"When I write my stories, I have a clear vision in my mind as to what everything looks like, and that includes more than just the words. Therefore, it is important to me to have the right photographs or illustrations to accompany my pieces."
When I write my stories, I have a clear vision in my mind as to what everything looks like, and that includes more than just the words. Therefore, it is important to me to have the right photographs or illustrations to accompany my pieces. I believe adding a visual to the story, is key in giving more to the reader.
As you may have read on an earlier blog post, Photographic Accompaniments, I love to have, what I envision to be, the perfect photograph to accompany my works. I will admit, I take a whole lot of photographs by camera or phone with which to have on hand for when I need such a photo for a story or poem. Occasionally, if I have to, I will reach out to other sources. I am eternally grateful for those talented artists who allow us the use of their royalty-free photographs. I appreciate their talents and their generosity very much.
Since I write in several genres, I lean towards, when I am writing a children’s story, a more playful illustration than a photo snapshot, to accompany my writing. I will fully admit to you all, that I am clearly a tad stubborn, and would prefer to do all the work myself. Because of that, I decided one day that I just had to roll up my sleeves and learn to illustrate my own stories. This way, I would be fully able to lay before you, dear reader, the entire, and perfectly matched visual for my written pieces and stories. Unfortunately, as artistically talented I pray I can be, I definitely have my own limitations. Yes, I can draw, and I do tend to draw realistically, more than in an abstract manner. This means a I am pretty hard on myself when I create a drawing, or painting. I remember many years ago, when my watercolour painting teacher gave me heck in class, because I tried to make everything look so realistic, and take little in the way of an abstract license in the portrayals of my subjects. I wanted my roses to look like real roses, I wanted a tree to look exactly like a living tree. As creative as I might be, I am clearly not a brilliantly talented artist, so I can feel rather inept and deflated with my artistic endeavours sometimes. Therefore, I will work very hard, spend extra hours of time, to achieve a satisfying rendition of my intended goal. Enter the new technologies.
I figured there must be a way for me to illustrate my own writing, but not have to draw everything out by hand on paper, and try to match it to my writing which was clearly in a digital format. Even scanning a hand drawing left me with quality issues. I clearly needed to learn how to draw and digitally illustrate just like I was now writing digitally. I wanted to marry one component with the other digitally to end up with my completed piece, ready to be shared out into the world on one chosen platform or another. Enter digital drawing.
For years I have been writing on my iPad. I like the very light touch needed to type the words. (Desirable, because I admit I might have ten very worn out digits at this point in my life). Then, once I write a piece on my iPad, I email it to myself (I heard this was good for proving copyright as well). I copy and paste my written piece from my email to a Word doc, a universal processor format for using in a variety of industry-compatible ways. So then, I think to myself, how could I do this for illustrations?
After researching, I discovered several ways, but all of them involved upgrading my devices and/or software or apps. I made a decision then, and I took a big leap of faith deciding on Procreate, an app I could pay for and download to an iPad. It would then work with an Apple Pencil for drawing and colouring digitally. However, my iPad was not powerful enough to use with Procreate, so I had to upgrade my device. I bit the bullet and bought a new iPad, and then I paid and downloaded for the Procreate app. I hoped and prayed that these expenses would let me create the illustrations that I envisioned.
Next came the huge learning curve, on how to use the app. It seemed relatively simple at first glance, as I watched several YouTube videos. Then I sat down and tried it. Getting to understand working in layers, and learning the tools, etc. was a bigger job than I had first imagined. My stubbornness refused to let up, no app was going to beat this old girl! I kept at it. Slowly, my knowledge and confidence improved, all be it, my body ached from longer hours than I should have, crouched over, and focused on my new learning curve!
I will proudly say that I have managed to master enough knowledge within the use of the app to produce what I was trying to create on several of my works. I was especially delighted in how I can draw and then colour, and, as well, able to add in a photo layer for reference. I also learned how to manipulate things with the plethora of special effects available. I will admit, the whole learning curve was harder than I thought. I got layers of work out of order, or I got stuck trying to do something, and I can’t tell you how many times I erased hours of work by an infuriating flick of an incorrect swipe. I survived, and so did my creativity.
For the most part, I am delighted with what I have managed to learn. This old girl is not defeated, and I have to say I am pretty proud of myself with several of my illustrations. I will be completely honest when I share, that some of my digital illustrations can take up to a dozen hours to complete. This has given me a whole new respect for illustrators and artists that work with writers to partner to illustrate a book. I can compose and slap down a poem in 10 minutes. It may then take 10 hours to illustrate it. I had no real idea of the amount of work needed to complete an illustration prior to attempting digital drawing.
I am very grateful I have managed to accomplish so much in this past year with digitally drawing. I have created several of my own book covers, (The Boot Under The Bush; Could It Be? Is That The Boot I See?; The Magic Stick. (Please also note that I also used a software program called Canva to complete my covers.) Speaking of the book, The Magic Stick, I also drew The Treasure Map, shown here, and all the animals and multiples of illustrations in the book. Coming up soon, all the illustrations in my youth novella, Love, Magic & Mermaids I have done myself. Also, the cover and all the illustrations in The Poetry Prescription were mine. (The Poetry Prescription is a book that will be available this year, as an eBook on Amazon. I am still working on the illustrations currently.)
Other illustrations I have completed I have uploaded to redbubble.com and opened two shops for Print On Demand Merchandise; ladyofthelakebc and LIPSpeaking. I hope you drop by as each design is available on over 80+ items on everything from mouse pads to t-shirts.
I guess my stubbornness to learn to digitally draw and illustrate my work has finally come to a satisfied fruition. I am so happy I that I have managed to finally illustrate my own writing and art projects! I hope that you will enjoy and appreciate my work, too. Thank you, in advance!