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  • Writer's pictureMartha Iserman

Intricate Insects

Last year I had the wonderful experience of publishing my first book (though just a coloring book) and launching my first Kickstarter (successfully!). I'm planning on adding a Projects page to the new website eventually, and that will include the Intricate Insects book, but I thought it would be fun to share some of that process with you via this blog.

The idea for the book came years earlier when I started toying around with making insect theme coloring pages as a way to increase my skills with Adobe Illustrator. At the time I was working full time for TCI Education illustrating science textbooks for middle schoolers, so I kept the project a hobby. Once the books were finished and my contract with TCI was finished, I had no more excuses, it was time to dive in.

It started with sketches from insect specimens. Luckily I own a few in my collection. For the rest I used photo references and borrowed insect mounts.

It was important to get a solid balance between accurate representations of the insect types and readable graphic linework. I do want to note, that I say 'insect types' because I didn't use specific species. For instance, I didn't specify a Mantis religiosa or European Mantis vs a Hymenopus coronatus or Orchid Mantis.

This book was created one page at a time over the last three years. The first versions started fairly basic, but as I got more feedback from friends and colorers I decided to add additional levels of line-work and pattern to each design. At a certain point, there was a split in the requests I was getting from users. Some wanted more levels of detail to the pattern while others liked where the pages were at. I tested out different ideas and eventually landed on the perfect solution; offer both levels of detail on one page. By incorporating finely hued detail lines into the illustration, users can now tune the level of intricacy to their own tastes for each coloring page. They can choose to color over the detail lines or follow them to create beautiful and different patterns depending on their choice.

Then it was a matter of converting everything to vector graphics via Adobe Illustrator. After creating about 50 different pages I narrowed it down to the 35 included in the book.

The Kickstarter campaign was launched early in 2018, and I ended up raising $4,424 from 78 backers! It was a nerve-racking experience, with me obsessively checking my phone every half an hour for updates. It was a long month. I ended up using every cent to get the books proofed, printed and shipped, as well as creating and shipping the rewards to the higher reward donors. I completed 6 pet portraits and really enjoyed painting a variety of beloved family pups.

So now my book is available for sale via my etsy store and in a few bookstores in both California and Australia!

I can't say it's going to pay off my student loans, but I'm really happy with the end product and everything I learned from the experience. I'd consider making another themed coloring book, but I'm not sure the market is there. I may have just missed the adult coloring book wave.

Comment if you're still interested in detailed coloring and if you have a theme you'd like me to explore if I do decide to create another book!

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