I have been working on my own versions of "David & Goliath" for quite some time now. My first foray into the ancient world of First Samuel came in college. I had to write random and varied scenes for a Screenwriting 101 class and I chose to adapt different parts of David's life into these mulitple assignments. Then a couple years ago I decided to create a children's book called The Shepherd and the Giant. Since then I've been working on The Shepherd King Chronicles: David and Goliath, a short film version of the story as well as an updated book for a young adult (and any age adult, really) audience. So here in this article, I wanted to give a brief outline of the steps I went through to create these illustrated books.

Writing

First things first, I write the book. Then, I read it. I get very upset that I missed all the misspelled words and incorrect punctuation marks. I make the corrections and do a re-write. At this point, I have people read the book and give me feedback. Sometimes the feedback is, "It's good." That kind of feedback doesn't really help me. Other times the feedback is great. "I liked how you did this," or "I didn't understand what was happening here," or maybe "Did you think about adding this, or doing that." This type of feedback is very helpful. One reason that we founded A|C was to create a forum for like-minded creatives to come together and critique one another's works-in-progress and to get real, meaningful, objective feedback.

Drawing

Next step after I have a completed manuscript (or what I think is a completed manuscript), I do illustrations with either a fountain pen or a mechanical pencil on plain ole copy paper (Most of the time. For one illustration I used a wide-nib fountain pin on a napkin).

Oops, I forgot. I actually used more napkins than I remembered. Maybe in 3-4 of the illustrations...?

Oops, I forgot. I actually used more napkins than I remembered. Maybe in 3-4 of the illustrations...?

Next, I scan the drawing into Photoshop and go to town. I create different layers for each, well, layer (or element) starting with the background.

Background gradient over which I build up layers of color and atmosphere and cool stuff.

Background gradient over which I build up layers of color and atmosphere and cool stuff.

I build up the layers, one on top of the other from the background up. I use different blending modes and transparencies to achieve the required atmosphere or effect I'm looking to achieve.

Mid-ground sheep and hills and clouds added.

Mid-ground sheep and hills and clouds added.

Eventually, after lots of little tweaks, I arrive at an image I'm pleased with.

Final illustration of David for "The Shepherd and the Giant"

Final illustration of David for "The Shepherd and the Giant"

When I decided to update The Shepherd and the Giant with more details and for an older reading age, I also chose to jump back into my digital illustrations and do more tweaks. I wanted the images to be more dynamic and to evoke a cinematic feeling. So, the above image became this:

The updated illustration of David for The Shepherd King Chronicles: David and Goliath.

The updated illustration of David for The Shepherd King Chronicles: David and Goliath.

Layouts

"That's it. Easy. Done," you think. Nope, you're wrong. The text and images then have to be formatted into a PDF layout of the book. I create an interior file and an exterior cover. On top of all that, I decided that I wanted each page of the book to appear as if it was an ancient manuscript that had aged for years in an arid cave in the midst of a scorching desert.

To achieve the desired look, tea-stained copy paper was crinkled, crumpled, and then baked in an oven at low heat.

To achieve the desired look, tea-stained copy paper was crinkled, crumpled, and then baked in an oven at low heat.

I didn't want to use someone else's texture file or image, so I created my own ancient paper. I accomplished this look by wadding up copy paper and then soaking it in tea. These papers then went out into the sun to dry. After they had crisped up, I put the papers into bins and poured old, blackened coffee atop them. The dark liquid settled into the crumpled parts of the papers and made wonderful, mountainous stains. After all this, the papers got cooked. No, really, cooked in the oven (at low temperature). These aged pieces were then scanned into the computer and used as background images for each page of text.

Finished, Almost

The updated book is almost done. I'm going through another round of edits, I created a (BRAND NEW, NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN!) map and expanded a chapter, and I am about to enlist a group of young adult reviewers for some additional feedback. I am tentatively planning on releasing the book in November (fingers crossed). I hope you enjoyed this brief foray into creating an illustrated book.

Comment