Monday, November 16, 2015

Drawings of Knitting Coloring Book

Hello! Its been waaaaay too long, gosh. Time flies when you're slaving away on something, doesn't it?
I've been working on something I'm pretty excited about. 
I finally finished, and here it is:

My new Drawings of Knitting coloring book!

I did all the drawings, and created the book using Amazon's CreateSpace self-publishing tool.
This has been a LOT of work, but also a lot of fun. But a lot of work. 

Its a "Sampler" because the 20 drawings are of a little bit of everything: plaid, paisley, a quilt, some food, Fair Isle patterns, a sweater, and other things. (I'd like to do a series, with each book having a separate theme. Eventually.)

I've been drawing knitting in different ways for a while now, and have made cards, fabric, all kinds of buyable things on Zazzle, original drawings, etc. Some were done realistically with colored pencils, some were more stylized and digital. I had a vague idea about making a cohesive sort of collection or licensable 'program' out of "drawings of knitting", but left that simmering on a back burner while I went off to work on other things.

Then, recently, when the whole 'adult coloring book' thing became so huge and that Secret Garden lady sold millions of copies of hers, I thought well hey! As an illustrator, I should do one too, and OMG I KNOW I'LL DO ONE OF DRAWINGS OF KNITTING NO ONE'S DONE THAT! 

So long story short, I did it. My first challenge was to figure out how to interpret knitting as a drawing that could be colored. I had a plain page of knitting, but then what? Should I do it like a 'color by number'? But putting little tiny numbers in each stitch would have looked weird. Then I came up with the idea of doing a pattern with greys, which could be colored over. Like so:

So that worked OK. But then my brain took off and I started to get some ideas about drawing other things to look like they were made of knitting. My head exploded a little when I realized all the possibilities. And then I started to work on some of them.

I thought I'd share a little about how I did these drawings, in case you're interested.

It all starts with some doodles with a pencil and paper. 

These are the basic building blocks of drawing knit and purl stitches. If you knit, you'll recognize these. If not, I'll explain. The knit stitches (on the left) are what your basic knitted things look like - sweaters, socks, hats, etc. The reverse side of this stitch (or, the inside of those sweaters, socks and hats) probably looks like the drawing on the right. Those are purl stitches. Most of all knitting, even all the really fancy stuff, is done with some combination or variation of these two stitches. You can twist them and overlap them and reverse them and do all sorts of crazy things, which is why knitting is so fun. 

But I digress.

Here is one of the drawings from the book. Its called "Fancy Paisley".

Below is my rough pencil-on-paper drawing of the idea. I wanted to make a nice balance of knit and purl stitches, and have it still look like paisley. I'm not sure you could actually knit this (well, someone could - not sure I'm that good), but the fun of doing this with pencil and paper is that I can 'cheat', if you will, and add in stitches, or half stitches, where you normally wouldn't put them if you were really knitting with yarn and needles. I can also change the scale willy nilly, and have some crazy things going on.

After I get enough of the idea down on paper, I scan it into the computer. The one below is how it looks after I've redrawn it with my pen stylus and my Wacom tablet, using Photoshop. Its exactly like drawing it by hand with pen and ink on paper, only I'm using a 'computer pen' and drawing on a tablet, and the 'ink' is digital. So when I say its all hand drawn, it really is hand drawn. Its not some computer program where I push a button and "make knitting". I sit there for hours and hours and hours until my hand gets cramped and my eyes start to blur, drawing and erasing and re-drawing until I get it the way I want it.

THEN. As if that wasn't enough. I re-trace the whole thing to clean it up and make the final copy. The re-tracing goes a little faster, but its still one stitch at a time.

Here are some enlarged little bits of each one so you can get an idea of how the drawing changes from one stage to the next.

These are some other pieces from the book:

"Under the Microscope"

"Slice of Pie"
(The piece before this in the book is of the whole pie. 
I know - how weird! but kind of cool, right?)

This one is  "Tartan Plaid".

Here's a step-by-step of another one - "Autumn Leaves and Pumpkins"

Again, it starts with a sketch. I did this one on the computer, saving me a step of having to scan a pencil drawing.

I did the leaves like this, separate, so I could repeat them in the drawing. That's where the computer comes in handy. Yes, they're all hand drawn, but I was able to take each one and copy it, then flip it or turn it upside down or something to make an interesting picture.

And here is that interesting picture. It was fun putting this one together. I liked making the 'vine' on the one pumpkin look like a piece of yarn.

And re-drawn and all cleaned up, and with a border.

Each piece has a title on the facing page, like this:

I put blank pages in between the art pages to protect against 'bleed', in case markers or other wet media are used to color with. I already know the paper that CreateSpace uses for their books is not as thick as what you would ideally use for a coloring book, but its OK. What's great about doing the book this way is that its a 'print on demand' book, meaning each one gets printed every time someone orders one. If I had these done at a regular printer, I'd have an inventory of already-printed books piled up in my studio. This way is a much better way to get started!

For every drawing you see in the book, there are others that were left unfinished on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Ideas that were cool, but need a little more work to make "work" as a coloring book page. Lots of super complicated Celtic knot designs, some florals, other weird food ideas, etc. Hopefully they will see the light of day in future books!

But for now, I'm just really happy to have this first book DONE, and actually published. Of course I'm obsessing over everything I think needs improvement for the next one(s), and am worrying over what kind of reviews the book will get (assuming people will actually buy it in the first place, let alone leave a review!). I'm hoping that in the sea of adult coloring books out there now, my little effort will find an audience. It might be a very specific and narrow audience, but I think that there are people with my same love of knitted things that will find it entertaining.

Things are turning to Winter here a bit, finally, with some rain and wind and the heater going. Hope its warm and toasty wherever you are. Don't forget to bundle up when you go online to buy my book! (sorry, had to get one more plug in there). 


El Desván de la Gata Perezosa said...

preciosos post, me encanta tu blog, pásate por el mio y si te gusta quédate, un saludo desde España

TLampert said...

This is an AWESOME idea! Fantastic work! :) And great info on how to publish something like this. Sounds so much easier than it used to be with printing. :)

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