Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 26, 2011

Illustrator Saturday – J.H. Everett

J.H. Everett is a visual storyteller, writer, and creativity expert.

He enjoys learning about everything and meeting new people. He is the father of two boys, and is married to Dr. Rebecca Stanton, a professor of Education. On a daily basis, his Pembroke Welsh Corgi, named Lucy, hurds him around the house and studio.

Ev has worked as a professional musician, theater director, editor, writer, teacher, and illustrator. He holds a Ph.D in Early Modern European and World history from the University of California, Irvine. He has spent a lot of life traveling, living, and studying in the UK and Western Europe. No matter what he is doing or where he is, he compulsively draws and doodles on everything.


J.H. Everett’s first picturebook, The Candy Palace, has been published by the MMJ Foundation Press and Second Harvest Food Bank (along with retail partners, like Dior and Assouline Books). In partnership with MMJ Foundation, Ev has also helped create and implement the school giving programs for the Candy Palace project, as well as a school writing program for new books.

He is co-creating the fully illustrated middle-grade nonfiction series, HAUNTED HISTORIES, forthcoming from Christy Ottaviano Books/ Henry Holt Publishing, Inc. And, is co-authoring the biography of Hanna Barbera artist/designer Bob Singer. He is a regular contributing illustrator to the Los Angleles Times. Ev is represented by Jamie Weiss-Chilton of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.

Now how many of you have thought about having a book signing at Dior’s?

Professional background…

In addition to his current book projects, Ev has had the pleasure of working as a freelance concept illustrator for a Jim Henson Company development property and has created concept covers for Scholastic Books. He served as an editor on Me and My World, as well as several other titles for the educational publisher, Teacher Created Resources. He has written articles for children’s literature publications and websites including: SCBWI Kite Tales, Children’s Book Insider, and The Reading Tub and is a featured author in the California Reader’s Association and Authors Now! Together, Ev and his wife, Dr. Rebecca Stanton (Professor of Education, Concordia University) continue to write articles and children’s books. They also regularly present for school educational programs and academic conferences.

Always learning…

Ev first learned how to write stories from his mom, who happened to be his 8th grade language arts teacher. Over the years, Ev had several wonderful teachers and professors who taught him writing. As a lyricist, Ev was lucky enough to briefly study with famed lyricist, Hal David. In music and theater, he produced several original albums and two original children’s musical theater shows. In college, he focused on humanities based disciplines: English Literature, Art, Music, Philosophy, and History. 

Ev’s first art teacher was his grandfather, Al. Ev would go over to his house after school and create paintings of the local Tucson, Arizona area landscapes, where he grew up. He was influenced by the photography of longtime family friend, Arizona Highways photographer and writer, Dick Frontain. As an adult, Ev studied privately under famed Disney watercolorist, cartoonist, and artist Roger Armstrong. Currently, Ev is a long-time student of celebrated Hanna Barbera artist/designer and animator, Bob Singer. He also works with Caldecott award winning artist, Alice Provensen, as part of Studio 5.

Ev has taught students from preschool through the college level. The students and kids that he has worked with have always been a great source of inspriation. While in graduate school, Ev moonlighted as a book store manager who specialized in children’s literature. He has won numerous teaching awards for his pedagogical workshops, and classroom teaching. Ev continues to do research and writing worldwide. He loves visiting people and cultures all over the world.

Influences and favorites…

Ev’s art is greatly influenced by the British traditions of Illustrators and cartoonists – artists such as Quentin Blake, Ronald Searle, Ralph Steadman, Arthur Rackham, George Cruikshank, and Edmund DuLac.  He also adores Edward Gorey. His favorite traditional painters are Rodin, Manet, and Toluouse-Lautrec. Some of Ev’s favorite writers are Roald Dahl, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Eamon Duffy, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jules Verne. He loves BBC Television. In multimedia, the work of Windsor McKay, the animation of UPA artists Maurice Noble and Paul Julian, as well as the humor and imagination of Jim Henson has had a great impact on his own work and perspective. He loves old black and white films, especially Keaton, Chaplin, Abbott and Costello, Charlie Chan, the Marx Brothers, and Vincent Price. He is a fan of the directors Hitchcock, Fellini, Burton, and Del Toro.

Studio 5…

Ev is one of the founding members of Studio 5 (along with Bob Singer of Hanna Barbera fame, Marilyn Scott-Waters of Scholastic and Henry Holt, Andy Mitchell of Random House, JR Johnson of Penske Advertisement, and Alice Provensen – Caldecott winner, 1984). The Studio 5 website can be found at . Along with Studio 5, Ev’s paintings and art installations are to be featured in a three-month show at the award winning Thatcher Gallery, as well as school programs and conference talks at the Charles Schultz museum, in San Francisco and the Bay Area starting September, 2011.

