Awesome Artist : Colleen Kong


In this series, Awesome Artists, we talk to our favorite artists to get insight on how they draw, and get their tips for creating. We spoke to  Allison Langton, who shared her watercolor techniques with painting plants, and Tim Miller, who gave us a peek into his process for creating the picture book, Snappsy the Alligator. Today we welcome back one of our friends, Colleen Kong-Savage, who was our very first guest for 3 & 1/2 Questions.

Meet Awesome Artist Colleen Kong


I’m so excited for Colleen as this is her debut as a picture book illustrator. Above is the cover of The Turtle Ship by Helena Ku Rhee, illustrated by Colleen Kong-Savage. Colleen uses a technique called collage – doodling with paper. We’re so excited to share Colleen’s process in drawing with scissors and paper.

The Turtle Ship is a story about a poor boy named Sun-sin who dreams of traveling the world. One day a contest is announced that the winner of best ship design would get to sail with the royal navy. Sun-sin’s idea for a ship is inspired by his best friend, a turtle called Gobugi (which means “turtle” in Korean).

Colleen is going to share with us one of the most difficult scenes she worked on for the book, as seen below.

KCD: Hi Colleen. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your work with us! Can you tell us a little bit about this scene from the book?

CKS: For this scene, I wanted show the Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was the grandest of all the palaces built in the Joseon Dynasty, the period in which Sunsin lived. So I did a sketch to show the art director how I planned to illustrate this scene. It was rough, messy, and fast because the purpose of the sketch was to show the Art Director my idea.

The Art Director said, “We like the expressions of people wondering why a kid is there with a turtle. It’s cute the way you have him holding the turtle on his head. We suggest backing out in space so we can see many more of the “hundreds of people.” Right now it looks like there are only six other people.”

Arrival_sketch 1

smileNote that Colleen shows a sketch before starting a final drawing. The above is the first one she showed, and she does a few more before it gets approved to proceed to final draft.

trythisBefore doing a drawing, see how many ways you can sketch the drawing. Trying different viewpoints or changing something about the subject or try different ideas.

KCD: How did you react to the Art Director’s feedback?

CKS: I don’t know if you ever noticed — drawing people is not easy, not even for a professional artist. But the Art Director was right, I hadn’t drawn very many people, so I sketched some more.

“How’s this?” I asked the Art Director.

She said, “This is a little better with a few more people added, but we still don’t get a sense of hundreds, and nobody has a replica of a battleship.”


Argh! Drawing a crowd is a lot of work! You have to make up many different faces, and many different bodies doing different activities, wearing different clothes, in different positions from the viewer’s point of view. Plus as a collage artist I was imagining all the like tiny bits of paper I’d be cutting out in the final illustration. And oh yeah, I had forgotten about the replicas.

“How about this?” I asked the Art Director. “Is this enough people and battleships? And do you like how you can see Sun-sin’s face now? I want people to see that he’s excited to be here.”

Thankfully, the Art Director said, “YES!”


KCD: How do you start drawing with paper?

CKS: I make many copies of this drawing. I use most of them to help me cut out all the individual shapes from the papers I want to use. With the help of a light table I trace facial expressions. And I always keep one copy of the master drawing whole. 

This copy is my template and it helps me figure out where to put the pieces.

As I put the pieces in place I glue them to each other—not onto the template. I will glue the crowd to another background when it’s complete.

This is what the back of a whole crowd of people look like.



Phew! I bet it took a long time to complete pasting all the people and their details. Here is the completed scene again. Thanks for sharing your process with us, Colleen!


smileEvery professional illustrator sketches ideas first before doing a final piece of art. The final art takes a long time, so it’s important to work out all the details first, and that way, you’ll make all your mistakes in the early draft and not the final art.


Next time when you want to create something, try sketching out a few ideas first. See how many ways you can approach the drawing, trying it in different way each time. Good luck!


Colleen Kong-Savage is an illustrator, artist, and graphic designer. Her picture book debut, The Turtle Ship is published by Shen’s Books, a multicultural children’s book publisher based in California. Shen’s Books aims to emphasize “cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia.”

