My art accepted into the Bucks Fever Exhibit

I’m so pleased to announce that my painting of the Benjamin Parry Mansion for the children’s book Let’s Visit New Hope, by Gayle Goodman and Roy Ziegler, has been accepted into the 30th Annual Bucks Fever Exhibit. The exhibit’s theme is “Celebrating Bucks County Architecture” and is sponsored by the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce and William and Laurie Schutt.

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The opening reception is Thursday, April 7 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at the Wellness Center, 847 Easton Road, Warrington, and the show continues through April 21.  Admission is free and further info is available at 215-348-3913.

I thank the Chamber and the exhibit committee for including art that can be enjoyed by children as well as adults.  My book illustration shows a family visiting the Parry Mansion in New Hope and taking note of the landmark Lenape Indian just outside the historic house, with Ben Parry himself, who acts as ‘tour guide’ in the book, looking out the door.

I visited Parry Mansion just a few days ago for the 259th anniversary of Benjamin Parry’s birthday, celebrated by the New Hope Historical Society, which maintains the lovely home.  The house was built by Parry in the 1770s and several generations of his family lived there. The Historical Society has many original artifacts and donated period pieces of furniture throughout the house, and I highly recommend touring the house if you are in the area.

Honored to Win First Place in Book Illustration at Phillustration 7

I am very honored and grateful to the Philadelphia Sketch Club and the judges for Phillustration 7, for awarding my illustration “Ghost Tour” First Place in the Book Illustration category this year. I painted this piece last fall for the children’s book Let’s Visit New Hope, written by Gayle Goodman and Roy Ziegler and sponsored by the New Hope Historical Society.

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(c) Pat Achilles

There were no shortage of terrific illustrations in this year’s show in several different categories. Other members of the Bucks County Illustrators Society, of which I’m a co-founder, also had outstanding work exhibited, including Glenn Zimmer, Deb Hoeffner, Pam Hamilton, and Rebecca Rhodin. Joe DeVito served as one of this year’s judges and his pencil concept sketches for a King Kong project he is working on were also prominently featured.

The crowd at the Sketch Club was large and enthusiastic for the opening reception yesterday – Pam Hamilton took this wonderful panoramic shot of the gallery:

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The Sketch Club is a venerable Philadelphia institution, having started in the 1860s, and is considered the oldest continuously running organization for artists in the country. Outstanding painters and illustrators of the past who have been members include Thomas Eakins, N.C. Wyeth, Henry Pitz, Walter Baum, Edward Redfield, Daniel Garber; and Ranulph Bye, among many others.

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Sketch Club President Rich Harrington and the staff created a varied and exciting exhibit that I recommend to everyone who enjoys ‘fine art that tells a story’ – which is how good illustration is defined. I am thrilled and grateful to receive this recognition, and thankful also to authors Gayle and Roy for writing the book that inspired my illustration!

The Sketch Club is located at 235 S. Camac Street in Philadelphia, and this show is up until November 27, with gallery hours Wednesday, Friday,  Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

My Illustrations in the Philadelphia Sketch Club’s Phillustration Exhibit

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve had four paintings from the book I illustrated for the New Hope Historical Society, Let’s Visit New Hope, accepted into Phillustration 7 at the Philadelphia Sketch Club.

The juried show at the Sketch Club, which is the oldest association for artists in the country, has an opening reception on Sunday November 8 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. The show runs from November 2 to 27. It features some of the best illustrations in the Philly area in categories such as books, editorial, advertising, institutional and student work. This year’s jurors were Joe DeVito, illustrator of hundreds of book covers and sculptor of Tarzan, Doc Savage and King Kong; Winona Nelson, whose concept art for the gaming industry has been featured in Spectrum Magazine; and Amy Raudenbush, children’s book illustrator and winner of many regional awards for her work in the Philadelphia Daily News.

The four pieces of mine that will be in the exhibit are illustrations of places and events from New Hope’s past & present, including the Bucks County Playhouse,

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a ghost tour through the neighborhoods,

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William Penn arriving in Pennsylvania,

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and the towpath along the Delaware Canal, in the early 1900s.

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I invite everyone to take in this exhibit; illustration is fine art that tells a story. The Sketch Club is located at 235 S. Camac Street in Philadelphia, and the gallery hours are Wednesday, Friday,  Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

All artwork (c) Pat Achilles.

