5 Tips to Help You Get Up Early to Do Your Art…and Like It

ART/LIFE HACK – 5 Steps to Help You Get Up Early to Do Your Art…and Like It

If you’re anything like I was, you have a heck of a time waking up in the morning.

I’d hit the snooze button a few times after my alarm went off and ended up rushing to work because I was late.

The thing is, mornings are a really good time to get things done that we usually spend sleeping.

I LOVE sleeping, but I’d much rather be able to get work I love done than sleep it all away.  Especially because I have much more energy in the mornings than I do in the evenings. The one thing we have precious little of in life is time.

Ideally for me, the weekends are the perfect time to get art done in the morning.  During the week, I have other things I need to do in the mornings that aren’t art related before work (like exercise).

But how the blazes do I wake up to do what I want to do…and like it?! That was the question that had been bugging me for a while.

Turns out there’s a really good and easy way to do it. The answer came from reading a book called The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM). (Affiliate link, thanks for your support.)

What is “The Miracle Morning?”

The Miracle Morning is a book that systematizes waking up early so it can be made easy AND habitual.

It’s also unapologetically, a marketing book for the author who is constantly leading you to subscribe to his website.  But that’s okay, because the info is so good, you don’t mind too much. Besides, it’s not like I don’t do it myself.

The system it proposes is worth trying.  I started doing it and I found that it works VERY well.

So now I’m going to share with you the waking up part of the system in the book.  This alone is worth reading the book for but there’s a few other things in it that builds on these steps, worth reading.

I’m going to share these steps here.  You can try them out so you can get some art done in the morning and feel really good about yourself.

5 Steps to Waking Up Quick Without Hassle

1. Mentally prepare the night before

The first thing you should do is mentally prepare yourself to wake up when your alarm clock rings.

Simply make a mental affirmation to yourself.  Tell yourself something to the effect of,

“It’s ___ o’clock, tomorrow I’m going to wake up at __am.  I’ll have plenty of sleep and I’ll be energized. As soon as my alarm goes off, I’ll wake straight up and start my day, live life and get things done.”

You can download the “official” version which is much longer HERE.  Anyway, the point is, that the last thing you think to yourself before sleeping is the first thing you will think when you wake up.  So think positive about waking up.

DO NOT say to yourself,

“Uh, I’m sooo tired, I’m going to be sooo tired in the morning,” you’re sabotaging yourself if you do that.

2. Put your alarm clock far away

Put your alarm clock somewhere in the room that you have to physically get up out of bed to turn it off. That will absolutely get your butt up quick.

That alarm clock is so annoying.

Once you’re up DON’T go back your bed.  YOU ARE UP.  Take advantage and immediately do step 3.

3. Drink a glass of water

You’ve been sleeping and have become somewhat dehydrated.  It’s one of the reasons you’re tired.  Drink a glass of water.  Make sure you put it near the alarm clock the morning before.

That way, you’re up and you just drink.  The act of drinking will also help wake you up and you’ll start becoming hydrated.

Once you drink the water all up, you do step 4.

4. Brush your teeth

This is very odd but it actually really helps.  Especially since most toothpastes are minty and burn your mouth.

You can also splash a bit of water on yourself while your at it.

Once that’s done, you move to the next step.

5. Get dressed

It’s official, your up and out of your sleeping clothes. You can take a shower first if you’re not changing into exercise clothes.

Once you change, it should mark the beginning of your work time.  You’re up and ready to get to work.


I’ve been doing this for a while.  Actually, I’ve been doing this and following the rest of the routine, and I found I enjoy it.

The getting up to turn off my alarm clock is a HUGE help and it doesn’t allow me to think about whether I should stay in bed or not. I don’t get the option.

That, and the fact that I tell myself before I go to bed that I’m going to wake up when it goes off.  That last thought thing actually helps.

If you do this for about 30 days, you may find that you don’t know how you lived without it.

There’s a little more to it than I’m presenting here to think about.  So if you really want to get into the whole routine, you should read the Miracle Morning.

It has a little bit of advice about habit building as well, which is very handy to know.

Anyway, give it a try and let me know what you think.

Do you have a morning routine that works for you? Let me know. Share it below.

The Vision Vs. Red Tornado Captured By Jawas

ART – The Vision Vs. Red Tornado Captured By Jawas

Vision vs Red Tornado Color


I took the black and white version of this drawing and put some color to it.  This is  a Marvel, DC, Star Wars mashup.