All images courtesy of Colleen Kong-Savage.


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How to Draw : Start with a scribble

start with a scribble

Start with a scribble.

How do we learn how to draw? We start with a scribble. By doodling lines and squiggles, we begin to transform the blank page into a drawing.

At kid can doodle, we believe EVERYONE can draw. But each person’s confidence with drawing varies, so we’ve been thinking about how to encourage and support those doodlers who desire more guidance. We knew we didn’t want an outcome-oriented “How to Draw ___” with specific steps for copying each subject. Instead, we wanted to create a doodle approach that could be applied to drawing anything, would build confidence and observational skills, and is a bit silly and imaginative at the same time. It’s a tall order — which might be the reason it took four years to put this together — we hope you like it.

Welcome to kid can doodle class. This is your first doodle lesson. Click on this link to download a worksheet for this lesson, or grab a piece of paper and follow along below. Please NOTE: When downloading from our site, you agree to these terms. Happy doodling!

Start with a scribble.


Doodle Warm-up

Always begin drawing with a quick warm-up exercise. This one is super simple. Start scribbling. Try make your squiggles look like . . .

a snake


a tree


a tornado or cyclone
a beard


This is conscious scribbling. Spend only a second or two on each scribble but think about how you can make them resemble some thing and how you can vary each one. Warming up before you draw helps you loosen up.

Doodle Exercise : Blind Contour

Blind contour drawing is a technique in which you draw the outline of a subject without looking at your page or pencil. Focus only on the object that you are drawing.

For this exercise, doodle your non-drawing hand. So if you’re left-handed, draw your right hand, and vice versa. Remember to look at the object you are drawing, and not your actual drawing. This will take practice as you will want to look at your paper. No peeking! Resist the temptation!

Rotate your hand into another position and draw it again. Repeat.

try thisDoodle TIP : Pretend you are tracing your doodle subject with your pencil; follow the outline of your hand model with your eyes while allowing your drawing hand to follow with the pencil on the paper.

Here’s my show of hands. It’s ok if they overlap, too.



If you trust in this method, you will improve your observational skills, which will help you become better at drawing. The purpose of this exercise is not to make a life-like drawing, but to teach yourself to see and focus. It will help you improve your hand-and-eye coordination skills.

Share your doodles with us! Don’t forget to tag them with #kidcandoodle or #startwithascribble

If you liked this lesson, please sign up for our new doodle club on ko-fi. Let us know what you think in the comments below. For more doodle fun, download Doodle Bugs.

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Awesome Artists : Richard Jones


In this series, Awesome Artists, we talk to our favorite artists to find out their techniques, learn how they do things, and get their tips for creating. We spoke to Kirsten Ulve to get pointers on sketching people, and Allison Langton, who shared her process on painting plants in watercolor. Today we get a peek into the mind of Richard Jones, via his sketchbook for The Snow Lion (a collaboration with Jim Helmore for Simon & Schuster Children’s Books). Richard shows us how he created the characters for this special book.

Meet Awesome Artist Richard Jones


Snow Lion cover

I confess — I’ve been admiring Richard Jones’ work for awhile now. What he does with paint and color is pure magic. I’m so jazzed we get to share his work with you! I think you’ll adore it too.

KCD: Hi Richard. Thanks for being one of our Awesome Artists! Can you share with us how the character of Caro came to life? Were there influences in her formation?

RJ: I began sketching ideas out in my sketchbooks first. My first character sketches of Caro were quite different from how she eventually appears. Most of my original character sketches had her being a little older and rendered a bit more realistically. I think it was Jane, my art director at Simon & Schuster who suggested that Caro might loosen up a little and I’m so glad she did!
Richard Jones' Cora

Richard Jones' Cora Richard Jones' Cora

Once I found her character, things fell into place and she was a joy to draw. In terms of her appearance, Caro is a combination of the two girls that help me at the very beginning when I needed someone to pose for me! (I dedicated the book to them!) Richard Jones' Cora

Her clothes did take a little time to get right. I liked the idea that even inside her new home she was often buttoned up in a large and warm, protective coat. When she’s having the most fun with the lion her clothes are a little more colourful and jolly!

smileNote how Richard plays around with the character’s age and hair. The clothes and big hair make her younger.

