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19 March 2016

How I create my coloring pages...

Long time follower Joanne recently emailed me to ask how I create my coloring pages. I was surprised that I'd never shared that with you before - so let me remedy that!
     Ideas for my coloring pages come from things I love to doodle anyhow - bears, fairies, readers. You've seen them, so I hope you know! They also come from pending holidays and YOU. Dear readers, you send in some lovely ideas!
     What makes a good idea? Well, my images are usually fairly simple - one character doing something silly - or reading. I really love giving teachers and book lovers reading images.
     I'll often do a bunch of sketches in one batch - like this:
Do you recognize any of these? I used most of them.
     Or maybe they'll be line drawings of the hand-drawn cards I create for friends.
     Either way, they don't really have to be very tight drawings - I mostly use my sketches as a guide. I scan these into Photoshop and paste them into an 8.5x11" grayscale document (300ppi). The sketch remains on one layer, where I lower its opacity if it's dark. Then I create a new layer and create my 'line art' on that new layer. I use a hard-edged pen at about 13 or 19 pixels. This is one of the first standard pens that comes with Photoshop - nothing fancy. The larger the pen, the more the variation in line quality - if I'm careful. To get that line quality, I draw using a Wacom tablet with a pen-mouse. It looks a bit like this although I use a newer model now:
The work-in-progress looks like this:
Remember this one from Christmas?
     I do the originals at 8.5x11" size because sometimes folks want to buy usage rights to one of my images for something else, like a t-shirt or logo. Those need to be high resolution images. But for my coloring pages, I size them down. I keep an existing template which is 1000 pixels high and 773 pixels wide. Over the years and per your feedback, I've found that size works for most home printers without printing to two pages.
     You'll notice all the copyright information I have on my template. Sadly, I had to start doing this because theft of my images online is rampant. Most of the theft occurs through algorithms which collect images into temporary databases made available to the public. For those, my copyright is very important. Unfortunately, there are also the yucky people who actually strip my copyright information from my images and post them online as their own. I wrote a big article about that a while back. CLICK HERE if you are interested in reading it.
     It's why I also always put a copyright line up against my artwork along with in the template frame.
     I save the "big" version of my coloring page as a "Maximum JPG" which seems to print fine for most of my followers.
     I also save two other sizes of my images - a medium and a small. The medium-sized image (with it's copyright) is the one that goes on my blog posts. I usually save it as a "high JPG" at about 350 to 400 pixels wide. The small image is also saved as a "high JPG" at 200 pixels on its longest side for my online collection which you can see HERE.
     The result is what I hope you've come to enjoy and share - a finished coloring page. This one has always been one of my faves - I love snowmen. (Click the image to see its big version in a new window.)
     I tell folks the main reason I create my coloring pages is to draw (ha!) attention to MY BOOKS. But honestly, the business of children's books is a surprisingly tough one full of rejection. I can't tell you how much joy sharing my images with all of you has brought me over the years. Oftentimes, in my darkest children's book publishing moments, one of you will send me a note of thanks about my coloring pages - making me smile. So, THANK YOU to Joanne and the rest of you for being such loyal followers! You really do make all of my hard work worthwhile!
     CLICK HERE to visit my collection of coloring pages and CLICK HERE to subscribe to receive each week's coloring page in your in-box.

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