I had a bit of an incentive to color this drawing, the original black and white version of this drawing will be up for sale on August 22, 2015. Colored prints of the drawing will also be sold there as well as magnets.  It’s a Star Wars themed show.

If you’re interested, here’s the info:


Once again, using the Color Scheme Designer website, I picked a quadratic color scheme and used it as my base:

Color Scheme

I’m getting a bit more comfortable coloring these drawings. I’m not completely sure that’s a good thing.   I might need to change things up to make it a bit more challenging.  If I’m getting too comfortable doing something, it means I’m not learning as much.

Although, perhaps it was easier to color since I didn’t have to color any skin tones.

3 Reasons Why INVISIBLE INK Is a Must Buy For Storytellers

BOOKS – 3 Reasons Why INVISIBLE INK Is a Must Buy For Storytellers

Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories that Resonate by Brian McDonald is one of the best books on storytelling I’ve ever read.

I’ve read a few. Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’ll quickly sound off on the ones I’ve read. (some of the links in this post are affiliate links, thanks for your support):




There are plenty of other books on storytelling but most of them fall under the story theories presented in the books above.

As I’ve written before in other posts, so far my favorite story theory is the one put forth by Dramatica. Because of this, I’m going to be mentioning Dramatica quite a lot.

However, after reading Invisible Ink, I’ve found the perfect companion book to go along with it.  Here’s what makes Invisible Ink so awesome:

3 Reasons Invisible Ink Rocks

1. It’s Simple

I cannot stress this enough, this story theory is dead simple. Especially since I’m such a fan of Dramatica (which is the most complicated story theory ever.) The story theory in this book is the most basic story theory I’ve ever read.

It’s the complete opposite of the Dramatic Theory.

In fact it’s “Rule #4″ of Pixar’s 22 rules of Storytelling, according to Emma Coats:

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

Now, I don’t know which came first, the Pixar formula or if Pixar took it from Brian McDonald, but it’s awesome and easy to understand.  Of course, the book then explains this structure a bit further.

All other theories seem to have far more steps in them then this.

It’s well worth understanding this one.

2. It’s Versatile

Most of the books on story I’ve read except for one, have always put forth the proposition that, for a story to work, the protagonist of the story should change by the time the story ends.

This has never made any sense to me since this it’s clearly not true. Most sitcoms don’t end this way, nor do many on going serialized superhero comics.  Homer is still Homer by the end of an episode. Superman is still Superman by the end of his stories. James Bond is still the same guy he was by the end of his movies as he was at the start.

In fact, I even blame the Superhero movies that don’t work on the notion that writers aren’t taught how to write protagonists that DON’T change by the end of the story.

Until I’d read Invisible Ink, the only other story theory that addressed this directly was Dramatica.

Not only does Invisible Ink address this, it also encourages it and even gives examples of how to make stories work around the protagonist not changing.

This actually opens up the type of stories you can tell. You’re not stuck with only the one storytelling “formula” every other book I’ve read keeps trying to force you down.

Even though, Dramatica theory also took this into account, Invisible Ink really varies it up.

3. It Focuses On Theme

Okay, this is nothing new. To be quite honest, pretty much all the books I’ve read focus on theme at some level and in some way.

It’s not the fact that it focuses on theme that makes the book unique, it’s HOW it focuses on it. In fact, it is the “invisible ink,” the book is titled after.

Final Thoughts

I love this book. Forgive me for mentioning Dramatic theory so much in this review.  It’s my favorite story theory. But I found that, in many many ways, Invisible Ink has managed to say and do many of the same things, in a much more digestible, easy to read package.

If I was to recommend a book on story theory to anyone, I’d point them to Invisible Ink first.

Habit Hacking and Becoming Superhuman

LIFE HACK – Habit Hacking and Becoming Superhuman


Who doesn’t want to be like Batman or Superman or be as focused as a Jedi?   Who doesn’t want to take a little pill and be awesome like Bradley Cooper was in the movie Limitless? (I love that movie.)

Man, I’d love to be able to not only get more things done but also, be the best me I could be.

Eat right, be healthy, have energy, know a lot of things, have a great prayer life, have great skills to draw upon at my finger tips.  Be at my peak and always keep getting better.

Well, it turns out there’s a way to do this. You do this by hacking your habits.  You replace your bad habits with great habits and then you add more great habits on top of those.

Why Habits?

What exactly are habits? Habits are like programs that your body runs on automatic whenever an exterior or interior cue is triggered.  It’s what you do on autopilot under certain circumstances.

This is a HUGE deal.  Imagine being able to practice drawing, eating healthy, thinking good thoughts and being happy, effortlessly because your body just goes and does it without thinking about it. That’s what habits have the potential to do.

