I have been wanting to do a blog post like this since before my new book, Romans: A Hand Lettered Devotional, was even released. Today, I’m finally going to share the step-by-step process (with pictures!) of how I went about creating the art for my book.
If you’ve been following me along in this project or have seen my video, you know that this started as a personal project. I didn’t originally intended for this to become a book, so it all started in the pages of my journal. In the beginning, I didn’t take notes beforehand (as you can see on the left page), but as the chapters got more content heavy, I needed to plan more or else I knew I would run out of the room on the page before finishing!
After posting the first few pages of my “Romans project” I received an overwhelmingly positive response from so many people on social media and through friends and family I ran into while out and about. I was working on Romans 4 when I decided I was no longer just doing this project for me and Jesus alone. However, finishing this personal study of Romans right in my journal was important to me, so I decided to finish the art this way before recreating it for the book. When I finally made it through all 16 chapters in my journal (this took about a month), I scanned each page onto my iPad.
Prepping the journal pages for tracing
Once the art was scanned onto my iPad (using an app called Procreate), I would size each page to a template I made, so all the pages would be the same size and all the titles would be positioned in the same spot. Pictured below is what that guide/template looked like:
I would line up the first and last journal lines with the blue lines shown and the titles would be dragged and repositioned to be in between the pink lines at the top. Once the page was positioned as it should be, I resized some of the hand lettered sections if they were too squished on the page or didn’t look balanced (shown below):
As you can see, I shifted things ever so slightly, within the page. This really helped the art look more balanced. That wasn’t always easy to plan for when I did this with an actual pen in my journal.
Once all the slight formatting adjustments were done, I was ready to start tracing the art. Like Adobe Illustrator, in Procreate, you can create multiple layers, adjust the opacity and show or hide these layers. I brought the opacity way down, so I could see my original artwork, but could also see clearly the new art I was creating with my Apple Pencil on a new layer.
Even though the journal pages were recreated digitally, they were still completely done by hand. The Apple Pencil is pressure sensitive, so it is very much like using a real pen.
Each page averaged on 11.5 hours (yes, I timed all 16) and once I was satisfied with how it looked, I would save it to my computer and back it up in multiple places. My fear of losing hours worth of work was oh so real and thankfully I never did (always back up your work in at least two other places! Mine is saved to my computer when it’s in progress and also to a flash drive and Dropbox forever).
I could have just uploaded these pages to BookWright (the program I used to format the book’s content page by page), but because I used ESV Bible verses mixed with personal thoughts and paraphrases, I had to add some markings to differentiate between the two for copyright reasons. I added these little gray * symbols in Adobe Illustrator (not pictured), which was very time consuming, but also very important!
Getting the art into the book
Like I mentioned in the last section, I used a program called BookWright to upload all my art and typed content to make it all into, well… a book! I did my printing through Blurb and was very happy with the customer service. Self publishing is scary, but my rep was so helpful and very easy to communicate with (shoutout to Melissa)!
It took three proofs until the printing looked the way I wanted it to, but once I got that third proof, I was so pleased with how it all looked and got the first run of copies ordered. I was excited and proud to see it all come together so beautifully and I couldn’t wait to get the rest of the copies shipped to me, so I could ship them all over the world!
The rest of the copies came in the mail just in time for the release date and they looked even better than that final proof from Blurb! At that point, I could finally sit back, relax, and celebrate one of the biggest accomplishments of my life so far.
I hope you enjoyed learning about the thought, love, care and work that went into creating this book. If you’re interested in purchasing your own copy of Romans: A Hand Lettered Devotional you can find it at my Etsy shop!
Thanks for following me along in this amazing self publishing journey!