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Coloring Book Development: My Process and Progress

Boston Medical Center

A section from a page in progress in my South End Boston coloring book.

That’s a slice of Boston Medical Center you see in the upper portion of this coloring-page-in-progress. It was almost a year ago that I wrote about starting to develop a coloring book of Boston’s South End neighborhood. It’s an adult coloring book, meaning the level of complexity will be greater than you’d expect from a childrens’ coloring book.

At the time I wrote about it, there were not yet adult coloring books cramming book store and art supply store shelves everywhere. Now, quite often there are. It’s been fascinating to watch the adult coloring book craze take hold in the process of making this book.

The process of developing the book held some surprises for me. First of all, as much as I like black and white line drawings, I’m used to working in color. I see now how much of the art I produce is a kind of personal color therapy for me. I had to get used to that change and accept that it was not going to give me the same kind of satisfaction.

That is not to say I dislike making the drawings. It’s just a very different process. I do love when they begin to take shape and I can visualize more of how a page is going to look.

If you know Boston’s South End, there is absolutely no shortage of red bricks and trees! I came to realize is that if I wanted the book to be compelling enough to color in, I couldn’t have page after page of bricks and trees. I had to zone in on the people, pets, and sidewalk life, and I had to zoom out for more expansive aerial views. I visited the 52nd floor of the Prudential Tower in Back Bay to take photos of the South End, but I felt the photos I got were too far above the ground. A kind neighbor at Laconia Lofts on Harrison Avenue gave me access to the rooftop there, where I got some nice overhead shots of the Peter’s Park area, but not too much else that I felt I could work with.

I decided to rethink the page layout after doing a series of drawings in a 8.5″ x 10″ vertical format. I have now changed to a square layout to allow for wider expanses. I’ve been working with Apple’s maps application on my Macbook, which allows me to see satellite photos of the neighborhood and then move my perspective up, down and all around. It allows me to find, and then crop, a perspective I like.

If you’ve looked at satellite images much, you’ve probably noticed that they’re not perfect, especially in crowded city environments. As the images get pieced together onscreen, many things end up looking melted or smashed. Trees, cars, windows…they can take on a Dali-esque appearance in satellite maps. So I take a screenshot of what I want to draw, but I keep a moving version of the geographical area on my desktop as a reference. I can keep revolving my reference version to figure out what those melted little blobs should really look like.

Needless to say, I’m not anywhere near where I thought I’d be in this process by now. I’m only now beginning to feel that I’m clearer on my direction in regard to the formatting, scenes, and drawing process. That’s okay, though. Having figured some of that stuff out, I’m feeling re-energized about the project!

Have a great week.


Paula Ogier Artworks

This entry was posted in: Local Color


Hi there. I’m Boston-based digital artist Paula Ogier. In this blog I write about about my art new works, projects in process, life in Boston, inspirations, ideas, and creative challenges. I live and work in Boston's South End neighborhood, in the enclave known as the SoWa Art + Design district. I'm fond of big cities, architecture, great imaginative spaces, food & drink, gardening, wandering around the city on foot, binge-watching well written shows, talking to cats, and of course, making and experiencing art. Artist website: PaulaOgierArt.com. Twitter: Paula Ogier Artworks My studio is at 450 Harrison Avenue, Studio 203.

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