RJ: Caro’s friend Bobby and his dog evolved from my sketchbooks in a similar way…

Richard Jones Richard Jones

trythisDraw a girl or boy and try different hairstyles and clothes on them. See how you can change their age or personality by changing what they wear.

KCD: What was most challenging about creating the title character The Snow Lion?

RJ: The Snow Lion took many, many pages of sketchbook scribbling before I was satisfied I had found his character. It was clear early on, however, that his and Caro’s relative sizes would be important to how we understood their relationship — too big and he seemed overbearing, while when he was much smaller he seemed to lack the qualities of comfort and support he needed to offer her.
Richard Jones

KCD: The lion is so plush and comforting; I think that adds to the sweetness and feeling of the story. There’s something about how you convey that connection — I can see a child wanting that protection and bond too. Did you have inspiration for that?

RJ: Again, it was Jane that had a big influence here. She kept saying ‘softer, softer, softer!’. Surprisingly that wasn’t as off-putting as it sounds…. As we were beginning work on The Snow Lion I was finishing off another story in which I’d painted a snow shoe hare against a blue background. It’s my favourite page in that book and his white, fluffy fur definitely influenced how I began to create Caro’s lion.

I was conscious that there was a potential for the whiteness of his coat to seem cold and perhaps a little sterile, especially against some of the white walls in the early spreads, so I took my time warming him up a little with lots of water colour washes and gentle textures. Jim [Helmore]’s choice of a lion for her companion is just the perfect. He’s the ideal animal for the role — Caro can hide behind his huge body when she’s feeling unsure, or sink into the comfort of his soft mane when she wants a cuddle!

Although his scale may shift fractionally through the spreads to suit the circumstances, his warm fur and soft mane is always available when she needs him!

Richard Jones

A very early character sample. The painterly quality of his fur made it into the final book though his bushy mane grew in stature!

Richard Jones

It was a real honor to work with such a beautiful and sensitive tale. It’s a story that I hope will resonate with all little ones who are struggling with change of one kind or another. The Snow Lion reassures both Caro and the reader alike that loneliness and sadness are natural but never last forever.

smileSee how Richard makes the character Caro feel safe and secure with The Snow Lion, rather than frightened or scared?

The Snow Lion by Jim Helmore and Richard Jones, published September 2017 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Books.


Richard Jones is an illustrator based in Devon, England. He also illustrated Town Mouse, County Mouse and Feelings for Little Tiger Press.

trythisTry sketching a character from one of your favorite stories. Consider how you could change him or her by changing the way they look. For instance, what if Goldilocks didn’t have blonde hair. Or what if Pippi Longstocking was a boy instead? Consider how changing their hair or clothes can really change the story or how we feel about the character.

All images are courtesy of Richard Jones and copyright of the artist.


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How to Draw Bugs with Yuval Zommer

We’ve been longing for those hot, summer days in Australia lately, now that temperatures are around freezing in London. Let’s pretend it’s warm weather by doodling bugs with Yuval Zommer, author of The Big Book of Bugs, published by Thames & Hudson.


How to Draw All Kinds of Bugs (by Superfly Freddie)


Follow Freddie’s step-by-step guide:

You’ll need your favorite pencils, pens, markers, or crayons.



First draw and color some shapes on your page. (Some can be oval, or wormy shapes)



Then add the legs. How many do spiders have? Do worms have legs?



Your bug will need eyes and mouth, and maybe antennae.



Can your bugs fly? How many wings will they have?



Decorate them with dots, stripes, or hair!



Give your bugs a habitat, such as a rock or plant to climb.



Freddie and his pals love picnics. Feed them your fruit and crumbs.



I love how drawing bugs will help you take extra notice of them, the next you see them. The book is chock-full of info about creepy crawlers and flying insects. Learn how bugs show off, where they hide, their life cycles, and why they love our homes. Become an expert bug spotter with Yuval Zommer’s The Big Book of BugsPsst! get it here.


big book of bugs


PS. Big shout out to all our friends down under. We miss you!

