I had decided as a New Year’s resolution that 2015 would be the year that I would make gifts for my family and friends. My niece Eliya was turning 3 in February and a month a half before her birthday I decided to write her a book. I love writing but frankly I’m not a good illustrator. Thank God, my husband is an artist and he helped me with a lot of the illustrations and he encouraged me through the whole process. The story was all about Eliya’s life, things she loves and is familiar with. I got the writing done in 2 days. For the illustration I first decided what image I would use for Eliya’s character and then what type of images I would use in each page to match the story. I googled some of the images, printed them, traced and colored them as best as I could. My husband helped me with shading and depth of each image and he brought the characters to life. I was super excited each time he would work on an image. Once all the images were colored we scanned them and retouched them by using a free photo editing program called GIMP. The images turned out awesome.
I used mixbook.com as a printing source and downloaded the story and images into it. I used the blank canvas book style and adjusted everything to my like. I paid a little extra for a hardcover copy primarily because I wanted the book to last in the hands of a 3 year old and I also prefer hardcover books anyway. The book ended up costing $30 including shipping. I am extremely satisfied with the print out result, the colors are bright and the quality of the pages is excellent.
Let me also mention that I got the book ready to be printed in 2 and a half weeks because my husband and I worked extremely hard on it. If you plan on making a similar book, give yourself a little extra time to avoid stress with deadlines. I gave the book to Eliya on her 3rd birthday, read it for her and she loved it! I believe that it was truly special for her to see herself in a story that was her own. As for me, the making of this book was a huge achievement, it was an unique opportunity to be creative and stretch myself as a writer and illustrator. I’m looking forward to my next project.
My tips to achieve a similar project: First, give yourself time to put the book together, in my opinion 3-4 months should be enough. Second, don’t be afraid to combine images. I had elephants, bears, bubbles, birds, dolls and a bunch of other drawings that were by themselves that I traced them closer to each other to create the illustration I wanted. Thirdly, if you are not an illustrator and don’t know anyone that could help you with that, simply color the images as bright as possible and use Picmonkey or Gimp to edit them. Those editing programs are free and will do for you what you can’t do. Here is an example of a before and after image:
My last words of advice, have a teacher or someone who has good grammar look over the story before you print it. Have fun and allow yourself to make mistakes.