The reason you’re not doing many of the things you’d love to do right now, is because, over many years, you’ve involuntarily programmed bad habits into your brain.

Therefore, the best way to get yourself to become your best self is to reprogram and override your bad habits with new good ones.

The problem is most of us don’t know much about habits at all.

So What to Do?

There’s way too much to know when it comes to learning about habits, so I’m going to recommend three great sources to get you started on the right path and I’ll add a few tips of my own.

My first recommendation is to watch the video below.  It’s amazing, short and gives you a list of pragmatic steps to take (thanks to Jeff Wamester for the link):

Second, use the habit forming technique above to read two great books on habits (and yes, they’re affiliate links. Thanks for your support). One great habit to pick up is reading good books.

The first of these books is:
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

And if you don’t like to read and would rather listen to the book it’s also available on Audible.

This book is great in showing  you how habits work in the mind and the science behind the discoveries. It also shows you how to breakdown habits to their component parts in order to be able to manipulate and change them.  It’s well worth reading.

The second book I’d recommend reading is:

Superhuman By Habit: A Guide to Becoming the Best Possible Version of Yourself, One Tiny Habit at a Time

Unfortunately, this book has no audio version, so you’re going to have to suck it up and read it.

It’s well worth it though. Unlike the Duhigg book, habits aren’t really broken down scientifically.  Instead they’re broken down more practically. It’s a bit more, step by step, “this is how to you go about breaking and creating habits”. Which is fantastic.

In fact, it’s a more developed version of the tips in the video above.

Both books compliment each other immensely well.

My Personal Habit Making Tip

I’m going to add my two cents here. Just some thoughts building off of some things written about in the two books based on my experience.

Make absolutely sure you find out what exactly  is the triggers  that trigger the bad habits you want to change. Sometimes the trigger for ONE habit may have multiple cues.  You need to find them all.

Once you do, pre-visualize your course of action. Yes, you know the habit you want to install or supplant is. And yes, you have an action planed, BUT your original bad habit may come to mind more often than you want.  Make a habit of pre-visualizing the positive good habit whenever you think about the cues that trigger the bad habit.

You will act upon the action you think about most, and if that thought is more often about the bad habit, it will be far more difficult to install the new one.  It may very well cause you to go back to the bad habit. So, keep your thoughts in check. Visualize yourself succeeding with the good habit and your body will automatically follow.

I hope this has helped. What good habits are you most interested in acquiring? Let me know in the comments below.

Why You Should Do Creative Experimentation

ART – Why You Should Do Creative Experimentation

leanintoart-podcast-logo-v1I was listening to an episode of the Lean Into Art podcast the other day and co-host Jerzy Drozd said something that really got me thinking when it came to experimentation. I’m going to get to what he said in a moment.

It just so happens that I’ve been experimenting a bit.  Just playing around,  and checking out some possibilities.  Below is one such experiment.

It’s a little animation test I did, to test out what might be possible with my characters using my copy of Storyboard Pro:


I’m debating whether or not I should do a little animated something.  I’m not sure yet.

Anyway, let me get back to what Jerzy said…

Experimentation Lead To…

Anyway, as I was listening to an episode of Lean Into Art, Rob Stenzinger and Jerzy Drozd got into the topic of experimenting. Then Jerzy popped in with this little “formula” of sorts, as if he’d memorized it from somewhere, about experimentation.  It went like this:

“Experimentation leads to Practice, Practice leads to Evidence, Evidence leads to Opportunity.”

What he meant by this, if it seems odd to you, is simply this: When you experiment, you create and practice new things.  Often, you do these things so much that you begin getting good at them.

When you get good at stuff because you’ve practiced or messed around with the thing you’ve experimented with so much, it become evident you know your way around the subject.  It’s evidence that you have experience with what you experimented with.

This often leads people to ask you about the subject you seem to know so much about.  It opens up opportunities for people to, either ask you to do it for them, to teach others about the thing, or to find other useful reasons to do that thing.  It’s possible to find many opportunities to use the knowledge you gained from what you originally began experimenting with.

I thought Jerzy’s little formula made a lot of sense and I thought I’d share it.  It gives you a very concrete practical reason to experiment as much as possible.

I wish I could remember what episode of the podcast I was listening to, otherwise I’d link directly to it.  Perhaps it’s better that I don’t remember.  That way, you have an excuse to go listen to the Lean Into Art podcast and try to find the episode yourself.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve been given something to really think about after listening to the podcast.  Rob and Jerzy often come up with some amazing things during their discussions.

