|A couple of pages from the interior dealing with proprioception: the perception of movement and spatial orientation|
Sammy was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when he was four years old. ASD made sense of much of why Sammy was different from other children, and in some ways it was a relief. Once we had been given some insight into why Sammy behaved the way he did, we found ourselves explaining what autism was to others. We did find that it was difficult to explain to other children of Sammy's age (also older and younger), but that they were often the most direct about asking "Why does Sammy do that?".
Melanie had the idea for a story, which would simply explain some of Sammy's behaviour to his class mates, particularly issues with sensory perception. She came up with it, while she was stuck in bad traffic. Her plan was to put it together with photos and print a couple of copies for Sammy's school and maybe our daughter Becky's pre-school. I suggested I could illustrate it and was also thinking about self publishing. I have published my cg models through online shops before so I thought a book would be more straight forward. Illustrating a children's book is something I've daydreamed about for years. I did a style test, a simple illustration of Sammy looking lost, and Mel was keen for me to do the project.
|Style test for Why Does Sammy Do That?|
It has been a very different project to what I'm used to. It's very close to my heart and was extremely hard to work on at times. With many illustrations of my son and some of my daughter it was personal. The book often deals with scenes I find very difficult and upsetting. It's hard for me to see people judge Sammy without understanding him, but at the same time understandable. If I didn't know Sammy, as an outsider I might see Sammy the same way.
For the illustration I worked in Photoshop. I worked up the lines quite roughly and tightened them over time. The color is quite simply blocked in with a shadow and highlights pass. The color is layered under the line work similar to cell paint in traditional animation. You can see in the style test that I was thinking of a more loose finish, but when it came to the book I tightened it up. The format for the book is 8.5"x 8.5" at 300 DPI I created the originals at 10x10 and shrank them down for the final version. I had a palette layer that I passed from file to file to keep my colors consistent.
|Work in progress on one of the illustrations for Why Does Sammy Do That?|
We used Createspace for this project. It was relatively straight forward to work with, there was a hiccup with the resolution being too low. I unfortunately didn't spot the problem until we had a printed proof. This went round in circles for a bit until I asked on the site forum and was told by other users to re- upload the file, which magically solved the problem. I used photoshop and uploaded the final print files in PDF format. I would probably use createspace again, but it seems if you get stuck, the forums where you can talk to the other users are the best way to go.
The pictures in the book are mostly children we know. The most obvious is our son Sammy, but my daughter Becky also pops up in a number of the illustrations as do our neighbors, a cousin, various children from Sammy's school and our cat Ember.
|Becky & cousin, interior illustration|
We have had wonderful feedback about this book from friends and family, the other parents from Sammy's school and also the teachers and support workers who work with Sammy.
"I love this book. A perfect book to explain autism to children. It made me cry."
"This is a must-have for anyone who wants to help their children understand the world and mind of an autistic child. Beautifully written and illustrated, and very moving."
It's now available on Amazon in the UK Why Does Sammy Do That?
Also in the US Why Does Sammy Do That?
Please can you share plus and like to help us increase the awareness of autism!
Thanks to everyone who has supported us with this project!