A Colouring Book for Adults and Kids Alike
During 2019 I created the colouring book Unicorns and Mystical Creatures: A Glow-In-The-Dark Manga coloring book.
I'd been meaning to create a colouring book for years, and finally had the opportunity after U.K book publisher RedBird contacted me about a manga inspired colouring book they wanted to produce for their customer, Thunderbay Press in the U.S.
Traditionally I consider my artwork more suited to a male demographic, and to be honest unicorns is a subject matter I have little interest in. So there was a challenge creating artworks which had broader appeal. Although I was happy to tackle the task and managed to inject some fun manga elements into each page.
Initially I was commissions to create 60 pages. A further 20 artworks I'd previously created were also adapted and added to book. The publisher's in-house team also derived a further 10 images or so from the existing content I'd supplied, enabling us to fill a 96 page book.
What Was Required?
I started by planning the book content. 90 pages of nothing but unicorns would have been boring for both readers to colour and myself to draw. So other mystical creatures or monsters from myth were added for variety.
A few pages of introductory text were created before getting to work on the illustrations. Being a manga-themed book, the line art was kept traditionally thin, clean and crisp. A number of pages used some half-tone, grey-shaded areas as per traditional manga pages. This helped to give certain images a little more depth and potentially guide the colourist where to colour the darker areas.
Cover Art: Created before producing of the rest of the book as an aid in pitching the idea to customers.
Creating Creatures: This is page from the book featuring a Ram Girl with cherry blossoms.
Drawing Unicorns: This is page from the book featuring running unicorns with a manga screen-tone background.
Creating Creatures: This is page from the book featuring a Mermaid with shark.
I'm happy to have published another book. I'm starting to build a collection! And I was pleased with the finished result, as I have been with all my books. The Manga styling and the Glow pages truly makes it a fun, unique book for Unicorn fans to decorate and enjoy.
It's common within the colouring book genre to cut corners, milking each image by repeating them throughout the book, creating edited derivatives of art elements and using mediocre stock illustration to pad out the pages. I worked hard to make sure this wasn't going to be the case with this book. Fortunately, I was able to further contribute a decent amount of line art I had previously created. In the end we still needed to use some stock art to very small degree, however my extra contributions were enough to get the job done without increasing costs or degrading quality.
It was worth it. One of the first comments I received after the book published half way through 2020 was:
"Your work is PHENOMENAL!! I picked up Unicorns & Mystical Creatures and my wife and I LOVE it!! We have A LOT of money wrapped up in our coloring books and supplies and your addition will be treasured. Thank you for this wonderful book. We are honored that you are sharing it with us".
Comments like this really mean a lot. There’s always a part of me that fears the work I do won’t be received well or people won’t feel it’s good enough, but the book went on to receive a ton of 5 Star reviews on sites such Amazon and Walmart. Several Youtube videos featuring the book received lots of praise and positive comments.
Occasionally I come across social media posts where artists display their coloured pages. I love seeing the book being used and the different approaches to how they've coloured the artwork. An added bonus for sure.
A glowing example of a finished spread: Several of the pages inside have a Glow-In-The-Dark effect. I'm afraid my poor quality photo doesn't quite do it justice, but does look pretty cool!
Martin Rhodes-Schofield,Publisher & Director of Red Bird
We had a request from one of our US publishing clients to create a manga-themed unicorn colouring book. We trawled through possible illustrators and luckily found Ben. He created some sample pages very quickly, which was great. He and our in-house studio then devised a schedule for the 90 illustrations needed to make up the book whilst taking in to account Red Bird special effects (glow in the dark pages) we’d later apply at the printing stage. The schedule was tight with batches of art every 3 weeks from start to finish, Ben came up trumps with concepts and delivery on time. He is great to work with and Red Bird Publishing is looking forward to be working with him again soon. I would recommend Ben to others, very pleasant, easy to get on with and adaptable even when the publisher wanted changes.