Concert by Doylestown Symphonic Winds this Friday

dswamericanchroniclesnRED2I designed this poster for the Doylestown Symphonic Winds concert this Friday – I highly recommend this great orchestra playing great American theater and popular music! The concert is free, in the beautiful new air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible Life Sciences auditorium at Del Val University.  For easy parking, enter Admissions Drive from New Britain Road, and turn right into Parking Lot C.

Church Illustration Finished Art

In my previous post I wrote about the sketch stage of this illustration of a lovely church in Doylestown, Bucks County. Once I transferred the pencil sketch to illustration board, I started painting with acrylic washes. I dampened the sky area and painted in a golden haze, since the service starts around sunset, and filled in the burnt orange roof.


Then I painted in the cool shadowed sides of the building and added more orange to the sky..


I painted the warmer sides of the building and the cool colors of the stained glass, bell and slates on the steeple roof.  I added some stone detail since the church has variation in the color of its stones.


Next I blocked in the foliage and archetypal red church door.


And then more the walkway, bushes and the church sign.


At last I painted the people in the procession, trying to keep it loose but accurate in the details of the vestments and religious objects.


And the final scene . . .


Self-publishing ‘Let’s Visit New Hope,’ Part 5: Publishing with Amazon’s Createspace

lvnhcoverfront300The new children’s book ‘Let’s Visit New Hope’, written by Gayle Goodman and Roy Ziegler and illustrated by me, Pat Achilles, has just been released by the New Hope Historical Society. We used Amazon’s online publishing service, Createspace, to publish it.  This series of posts will follow the steps in the creation of the book.

Before I started the finished art for this project, I read as much as possible on the publishing process for Amazon’s Createspace, its online publishing division.  We had determined early on that we would use Createspace for our book, and it’s quite important to know how different publishers request art and pages to be supplied – the process varies from publisher to publisher. I definitely recommend Createspace, my experience with them was excellent and we’re all very pleased with the printed books.

Once all the artwork was complete and approved by the authors, I started the final stage of production, making the electronic file. I scanned each illustration and set up single pages for each of the 32 interior pages of the book in MS Publisher. (Many designers use other programs such as InDesign to create book pages, but even old-time Publisher worked fine for this project.) We had chosen to send the book to Createspace as a complete pdf file, which is recommended for heavily illustrated full color books. (Createspace also accepts word documents.) They would use my pdf to print from, so there was less chance of something going wrong. Createspace has excellent member forums to give tips on designing and for answering questions, such as this. Here is what one Publisher page looked like as I designed it:


I placed the words and pictures on the page, being careful to keep important art and text well away from the outer edges of the page.  Books like this are trimmed after they are bound, and trimming is not always completely precise – so you don’t want an important image like a character’s face getting trimmed off the page by accident.  However, for art that I wanted to bleed off the page – like the blue wind in the windmill illustration above – I left to trail off, knowing it would be trimmed. Createspace gives you clear instructions on how large a margin to leave to keep art and text solidly on the page.

I then made a Publisher file of all 32 pages and created a pdf from that.  I also designed the front and back cover as one large pdf, since Createspace asks that the cover is sent separately. This is how the front-back cover pdf looked:


I submitted the interior 32 pages to Createspace first (they request you do this before sending the cover) and after a day or 2 they sent me an email saying my file had passed their initial look-through – in other words, I had set up the file to their standards, sized pages correctly, embedded fonts as they requested, and so on.  I went through the same process in submitting the cover. At that point I could request a proof of the book, which I did after getting the authors’ approval.

Createspace produces an immediate proof of your book online – you can look at your book page by page on the screen, to check for mistakes.  This may be enough of a proof if the book were all type, as most adult-level books are; but for a heavily-illustrated children’s book, it is always recommended you request a printed proof as well. This is because seeing colors on a computer monitor is quite different from seeing the colors printed in ink on paper.  So we also requested a printed proof of our book.

I’ll mention, in looking at the online proof I noticed a mistake we made – a missing apostrophe in one establishment’s name in the text.  I called Createspace and the remedy was: I corrected the text on my Publisher file, made a pdf of just that page, and uploaded it to their site, asking them to substitute that new page for the old one in our 32-page pdf.  They made this switch with no problem.

Within a week our printed proof arrived at my door.  The authors came to my house and we all examined it carefully – the proof is created to look exactly how the printed book will look, and it is your last chance to request changes before Createspace prints your run of books.

