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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Weekly Doodle Challenge


Weekly Doodle Challenge


Ron Pippin of Outside Voice, an art network for families based in Austin, suggested a weekly drawing exercise. So we’re introducing a new doodle theme each week for our Weekly Doodle Challenge. (Scroll down for the challenges).

Full disclosure: I found that I wasn’t able to keep this up every week, so below are ideas I’ve collected as well.

Come draw with us!


Just draw and share with the subject tag on social media. We’ll share your work here or on twitter or Instagram with the #weeklydoodle #kidcandoodle hashtags. PS. All ages welcome!


Here’s more monthly challenges:

January : 30 Paintings in 30 Days created by Leslie Saeta

For you painters! Image below and info via Kick in the Creatives

30 paintings in 30 days

February : Faces hosted by Kick in the Creatives

Don Moyer faces

image by Don Moyer


March : Meet the Maker created by Joanne Hawker

meet the makermeet the maker


April : The #100dayproject started by Elle Luna

100 day project

May : #Mermay : doodle a mermaid everyday

See more here.

kcd mermay


June : Juicy June Color Challenge hosted by Este MacLeod



July – August : Potter Week Drawing Prompts with Taryn Knight

Potter Week is perfect for Harry Potter fans! Drawing starts the last week of July, with a different prompt each week. The list is below imagines what it might be like to be at Hogwarts, and is spearheaded by Taryn Knight.


Potter Week drawing


August : Lettering and Doodling with Dawn Nicole

august lettering


October : Inktober

Inktober is a yearly October doodle challenge created by Jake Parker that is popular on social media. You can use any ink, and you don’t even have to go by the prompts if you don’t want to. The thing is to do it daily.

Intober prompts

Inktober rules

This was the one I did for October 1st posted on instagram:


I know I’ve been focusing on other things this year, but I have found a couple of new doodle challenges that I wanted to share:

Lucky Draw Challenge

I discovered Lucky Draw Challenge when Rikin Parekh shared one of his doodles and tagged them on Facebook. They have weekly challenges, and here’s a recent favorite:

Cat burglar + Pancake

cat burglar pancakes

by Scrottvoegelchen



This year, we’re introducing guest prompts on the Weekly Doodle Challenge.


Week 36

For you social media-savvy artists, this prompt comes from 14 year-old Leo, creator of Gargar Comics, and Sketchbook Sunday. The latter is a drawing challenge with a different theme each week. Open to all ages, and shared online with the tag  Draw a snowman.



Week 35

We had to share this awesome idea from artist Clym Evernden. All you need is a sheet of paper and your favorite drawing pens or pencils. Fold your sheet 8 times, as Clym shows in the video, and draw as you open the page.


Week 34

We love this doodle a scribble monster idea from Hello Wonderful, a terrific creative lifestyle resource for families. We agree that it’s a great way to show “everyone can draw!”


Week 33

Have you subscribed to or followed The Dad Lab yet? This clever pop mixes art + science in his projects for kids that delight and teach. I like this doodling idea on a sunny day: Shadow Tracing.


Week 32

The amazing Tina Berning saw my repost on instagram by Cristina Papacu about doodling your mom, and shared this lovely doodle prompt with us: Doodle your kid and have them doodle you!


Week 31

Michelle from Beret Nice Illustration has a nifty tip for using Copic blenders with regular Crayola marker pens (which are much cheaper!) to get better results. She also shows us how to doodle birds with her in this video:


Week 30

An unexpected doodle prompt comes from Paperchase, a popular stationery chain in the United Kingdom full of gorgeous illustrated goodies. Draw a literal picture of king prawns, king crab, hammerhead shark, or cat fish, like in this shop window.


Here’s a good one of “egghead” by @floortinga



Week 29

David Zinn creates whimsical street art with chalk and his imagination. See if you can doodle outside using some of your surroundings as inspiration. Can a crack in the sidewalk or patch of grassy weeds become part of your drawing?


Week 28

This week’s prompt is inspired by a drawing by Maya that I discovered at House of Illustration in London. Draw an animal and then add an extra body part to it:



Week 27

It’s August, and we’re joining in a doodle challenge called #drawingAugust started 4 years ago by Wales Art Review’s design editor Dean Lewis and artist/printmaker Jean Stevens. Starting on day 1/August 1 with a puffer fish (the August theme for @pinchpunchpost ) and I’ve decided to continue with sea creatures. Follow along and draw with us daily on instagrampuffer fish

puffer fish comic by Lil Dude


Week 26

Summer is the perfect time to draw outdoors. Julie Adore’s brilliant suggestion is an oldie but goodie: look at the clouds and doodle what you see.


Week 25

Have you guys heard about the $3,700 Doodle Theory Contest? To enter, download and doodle some squiggles like these below. See all the details and download the squiggles here. Deadline is August 10, 2016.



Week 24

Love this Less is More idea from Frédéric Forest: Describe something with fewer than 10 lines. Can you do it?


