My name is Scott Torrance and I’m a Scottish guy from Dublin, Ireland (click here to visit my website). And I love to draw… I mean I really love it. It has changed my life in ways I couldn’t imagine. I’ve been playing around with it for a while but I made a decision that I must take this drawing stuff more seriously.
So after being inspired by reading The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl with my two and a half year old son a couple of weeks ago I decided to create a short picture book for him (The entire completed book is in the slideshow at the top of this post). I chose watercolour because it has a lovely lightness of touch and warmth of colour as well as adding beautiful texture.
Last month, my wife and I were feeling a little smug with ourselves after creating these awesome homemade dinosaur eggs and hiding them around the house while Daniel was asleep. As you can imagine he loved it. So I decided to capture this memory in a story. At the same time raising the smug parent level to 11. This provided the loose story line for the book. When I say story line, it was there mainly to let me draw Daniel and his toys in familiar surroundings.
Initially it was my intention to just draw it up in an old (and rather small) Moleskine watercolour notebook I had lying around but after making my first mistake in applying watercolour, I decided it would be better to draw out each page on individual pages and so I pressed on doodling away. As such, the project grew and grew in scope. However, as the story and drawings evolved I hadn’t thought about the end game….I hadn’t thought about how I was going to bring them all together. Loosely in my head I had thought that I would print it off as a short book using one of these print your own book services that are more commonly used by photographers.
So I had everything drawn out, transferred and tidied up digitally and started mindlessly uploading them to one of these services only to get to the end and realize that they only did a minimum of 26 pages.
Understandable, but I only had 16. This was proving to be more complicated than the initial vision in my head but I was loving it. After looking around I found that Blurb.com had a minimum of 20 pages. Awesome, time to draw up another 4 pages, and the truth is that even at this stage, I hadn’t brought the little story to an end (tip for next time: storyboard the whole story from start to end before jumping in to drawings).
Then came the front page, which took the longest of all. Mainly because I just couldn’t settle on a name and resultant layout. At the time I was surrounded by children’s books and settled on ‘taking inspiration’ from the well known book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.
By all intents and purposes I had finished the book. All the drawings were uploaded into Blurb and I had used their BookWrite tool to insert all the text. It felt good to have it all finished but as I sat looking at the finished product, I felt uncomfortable and I couldn’t work out why. Then I realised it was the same feeling I had had when reading many of Daniel’s books…my design sensibilities were being offended by the font. It just didn’t suit the tone and nature of the book. Now I have had a relationship with typography but mainly from a distance. I know what I do and don’t like but in the past I have always communicated this to someone else who went away and brought back options.
This was the first time that I went digging away in the world of fonts. Wow that is a world where I could spend a lot of time and money. After a lot of googling and leafing through children’s books I settled on Providence Sans. However, I found out that to get a desktop license it was going to be $89. I hummed and hawed about whether to pay it but then I had a thought. I settled on writing it myself. Not creating a font (which I will do soon) but just writing it out. I thought hey it is a handwritten font so why not write it out by hand. This was another interesting learning process in Adobe. It took a relatively long time but I loved it.
I have learned a lot of things while doing this but the number one thing I learned was that I LOVE illustrating children’s books. I remember sitting dip pen in hand loaded with beautiful black ink on the first day that I was inking my sketches surrounded by my watercolours and just thinking yes, this is it. This is what I want to be doing. In a sense this is what I have been searching for.