When Illustration Goes Supernova

I recently took my children’s book Sleep Sweet through the Augmented Reality format, and it was a wild ride!

As an author, illustrator and mom, this project has been a crazy foray into a George Jetson world, especially for a woman that remembers being totally memorized by her very first Star Wars pop-up book :)

This is pretty much a dream come true project for me. I’ve always loved illustrating and writing for kids, but now I get to accompany them to a difficult situation and use my voice and design to calm them. I feel like through the AR process, I can be there myself in a way, holding their hand and reading to them.

After writing and illustrating Sleep Sweet, I made the fortunate decision to self-publish, witch gave me full rights and control over the life of the book. When AltAlity approached me to do an Augmented Reality version of Sleep Sweet, I was the sole decision maker and I said GO!

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[My text and illustrations for Sleep Sweet as viewed through any mobile device – the concepts become 3-d, the butterfly floats around the page and the viewer can touch items for a reaction]

First was the selection process and compiling the files for the AR process. Because my illustration style is very loose and dreamy, it took some extra work to prepare hard and fast points for the camera to recognize in order to trigger a response from the app.

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Next we went through some story boards, deciding what would be the key graphics that would come to life and be interactive as well as which AR objects would be created for the backgrounds.

 As the holographic image pretty much stands up from the page, using the actual page as its base, the graphics had to be available to move around with the camera while holding the book semi-flat. For example- Items like lions or elephants became a focal point where the trees or hillside the lion stood near became secondary background.

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Next came the ambience – it was fun coming up with the flowing water, gentle wind sounds as well as adding little nuances like fireflies and star to the overall scene.

Then came the narration – I had actually bought a microphone and painstakingly recorded and saved each page of the whole book as an audio file for the Spellbound team. After leaving on a holiday trip, I learned via email that the files weren’t what they needed. I ended up re-recording all of the text on my iPhone sitting on a hotel room bed, doing short takes in between noises from out in the hall and the maid service.

And last was the music. I had a friend from college record all of the music as a continuous gentle acoustic guitar solo. Then he emailed me the track to be included as the background for the book.

Sleep Sweet is now being used in children’s therapy and relaxation nationwide! Fresh soothing bedtime illustration lead the child into a relaxed state, but the added AR component, enhances the book’s already calming design with music, narration, soothing nature sounds and lights as well as interactive animal sounds to draw attention to a single point and help the child focus and calm as they get ready for sleep.

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Proven to work with patients (and children at home) to ward off anxiety, fear of sleep, or general bedtime aversion, Sleep Sweet calms, entices and focuses attention on a single spot and allows that focus and meditation.

And as of last week, Sleep Sweet is now Story Monsters Ink Approved! Super awesome advancement for awareness of the book, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am :)

The Story Monsters Approved! designation was developed by Five Star Publications, Inc. to recognize and honor accomplished authors in the field of children’s literature, as well as children’s products that inspire, inform, teach, or entertain. A Story Monsters seal of approval on your book or product cover tells parents, grandparents, educators, and caregivers they are giving children the very best.

Kids know when they see the Story Monsters Approved! patch it means children their own age enjoyed the book or product and are recommending it, too. How do they know that? Because after books and products pass the first round of judging by industry experts, they are then judged by a panel of youth judges who must also endorse the books or products before they can receive the official seal of approval.

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Sleep Sweet on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fDBYab

Sleep Sweet – Purple Dragonfly Award Winner • Gittle Publishing Top Ten Indie Books of 2016 

Author • Designer • Artist • #SCBWI & #IAN1 • http://www.JulianneBlack.com

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