Week 23

If you’re not spending warm summer days outside, maybe you’ll be doodling Yuval Zommer’s “How to Draw Bugs” from his beautifully illustrated The Big Book of Bugs (via The Guardian)

Yuval Zommer Big Book of Bugs

Start with a shape:

Yuval Zommer Big Book of Bugs

Add legs (or not):

Yuval Zommer Big Book of Bugs

Doodle eyes and antennae:

Yuval Zommer Big Book of Bugs

Don’t forget the wings for the flying bugs.

Yuval Zommer Big Book of Bugs

Check out the gorgeous The Big Book of Bugs by Yuval Zommer.

Yuval Zommer Big Book of Bugs


Week 22

We love this doodle idea from calligrapher/lettering artist Tolga Girgin : Doodle faces with the shadows from a crumpled-up piece of paper. Watch the video below.


Week 21

This week I’m sharing a #PortraitChallenge from Sarah McIntyre’s Virtual Studio : Draw this Japanese woodblock portrait, Karagoto of the House of Chojiya by Utamaro, 1801, Honolulu Museum of Art


I love Sarah’s “blind contour” portrait (drawing while looking at your reference and NOT your hand/paper):
Sarah McIntyre's Karagoto


Week 20

Health coach and mother of two boys, Ceren Arik-Begen has an easy doodle puppet that I had to share with you.

Take a letter or A4 sized sheet of paper, fold it in half and then half again, so that you have four strips. Open the sheet, and re-fold in the two ends so that they meet in the middle. On these two panels, draw something with a mouth that would open where the two ends meet.



(Here’s two fishies)


Then open it, and draw the “inside” of the mouth. When you’re finished, refold and animate your puppet character by gently opening and closing the mouth.



Thanks for sharing these lovely drawings and gorgeous idea with us Ceren!


Week 19

Graphic designer Jan Bajtlik shares a page from his fabulous Alphadoodler: The Activity Book That Brings Letters to Life (Tate Publishing). Download and doodle the page below!


Alphadoodler page


Week 18

Designer, illustrator, and doodle bomber Steph Dillon gave us some pointers for creating a doodle bomb: Find a photograph of your favorite landscape or urban setting and fill the empty spaces with a structure, objects, and/or characters to create your own unique scene. You can use markers on printed pieces or draw digitally in your favorite photo editing app.



Week 17

Penny Neville-Lee is back again with a Weekly Doodle Challenge worthy of Mother’s Day (next Sunday, May 8, 2016 in the USA). Collaborate with your kids! Here, Penny colored in her son’s drawing:



Week 16

So stoked that Claudi Kessels is our doodle guest this week! I remember stumbling across Claudi’s instagram and was chuffed she agreed to be on 3 1/2 Questions. (Claudi’s as charming as her drawings, and inspired our Field Notes doodle download).
Doodle bomb this photograph:

Photo of weed plant

psst . . . Make sure to subscribe to kidcandoodle (above) for an exclusive doodle download created by Claudi Kessels!

Week 15

Multi-talented Melani Grube gave us this week’s doodle prompt based on her own wonderfully wet paintings. See if you can transform these paint splotches into your own doodle. 


Here’s Melani’s doodle:

CM Rhino2


Week 14

This week’s guest is none other than the inspiration for Weekly Doodle Challenge — Ron Pippin himself! Ron is currently working on an upcoming Creative Arts Show for kids called ARTtv and we can’t wait to see it! His suggestion, co-drawing, comes from Outside Voice’s popular blog Explore Art. To play, you need a partner, paper, and pens or pencils. 

two doodlers holding pens

The younger person should go first, making a line on a page. 

first mark on page

Then each person takes turns doodling and adding to the same drawing, collaborating.

finished collaborative drawing


Week 13

Our guest this week is one of my favorite artists of all time, Henri Matisse. I am especially fond of his paper cut-outs. Matisse first used cut paper to design his painting commissions, but when he became ill in his 60s, it became his preferred medium.


Henri Matisse, The Snail 1953
© Succession H. Matisse / DACS 2014


Doodle an animal using only cut paper (refer to The Snail, 1953, above).

Week 12

When kid can doodle debuted on twitter, Lucy Monkman was one of our first followers. Lucy’s doodle challenge is just in time for Easter/Spring. Lucy favors simple shapes in her work, and she suggested using these egg shapes to doodle chicks, bunnies, or lambs:

LucyMonkmanEggs Here’s Lucy’s doodles:

Rabbits with Egg Shape

Week 11

Shari Mallinson is not only a darn-good doodler, but a frequent contributor and friend to KCD. Shari invites you to collaborate with her by downloading and finishing this doodle:



Week 10

Awesome Artist, author and illustrator Tim Miller suggests doodling Snappsy the Alligator this week. Watch Tim doodle Snappsy in this video, and follow along:

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


Week 9

Esther K Smith, author of Making Books with Kids, gave us our Doodle prompt this week. If you haven’t already, please check out her new book here. Then download the instructions to make a pop-up face accordion book. 

