Did You Know… All Designs are Original!
I got to show my coloring books to some people over the weekend, and a few of them were surprised to learn that the designs are all my own. That’s right, all OrnaMENTALs coloring pages are 100% original hand-crafted designs by Sue Chastain.
How I Work: Hand-Crafted Designs by Sue Chastain
While I do work almost entirely digitally, I don’t use clip art or prefab designs. The computer helps me visualize and lay out the repeating elements and allows me to make my lines very sharp and precise, but it doesn’t create the design for me. From sketching out an idea and drawing the original motifs to adjusting line quality and laying out a finished design, each design takes several hours (sometimes days) to complete. I may occasionally remix design elements to create new patterns, but you won’t find these same designs elsewhere.
I thought that was worth pointing out!
Why Coloring Books?
Once people realize that my designs are all original, the next question they usually ask me is what gave me the idea to start doing coloring books, or what got me started. Here’s how it happened…
In early 2015, I was still finding my way in my creative pursuits. I had been writing about graphics software and design for 15 years, and I knew that I wanted the next phase of my life to be more about doing creative work. I joined an online community called Cre8365 where the goal was to do something creative every day in 2015 and share it. I was drawn to creating patterns and so many of the things I was creating for the Cre8365 challenge were these funky and weird repeat pattern designs that I would doodle on my iPad using an app called iOrnament.
I was sharing these designs on Pinterest and Facebook and one day a friend suggested that I make an adult coloring book from my wacky patterns. I was intrigued and started researching it. Prior to this, I was not aware of the growing interest in adult coloring books that was making the news, but my friend had a daughter undergoing cancer treatments and was well aware of the benefits of adult coloring books for stress relief, pain management, and more. I tried making some coloring designs and asked for feedback in online coloring groups. As it turned out, people really liked my designs for coloring pages… and the rest is history!
OrnaMENTALs™ is Born
Many of those wacky iOrnament doodles were refined to become the basis for the designs in my first three coloring books. And that’s how I came up with the brand name OrnaMENTALs for my coloring books and pages. “Orna-” as an ode to the fantastic iPad app that sparked my creativity in new ways, and “-MENTAL” to represent the therapeutic benefits of adult coloring.
iOrnament is great for doodling and working out ideas, but the line quality it produces is not precise enough for making coloring pages. I now use a variety of analog and digital tools to develop my coloring page designs, but they are always refined and finalized as hand-drawn vector-based art using Adobe Illustrator. This allows me to create my designs with crisp and sharp lines that print at the highest quality at any size. I like to think my illustration style is a perfect balance of whimsy and precision.
Instagram shows my work in progress of converting my “Neon Dragonflies” pattern design (drawn in iOrnament) into a coloring page with Adobe Illustrator. This design became “Dragonflies Dance” and appears in OrnaMENTALs™ Splendid Symmetry.
My books are also self-published. That means all the work involved with putting the cover design and inside layout together falls to me. Only printing, binding, and shipping are handled by a third party.
If you more questions about how I work, feel free to ask in a comment!