Skip to main content

Ten years to illustrate a book with Paint

Patience. This is one of Patrick Hines’ key attributes. This writer and illustrator based in Boston has accomplished what seemed impossible: illustrating a whole novel with Paint without being mistaken with a child. For example, that kid that closed Paint for the first time in 1995 and that took him nine years to reopen it. He came to use Pain after realizing Photoshop wasn’t made for him.

If Hines has patience to spare it’s because he also had the time on his side. When he worked as a receptionist in a hospice by night, Paint became one of his few options to do something while he was listening at podcasts and ghost stories. For him, working like this is “the closest thing to meditation”.


Camp Redblood and the Essential Revenge was going to be the script for a movie. “I decided to create some conceptual images to raise some money, but the whole thing fade away”, says Hines.

What did stick up with him was one idea: a summer camp where spooky things happen. A decade later, that failed script has become a book illustrated exclusively with Paint.

In Camp Redblood, a place where forests are haunted and the roads are deceiving, a group of teenagers has to face unknown beasts, ghosts and more teenagers between hangover and hangover. Hines describes the protagonists as “an eclectic cast of uncomfortable and inadequate heroes and psychotic and loud villains”.


The auto-edit platforms helped him to believe in his project and soon he began to gain visibility thanks to various media. “I already knew I wanted to illustrate the book and I thought that I could gain more visibility with MS Paint than with any other conventional work”, he says.

He knew that for the peculiarity and difficulty of this task he could draw everybody’s attention, but he also knew he had no other choice: “I couldn’t use Photoshop or any other program when I was on my twenties and working in a reception where I had nothing else to do but using Paint”. Besides, he acknowledges, he’s “terrible using Photoshop”.

The artist soon saw the bright side of his limitation and believed it will allow his abilities to “prosper”. He got so far ahead that after receiving a bunch of messages with the same question, he decided to share in his Deviantart page the making of these illustrations step by step.

Hines loves easiness, “deliberate slow rhythm”. Of course he presents himself in social networks with Comic Sans. Although he acknowledges that you need a lot of patience to work with Paint, he thinks it takes the same amount of it than when “working with watercolor and canvas until you get the correct details”.


The illustrator trusted Paint and from the start he appealed to a motto that portraits that both of them make a good team: “Draw big, present small”. Since then, he works exclusively with this program, except when he draws conceptual images for his books because drawing them with a pencil saves him time.

“I knew Paint could be hyper detailed when I discovered I could make the size to be as big as I wanted to. My biggest problem with paper and pencil is that I never had the space nor the funds to have big canvas”. Hines’ story is a story filled with limitations, but also it is an inspiring story of a man that has learned to take advantage of obstacles.

It is common to associate Paint to the unprofessional, even rough and childlike drawing. With his detailed work, Hines has managed to convince people that Paint is a whole new world to explore and thanks to his labor and patience he has accomplished to provide this program a certain prestige among illustrators.


His effort has already been acknowledged by Microsoft: “They presented my work in their blog of Research and Development in New England and that was the first real exhibition of what I was doing. Either way, more people have showed up in the last few days and I hope that leads to something more with them. A grant from Mr. Gates will be very welcome!” says Hines.

The American illustrator assures he doesn’t organized himself to work. He hasn’t feel frustrated with Paint although it took him 10 years to illustrate his book, because fun has being constant.

At first he used lunch time and the dead hours at work to illustrate, when he still had a lot to learn. “Back then I didn’t know the difference between JPEG and a BITMAP, so I saved in JPEG and then I wondered why it looked like crap. I wasn’t a technology genius!” he jokes.

The book comes with 8 illustrations and an extra chapter that, as a kind of preview, demonstrates that it’s possible to illustrate with Paint not only one book but two.

Leave a reply