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:

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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:

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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.

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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 http://www.newhopehs.org. Previous posts in this series are on my blog, just scroll through https://achillesportfolio.wordpress.com/pencilled-in/ .  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 4: Sketches to finished art

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.  

Some of my initial sketches for the children’s book Let’s Visit New Hope were just what the authors wanted, leaving me few changes to make before the finished illustrations.  The vignette below, used on both page 10 and the title page, hardly changed at all through sketch, color sketch and finished art.

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But some of the sketches, for various reasons, needed changes before I put brush to board. (For these illustrations I painted with acrylic paints on illustration board.)

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For instance, at the beginning of the story Benjamin Parry welcomes us to the Bucks County countryside, with his New Hope Mill in the background.  I had researched photos of 19th century mills still in existence today, and men’s clothing of the time period, to sketch the scene.  When author Roy Ziegler added some details to the text, explaining Parry’s was specifically a flour mill, I added a cart with wheat sheafs and sacks of flour. For the finished art I also redrew Ben more in the proportion of a real person (click on the image to enlarge).

benparrymillskwpSome initial sketches changed completely.  I had planned to draw the carousel at Peddler’s Village, but author Gayle Goodman convinced me that the the ball cannons at nearby Giggleberry Mountain would be a much more exciting romp to draw.

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One of my favorite projects in this book was creating a double page spread panorama of New Hope.  We took some artistic license by putting several of the major historical buildings in town together – the Parry Mansion, Bucks County Playhouse and New Hope’s first Town Hall building – but I think it captures the essence of this lovely river town that has so much personality.  You can see the progression of my illustration from sketch to finished page in the 30-second video below. I will have prints of this scene and others in the book available for sale on my Store page soon.

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 http://www.newhopehs.org. My next post coming soon: Publishing with Amazon’s Createspace. Previous posts in this series are on my blog, just scroll through https://achillesportfolio.wordpress.com/pencilled-in/ .   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.

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):

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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:

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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 http://www.newhopehs.org. My next post coming soon: Sketches into Finished Art. Previous posts are on my blog, just scroll through https://achillesportfolio.wordpress.com/pencilled-in/ .   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.

Self-publishing ‘Let’s Visit New Hope,’ Part 2: Manuscript and Thumbnails

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The 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 even writing the manuscript for Let’s Visit New Hope, co-author Gayle Goodman wisely talked to and surveyed a number of second-graders at New Hope-Solebury Lower Elementary School.  She polled them on which sites, pastimes and events in the town were their favorites.  This gave her excellent criteria for what to include in the book and what to leave out – a kid’s-eye perspective of what is most important in the town. From this information she fleshed out the story and then historian Roy Ziegler wove the history of the town into the narrative .

lvnhmsphotoAn illustrator needs a finished manuscript, or at least a very-nearly finished one, to start working on a project. When the authors brought me this manuscript it was approximately 10 pages long, typed and double-spaced.  We envisioned this becoming a 32-page fully illustrated book, since 32 is a typical (though not exclusive) number of pages for a children’s picture book.  (Createspace accepts as few as 24 pages for a book.) Throughout our design process the manuscript underwent editing, but the basic page count and storyline was established with the first manuscript.

The authors had suggestions as to what should be depicted on some pages, but they left most of the art decisions to me.  As I mentioned in my previous post, we wanted to create a pencil sketch dummy book to show to prospective donors to the project.  Gayle had tentatively broken the manuscript into page-by-page chunks of text, so from that I started the design process by drawing small, very loose sketches called thumbnails, and making small double-page spread layouts.

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You’ll see how these thumbnail sketches changed through our progress – and some changed a lot.  But this basic layout showed us the flow of the book, and we could see which pages perhaps needed more descriptive text or more room for art. At this time I also started gathering a lot of photo reference material about the subjects in the book – I went to New Hope for an afternoon and took photos of the buildings from various angles, and collected pages and pages of reference from websites and books. After this step I felt I could start the dummy book, which I’ll write about in my next post.

You can obtain author-and-illustrator signed copies of ‘Let’s Visit New Hope’  at http://www.newhopehs.org. My next post coming soon: The Dummy Book. Please write any questions in the comment box below the post. 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.