Esther says: What will you draw on yours? You can draw with your scissors too. Try cutting other kinds of lines instead of the straight ones for your pop-up eyes and mouth. But be sure to leave enough space for your fold. That’s your hinge that keeps it from falling apart.


Week 8

Our doodle guest this week is Colour Collective, a weekly challenge to make art featuring a different hue, initiated by Penny Neville-Lee, “illustrator and all round good egg.” To join in, this week’s color is Moss

Here’s Penny’s gorgeous entry. Follow her on twitterpenny_colorcollective

Week 7

Colleen Kong Savage, our first guest on 3 1/2 Questions, has our doodle prompt this week: Take an ink pad (or a little bit of paint) make a thumbprint with your finger. Add details. 

thumbprint doodle


Week 6

Hey Kids! This week’s guest is Tom Nash, the wordsmith behind Tut and Groan “a wordplay webcomic by someone who can’t draw.” Not long ago our own Little Dude was a guest on Tom’s toon, and we’re tickled that Tom has treated us to two prompts: Draw a pie in the sky or add to the following doodle:


Here’s a pie by Carin Channing.


Week 5

Our guest this week is Pinch Punch Post, aka social media darling Thea Baker, suggesting a theme to doodle each month. Contributors are invited to share their drawings on twitter or Facebook at the beginning of the month. Kids can join too by tagging doodles with #pinchpunchpostjunior. March 1st theme is a butterfly.

Here’s my butterfly (lollygadoodling).


Week 4

This week’s doodle brought to us by @AnimalAlphabets (a weekly twitter creative challenge to draw an animal representing a letter, initiated by illustrator Chris Chatterton, with tweets by Ste Johnson, and assistance from Deborah Partington) : Doodle a sloth for the letter S.


Here’s my sloth.


Week 3

Author/Illustrator Sarah McIntyre (Pugs of the Frozen North, Cakes in Space, both published by Random House for Young Readers) created a virtual studio — a doodle community so that illustrators can create and share on twitter. Here’s one of her recent popular #shapechallenge prompts: (download and transform into a drawing)


Here’s Little Dude’s and mine.


Week 2

Our weekly doodle comes from 3 1/2 Questions guest Carin Channing, author of 365 Days of Doodling: Discovering the Joys of Being Creative Every Day. Doodle some new people you’d like to meet in 2016.

Click here to see who I’d like to meet.


Week 1

Herewith the first prompt in 2016: courtesy of the lovely Sheena Monahan, who created @3yroldscribble Download this scribble below and transform into your own drawing.


Here’s mine.



Week 15

Show us your favorite costume!

Week 14

“Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!” – Lewis Carroll, Jabberwocky

Draw a Jubjub bird, or Bandersnatch or your own imaginary character and name it.

Week 13

What would your book cover look like?

Week 12

Draw your favorite bad guy (villian) !

Week 11

What is your favorite literary character?

Week 10

How about drawing a #XerusYachtingwithaZebra ?

Week 9

Let’s see your #VacationingWalruses

Week 8

Choose one: #StripyTigersUnderwear or #SixTicklishUnicorns

Week 7

This week’s doodle is #PorcupineAndQuokkaRomance

Week 6

Hope to see your #PeacockQuarrelingwithRabbit this week!

Week 5

Thanks to Jill McPartlin Reiter for this week’s suggestion: #MonkeysNightOut

Week 4

Can you show us a #JollyKoalaLeaping ?

Week 3

How about a #GiraffeHidingInAnIgloo ?

Week 2

Can you draw a #DancingElephantFarting ?

Week 1

We’d love to see your #ArmadilloBakingCakes


All art copyrighted by their respective owners and used by permission.


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The Big Draw Exquisite Story


The Big Draw is the world’s biggest drawing festival (Oct 1-31, 2015). Since this year’s theme is “Every drawing tells a story,” I thought it would be fun to do an exquisite corpse story, so I coaxed many of my talented friends into playing!

This is a variation on the Exquisite Corpse game, created by Surrealists, where “each participant would draw an image on a sheet of paper, fold the paper to conceal their contribution, and pass it on to the next player for his contribution.” In this version, you can see the participants’ entries as they evolve.

I’ll post our story pages here throughout the month so you can see the story unfold. Thanks to all of the participating artists: Carin Channing, Shari Mallinson, Yoon Chang, Isabel Kay, Bernadette Noll, Diane Bromberg, Susanne Groeneveld, Sarah Greenwood, Paul Fenton, Colleen Kong-Savage, Sonja Neumeyer, Amy Gray-Randle, Scott Stevens, Elizabeth Ellis, Doug Erb, Kate Jefferay, Kitty Levee, Sirin Thada, Joy Brehaut, Kirstin Sillitoe, Meredith Wing, and Samantha Whetton


What are you guys drawing for The Big Draw?


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