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!

Continue reading “Boathouse Mouse FAQ”

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Celebrating

Tonight my family is celebrating.

We’re having Charleston Shrimp and Grits for dinner, and for dessert we are having Brown Sugar Cookie Bars.

What are we celebrating, you may ask?

Book 1 in The Adventures of Boathouse Mouse is now available for purchase!!!! WOO HOO!!!!!

Continue reading “Celebrating”

Where are you, Boathouse?

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how Book 1 is coming along and when the expected release date is going to be now that we’re past our original target of September.

My answer? It’s coming soon!

We’ve run into some bumps in the road:

All of the final drawings took a lot longer than I expected them to. I originally thought they’d take me a week, maybe two. However, each illustration took on average 5 hours of work to complete. Considering there were 19 or 20 illustrations total, that’s about 100 hours of work around having summer vacation ending, kids going back to school, and other obligations I have. I grossly under calculated my time, and it took about 2 weeks longer than I anticipated to finish it all.

Working while the kids color with me

I had to learn a new program for doing the book layout…and then get and learn another program. I am not technologically adept by any means. Thankfully, I have a tech guy for a husband, who learned the program quickly, then walked me through exactly what I needed to do for the book. The second program was more designed for books, and gave us the correct format for what we needed for the publisher.

We decided to switch publishers. We now have a publisher that is better for illustrated books, which improves the quality of the book while keeping costs down.

There was a page spacing error in our proofs. When I redid the layout when switching programs, I forgot to put a blank page in causing pages to not line up properly.

The good news is this:

The second proof is being printed right now.  We’re hopeful to get the copies later this week or early next week. Once we look those over, which I think is more a formality, we can set a release date.

Book 2 is going to move a long so much faster!!!! I know what I’m doing now, and I’ve been able to go back through my process for Book 1 and cut out a few steps so I should be able to move faster and more efficiently. I’ll also already know the program, and we’ll know what to look for when we do the final edit before sending to the publisher.

I have Book 2 here, and will be starting my initial sketches any day now! I can’t tell you anything more than that, but I’m super excited to work on this book!

Stay tuned for the official release date either here, on my Facebook page, or on RV’s website!

Boathouse Mouse Update: Rope, Rope, and More Rope

September is just around the corner, and the anticipated projected release of A New Adventure, A New Name is quickly approaching. I am busy working on final illustrations when I can, and should be done in just a couple of weeks.

However, I think I may have not thought this project through enough when I began, and it’s giving me troubles.

Before you start to worry, no, I’m not wishing I hadn’t taken this project on. I’m loving it, and am eagerly awaiting working with RV on the rest of the books. Instead I’m regretting some of my illustration choices when I was working on all the initial sketches and other drafts of the pictures.

Most of the pictures have cute and fun things to draw, like this:

Other pages have not so fun things to draw, like this:

20150815_184128

In case you were wondering, that is a pile of rope. It will take up about a third of one of the illustrations. It’s not crucial to the story, just something I thought would be a nice addition to the picture.

You see, my thought process went something along these lines:

“Hey look, there’s empty space that needs filling! What can I put there? Hmm…let’s see…it’s a boat, and what would boats have in this general area? I know! Rope! Let’s put a pile of rope here and it’ll be fantastic! Yes! Brilliant!”

Let’s just say rope is not the easiest or fastest thing to draw. Note to self: less rope in Book 2 if possible!

It does look pretty amazing when it’s drawn, though, and will look even better when colored, and that makes it all worthwhile.

Projects and Illustrations Update

The past couple of weeks have been awesome! I’ve been really busy working on a few great projects, and thought I’d share some pictures in progress:
Project #1: Epic
I’m not sure what this piece will be called yet, but we’ve been referring to it as “Epic”, so that might just stay as the title 🙂 It’s hard to show previews and talk about this piece without giving it away, but it’s going to be a drawing/watercolor painting mixed media piece of awesomeness, and will feature key characters/locations from favorite books and movies.

This project has been in the works for over a year. It was originally going to be an oil painting, but I’ve been struggling trying to get all the detail in with oil. It just wasn’t working for me; I felt like I was losing all the detail and it wasn’t looking as amazing as the piece deserved to loo. I went back to the people who commissioned the piece and asked if a watercolor drawing would be okay instead, and they were totally on board with that 🙂

Project #2: Rivendell, the second in the Lord ofthe Rings series

Well, I’m getting my geek on with this piece as well as the “Epic” piece! After completing A Bastion Against the Darkness (Minas Tirith), I started compiling a list of other Lord of the Rings and Hobbit locations in hopes of doing a series of these drawings. One of my top picks was definitely Rivendell, but doing it as seen in the Hobbit movies.

I had a meeting with the winners of my gift certificate from this year’s auction, and guess what they chose as their piece?

Rivendell from The Hobbit!

It’s slow going as there is soooo much detail, but the going is easy so far (knock on wood!).

Project #3: My favorite anthropomorphic animal, Boathouse!

Have you seen on Facebook or on RV’s blog our big announcement? We have a tentative launch date for Book 1! We are hoping to have it available as early as September. I’m making great progress with the last few sketches; I’m sure it probably sounds like I keep saying that, but I keep tweaking each picture, adding more detail, making sure each piece is accurate. It’s a long process, but I know that from here on out I’ll have a better idea of what the process will look like and it’ll go soooo much faster!

