• Bella Hickman

Creating The Aces High MC: Charleston Coloring Book!

As some of you know already, I recently collaborated with my mom, Christine Michelle, to create an adult coloring book based on the Aces High MC: Charleston series, featuring The Other Princess.

In this blog, I'm going to talk about some of my favorite coloring book pages, what the challenges were with each image, and how they all came together into a project that I'm very proud of. I will not show images of each page, but if you'd still like to hear about my thought processes, read on ;)

So first- the cover. When I first drew this image, I had no idea that it would be the cover of a coloring book, much less the coloring book I was already working on at the time. I was just drawing a girl getting a tattoo for fun. Then I thought it would be pretty cool if the tattoo she was getting was the Aces High insignia. It wasn't until the coloring book was completely done that I decided on making this the cover image, which meant adding in all of the flash art in the background and going back in with color. This image was a lot of fun to color digitally, by the way, so I hope you all have just as much fun coloring it in at home! ;)

Page one- Aces High logo: Not much to say about this one specifically. It obviously needed to be there, and I'm excited to see how you each color this one because I think there are a lot of fun color palettes you could use.

The next few pages in the coloring book are interpretations of the book covers!

Page two- The Other Princess: You can color in Ever from the color of your favorite book! Ever has always reminded me of flowers and tattoos, so that's the vibe I went with for her page. Her page also contains the quote

"Not all weeds are bad just because they're a little different. Sometimes, if given the change, they can outgrow the cracks they spring from to become the bloom that brightens that space." - Christine Michelle

Page three- A Love so Hard:

This one was a lot of fun, mostly because I really love Double D's love for Lucy. You don't have to love Double D, because he obviously makes quite a few mistakes throughout the series, but his love for Lucy is #goals, and that's what I wanted this page to represent.

"I knew then, even when ol' Jack was doing his level best to warn me away, I knew you'd be mine one day. I also knew you'd be worth the wait it would take to get you."

Page three- The Princess and the Prospect: The cover model for Anna is beautiful. She actually reminds me of my (not so) little sister Lexy. I wanted to play to both the idea that she was dealt a tough hand in life, and the fact that she ended up falling in love with Joker, so the background for Anna's image is falling cards, but they're all Jokers.

"Always and only yours."

Page four- The Killing Ride: This was one of my favorites in the series. J-Bird was a stupid teenager that no one felt sorry for in The Other Princess, but in his own book, we see that he's been fighting a mental battle with himself ever since, and we are thankfully able to see him find love in the midst of loss with the lovely and artistic Christina.

The design for this page is simple. It's J from the cover, but he's also being painted on an easel, representing the imprint that he left on Christina the first time they ever saw each other in the cemetery.

"Forgiveness is divine as it's born of another's sorrow. Look beneath the surface to heal everyone's tomorrow."

Page Eight- Letters to Lucy: I've already given myself away and told you that I really love Lucy and Double D's relationship. It wasn't perfect by any means, but they were really put through the wringer, and their love never faltered for even a moment. Talk about a romance novel ;)

Page eight is dedicated to all of the letters that Double D had written Lucy over the years, pouring his heart out. I also love that Christine wrote it this way, with the masculine male pouring his heart out to the woman he loves.

Page fourteen- Double D's tattoo: I love how this image turned out, but I definitely procrastinated even starting on it until I was almost done with the whole book. Photorealism isn't really my style, but most of these tattoos as they were written in the book, are photorealistic. I tried to find a balance between photorealism and my style, while still making sure that it would be fun for people to color, and I'm excited to see what everyone thinks of the result!

Page fifteen- Toby's tattoo: This one is my favorite, out of all of the designs in the book. It is also the one that took me the longest, and that was most difficult for me to bring to life. Christine described a very specific tattoo in the book, and when I drew out the first draft, it wasn't even close to what she'd pictured in her head. We've all read the Other Princess, but I doubt any of us had the exact same images in our heads as we read about each of the tattoos Christine described. I think this project has helped to remind me that everyone's brain puts things together differently, and it's one of the most beautiful things about humanity.

Page sixteen- Ever's tattoo:


Kidding, but barely ;) I love the description of this tattoo in the book, but I've tried about a million times to put it to paper, and it's always gone so horribly. I'm excited about the final result that landed itself in the coloring book, but it was not without blood, sweat, tears, and prayers. I would love to see if this image is anything close to what you pictured in your head while reading.




Thank you for taking the time to read about my thoughts on a few of my favorite coloring book pages. And in case you haven't heard me say it in a while, I appreciate each and every one of you for supporting my art, whether with a purchase or a kind word, I've appreciated it more than I can ever express!

Don't forget to share images you've colored in Read a Book, Fall in Love! :) I can't wait to see!

And if you haven't gotten your copy already, you can do so here!

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