A while ago I mentioned a mural project that I am doing, based on children's drawings created during an illustration workshop, focussing on characterisation and movement. The wall I have to cover, at Wakefield Library, is over 13 metres long, but only 2 metres high - very long and thin - so the idea is to create a chase scene along it, as if the children's animals are running through the library.
I let the teachers take the drawings back to school with them, for the kids to finish off. Unfortunately, instead of posting them a couple of days later, as promised, it took them 6 weeks and repeated hassling, so I am only now getting down to it.
I am currently spending my time on Photoshop, trying to work out how to lay things out. It's so massive, and such a weird shape, I'm working on a one-tenth, low res mock-up, into which I have placed scans of all the animals, so I can move things around and re-size them, until it looks OK. Then I'll re-scan everything at the right size, as the final artwork will be created digitally (in sections and at one quarter size, so my computer doesn't blow its brain).
Although my initial chase idea sounded simple, I soon discovered that, if I don't want to end up with just a 'procession' of animals, in a long, uninteresting line, I will need to draw in incidental props, like bookshelves for animals to climb onto, or chairs for them to jump over. I might need to do some graphic things will colour in the background too (like I did with the cover of Swap!), to divide up the space. Not sure yet.
Right: back to it...
Part of the Photoshop work I have been doing recently on Swap!, has involved designing the colours for the book. Some pages have fully illustrated backgrounds, but the ones that don't - the ones I have been cutting out - need my pastel paper replacing with a bold, flat colour.
To give the book an overall feeling of unity, the designer and I have to decide upon a colour palette: a limited range of colours to which I then restrict myself:
The trick is to distribute these colour backgrounds reasonably evenly throughout the book, whilst still making sure that each illustration has the best colour behind it, a colour that shows it off to best effect, but that also compliments any illustration on the opposite side of the page.
Quite often in this book, I have used two different colours to suggest a room, without actually illustrating one, as with this spread of the ballet class:
I like the contrast the technique creates between the textured pastel work of the characters and the smooth, bold colour behind.
I've been playing around with different black & white techniques. I did a few straight gouache pieces, but I'm really enjoying this pencil and digital combo. I like how the simplicity of the process and how the freshness of the sketching comes through.
Project 41 of 365
I'm behind in my 365 projects, but it's for a good cause! I'm in my writing groove. I finished writing 12 chapters for my children's book and am nearly done with revisions. I've started on the second chapter book, mulling over an outline right now, and hopefully within the next two weeks, I'll be mailing out my first chapter of the first book to publishers with fingers crossed!
This illustration was done for my children. I told them about a stuffed animal I had when I was a kid, called Guaca Mole. They wanted to know more about him, so I felt inspired to put the memory to paper.
I felt a bit under the weather yesterday so I took some time off and ended up reading a big pile of Batman comics. And I did this sketch of Catwoman on my iPad using the Procreate app. Catwoman can be a visually really interesting character. It'd be really fun to do a comic set in the Batman universe some day. My favorite Batman comics are the ones that have Batman as a sort of super detective and that really use the geography of Gotham. I find the city in Batman comics a bit underused. So much potential there.
September's theme is "Character" but I've been working on a couple of picture books where there's no central character. So that's a huge challenge I don't have to deal with although there's other concerns to make sure there's continuity throughout the book. This is one spread from Nature Recycles
, written by Michelle Lord and published by Sylvan Dell Publishing. This spread is about how the decorator sea urchin recycles. Other examples of recycling in nature are the elf owl, hermit crab, veined octopus, dung beetle, poison dart frog, you and I, etc. Look for it spring 2013.
I try not to work weekends. Self employment is inclined to gobble up your private life if you're not careful. But things are really full-on at the moment. My latest deadline in Thursday first thing, so my Sunday had to be sacrificed to Swap!. At least I got Saturday. It was a gloriously sunny day again and, since each one could be our last, we drove out to Chatsworth, to spend the day in the gardens, looking at the Barry Flanagan sculpture exhibition. I did some sketching towards the end of the afternoon. Thought I'd experiment with a crazy colour hare, after my Colour Games workshop.
I was about to attempt the drawing below, the same hare from the back, when a couple of children came over to ask what I was doing. I explained, showing them what I'd done so far. Their two friends came over and joined in. They were curious about my pencils, so I gave them a quick demo-scribble in the back of my sketchbook.
