THOMAS BLACKSHEAR II, the son of an Air Force captain, was born in Waco, Texas, and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. "Drawing was all I ever liked to do," he says. "While all the other guys were playing baseball or basketball, I was in my house, drawing." He pursued an interest in art throughout high school, securing a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago. After a year there, he transferred to the nearby Academy of Art. While finishing his college education, he was recruited by Hallmark Cards and later became the apprentice of illustrator Mark English.