I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.

Lean Into Art

17 Great Family Board Games, Worth Owning, You’ve Probably Never Heard Of.

BOARD GAMES – 17 Great Family Board Games, Worth Owning, You’ve Probably Never Heard Of.

Tired after playing The Settlers of CatanNot all board games are for kids.  Nor are they all for adults or for families.  The problem is, if you know anything about board games, you’d know there’s hundreds of thousands to choose from. More than you see in major chain stores.

This make finding the right kind of game for the right group of players, difficult.

Jennifer Willits from The Catholic Next Door podcast was in this dilemma. She wanted to look for some family games that she could play with her 6 year old girl and older boys.  She decided to reach out and ask me because she knew I’m a big board game nerd.

I’m assuming she also thought I’d give suggestions beyond the kind of games you’d find at Target or Toys R Us. To this end, I made a list of the funnest, neatest games you can play as a family and include a six year old.

Except, perhaps, for the first three games on this list, you’d probably never heard of these games before. They’re all worth playing and owning.

Below each name I’ve included a board game review, by some board game nerds, so you can see what the games are like. I’ve also included the type of game category this might fall under in brackets. Also, the name and picture of each game is an affiliate link to amazon if you’re interested in getting it and would like to support me as well.  Thanks.

This list is not in any particular order. I wrote them down, mostly as they came to me.

So let’s get started…


  • Strategy game
  • 3-4 players
  • 90 Minutes




  • Strategy game
  • 2 – 5 Players
  • 30 to 45 Minutes



Ticket To Ride – Europe

  • Strategy game
  • 2 – 5 Players
  • 30 to 60 Minutes



Terror in Meeple City Board Game

  • Dexterity game
  • 2 – 4 Players
  • 45 Minutes


King of Tokyo

  • Dice game
  • 2 – 6 Players
  • 30 Minutes


Survive Escape From Atlantis

  • Strategy game
  • 2 – 4 Players
  • 60 Minutes


Forbidden Desert Board Game

  • Cooperative game
  • 2 – 5 Players
  • 45 Minutes


Forbidden Island

  • Cooperative game
  • 2 – 4 Players
  • 30 Minutes


Small World

  • Strategy game
  • 2 – 5 Players
  • 40 to 80 Minutes



Stone Age

  • Worker placement game
  • 2 – 4 Players
  • 60 to 90 Minutes



  • Trick taking game
  • 2 – 6 Players
  • 30 Minutes


Tales Of The Arabian Nights

  • Storytelling game
  • 1 – 6 Players
  • 120 Minutes


Can’t Stop

  • Dice game, push your luck game
  • 2 – 4 Players
  • 30 Minutes


Liar’s Dice

  • Dice game, bluffing game
  • 1 – 6 players
  • 15 minutes


Mice and Mystics

  • Cooperative game, fantasy adventure game
  • 1 – 4 Players
  • 120 Minutes



SORRY! Sliders

  • Dexterity game
  • 1 – 4 Players
  • 30 Minutes



Zombie Dice

  • Dice game, push your luck game
  • 2 – 99 Players
  • 10 Minutes

These games run the gamut of categories, from “dexterity games,” “dice games.” “worker placement,” to even “storytelling games.”
If you’re family isn’t into competing against each other Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert are cooperative games and so is Mice and Mystics. This means everyone versus the game.


The Power of Creating Model Sheet Turn Arounds

ART – The Power of Creating Model Sheet Turn Arounds

This week I’m sharing the model sheet turn around I just finished.  It took time so I didn’t get to work on a silly comic or anything fun like that.

The turn around is of my character Ariana who is an antagonist in the Draw Fu comic I’m working on.  Not having finished this one turn around has been the biggest reason why I haven’t gotten more work done on that project.

Now that it’s done, that project should really start moving forward.

Take a look at the drawings below and then I’ll go into why I think model sheet turn arounds like theses are very important if you’re making a personal project.

Ariana three quarter front

Ariana profile

Ariana front

Ariana back

Ariana three quarter back

Why Model Sheet Turn Arounds are Important

Over the years I’ve come to rely more and more on model sheets and turn arounds.  The reason why is because they take the guess work out of drawing the characters in your project.

If you don’t have one, you’re inventing the characters over and over as you go.  Sometimes that’s good but most times, not so much.

You end up using your previous drawings as model sheets anyway just to see what you did with your character in previous panels.  If you have a model sheet with a turn around to begin with, your character will also be much more consistent through out the process.

