the children's illustration world as well. I picked up a few picture books while I was there! I thought I would feel silly saying I was an illustrator (not a character designer or visual development artist), but it turned out that many of the people there exhibiting are illustrators just like me.

While I was at CTN, I got the chance to see so much good good art. The expo floor is like a giant Comic Con, but all the art is actually really really good (no crappy fan art). There was so much inspiration there. Some amazing character designers there that gave me some good advice for my character designs. I also went to a few workshops that were really inspiring and helpful to any artist.

Also, being at CTN was like a giant family reunion where so many of my friends were gathered. I loved going so much, and I hope I can go again in future years. I hope to see some of you there in future years!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Going to CTN and Other Updates!

I was going through some old photos and found this little gem. This is me 11 years ago, 2003, my senior year in the Illustration department at BYU. We went on a trip to L.A. where we visited museums and some studios. I remember when I visited the studio, they were working on The Incredibles, and they had in the works and planning stages, a Rapunzel movie...which wouldn't come out for quite some time! This was also at the very end of most of the 2D animation. Brother Bear just was about to come out. Fun to look back on this trip!

I have never been interested in working for a big studio, mostly because my most important job is to be a mom. Which is why I chose the path of being a freelance illustrator. In fact, at the time this photo was taken, I was 6 week pregnant with my first baby. Sometimes it is really hard to be both a full time mom and a full time illustrator, but I am really glad I can do both!

Despite never really wanting to be part of a big studio, I have learned so much from the animation world! And although the studio route is not for me, I have thought it would be fun to try out some freelance character designing and such. Because of these things (and also to meet up with some good friends), I will be going to the CTN animation Expo next month in Burbank California! I am very excited!

Also, a little update on what I have in the works. Things have been a bit slow, as I have had a bunch of freelance work going on. But I am working on a very exciting project that I hope will be beneficial to all of you, dear readers!  There will be more details soon, and I hope to start posting this super secret project at the beginning of the year in January! Until then, hopefully I will find sometime to post some art work and maybe some more industry tips soon!

Happy October everyone, and keep drawing!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Picture Book Writing Retreat with Literary Agent, Jodell Sadler at Beautiful Sundance Aug 30!!

Come join me and my literary agent, Jodell Sadler at Sundance Lodge Writing Retreats where she will be doing picture book critiques on August 30th!

 The cost for the whole day (including 3 gourmet meals) is $150. If you need lodging for Friday and Saturday night, cost is another $100. Contact Mette Ivie Harrison ( to get signed up and get more information. 

Other speakers will be Julie Olson (Discovering America), Kristyn Crow (Zombelina), Sharlee Glenn, and me, Shawna Tenney!

 Great views, great company, the best food, a chance to meet casually with other writers, new and more experienced, along with the chance to talk one-on-one with an agent--it's a chance that's hard to beat. In addition to the critique, you'll have a chance to talk casually with all of the presenters and with Jodell, and to ask all the questions your inquiring heart desires.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Questions To Ask Potential Illustration Clients

In this video blog post, I talk about questions you should ask a potential client for book illustration jobs, whether they be working at a publishing house, or a self publishing author. It is important to have good communication to weed out potentially bad jobs, and to know exactly what the client is expecting.

Here is my affiliate link to the book I mention in the video, Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators, by Tad Crawford.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Make Your Single Layered Sketch into a Multi-layered Illustration in Photoshop

In this Youtube Video, I share the technique I use to make my one layered sketch into a multi-layered illustration in Photoshop. Please "like" and share if this is helpful to you!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Character Design Sketches

Here are a few character sketches from a new personal book project I am working on! This represents only a very small portion of the pages and pages of character sketches that I have drawn, and I am sure there will be many many more to come.

 Something I am really trying to think about is varying the shapes and sizes and proportions in each character. I am also trying to give them unique silhouettes. This is something I didn't think about much before I started learning from artists in the animation industry. These are principles I think every children's illustrator should think about when designing characters for books.

Another great tip I learned from my friend, and concept artist at Disney Infinity in Salt Lake, Nasan Hardcastle is to start out really small and loose. Draw your character first in very small and simple shapes- almost like drawing a letter. Work loosely. Get the main general shapes first and then work up to a bigger size and work in the details.