All art copyright Yuval Zommer. Via The Guardian


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How to Draw a Penguin by Oliver Jeffers

How to Draw a Penguin by Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers_penguin1

Oliver Jeffers, author and illustrator of many picture books including Lost and Found, Here We Are, A Child of Books, and STUCK (my personal favorite), shows us how to draw a penguin.

Oliver Jeffers_penguin2

It might be tricky to borrow a penguin (for drawing reference), but you might find one at a nearby zoo. Or if you’re lucky enough to visit Phillip Island in Australia, you can see small fairy penguins return to their habitats at the end of the day in the “Penguin Parade.”

Oliver Jeffers_penguin3

You could find the penguin documentary, March of the Penguins, and draw the flightless birds while watching, or by pausing the video.

Oliver Jeffers_penguin4

Penguin doodling begins with simple shapes: circles.

Oliver Jeffers_penguin5

Then connect the circles.

Oliver Jeffers_penguin6

Add oval-shaped wings.

Oliver Jeffers_penguin7

Color in your penguin.

Oliver Jeffers_penguin8

Add details.

Oliver Jeffers_penguin9

If you don’t have white paint, make sure you leave white dots for the eyes by NOT coloring them in.

Oliver Jeffers_penguin10

Shading can be tricky, but remember: shadows are cast away from the light, and that side of the object/subject will be slightly darker than the side nearer to the light.

Oliver Jeffers_penguin11

His feet are doodled much like his beak!

Oliver Jeffers_penguin12

Voilà! You’ve doodled a waiter. Happy doodling!

For more doodling feathered friends, check out How to Draw Birds.

All art copyright Oliver Jeffers, via The Guardian.


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Doodling with Leaves


Have you been inspired by autumn? I have! It’s hard not to be, when I see all the gorgeous golds, reds, or oranges brightening the trees, and now carpeting the ground. I’ve been thinking of different ways to draw with leaves. Leaves make great subjects for doodle studies, because they are

  • easy-to-find
  • portable
  • come in different colors and shapes
  • simple & complex — good for all ages and abilities
  • they’re a perfect excuse to go on a scavenger hunt

Go for a walk in your backyard or nearby park. Try to find leaves in as many different shapes and sizes as possible. If there aren’t many varieties in your area, look for variations within the same tree. See if you can find at least 10 different kinds.

Doodling with Leaves : 5 Ways to Draw


1. Contour Color Layering

You will need different colored-pencils or pens. Start with the simplest leaf shapes and advance each time to a more complicated one. Look at the edges — are they smooth or jaggedy? Are they curved or pointy? Are they symmetrical?


Doodle each leaf shape as an outline in a different color. Layer one shape over another shape like this, until you have a nice composition:


Alternatively, younger doodlers can trace the leaves to compose your design.


2. Mapping the Leaves

This drawing requires a bit more patience and observation of the lines on the leaf. Lightly sketch the outline of the leaf (or use a light colored-pencil as I did). Then, notice the lines running through the leaves, called veins. When you start drawing the veins, they start to resemble roads or rivers on a map. Do the lines go up or down from the petiole to the tip of the leaf?


If you’re an advanced doodler, you can spend more time and add more detail and shading. Try drawing several shapes, too, until you fill a page with doodled leaves.


3. Leaf Rubbings

Choose a leaf, a blank page, and several colored-pencils. Turn the leaf over to the (back)side where the veins protrude more from the surface, and place on a flat surface or table with this side facing up. Put your piece of paper on top, covering the leaf. Take a sharpened pencil, and, using the side (not point) of the lead, rub or color the page, revealing the lines of the leaf. It’s magic — I love seeing the leaf appear as you color. Move or turn the page slightly, and rub again with another color. Repeat a few times, layering the texture and colors:


Variation: Paint the surface of the leaf, and then press the painted side onto a sheet of paper, transferring the color. You may need to experiment with the amount of paint needed to get an impression, without making it too goopy.


