For the past few months, I have been working on the illustrations of my next book which is based on an ocean theme. I am done with 25 illustrations so far and I have 25 more to do. When I think of the ocean, I think of magnificent creatures, fantastical ruins, and imaginary habitats. But as with any creative endeavor, one thing leads to another, and while I am immersed in creating an imaginary water world for my book, the reality of the vast and lonely expanse of an endless ocean reminds me of the distance many have to travel in order to be with their family, and the very raw emotions it generates when the gap between those trips becomes far too long. So, as it often happens with the matters of the heart, I went wherever it took me, and I ended up with this rhyme. (Background image of the ocean created using Photoshop).
Earlier this year, I published my first coloring book, Floral Designs. Here is a brief overview of my process.
Step 1: Choosing a topic
I began by making a list of subjects that interest me (science fiction, steampunk, fantasy, human anatomy, architecture, quotes, patterns, geometric designs, flowers, ocean life, wild life, pets, holidays, and celebrations).
Step 2: Market research
Next, I searched on Amazon to find out what were the top sellers, and what kind of comments users had given to those coloring books. I ended up spending more time than I had budgeted for on this step. It was hard to pick a subject, but eventually I based my decision on the number of reviews the books on a particular subject matter got on Amazon. Probably not the best way to make a decision, but my very basic non-scientific research gave me a starting point.
Step 3: Choosing a style
I decided to make a coloring book on the subject of flowers. I experimented with two different styles – true likeness versus graphic representation. I chose graphic representation because I knew I could do that faster than the other one. Based on this style, I chose to title my book “Floral Designs” instead of “Flower Designs”.
Step 4: Deciding on size and format
Since I wanted to publish via Create Space, I checked what sizes were available and picked one of the standard sizes (8.5 by 11 inches). Most of the coloring books, on an average, have anywhere between 30 to 80 illustrations (some have even more than 100). I decided to create a coloring book with 50 illustrations. This decision was based on three things. First was the price point on which I would be able to competitively price my book on Amazon. Second, the amount of time I had planned to devote on this book. Third, I wanted to create my illustrations so that I could repurpose them later and license the colored versions as art collections.
Step 5: Building a library
I started by building a library of floral elements. Some elements were first sketched on paper and some were created directly in Adobe Illustrator.
Step 6: Creating the designs
Since my goal was to license my coloring book illustrations as art collections also, I divided the 50 floral designs into 5 art collections. Each collection consisted of 8 illustrations and 2 seamless patterns. Based on this direction, I started creating my art in Adobe Illustrator. For the color versions of my art, I kept things pretty simple – only flat vector art. No use of textures or Photoshop. Each colored illustration was created in a bigger size (18 by 24 inches / 300 dpi).
Step 7: Publishing my book on Create Space
I will cover this topic in a separate blog post.
Time Taken to bring this book to market: 519hrs
Nov 23 to Dec 7, 2017 / Figuring out what to do / 88hrs
Dec 7, 2017 to Jan 7, 2018 / 50 floral designs – line drawing / 184hrs
Jan 8 to Feb 1, 2018 / Created color version with border / 152hrs
Feb 2 to Feb 7, 2018 / Created square and portrait versions / 32hrs
Feb 8 to Feb 9, 2018 / Created front & back cover designs / 16hrs
Feb 9, 2018 / Collection names finalized and files renamed / 4hrs
Feb 10 and Feb 11, 2018 / Thumbnails and catalog created / 16hrs
Feb 12 and Feb 13, 2018 / Tried to write an artist’s statement. Came up with nothing / 4hrs
Feb 15, 2018 / Went to register for copyright, but the site is offline till Feb 19
Feb 19, 2018 / Copyright registered / 2hrs
Feb 23, 2018 / Artist statement written for the book / 4hrs
Feb 24 to Feb 28, 2018 / Learning how to publish on Create Space / 12hrs
March 1 to March 23, 2018 / Back & forth with Create Space to get the book published / 5hrs
March 24, 2018 / Floral Designs coloring book published on Amazon via Create Space
When I created a pattern for my “Owl Love” art collection in Adobe Illustrator and brought it into Photoshop as a vector object (via cut-copy-paste), thin white lines appeared in the pattern. The solution to this problem is to export the file as a PSD file with “Art Sampling” selected. (If "Text Sampling" is selected, the thin white lines still appear). The following images describe the pattern creation and exporting process. I hope this helps.
Design, like anything else that is worth pursuing under the sun, is by and large, a collaborative undertaking and an adventurous activity. Collaboration and exploration brings people together, and sometimes, despite the best of intentions, things get testy, especially when it’s time to test ideas and challenge closely held beliefs. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, the fine line between critique and criticism fades away, and things get, well, “interesting”. Here, in a few lines that rhyme, I have tried to capture my observations of how people react to it in different ways. If there is anything good that comes out of it, it is that after all is said and done, eventually through the magic of iteration, something useful gets designed, and the world is a little better off than it was before. The title of the rhyme is “Criticism”.
This is my first blog post, and I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to the authors of the many books from which I have gained valuable insights. Books written by Vello Hubel, Diedra B. Lussow, Robin Landa, Mark Oldach, Francis D.K. Ching, J.D. Hillberry, Margot Schulzke, Rebecca E. Burnett, Bob Baxley, and Kim Goodwin have been my source of knowledge, strength, hope, and inspiration.
Here are some of the books that have helped me through the years.
- Focus on Designing by Vello Hubel & Diedra B. Lussow
- Graphic design solutions by Robin Landa
- Creativity for graphic designers by Mark Oldach
- Design drawing by Francis D.K. Ching
- Drawing realistic textures in pencil by J.D.Hillberry
- A painter’s guide to design and composition by Margot Schulzke
- Technical Communication by Rebecca E. Burnett
- Making the web work by Bob Baxley
- Designing for the Digital Age: How to create human-centered products and services by Kim Goodwin
If you have a list you would like to share, please do so in the comments section.