Creating a Picture Book: Part III – Kickstarter and the Final Stages


[This is the third post about the creation of Ellen and the Winter Wolves. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.]

I mentioned last time that I’m using Kickstarter to fund my picture book, Ellen and the Winter Wolves, so over the past week or so I’ve been preparing the campaign. That means shooting a video and thinking through what rewards to offer folks for helping out. Determining what something is worth is a challenge, let me tell you. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s ready and launches today! Go check it out!

While preparing the Kickstarter I’ve also continued to work on the book, because, hey, it’s still not done. I finally finished painting the images around August 28th. I then began scanning the pictures in order to create the files I’ll need for printing. With scanning comes processing — inevitably dust will stick to the paintings and get transferred to the files, so I had to go through each picture and remove the dust in Photoshop. I also balanced the color and contrast in order to best match the look of the original piece.

Additional processing was necessary for a few of the images, though. I’m using three pictures in the book that I painted before I wrote it, and one of them needed some real work to match the story. This is one that I’ve shared here before, “Ellen and the Key.”

Ellen and the Key

Ellen and the Key

I love this image and really wanted to keep it for the book, but there were a couple problems: First, the orientation of the painting is wrong for the format of the book. Whereas this is portrait, I needed it to be landscape. No problem. I simply cropped it. I lost the arch and some of the ironwork, sadly, but kept the essential parts.

Ellen and the Key cropped

Ellen and the Key Cropped

The second problem was bigger. In the story I decided to make the teeth of Ellen’s key an oak leaf and the handle an acorn. The original was just a regular ol’ skeleton key. I wasn’t going to repaint the original, so I needed to make a new key. I’m pretty terrible at digital painting, so I painted a new key on a scrap of board, scanned it, and inserted it into the painting. I also changed the lantern a bit while I was at it.


The New Key


Ellen and the Key NEW

The New Ellen and the Key

I’m still processing the images, but when that’s done I’ll move on to creating the text files, then the cover. And when the Kickstarter concludes (successfully, one hopes) I’ll bundle everything together and send it off to the printer.

Click here for the Kickstarter page.


Stories have kindled Jamin Still’s imagination since he was small. As a child he drew and painted and dreamed, and the power of those things in his life never diminished. He went on to study painting in college and now he paints and writes for a living. Jamin works and lives in a little stone house with his wife and three young children in Wichita, Kansas.


  1. Mary Rogers

    The loss of the ironwork in the top is sad, but if I had not seen how cool it was in the first picture, the loss is not noticeable. Now that you showed me though, I definitely miss it, that was an awesome design. I hope you keep that filed away mentally and use it for something else someday.

    I really enjoyed seeing what you can do when you combine the digital editing with your painting. I know those programs are out there, but I have never gotten to use one, so it is pretty amazing to see you paint another key and put it into her hand like that.
    Glad you have your funding!

  2. Jessica B.

    How neat! Like Mary, I will miss the arch now that I’ve seen it. But – how cool that you can re-do the key without re-doing the whole painting! I’ve done goofy things in photo editing software, but seeing a bit of the process in making something lovely is a real treat. Thank you for sharing and congrats on being fully funded and then some! 🙂

  3. Jamin Still

    When I realized I wouldn’t have to redo this image with a different key I was pretty relieved… a single key is so much easier. When I realized I’d lose the arch… still better than redoing the whole image.

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