We created a fully illustrated ninety-two-page book that became a $7,000 success on Kickstarter.
We (Ânia Marcos, Lise Sofie Hopland and Frederic Daelemans) are three artists based in three different countries in Europe, who in January 2015 decided to come together online to create an illustrated family book. We wanted to create a project that resonated with people from all ages.
It took us two years to finish this first book. It wasn’t easy, but it was totally worth it.
And what is the story? Here’s our pitch:
An Ice-Witch who’s desperately afraid of melting teams up with a girl made of fire and a stubborn stone golem to embark on a dangerous adventure in order to get their one wish granted.
Tales Of Three is about facing your fears and overcoming them, a story about friendship and connection despite differences…
A story about finding out who you are.
How did the project start?
Emanuel Daniels. That young man was the catalyst of this whole thing. Manny is a friend of ours, (we all met online at The Oatley Academy of Visual Storytelling). Thanks to his suggestion, we jumped on the idea to create an illustrated book (thank you, Manny!).
The number one question people ask me is how we organized ourselves to get this book done. Who did what? Was there an order?
I think we can split the whole process in two stages.
The first was all about figuring out what we were doing and how we were doing it…
…the second is when the whole team came together and we got a lot of work done.
Once we decided we were doing a book together, we started everything by brainstorming story ideas.
And how did you set up your workflow?
Trial and error… So much trial and error!
When we had an idea of what we were going for, everyone jumped in to work on the concepts for our characters – who had our own names. We were writing about our own fears and depicting our own life experiences in this story.
We believe part of what made this project so special is exactly that: we were writing about what we all knew. And that was scary and thrilling!
Fred, the Stone Golem, Ânia the Fire-Girl and Lise the Ice-Witch. After everyone worked on all the silhouettes, we picked the best ones and did some drawings and loose concepts.
This was a super fun step. It made us think more about ourselves and our characters.
Then everything started clicking for us. By this stage we were becoming more conscious of everyone’s strengths…
…and our collaborative process started to emerge!
Fred was clearly the strongest at doing lines (trust me, Lise and I tried!) so he went ahead and drew the characters.
Soon came the time to start writing our story. Again, we all wrote a page…
…and Lise did the most wonderful job (see where I’m getting?).
To sum it up, we played by our strengths – which we figured out along the way.
What did each one of you do in the book?
By now, if you read the whole thing, you probably figured most of it:
- Lise wrote the whole story.
- I created the thumbnails for each scene.
- Fred did the lineart.
- Lise and I worked on the values (we split the images among us).
- Lise laid down the color and started painting.
- Fred pushed the painting more.
- I finished the piece with the textures and some final touches.
- Me and a friend, Raquel, applied the text on each image.
- I uploaded the final version online.
I want to underline that all three of us were involved when any decision had to be made.
For example, I didn’t create 2 or 3 thumbnails for each scene, I made dozens. After selecting my favorites, we would decide on the final one together.
We created a series of short videos that explained the process, so please feel free to check it out!
What came first, the writing or the art?
Even though we were all eager to start drawing and planning the pages, we came to the conclusion that made a lot more sense to write the story first (or a good part of it).
…And I’m glad we did that, since we started over many times and changed so many things along the way!
Plus, knowing more or less the amount of text on each spread helped a lot when planning the pages.
How did you build your audience?
Sharing and caring.
We started promoting Tales Of Three when we first signed our contract (yes, we did sign a contract and we all recommend you do the same). We shared sketches, questions, ideas, struggles…
By including the audience in as much as we could, we were able to let everyone know how much we cared.
Everyone in the team committed to post regularly online. We came up with questions, teasers, anything we could think of to keep the conversation going. We set specific days and times when we would post content and made it a habit, so everyone expected it.
…and if we missed any deadline, we’d apologize publicly. Because that’s how you deal with friends.
Plus, when we were ready, we started posting one spread online per week. If we truly meant when we said we wanted to share our story with the World, then why would we make people pay to read it?
I think our honesty and openness is what made people care. That’s how we were able to get our Kickstarter Campaign funded.
Take a look at the video we made for our Kickstarter campaign.
Everyone flew over to Portugal for my Wedding back in May 2016, so we were able to record this together!:
What is the secret to a successful online collaboration?
Nowadays, working online is not hard at all. Sure, we all have different timezones, but one or two hours isn’t such a big deal.
When everyone shares the same passion, the same goal and knows why they’re doing what they’re doing, we all work towards the same thing.
Between Google Docs, Dropbox, Google Hangouts and Spreadsheets, we managed to keep everyone on the same page. We met at least once every week – an that was our priority.
We made decisions together. If we didn’t agree, we would vote.
Communication is key.
Can I get a copy of your book?
Yes you can! Please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work things out!