I asked if they wanted to try. Well, that was it. They got so excited, especially about the water brush, that they all set-to in a huddle while I chatted to their parents (who kindly offered to leave them with me for an hour or so...). They created this spread together:
We rounded off the day watching some cricket, which I know nothing about, but it was a good excuse for sitting on the grass just a bit longer.
But Sunday it was down to work: the scans have come back from that first batch of artwork I sent off a couple of weeks ago. Now the rush is to get them all cut-out in Photoshop by Wednesday night. I need to get rid of the pink paper backgrounds and replace them with flat digital colour, like the illustration at the top and below.
You can see the rough of this illustration and my pastel artwork before the cut-out job here.
My previous books with Gullane have had colour backgrounds on the covers, but been cut away to white on the inside, but I feel this one is calling out to be more funky. I'm having fun seeing how they look on the colours - it makes them really come together.
It's been going well and slightly faster than I expected, which is of course FANTASTIC news. Especially given the major set-back I had on Monday. As I was beavering away, about 10.30am, my computer suddenly snapped itself off, mid illustration. NNNNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
It turned out, by my extraordinary bad luck, that there was a fire in our electrical sub-station, so the power in the whole of my area of Sheffield was cut off for several hours. I had to sit and read a book as the time ticked by. Thank goodness they sorted it out eventually.
For a list of all survey results as well as current surveys still in progress, see my Inkygirl Survey Archives.
Thanks to all those who responded to my most recent survey, which asked:
Q. When making a book purchase, do you prefer ebook or print format?
Of 129 responses, 60% said they preferred print. 25% preferred ebook/digital.
Of the remaining responses ("Other"), here are some of the comments:
Ebook to get it fast for YA, but print book for picture books, & when I really love a book I want both. - @CherylRainfield
I do both. It varies with price and format. Some picture books don't look so great on the Kindle. They look better on the iPad. - @StacySJensen
Print if I plan to share with my students. (so MG books) E if I'd like to be able to read it anywhere (love having selection on my device) E if it is MY copy of a book I'm using with a reading group (love the notes features on my device and I don't lose my notes that way) Print if I already own part of the series or it's a series I think I will loan to family or friends (it's complicated!) - @Mselke01
I prefer print for fiction or anything pictorial, but I like ebooks for quick access to information
It depends. For a quick read, ebook. For things I want to save and reread or refer to often, print. - @bexdk
It depends on the book. For most, I prefer ebook. But there are some I want a print copy for my bookshelves. Usually, they are by favorite authors or friends.
I like print for children's books, ebook for adult (pleasure) print for how to book's...
Depends on the book and the price..and where I'll be reading. For travel, I prefer e-books. For home or camping, I prefer print. - Julie Chilton
Ebook for fiction, print for non-fiction. - @crazywritinfool
Both. I can't really separate the two because I usually end up buying the book in print even if I have it on my Kindle/iPad. I can't give up my books. I also will buy books for Kindle that I already own in print simply because it is easier to take on a trip or read in bed (for example: "War & Peace"). - @InkyTwig
Both! I love having both formats for different situations. - @wickedagrarian
Depends on the book. If it's something I want straight away, ebook, if it's more of a collectable - print.
E-book for texts I'll read linearly (novels, short stories). Print for reference materials, anything with graphics, anything I expect to consult arbitrary sections of. Also print for books with more "staying power", ones I'll want to have for years and years, 'cause who knows what'll happen to digital content over time?
Depends on the format & purpose: print = illustrated books e = reference books a = audiobooks, which is the only format I consume for fun. - @chaletfan
Ebooks, unless there are many illustrations or photos. In that case, I prefer print.
It depends. If I need something right now, I'll order a Kindle version, but for a nice slow read, I'll order print. If I want something to take on the plane, I order a Kindle; if I want to read it while taking a bath, I'll order print. For study and writing in the margins I'll order print because I don't care for the annotation function in electronic devices. Even the markup function in Word is annoying even though it's industry standard. - @suelange
I only buy drm-free ebooks and so my selection is limited, but I'm quickly coming to prefer digital over print. - @limako
Depends on the book. Picture Book, Easy Reader - Print (love to look at the color illustrations and for studying page turns) MG, YA Fiction - Ebook (convenience of being able to take it anywhere easily) - @darshanakhiani
Digital for novels, print for picture books.
Whichever is cheapest, naturally! (which at the moment is nearly ALWAYS print) - @readitdaddy
Next survey: Book Trailers - Do They Work? (3 multiple choice questions + optional comments)
Do you have a suggestion for a future survey question? Please let me know!
