I wrote, illustrated and designed a custom board book during two weeks worth of my son’s naps and bedtimes!

My son, Syver, loves when we read board books together. His favorite is Dr. Seuss’, “Hop On Pop”. This triggered my idea to design a personal board book for his birthday! The biggest obstacle was….

His birthday was in two weeks! I was up for the challenge!

I’ve found a place in NY (not China) that would manufacture a board book using my art work. The first step was learning what their specs were.

Board Book Specs:

  • 5 5/8 x 5 5/8″round corner trimmed board book.
  • 7 interior spreads plus the cover spread
  • made of thick 48 pt solid white durable paperboard

I was so excited! These are the type of specs that so many legit board books have. I couldn’t wait to create a real baby-proof book!

Coming up with a concept:
Once I knew the format specs, I brainstormed an overall concept for the book. I thought maybe something having to do with music because my husband and I play in a rock band together called the HypnoGogs. Our son seems to also enjoy playing the keyboard, guitar and drums. He’s our little rock star and that is what I focused my ideas about. Here’s my ideas scribbled in a journal. Ideas for the Custom Board Book

The right page shows how ROCK STAR is the main theme and the sub categories I’ve written all around it. Some of them are Fans, Concerts, Paparazzi etc… Then on the left page I’ve tried to be more specific with my ideas. I think I came up with eleven spread ideas. Because this board book will only include seven spreads I had to narrow down the one’s that I thought were the best seven.

Board Book ThumbnailsThumbnails:
I always draw a birds eye view for any project. It helps me “picture” how everything works together. Here’s thumbnails of how I layed out the board book. The top left is the cover/back cover and the rest are the spreads. Although I might look like scribble it helps me stay organized.

Then I started working in my sketch book. Using a ruler, I measured out the correct frame for each book spread.

Let the drawing begin!
I worked quickly on each of the spreads using a pencil. I wanted to see how the illustration looked on the page before getting too detailed. I also left some negative space for the text. Here’s the spread that show’s Syver pushing his favorite little train down the red carpet, while being stalked by the paparazzi.

Sketch of One of the Spreads

At this point, I felt like something was missing. I had originally wanted to just put something like “Paparazzi”, “Touring” and “Jam Session” – but I decided that it wouldn’t be very much FUN to read. Plus Syver would have no clue what I am talking about! So I decided to take a cue from Dr Seuss and make this book lighthearted and FUN!

After sitting down and writing for 20 minutes, I came up with all seven rhymes. The “Paparazzi” spread changed to, “From crawling to walking you’ve really grown, and get lots of ATTENTION wherever we go!” I was happy with the improved versions and it was time to move on…

After feeling satisfied with my sketches, I used Micron pens to create the permanent artwork I would be coloring in. Then I erased all of the pencil lines.

Illustration of Board Spread

Bring on the COLOR!
I used my Prismacolor pencils to to add texture and color to the book. I worked on this at night after I put my son to sleep. I really enjoyed this part. There is something so relaxing about drawing and coloring – that’s why I started this blog! I missed getting hands-on.

Here’s what the spreads looked like before scanning them into the computer. I layed them all out on the floor to double check if they all had a similar color palette and feel.

Yes – I used the computer (but just a little)
After importing the artwork into the Adobe illustrator templates the printer had sent, I wrote out the text onto each spread. Originally I wanted to draw the text, but I decided that was a little too risky, due to my short deadline. I purchased a digital font that had a hand written quality about it. At first I kept the words on two separate lines, but then I realized I wanted to make the text more dynamic as well. Here’s how I broke up the text on the spread:

Once I was satisfied with how the text looked, I double checked my files and created one final high-res PDF. I was just about done! I uploaded my artwork to the printer, paid and then was so excited I couldn’t fall asleep!Pint Size Productions did a fantastic job printing and sending me the book super fast. I was ecstatic to receive the final book two days before Syver’s birthday!

The best part about this fun and fast project was getting to read the finished book to Syver. He LOVED it!

Creating a board book in two weeks was a lot of work, but totally worth it!

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