For me, the greatest benefit of having a good Model Sheet turn around, is being able to literally place the model sheet under my roughs of the character so I can quickly and easily get all the proportions down as fast as possible.

So if I have the character running, walking, jumping talking, etc, I rough out the pose I want them to be in, then I enlarge or reduce my model sheet to fit the size of my rough. I then put the model sheet under the rough drawing and start drawing the character “on model,” by comparing the model underneath to my rough and I make adjustments based on the pose.  I don’t copy the model sheet pose since it’s stiff and boring, but I get all the proportions where they should be.

And sometimes, depending on the pose and view point, I just straight up trace the body part straight off the model sheet.

I do this at work all the time with the Simpsons Characters.  It saves me a lot of measuring time so that I know I’ve drawn the character proportions right from the start so I can worry only about the composition and the acting.

Model sheet turn arounds speed up the process immensely.

They are the answer to the question, “How do I get my character to look consistent through out my project?” The answer is, create a Model sheet turn around, then reduce and enlarge it as needed to put under your drawings to make the most accurate version of your characters.

If you want to see a video version of this in action, become one of my patrons on Patreon. I’m going to be making a video for my patrons that explains the process of making your characters look consistent very soon.

Black Terror Kid Business Card Comic

MY WEB COMIC – Black Terror Kid Business Card Comic

I’ve been meaning to create a unique business card for a while now.  Specifically one with a comic in it.

I got the idea from Ryan Estrada.  He made one. I liked the idea so much I decided I was going to do one myself.

The “cover” is the first side, the interior is the comic itself, the back of the card has the punchline and my info.  I only posted the punchline since I didn’t think my info was necessary in this case.

This comic was done completely digital.   I tried to replicate the hand drawn feel of previous Black Terror Kid comics I’d made. I hope I’ve succeeded.

I drew it digitally mainly to speed  things up. It took me three days create this from start to finish, working, mostly, eight hours each day.

Black Terror Kid  Tent Card 01

Black Terror Kid Tent Card 02

Black Terror Kid Tent Card 03


If you want to see more of these kinds of comics and would even like a print ready jpeg or psd file of this comic, best way to get it is to support me on Patreon.

Be my patron and you can get this artwork and request more of these comics.  Believe me, I’d be happy to do more:




Want Me to Draw Your Portrait?

ART – Want Me to Draw Your Portrait?

get yoru portrait drawn


The portrait above is of one of my Silver Level Patrons over on Patreon.

Among other rewards, the patrons on Silver level get this:

Once a Month one Silver Patron or higher will be chosen and I will draw their portrait in black and white from shoulders on up, anyway they want: caricature, chibi style, anime, realistic portrait, Simpsonized. Pick a style and I’ll give it a shot. I will send you a high resolution print ready jpeg of the drawing and the PSD file as well.

Patrons are randomly chosen for this and I remove their name from the “hat” when I draw them.

As of the time of this writing I have 4 Silver Patrons and 1 Gold Patron.  If you become a Silver Patron now, you’re chances of getting your portrait drawn are REALLY good. There’s even one less person worry about.

Not only that, but once I’ve gone through all the Patrons, I’ll put everyone’s names back in the “hat” and draw them again.  I may end up drawing you multiple times in multiple styles.

Don’t miss out.  Act now:






I Downloaded Minecraft Pocket Edition on My Android and…

MY WEB COMIC – I Downloaded Minecraft Pocket Edition on My Android and…

My kids are into both Minecraft Pocket and Terreria.

Both of these games are what I would call, creative survival sandbox games. You’re placed in a world you have a lot of options to create and mess around with your environment. But the world is very dangerous so you have to make sure you can survive in order to keep playing.

The creative stuff didn’t really appeal to me.  I can do that just by drawing and making comics.  But the survival stuff looked like fun. It gave the creative stuff a useful purpose.

I hadn’t realized that’s what these games were about until I watched a video of a guy learning to play and dramatically trying to survive playing Minecraft Pocket edition.  It looked like fun so I decided to check it out myself.

This is how it went:

playing minecraft can be addicting


The game is VERY addictive.  I had a similar “one more turn,” kind of experience that I only get from playing Sid Meier Civilization games. At the same time, it’s as chaotic and open ended as a Rogue like game. And you know how I feel about those.

I found I can’t play the game any day I need to get work done or it won’t get anything done.

Here’s the video that I watched that got me interested:

If you want a high rez copy of the comic or even the psd file itself, become my patron on PATREON.  Click the link to find out more: https://www.patreon.com/LuisEscobar