Construction traffic between Winthrop and Twisp? While away the minutes by finger painting on the iPad!
Malibu Canyon Horse shot from my Album “Roadography”
In a follow-up to his hit post on the economics of print comics, Jim Zub is back with a look at digital comics metrics, including the percentages taken by each step in the pipeline complete with PIE…charts.
A lot of people have talked about the need for cheaper digital comic prices to drive impulse buying in casual/new readers. Right now most of the digital comics available are selling at a similar price to their print counterparts. Outside of sales and special promotions, a $2.99 print comic is selling for $2.99 digitally. People assume that digital content should be much cheaper because it has no physical component, but there are development and infrastructure costs that go into creating and maintaining a digital platform. It’s hard to say whether they’re equivalent, but right now the pricing is relatively equal.
After running through the equivalence, Zub even mentions the unmentionable, his digital sales…as a percentage of print.
The only remotely solid numbers I have are my own. I’ve done quite a bit of promotion about my comic Skullkickers being available on comiXology, iVerse and Graphicly. We have a free zero issue and we’ve had a couple 99¢ sales, so some of our early issues have sold quite well digitally but, if you count 99¢ copies as a 1/3 sale money-wise, we’re selling at about the 15% range of our print sales on early issues. Later issues are sitting at around 8-10% of print sales right now. Admittedly, the 99¢ pricing has expanded our audience much faster and that’s nothing to sneeze at. They’re not blockbuster sales numbers but at least I know that as our exposure increases back issues will keep selling without any fear of ever being out of stock.
Meanwhile, here’s another equally seismic piece by Dawn Griffin of Zorphbert and Fred called Open For Debate: Ditching the Webcomic Business Model
I followed the rules. Where’s my success?
Instead, I see a plateau. I have kept the readers I have made over the years. I have a handful of very passionate readers whom I deeply appreciate. I want more of those, but just can’t seem to find where they are hiding. They certainly don’t seem to be the general “webcomic readers” demographic: men & women(to a lesser degree) in their late teens, 20′s and early 30′s. My demographic seems to be mainly.. well… everyone else. Preteen boys, men 30-50 years and men and women 50+. Whu-oh.
It’s a pretty thorough rundown of why the webcomic model hasn’t worked for this particular comic.
To her credit, Griffin also addresses the fact that maybe webcomic readers just aren’t that into her. She goes on to propose a new model based on boosting print sales, and opens it up for debate.
I haven’t read the strip in question, but at a quick glance we field it under a certain demographic on our brain. As we’ve mentioned here many times, comics are the most inclusive industry on earth, and the bar to entry is unbelievably low. Put up a tumblr and get a table at a con and you’re in the club. But not everyone is a superstar, a star or even a “veteran creator.” Sometimes it isn’t just the business model.
Not feeling all that able to draw today. This is kind of what it looks like outside presently, minus the fox.
Get ready for our new IFK promo postcard! This time the theme is Valentine's Day. I just finished my artwork today. As you can see... they're on a date.
Just like Claire (below) and the others, I created an image to represent my work for our latest postcard promotional. We chose a Valentine's Day theme so you will see lots of love and hearts and pinks and reds in our images.
Please take a look at our bio's here and visit our personal sites to see more about us! Thanks for visiting!
Tweet I’ll hold my hands up and admit I’m not a digital reader at all- there are a few web-comics which I love and keep up with and that’s it. I’ve tried reading comics on an e-reader but as idealistic and romanticised and dinosaurish as it may sound, the experience is simply too impersonal for [...]
I recently finished working with Alana Dakos
on her newest book, "Botanical Knits
." The patterns are inspired from plants, trees, leaves, etc. I love the designs (as always when looking at Alana's stuff) and once again wish I had the physical dexterity to knit.
...along with images that inspired her to create the patterns. Then essentially said, "here is what I created, now you create something." So I did.
If you have the book you could play a fun "Where's Waldo" trying to find where some of the illustrations ended up. The interesting thing for me is to see what made it into the book (of course not all do) and where.
Alana also asked me to design the title. Always a fun challenge. She wanted something natural, rustic, with tall letters, almost like they are growing. So here are some examples I came up with.
But ultimately this style was the winner (see above cover).
Another interesting request was for the resource page. She knitted little leaves out of the fabric she used for the knits in the book, and used those as reference for where she got the yarn. Photos of the knitted leaves were eventually placed onto an illustration of a tree branch. You can get an idea for it from the color studies. You will have to buy the book to see how it all really comes together. :)
That's it! Thanks for reading.