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!