Art Process for the Illustrations of Izzy and the Candy Palace J.H. Everett – Illustrator

I had to adapt some of my usual process to fulfill the requests of the art director for the book. Specifically, because I was a young illustrator, she wanted to break down the images into layers that she could more easily manipulate in Photoshop. Typically, I work with ink, watercolor, pencil, and acrylic by hand and scan final images in once they exist as completed ink and color images.

I think that I use the computer the same way a lot of artists do who still work with real materials.

First, I sketch loose thumbnail notes inside of the manuscript as I read the copy. In the case of The Candy Palace, because it was written by a nine year old girl, I was involved more deeply in the editorial process for the manuscript (as was everyone on the editorial and art team) than I would be with an author.


Next, I scan the loose sketches that I had created on the manuscript into the computer and resize it to the approximate size of the actual book. From this, I print out a copy and place it on a light box table. From the enlargement, I create an initial pencil version of the illustration. In the initial pencil version, I work composition, lines of action, shapes, flow, and layout. Though I may add more detail in the initial pencil, I try to stay loose and worry more about big shapes and the feel of the page – how it will flow from and to the next pages.


I repeat these steps until the entire book exists in a loose pencil form. I then construct the first storyboard of the entire book from the individual pages. I post those up on the wall of my studio at full-size and construct a one-page storyboard (8.5″ X 11″) notes page that I keep with me at all times in my sketchbook during the time I am working on a book. It is this initial pencil that I use for editorial/art meetings.


Then, I move on to a final pencil stage. In this stage there is a lot to do. I recreate the book working on fine details, tone, line, expression, perspective, body language, etc. If I am working on designing new characters this is also the stage where I will produce model sheets and nail down specific character traits and details. Essentially, this final pencil is where much of the visual language of the book is determined. It is also the point when the majority of layout and design of pages are finalized. After the pages are finished, I scan them back into Photoshop and create a book dummy and new storyboard. I use Tombow pencils (2b and 3b) and some old animator Blackwing pencils for all my pencils.


Once the final pencil is approved, I print out full-sized versions with any corrections that were made (I usually do layout and print corrections in Photoshop). I place those pencils on a light table and draw the ink lines, using Higgins cartoonists Black ink, Waverly nib dip pens, and sable brushes on Strathmore drawing paper. I like the Strathmore, because the ink doesn’t spread or bleed on me too much. After the inks are created and dry, I scan them into Photoshop so that I have a plain ink version of the pages. After the inks are scanned in, I will usually replace the pencil version of the dummy with an ink version (at least digitally), so that I can see the true finished line of the book without color. Separating the ink out also allows for coloring a line digitally without affecting the interior color of an image.

Typically, I would then paint in the original ink drawings and rescan them. But, for this book, the art director asked me to paint the book in separate layers. So, I did! We separated out into four layers: background, characters, ink, and the candy. Because of how prominent the candy was in the book, we treated it as it’s own character. For each layer, I would use a print out of the ink layer to size and I would create each layer of color with watercolor. I use Graham watercolors, Liquitex acrylic paint, and Fabriano studio watercolor paper (90lb) for painting. During this phase a color palette is also created.


Each layer was scanned into Photoshop and reassembled as a whole image for print. Of course, the files are sent CMYK for print, but are RGB in these images for the Internet.


Once the Photoshop images were created, my job was pretty much done. The art director corrected what she needed, created a detailed color match, layered in type, etc. If she needed anything during editing, she called me or emailed and made requests for additional pieces of art. The cover went through a similar process as the entire book. The files were then made ready to send to the printer. All-in-all, though it was not a simple process, the end product was beautiful! Keeping the paintings in layers allowed the art director to manipulate all aspects of the images in order to really bring out the best possible version of my style. Going forward from this book, I have adapted my process to incorporate some of the Photoshop techniques that we used in creating Izzy and have had great success mixing real world art techniques and digital manipulation.

Ta Dah! And that’s J. H. Everett.  Hope you enjoyed visiting with him. You can see more on his website

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Kathy, His name is J.H. Everett, but the link and banner read E.J. Everett. Is that correctable? Great article & pictures, though. Thank you so much!


    • Rebecca,

      That is so embarrassing. I wish someone had pointed that out sooner. I couldn’t find a link that did not work. Could you help point me to the mistake?




  2. Kathy,
    Thanks for fixing the banner! I imagine that the URL (sorry – not link – my mistake in nomenclature!) cannot be changed once it is created. Not a big deal – just thought the banner might cause some confusion, so I wanted to point it out. Thanks again for the great article!


  3. Great article! Loved reading about the creative process.


  4. Kathy,

    Thank you, so much for such a wonderful opportunity!

    J.H. Everett


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