• Bex

Big News! I Illustrated a Children's Book!

So, I have been waiting a long time to announce this here on the blog and social media. Some of my friends and family already know, but haven’t actually seen the project I’ve been working on for the past several months.


But now that it’s complete and off to the presses and reviewers and actually on the internet in general, I can finally share.


Through my internship at BHC Press, I was given the opportunity to illustrate a children’s book.


Ta-dah!


It’s a story called Nassir’s White Coat by Artigua Kilpatrick. Here’s a quick synopsis from the BHC Press website:


When Nassir, an albino gorilla with a pure white coat is born, the gorilla community does not know what to do. Frightened at how "different" Nassir is to the rest of the gorillas, poor Nassir is shunned by everyone but his mother. But, when Nassir displays an act of courage, his community comes to realize Nassir is just like them.
A wonderful story of acceptance and diversity, beautifully illustrated by Rebecca Fischer.


It’s truly a charming story, and I really enjoyed bringing it to life. Its official release date is currently January 21, 2021, so keep an eye out for it! It's available for pre-order on the BHC Press online bookstore powered by Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, and a variety of other online retailers.


I faced a handful of challenges with this project. But as with all challenges, I learned a lot from it, too.


It was the first time I had drawn this much in a long time.


It’s not exactly a secret that I can draw (have you seen my blog header?). I’ve been an avid amateur cartoonist for a decent majority of my life. I say cartoonist because…well, that’s just my style. I used to want to work for Disney as a kid and reading the colorful Sunday comics in the newspaper was something I enjoyed (yes, believe it or not, I remember those.) I always said I wanted to be a cartoonist, so I worked really hard to teach myself to be better. I bought a lot of those How-to-Draw books, and spent a lot of my free time drawing. It really was such a huge part of my childhood, and even my teen years.


But then I grew up and my life went in another direction. I still drew, just not as often. I doodled on my college notes, and later when I entered the workforce, meeting notes. That’s about it, though. It seemed like that part of my life was over.


And then this opportunity came up, and drawing came back into my life. I really saw how rusty I was, but with time, it came back to me. I can’t put into words how it felt to have this huge piece of me fit with me once more.


However, this brings up my next challenge.


It was the first time I used Photoshop to draw.


I draw on paper with a pencil. And I’m not a clean artist, either. My doodles are often scratchy and unfinished, and I don’t color them. I knew that I was going to have to get these illustrations on the computer.


I was somewhat familiar with Photoshop for editing photos. I learned on the job when I worked at the local newspaper. However, I’ve never actually taken a class in Photoshop. So, with Nassir, I had to learn on the fly how to digitally paint (is that even the term?) in Photoshop. It was incredibly challenging, and what’s worse is that Creative Suite updated Photoshop right in the middle of the project, and for whatever reason after the update, it would NOT let me rotate the canvas where it did before. As someone who is constantly flipping her paper around to get the right angle, this was SO frustrating and annoying. But I couldn’t find a way to fix it, so I just dealt with it.

Even so, I learned a lot of really cool tricks in Photoshop.


I’m still learning a lot, and a part me wishes I learned a long time ago, because it’s really fun. Even though I don’t have any current big projects now (but I do have a couple small ones in the works that I can’t share just yet), I’m still taking time to fiddle around in Photoshop. I just recently learned how to use the Pen tool, and it’s basically changed my life.


Will I be doing more Illustration Projects in the future?


I hope so. As I said, I do have a couple more projects in the works, both personal and professional with BHC Press. Aside from that, I’m open to the possibilities.


All in all, I’m really grateful for the opportunity from BHC Press to do this. I have virtually zero professional illustration experience, and that made me insanely nervous. But they have been nothing but supportive of me during this entire project. I also want to thank my friends, family, and even my coworkers for being my cheerleaders. I really appreciate all your kind words and encouragement. Thank you!


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