To see RV’s blog post about the release date, check it out here! Make sure you keep checking back here, on my Facebook page, and RV’s blog for more updates as they happen 🙂

I’m also reworking part of my website, signing up for more online art classes that I’ll take this summer, sending out applications for more festivals, and keeping up with house/wife/mom/babysitter duties. Just over a week from now, school will be out, my daycare will closed for good, and I’ll be full time working on my art! It’s very bittersweet.

Which of these three projects are you most excited about seeing completed? Let me know in the comments below!

Behind the Scenes: Illustrating Book One

Can I confess something to you guys?

When RV approached me before Christmas about illustrating his children’s book series, I jumped at the chance. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years, and hey, I could cross something off of my bucket list! Woo hoo!

However, part of me wanted to back out. All these fears crept in and I would start to panic. I mean, how am I supposed to take some one else’s character that they created and bring it to life as a visual image, all while being true to my work yet true to the original idea? What about the setting? I have no idea what boats really look like or the other settings from the book. How am I going to color it? What about layout, how are my illustrations going to work around the text? How in the world am I going to fit the time into my crazy life to do this and do this well? What if my illustrations are awful and ruin the books for RV?!?

The first few times I would send an image to RV, I would expect an email back saying that I wasn’t a good fit for his book and that he was going to find someone else. As you can tell from my Facebook posts and RV’s blog, aside from a few tweaks and adjustments here and there, we are moving along in the process and all of my fears have been (mostly) irrational.

The Process:

RV was totally awesome, and when he sent the first draft of the book for me to look over, he sent along initial sketches of the cover and first few pages of the book. This helped me get a feel for what the character looked like and what RV was envisioning for each illustration. He also gave me the freedom to take each of his initial sketches, change things, and just run with it. I got to be creative, yet still follow his lead with his initial concepts and ideas of what he was thinking.

But illustrating really isn’t just drawing pretty pictures to coincide with the story. I’ve spent so many hours researching boats, settings, period clothing, and getting input from RV. It’s been a long process to get just the concept sketches done, but even though it’s time consuming, it’s so much fun!

What I’m Learning:

The more research you do and the more reference images you have, the better your pictures will be. I’m probably not even using half of the reference images that I’ve found, but I have a better understanding of each piece of the pictures from all the research. I tend to like to skip this part and just start working, but I really do need to slow down more and put more effort into the work before I start drawing or painting. My computer screen looks like this more often than not when I’m doing a concept sketch:

I know next to nothing about boats. Thankfully, RV is an expert as he builds boat for his job and as mission work (you can check out Mission Navigation here!). He has been ridiculously helpful with explaining everything. I’ve also been getting brownie points with my kids; now that I have some sort of an idea what I’m talking about (or at least I pretend really well), I’ve been teaching the kids terms and parts when they’re building their LEGO boats 🙂

It’s not always going to go quick, but it’s not always going to be slow! Some illustrations were done in one quick initial sketch (I love you, pages 6, 11, and 13!), yet others took many sketches (here’s looking at you, page 14) or even two weeks to get the idea “right” (that’d be you, page 5….*shudders*). No matter how long the process takes, it’s always worth it to just get the right amount of fun and detail and story in each picture.

Mice feet are super weird. So are their noses. But in order to get Boathouse to be mouse-like and be believable as a mouse, I had to really study what a mouse looks like, even if he’s pretty anthropomorphic. I think I spent a couple days just drawing mice features over and over again to get a feel for what they look like! Most of that was because we had no idea what Boathouse’s feet were supposed to look like; every other part of him came together easily, but man, mouse feet…they’re difficult!

It’s okay to not know what I’m doing. A couple days after RV approached me, I stumbled across an online class that focused on illustrating children’s books that have animals as their main characters, and it was even on sale!!! I mean, what are the odds that I’d find that class when I needed it?!? I took it in January, and it was so helpful. It helped me really figure out what Boathouse should look like, how to figure out the best compositions, all those artsy things that I was freaking out about a month prior to that. I really was able to gain confidence from this class and really add more to each illustration.

What’s next:

I’ll be honest, I don’t know when the book will be out, but I’m hoping that it will be sooner rather than later. A lot of this is taking longer than I anticipated as I’m working 10 – 12 hour days for my in home daycare 5 days a week, and then spending time with my husband and kids as well as attempting to have a life on top of that. I am hopeful the hardest part of the process is hopefully behind us and it should move quicker from here on out.

Now that all of the concept drawings are done, I get to take all the thumbnails and make them the approximate size of the finished product. I’ll be adding in details that I couldn’t add in before (like buttons, detail on a fence, etc), and I hope to have that done this week, end of next weekend at the latest.

After those are done, it’s color testing time, and then finally the final draft which will be scanned and used for the book. Whew!

Gosh, this post has been so hard to write. It’s hard to show restraint and not tell or show you more about the book or illustrations! I hope you all will love the book when it’s done, because I think RV has done a great job writing this book and creating the world of Boathouse Mouse. And I am so very very thankful I get to be a part of this!

In Case You Missed It…

On off chance you don’t follow me on Facebook or RV’s blog, we revealed a cover teaser of the upcoming book 1 in the children’s book series!

Here it is:

For a much better reveal, head over to RV’s blog post; trust me, his reveal post is much better! This is why he writes and I just draw 😉

Stay tuned for more teaser pics coming soon; I just got an updated draft of the book, so will be cranking out thumbnail sketches of each page over the next week or so!