The Author and Illustrator
Hi! My name is Rio N. Cortez, and I'm a children's book author, illustrator, husband, and father. I am a firm believer that whatever we set our heart and mind to dream and believe, we have the power to achieve. Sometimes, all it takes is the courage to leap. You never know you can fly until you jump.
Family time is the highlight of my day, time to recharge, get comfortable and simply be myself. I bask in the comforting laughter of my wife and children. The best time for me to write colorful stories and create fantastic drawings that breathe life into my characters is at this moment of divine inspiration.
The essence of my books derives from my own true-life experiences. My mother's love was the hand that planted the seed of creativity in my soul that inspired my books to sprout. I am blessed with family and friends whose support elevates me to reach new heights. My wife and children are my anchor and compass, keeping me grounded and never losing my way home.
May you enjoy reading my books as much as I've relished writing and illustrating them for you. Always be brave, listen to your heart, and believe in yourself - and your dreams will materialize on their own.
Rio N. Cortez is the author and illustrator of The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing: The Brave and Kindhearted, his first self-published book. Both the NEW YORK CITY BIG BOOK AWARD® and the INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD® recognized it as a Distinguished Favorite in the category of Picture Books: All Ages.
After Rio had published his first book, he had no intention of writing a second book. Although he had more stories about the adventures of Folotjing, he was reserving them for his children's bedtime stories. Fortunately, something happened that Rio never expected. Whenever he read his book at school events, he received the same questions over and over again, "Will there be a second book?" or "I can't wait for the second book. Can you tell us a little bit about it?". He was surprised and unprepared to answer these questions. Rio's core principle was that if his book could touch the heart of one child, then all his effort would have been worth it. He never expected Folotjing to reach the number of people that he did. The book traveled to corners of the world like Australia, Dubai, Japan, and England–places Rio could only dream of visiting. He realized that since he had already taken the road less traveled, he might as well keep on going and see how far this journey would take him.
What inspired Rio to write about Folotjing was a small imaginary magical friend he had when he was a little boy. His friend was a duendi–an elfin creature in Filipino folklore, tiny supernatural beings said to have magical powers that can grant people good or bad luck. Now that he's grown up and has children of his own, his magical friend has returned. And he travels to faraway places, sharing lessons of kindness and love that Rio learned from his mother. As it turned out, Rio's friend wasn't imaginary after all: he was destined to be his bridge to the world.
What medium did I use for my illustrations?
I just used my ol trusty sketchbook and my regular Pop-a-Point Pencil. I would draw while helping my son with his homework, while watching TV with my family, at the table while having dinner, and while lying down on the bed (wife was not too happy with the last two). When the drawing is done I scan it using my old HP Envy printer/scanner. Once I have the scanned image, I enhance it in Photoshop; I try not to change anything on the original drawing, but sometimes if I feel like resizing an object in the illustration, that’s when I’d retouch it. For example on my original drawing below, I felt like Folotjing’s size was a little too big when he’s hugging the wolf, so I decided to make him smaller. I also thought the original wolf’s eye was a little too kind, too tamed for my taste, so I made the eye a little fierce looking to bring out the beast in the wolf using Photoshop.
The last part is changing the color of the illustration to sepia to give it a little pop and then blend the drawing with the paper background using the magic of Photoshop. See the difference with the side by side comparison below.
Below is a fine example of the Front Cover Page's evolution from the concept sketch to the final front cover illustration. Go ahead, play the game of spot the difference on Folotjing, I bet you'll have fun pointing them out.
I know, I know - the bird is cute right? But why is it missing from the final illustration?
Can you guess why I decided not to include the bird on the final drawing?
Please read the book and send me a message from the Contact Us page, and I promise I'll respond if you're right or wrong.
Please visit my old Gallery for more of my artworks
If you wish to view some of my old artworks, please click on the link below. It will take you to my old Deviantart page, although I have not updated it in years it is still a good representation of some of my creations.