Designing my first coloring book

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: Taking stock of my current capabilities

Since I have spent the last 20 plus years doing a very different kind of design (user experience design), I know that creating anything like Sci-fi or human anatomy is out of my league right now. I had to pick something that I could ease into fairly quickly and make something reasonably decent.

Step 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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