4. Fill in the Blanks

This might be a good exercise after you’ve done number 1 or 2, and you’ve had the chance to study the leaves a bit. Find a damaged leaf, or one that has missing parts. Draw the leaf, carefully filling in the blanks.


5. Doodle Collage

Choose a leaf and affix it to a blank page. Add a doodle, using the leaf as your inspiration. This is one of our favorite techniques here on kid can doodle: see how Moomooi, Claudi Kessels, and Christoph Niemann doodle with nature. Here’s a couple of examples of what I did:


Have fun!


Hope you inspired to try a few leaf studies of your own! Hurry, before they all fall off the trees!


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How to Draw Birds




Above is a video of me drawing pelicans in Wynnum, near the bay in Brisbane, Australia. Birds are probably one of the easiest things to draw, with the most charming results. They’re basically made up of 7 parts or shapes:


  1. the head; draw a circle
  2. body; add a larger oval
  3. wing(s); draw oval(s) with curved, tapered ends
  4. tail wing; make a narrow oval or rectangle
  5. legs & feet; stick lines indicate legs + feet; note the 4 toes/digits, 3 facing front, and 1 back
  6. beak, draw a triangle
  7. eye(s), add dot(s)

Some birds, such as pelicans or swans, have a long neck as well.

This is one of my favorite birds to draw: the barn owl.


questionCan you find the 7 parts in the bird sketches below?


Here’s how 15 different artists envision feathered friends. Hopefully they’ll inspire you to draw some too!


See more on drawing birds in our Doodle Tip: Draw from Real Life.


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Doodle Tip: Draw from Real Life

We all use reference when we draw; sometimes it’s from an image from a book or a photo we took. But the best reference  — whenever possible — is to draw from real life.

Doodle Tip: Draw from Real Life



We were especially lucky to live in Brisbane, Australia, where the climate was mostly warm year-round — a great place for doodling outdoors. It’s also fantastic for bird watching. Not only do you see (several kinds of ) pigeons roaming the neighborhood, but there are cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets, and kookaburras. Birds are terrific drawing subjects; we enjoyed taking the ferry to Ascot, a suburb near the Brisbane River, or venturing to the Wynnum waterfront to draw pelicans and seagulls.


Pelicans are much larger than you’d expect, and their distinctive long beaks make them easy to draw, because it’s a very recognizable feature.

  1. Start with oval shapes for the head and body.
  2. Then draw the long, pointy beak, skinny legs, and feathered wings.

See more drawing tips for drawing birds here.


Little Dude had his own interpretation of the pelicans. He drew their soft throat pouches, webbed feet and textured wings.

kcd_draw_pelican3 kcd_draw_pelican2


Seagulls are easy to spot anytime you’re near the sea. You have to be quick to capture them, but if you’re patient, you might catch one standing around. Here’s a video of me drawing the seagulls:

One floating in the bay by Little Dude:


trythisGo outside in your backyard, or to the nearby park and see if there are pigeons, crows, or squirrels to draw. Often there may be people walking their dogs, and they make terrific models too. Hope this inspires you to draw from your life too!

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How to Draw Tiz & Ott by Bridget Marzo

tiz and otts big draw

tiz and ott how to


How to Draw Tiz and Ott by Bridget Marzo


Bridget Marzo is the author of Tiz and Ott’s Big Draw published by Tate Publishing. We were lucky to have Bridget as our first guest for Drawn Out, our illustrated interview. Below, Bridget shares how to draw her two clever and creative characters, Tiz the cat and Ott the donkey, from the book:

How to draw Tiz the cat and Ott the donkey from Tiz and Ott’s Big Draw by Bridget Marzo from Bridget Marzo on Vimeo
Video courtesy of the author Bridget Marzo


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Awesome Artists : Tim Miller


In this series, Awesome Artists, we talk to our favorite artists to find out their techniques, learn how they do things, and get their tips for creating. We spoke to Kirsten Ulve to get pointers on sketching people, and Allison Langton, who shared her process on painting plants in watercolor. Today we get a behind-the-scenes look at creating a picture book as we chat to Tim Miller, who brought Snappsy the Alligator (words by Julie Falatko) to life (even though he didn’t ask to be!)

