How Frankie Came to Life

Hey! Tattoo artist, author, illustrator, and painter Mathew Franklin here. I would like to share with you the physical process that went into creating my first children's book Frankie's Scared of Everything. In a later post I will share about conceptualizing Frankie and how much of my own childhood is contained within his adventure - but first I wanted to talk about my drawing process and the technology I used for the book!

All of the illustrations in Frankie’s Scared of Everything are hand-drawn on the iPad Pro in the App “Procreate”. If you are not familiar with Procreate, it’s a drawing app that has features similar to Adobe Photoshop. It allows the user to draw in layers and, most importantly, go back after a mistake.

Before I had an iPad I would do all of my tattoo designs and drawings in 3 steps: 

  • First, rough a pencil sketch.
  • Then, I would cover that in tracing paper and create a refined inked line drawing.
  • Last,  I would resize on a copier to get the perfect design for my clients. 

When I got my first tablet it eliminated so much waste and created extra space on my desk and in my life. By separating my sketches into layers in Procreate I can lower opacity and make a cleaner rendering on top. I can resize in the app, and send that directly to my printer.

I applied this tactic to Frankie. I would make line drawings of the whole spread, lower the opacity, then dive back in. The main difference in Frankie vs. my tattoo art is I wanted to leave a little grit in Frankie. I keep a lot of the sketch elements then snap a harder outline at the end. 

Procreate also offers an array of brushes to emulate real paint - this is where I got to have a ton of fun. This feature allowed me to get some really interesting textures in the color and varying opacities just from layering in real-time. It often felt like coloring with markers in real life.

Check out this time-lapse video of me drawing Frankie running to Mom’s Room:


More information about my book can be found here.

Thanks for reading!

apple pencil children's book digital art digital illustration drawing how-to illustration ipad pro painting procreate tattoo artist time-lapse

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