We thought the color reproduction was excellent, and found only one problem with the proof.  On the double-page spreads, where the artwork spread continuously from left page to right, there was a noticeable white gap in the center – like the ink didn’t print all the way down into the gutter.


I called Createspace and they explained that since these book are bound with glue – they are not staple bound or perfect (sewn) bound – they do not print too deeply into the gutter. They have found that the glue does not adhere as well to inked paper as to raw white paper, and so the book pages would fall out eventually if the glue started to pull away.

We accepted that small defect because there was no other option, approved the proof and ordered our first batch of books. Initially we were told by Createspace that our fairly large order of several hundred books might take 2-3 weeks to be delivered, depending on the volume of other books they were printing at the time. Happily, our order was delivered in about 1 week, well before our launch date. And even more pleasing, the completed books were glued a little tighter than the proof, which closed up just about all of the white gutter gap.

I would certainly use Createspace again for self-publishing books. Their reps were consistently polite, well-spoken and quick with answers to any questions I had. I mostly spoke to the same few reps in my project too – an appreciated detail – so I didn’t have to re-explain every detail of the project to a new rep at the start of each call. Our finished product looks wonderful and we are extremely pleased with the speed and ease of the process.

Thank you for following along on the journey of this book project, I hope it’s shown you some of the ins and outs of self-publishing a children’s book.

You can obtain author-and-illustrator signed copies of ‘Let’s Visit New Hope’ by ordering through the New Hope Historical Society’s website at Previous posts in this series are on my blog, just scroll through .  To subscribe to my blog, click on the +Follow box at the lower right of your screen and you will get email notifications when I have posted new articles.

Self-publishing ‘Let’s Visit New Hope,’ Part 3: Dummy Book

lvnhcoverfront300The new children’s book ‘Let’s Visit New Hope’, written by Gayle Goodman and Roy Ziegler and illustrated by me, Pat Achilles, has just been released by the New Hope Historical Society. We used Amazon’s online publishing service, Createspace, to publish it.  This series of posts will follow the steps in the creation of the book.  

In my previous post I showed the thumbnail stage of designing this children’s book.  Once this step was finished I could further develop the basic sketches into actual-page-size sketches.  Our book’s page dimensions are 8.25″ x 8.25″, so I made double-page-spread sized sheets and drew the sketches with more detail than the thumbnails.  They are still somewhat loose because things can change once we see everything together.  Here are a few dummy book pages (you can click on each to enlarge):




You’ll see, these sketches will all change somewhat by the time the finished art is complete.  I also created a sketch for the front/back cover of the dummy:


Which was soon revised to this – can you see the change?lvnhdummywp4cov2

With the authors’ agreement, we decided to keep the title typeface reminiscent of M. Sasek’s wonderful travel books.  lvnhwpdummyphotoAt this point I photocopied and stapled together several copies of the dummy book so that the authors could distribute them to potential donors to the project. This gave everyone involved a good idea of what the final book would include and look like.

Next I’ll show some of my processes to create the finished art for the book.

You can obtain author-and-illustrator signed copies of ‘Let’s Visit New Hope’ by ordering through through the New Hope Historical Society’s website at My next post coming soon: Sketches into Finished Art. Previous posts are on my blog, just scroll through .   If you want to read future posts as they are published, subscribe to my blog by clicking on the +Follow box at the lower right of your screen and you will get email notifications when I have posted the next article.

My new children’s book about New Hope, Pennsylvania

Since last September I’ve been working on the illustrations for a new children’s book, Let’s Visit New Hope by Gayle Goodman and Roy Ziegler. The authors, who live in New Hope, found no children’s book anywhere devoted to this unique, culturally rich river town, and so set out to create a book that would highlight its history and family-friendly sites and events.  I’m honored they asked me to provide the artwork!

I’ll be writing more posts about the process of developing the book and my illustrations here in my blog, and I’ll be happy to answer questions if you’d like to leave comments. We used Amazon’s Createspace to self-publish the book, and I can answer questions about self-publishing too since I’ve worked with other authors to self-publish.

Our book launch is on Sunday March 1, at the Parry Mansion in New Hope, and the public is invited.  It’s the perfect place for the launch since Benjamin Parry, the man who built the first ‘Hope Mill’ after which the town is named, is our narrator for the book.