During my elementary school days, I loved to draw. I could easily occupy myself for hours with a pencil and a pad of paper. I stopped doodling in high school when homework took priority. It wasn’t until recently, many decades later, that I picked up that pencil again.
If my initial intention was to publish a children’s book, I would not have attempted any illustrations — would have left it to the professionals. Since I was only planning to draw a few of my son’s favorite sleeping animals to show him before bed, I figured the task was easy enough.
First, I folded over five pieces of typing paper to create a little booklet for sketching. This is my first sketch in April 2010. Not very impressive.
The following day, I put a little more effort and redrew my first illustration. I showed it to my daughter. She was very excited and wanted to color it. I made a copy for each of us to color. She used colored pencils (below), I painted with watercolors. I failed miserably, created a huge mess, and ended up throwing away the soggy painting.
Dissatisfied with the watercolors, I decided to try Photoshop for my illustrations. It was a bit of a learning curve for me but it was definitely worth the time and effort to learn Photoshop. The brushes in Photoshop are incredible – you can control the size, texture, and opacity of the brushes and the possibilites are infinite. I created my own brushes and color swatches, which made the illustration process much easier.
Initially, I used my computer mouse to do the drawings but it was difficult to control the fine details, so I purchased a Wacom Bamboo Pen. It definitely made the strokes smoother and more natural. The drawing below was my first attempt at using Photoshop. As I gathered more experience illustrating, I went back and redrew my initial drawings, including this one.
I asked my daughter to help me with little parts of the drawings. She was delighted and especially enjoyed using the mouse and adding the stars in the night sky. I encouraged her to do her own drawings too. Below is her version of the two humped camel.
Illustrating my first book turned out to be such a rewarding experience. I had the opportunity to share hours of quality time drawing with my daughter, I enjoyed chuckling quietly to myself and smiling every time I imagined what my son’s face would look like when I show him the completed book, and I rediscovered my love for drawing.