Boathouse Mouse FAQ

Hey everyone!

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Boathouse, and I thought I’d but together a FAQ blog post or two answering them:

How do you know RV? How did this come about?

RV is actually the dad of one of my good friends. I’d worked with him on a smaller project before (designing a logo for Mission Navigation), but nothing on this scale. RV is an author and has an awesome fiction series (seriously, you should check them out.) He emailed me late December last year with an idea for a children’s book series about a mouse who builds boats and goes on adventures, and was I interested in working with him as his illustrator. I gave it some thought (about two seconds worth) and said yes!

What was your initial reaction reading the book? Did you get to see the book before you agreed to illustrate it?

I did not get to read the book before agreeing; I only had an idea of what it was about and didn’t get a copy of the book for another month or so after agreeing to the project. I had two reactions when reading the book: I love it, and oh man, is my art going to be able to do this justice?

What was the hardest part about doing the illustrations/making the book?

There were a lot of challenges. I had no idea what I was doing going into this, so I had to redo my steps a lot or change things after I had made a lot of progress. There were certain illustrations that were really hard to do. I knew what I wanted it to look like, but getting it from my imagination to paper took a lot of time, paper, and frustration (I’m looking at you, pages 5 and 17!). I also had to learn two new programs for getting the pictures/pages formatted to upload to the publisher, and I am not tech savvy at all. I think the final stage was the hardest, with the layout and getting ready for the printer was the hardest. The good news, though, is that I know how to do all of these steps now, so book 2 should go much smoother 🙂

Do you have a favorite illustration/picture in the book?

Yes!!! I love pages 13 (Boathouse eating lunch) and 15 (Boathouse in the cargo hold). They all turned out better than I expected, but those two were so much fun to create.

How does a glue bottle help you with your drawings?

Okay, this one threw everyone for a loop! I posted this picture on Facebook while I was working on the initial sketches, and I loved seeing the reactions:


I use a lot of reference images, and sometimes I can’t find one that works for my particular situation. I either have to guess at what it should look like (and the result is horrible) or improvise. In this case, I improvised, and here is part of the final illustration.


I needed to see how a glove would lay on him for a blanket, so a Duplo was the rope, glue bottle was Boathouse, and then placed a work glove over the bottle. Instant reference image!

What are all the steps you go through? Isn’t it just drawing and coloring a picture?

Sometimes I wish it was that easy! Here are my steps from book 1:

  • I get a close to final draft of the book. I print it out, and put each page in a binder in page protectors. I then read the book, and jot down any ideas for the illustrations that I may have
  • I begin the initial sketches. These are just small and simple drawings to get the idea of what the final drawing will look like. There is very little detail at this point; I only have enough to show the idea for the picture. This step also has hours of research for each illustration because 1) I am not a boat builder, and 2) I don’t live in the 1800s. There are also tons of emails sent back and forth between RV and I, reviewing sketches and refining reference images.
  • Once the sketches are done, I do a bigger sketch that includes the detail. There is still research being done to make sure I’m getting everything laid out and drawn properly. I send those off to be approved by RV.
  • I do color tests. I’m actually smart at this point and just photocopy my detailed sketch. That way, if I don’t like the colors in the drawing, I haven’t ruined the sketch at all. I just copy it again, and redo the color. I send those off to be approved by RV.
  • About this time, I get the final copy of the book. I’ll print that out and put it in the page protectors, and then I’ll get out a ruler and measure how big each image will need to be on the page. I’ll scale that up (a bigger drawing will allow me to add more detail in easier, and then I’ll scale the final image back down on the computer later), and then on my final paper I’ll do the final drawing nice and big. Once the drawing is done, it’s time to paint. Then I send off pictures of each final illustration to RV.
  • Next step is to scan each picture in to the computer, edit it, and then do layout with text and image. Once the book is done, I send it off to RV, make any adjustments, and then send it back to RV and he sends it to the printer. Then it’s waiting for proofs, approving them, and then ordering the shipment and releasing the book!

Book 2 will be very similar. I’ll be cutting out a couple steps, allowing it to go quicker and smoother.

Is it just you and RV doing all of the work?

RV does all of the writing, and I do all of the drawing, which you probably already knew.

But what you probably didn’t know is that we have an editor and a tech guy behind the scenes, making sure the book is error free and the illustrations and text play nice during formatting. This book wouldn’t be possible without their hard work and dedication to helping us with this project, and am so grateful for their willingness to help.

When is Book 2 coming out?

We’re hoping Spring 2016 for the release date.

What is Book 2 about?

I am not at liberty to say anything but this:

Sorry, Sweetie. Okay, enough Doctor Who references…for now…

If I missed anything, leave your question in the comments below!

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