Illustrating a Children’s Book

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.

sketch of boy in bedroom
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.

sketch of boy in bedroom
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.

boy looking out of window
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.

sketch of 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.

- Jocelyn

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