julia rothman’s farm book + giveaway

by Amy Azzarito

I’ve been impatiently waiting for this book ever since I heard that Julia Rothman was going to be working with Storey Publishing. (We did a sneak peek with Storey’s creative director, Alethea Morrison, just last year.) I have more than a few Storey books, and I love any sort of illustrated chart — particularly when animals are involved — so Farm Anatomy fits perfectly into my growing collection of books that will come in handy when I give up city life for green acres. (Or more realistically, when I’m sitting in my city apartment needing a quick armchair-style escape.) Julia grew up in New York City, but her husband grew up on a farm in Iowa, and she created this book in an effort to learn more about his roots. She created 224 paintings for this book, and today she’s giving us a little peek into the process. Julia is also giving away two signed copies of Farm Anatomy. Just leave a comment with your favorite farm memory for a chance to win! — Amy A.

*UPDATE: The Farm Book winners have been notified via email. Thank you to everyone who entered!

Image above: This book took almost a year to create between gathering content, making the drawings, handwriting the titles and text, painting the drawings and arranging the layouts. Today, I wanted to share what some of that process was like for creating the finished layouts you see in Farm Anatomy. — Julia Rothman

Image above: While the artwork looks like each illustration is a complete painting, in actuality, it is made up of many pieces. A book goes through many rounds of editing, so it didn’t make sense to make final paintings until everything was reviewed. Instead, I made the layouts through a series of steps. This way, anything could be easily revised. I started the artwork in ink, doing just the lines of the drawings in large sketchbooks. All of the titles and a lot of the text were written out by hand, so that had to be drawn, as well.

Image above: Once the black and white layouts were approved, then came the fun part. I printed out each page at only 10% ink level on thick paper. The 10% ink was enough to see the drawings but not enough to interfere with the painting once I scanned it back in. (If you look really close at these images below, you can probably see the very light black lines.) It became a coloring book exercise where all of the line drawings got painted in. I used gouache paint because I like how matte and flat it looks.

Image above: The stack of paintings had to be scanned in. It was a lot of painting and scanning, but luckily, I was assisted by the talented Leah Goren. Once the paintings were scanned into my computer, I used Photoshop to arrange the painted parts underneath the black line layouts. Each piece was on a different layer. This way, I was able to tweak the colors and make sure to correct any painting smudges.

Image above: The finished digital files were then ftp-ed to Storey, and a few months later, we saw the first copy. It is like magic! It was a lot of work, but it all felt totally worthwhile once I held the finished copy in my hands! Thanks so much for checking it out!

Suggested For You


  • What a lovely piece of art! Reminds me of my childhood days where my family visited my grandparent’s duck farm. I used to bring some of those cute little ducklings to raise them at home. Good old days.

  • This book is beautifully whimsical. Working so hard to fence a field in anticipation of filling it Boer goats. The first to arrive was Bonnie with her twins Dande & Brambles. They make my girls laugh with their smirks and goofy antics everyday at feed time.

  • My favorite memory of the farm lately is the sweet and hilarious times with our pig Fearnley. Pigs are so much like dogs, they are very smart, amicable, and a little bit pushy, which makes them all the more interesting and entertaining.

  • This is the best illustrated farm book I’ve ever seen! I love the pictures of the chickens and coops, so much like my own tiny farm with nine motley chickens!
    Great job!

  • I remember visiting a farm as a child, maybe 5 years old, for my parents to look at a car for sale. They told me al the way to the farm to stay away from the rooster. I said I would just “boop” that ole rooster if it came after me. Well, it did. And, I ran just as fast as my little legs would carry me!!!! Screaming the whole way…

  • One of our chickens got hold of a marshmallow that a kid dropped and was so pleased with her prize. I didn’t think chickens should eat marshmallows so we had to chase her for quite a while to get it back.

  • Favorite farm memory to date is learning to use a hydraulic log splitter and drive the Gator with my dad, as well as picking pears with my mom!

  • Favourite farm memory: we moved to the country when I was twelve, and we had chickens, rabbits, cats, ponies, and a dog, but we weren’t really farmers. When the chickens got too old to lay, we couldn’t bear to kill them, so we set them free. We’d find them roosting on the hood of the car in the garage.

  • Favorite Farm Memory: Going to u-pick places to pick lovely yummy things off trees and bushes and pumpkin patches to pick out the best pumpkin with my family.

  • One of my neighbors had a dairy farm when I was growing up. I would sometimes go with my friend to look at the cows — never did like the smell in the barn. My mom would send me there sometimes to pick up 2 gallons of fresh milk for our family to drink when it was good and cold. Mom would skim off the cream to make butter that we enjoyed in and on many things.

  • My grandparents had a farm in Iowa and I grew up in a small city nearby. I used to go out there for “vacation” for a week every summer. So many memories, from climbing hay bales to seeing the stars at night. But the biggest one is the fresh tomatoes every year. I live in Seattle now and can’t find the same flavor – I think they have to ripen in 100 degree heat. I got a tattoo of a tomato a couple of years ago to remind me.

  • So lovely! I’m buying one for my niece and nephew this Christmas. My favorite farm memory was learning how to drive a tractor as a preteen … it was so cool because I hadn’t yet learned how to drive a car, and I felt like I could do anything after that!

  • this book is such a treat. and so thorough! an all around feast for the eyes. im in love. my favorite farm memory came just a few weeks ago. my sisters and i love to take driving day trips to wisconsin which is just a hop skip and jump away. we frequent the brown family farm quite often in kenosha. At our last visit, Mr. Brown invited us into the piglet pen and i eagerly jumped at the opportunity to be surrounded by 20 newborns. they’re rather skiddish but so entertaining.

  • Can I just start by saying how fantastic this book looks! I am currently in my third year of a Graphic Design degree and am research the topic of honeybees for my final major subject. As a complete book fanatic, and already an admirer of your illustrations this is going to be such amazing inspiration for my new project – so all I can say is thank you!!

    My favourite farm memory (more of an allotment memory really) is growing my own strawberries with my Grampy then making them into the most beautiful Jam with my Gran. The funniest has got to be falling face first into a muddy puddle whilst walking the dog through a field of cows – True Story I really am that clumsy! x

  • Am I too late? I grew up in NH, and while not on a farm, our neighbors always let my sister and I visit. One man owned a massive cow and horse farm, and each spring we would get so excited to pet the calves and foals. Another neighbor had the friendliest goats. And my grandparents, who lived next door, loved to let us help them pick blackberries and peaches. I really miss that life sometimes.

  • My sister and I would spend a couple weeks on my aunt’s farm every summer when we were growing up.

    We’d bail hay for a couple days, slowly constructing an elaborate hay house on the second floor of the barn as we brought it in… then we’d spend days playing in it!

  • My fave farm memory is of visiting my Uncle’s farm in Illinois and playing with his baby pigs.
    Now all of my current farm memories consist of me mucking stalls and humping feed to our happy critters.

  • growing up on a relatively large family run farm, all my childhood memories revolve around agriculture. I’d have to say the thing I appreciate most from being a farmer’s daughter is my appreciation for our FOOD and respecting the people who grow it. :)

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