That’s a Wrap: Thesis (Part 1)

It’s been less than a month since graduation and I feel that it has finally sunk in that, after spending the majority of my life in school, I am finally finished (for now, at least.) Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this, I’d like to share a story or two about my last two semesters in university focusing mainly on my thesis and graduation. I’ll be splitting these into two separate blog posts, so brace yourself for a lengthy read!

I know I’ve been hinting this post several times in the past when I was still working on my thesis, and I’m happy to finally share my thought process on the entire thing: the concept of the story, the writing, and, finally, the illustration process.

It was in my second year of university when I decided two things: one, that I would like to write and illustrate a children’s book for my thesis. And, two, I want to do my thesis alone (I guess I was too traumatized by group work and I know that I’m too much of a perfectionist, so I worried for partnerships when it comes big projects, like a thesis.) Seeing that I had around two years before I would reach the thesis term, I prepared hastily for this in order to have the skills for it. I went to talks and took writing classes to improve my storytelling, I practiced my brush lettering, studied more watercolor techniques, and read + reread a lot of children’s books. I wrote a lot of stories and articles to practice. (I also stocked up on art supplies!) Eventually, the thesis term arrived, and I was ready to face the long road ahead.

My thesis was divided into two terms: the research term and the thesis implementation term. The first term focused more on the story development and research, which went by rather quickly. (I enjoyed writing and researching—I’ve learned so much!) The second term is when I got to apply what I’ve learned…and have fun with it!

The story conceptualization for the book took a while until my mentor and I found a story that worked. Basically, my end goal is to write a book that I know my little sister would love reading. The story is simply about a little girl named Hannah (yes, I named my character after my sister) and her dad. So Hannah is sick in bed with a cold and wants nothing but Alphabet Soup to help her feel better. Her dad does his best to make it—despite not really knowing how to. He misinterprets Alphabet Soup as a soup with 26 ingredients from A-Z and adds in strange and fun things to make a funny soup. The story inspiration was directly derived from the fun and silly relationship dynamic between my sister and my father.

The writing process of my book was frustrating, to say the least. I took me three months (and ten drafts) until my mentor and I were satisfied with the text. I wrote the book in poetry to make it fun (and somewhat more difficult for me, haha.) It was also around this time I gave my book its title: Silly Soup Day.

After I fully grasped what I wanted to write, I jumped right into illustration and did a few pages of character and color studies:

I also roughly painted the cover design of my book:

And eventually made an actual-sized dummy book:

I sketched the illustrations straight into the dummy book using my lavender mechanical pencil:

And added the text in using Post-It notes:

H for his hunger, I for some Ice
J for red jelly that was sold by the slice!

After that, I securely placed a sheet of tracing paper on top of the rough sketches and traced the final lines on top using a regular pencil.

(One of the more detailed spreads in my book!)

After that, I got the “skeleton” of my drawing and taped it on a lightbox:

After that, I taped on a sheet of watercolor paper on top and lightly traced over the outline.

Now, it’s ready for painting!

Pardon the messy desk!

Since my book has a total of 32 pages, I had to produce roughly 32 paintings as well! Because of the limited time I had, I had to paint around 3-5 pages a day to make it before my personal deadline!

The last step in the illustration process would be the detailing, my favorite part (maybe.)

I just love how the colors pop and come alive during this process!

After scanning and editing each page, I printed it to check for errors.

Satisfied with what I saw, I went to the printer’s the next day and had my book printed, ready for submission.

I admit when I first held the first edition of my book (currently, I am on my third edition), I was overjoyed. All the hard work was worth it.

When I submitted my complete thesis, I felt like a giant weight has been lifted.

I’m done with university!

As soon as I got home, I reached up my shelf for this “academic success” daruma I purchased in Kyoto earlier this year and drew in the other eye (read about the daruma here!)

As a sneak peek, here is what the cover of my book looks like now! (Sadly, I won’t be posting the entire book here because I have future plans with this, hehe.)

I’m having copies printed out, so if you’re interested to purchase one and/or support me, shoot me an email at! 🙂

That’s it for this blog post! Thank you for reading until the end. In the meantime, please wait patiently for part two, Graduation!

‘Till the next blog post,

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