Meet Awesome Artist Tim Miller


Above (from left to right) are Tim Miller’s sketch, color study, and final cover art with typesetting.

It’s such a treat to see these process images, because we usually only see the final art and it’s so easy to focus on how ‘perfect’ they are. It’s important to know that there are many steps to get to the final art. Nearly all professional artists begin with sketches, the rough ideas that we all make — the ‘doodles.’ I want to demystify the process of making beautiful pictures, but I also want to show how much time and love actually goes into creating these wonderful illustrated books.

KCD: Hi Tim. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your work with us! Can you tell us how do ideas come to you?

TM: The inspiration for my work simply comes from a very mundane knee-jerk response to some sort of external stimulus in the world that strikes a chord with me. (For example, the first time I encountered Julie Falatko’s Snappsy the Alligator, mental images came to mind as I read the story — and those mental pictures became the foundation to build upon.) When I begin to sketch an idea, I try to draw what I’m seeing in my mind as best I can, but it’s not always clear. Usually, it becomes clearer only after I make several rough sketches. I continue to refine the concept until I land on something that feels solid.

I think of the process as trying to make out something in the fog. It’s difficult when you’re far away, but as you draw nearer, the details become more distinguishable. A key part of the process, though, is that I have to be entertained. There has to be a good personal motivation in it to lure me forward.

Tim Miller shows How To Doodle Snappsy in this video:

Snappsy Did Not Ask to Be in This Video About How to Draw Him from Tim Miller on Vimeo.


smileNote that Tim sketches with a brush. There’s a loose, fluid quality to the doodle that the ink and brush gives, with variation in the line width and opacity.

trythisHow many shapes does he use? Try drawing Snappsy as Tim demonstrates with a brush, then create your own character with only one or two shapes, such as ovals/circles or squares/rectangles.

KCD: Can you show us your process for creating the art for the book?

TM: One of my favorite scenes to draw in Julie Falatko‘s Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) is when Snappsy throws a party. I drew my first sketch directly on the manuscript to make note of the first idea that came to mind when I read it.

party text

Next, I used that rough thumbnail as a starting point to fill out the scene a little more, giving a better sense of space & atmosphere.

party sketch

Then, I began to tighten up the drawing to see things more clearly making some edits here and there to tweak the overall composition.


I went back at it again with minor adjustments after sharing my roughs with my Art Director Denise Cronin and Editor Joanna Cardenas. The donkey by the door was reading too much like Snappsy (which I knew they were going to say but I really like drawing him), so they asked me to turn it into a different character which is how the weird dog poodle thing came to be. I was also still working out the final look for Snappsy so you can see him changing here too.

party sketch revise

Then it came time to figure out the colors, so I did a rough color sketch. It took me awhile to figure out what color would be good for the interior of Snappsy’s house. I needed something that complimented his green without overpowering him.  From there, I tried to settle on a festive palette of party hats, balloons, and streamers that popped but also balanced with rest.


For the finish, first I redrew everything in separate peieces with brush and ink and added watercolor to the drawings. Then, I scanned everything in and pieced it together on the computer adjusting all the colors digitally.

party background

part color with furniture

party color

And finally two minutes before everything needed to go to the printer, things landed here:


smileSee how important it is to work out details in your drawing in a loose sketch first? There’s quite a few drafts before getting to the final art.

Below watch the book trailer that Snappsy did NOT ask to be in:

“Nope,” says Snappsy.

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) words by Julie Falatko, pictures by Tim Miller, published by Penguin Random House.


Tim Miller is an author and illustrator based in New York City. His own Moo Moo in a Tutu, published by Balzer & Bray debuts in early 2017.

trythisCompose your next work of art by planning it out first. Sketch a few different ideas, or perspectives/viewpoints of the subject. Before adding color, consider your palette, play with different combinations, and decide your final medium: colored pencils, watercolors or perhaps acrylic paint. You may not do this with every drawing, but when you’re working on something you want to keep, the early prep will help make the final color work much more enjoyable.

All images courtesy of Tim Miller.


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