Monday, November 14, 2011

Testing the Illustration Board

The illustration board I bought is a little different than I usually get.  I was careful at the store to go through their entire stock of illustration boards and look at their thickness and feel the texture of the board.  I also wanted to be conscious of my cost as it can be very pricey buying that much board for the whole project.  I thank the Lord that on that particular day that I went to get the board, it was 50% off as well!  YES!

But this board was a little thinner than I have used in the past and I wondered if it could stand the amount of paint that I would put on it over most of it's surface area.
I decided to cut a similar shape of a spread and make a test painting and see for myself if it was going to buckle or warp any.

I held my breath!

I didn't want a great painting so I didn't make a tracing...I just starting brushing down a liberal amount of paint over a lot of it's surface and waited to see what would happen.  I had the illustration board taped (on all 4 corners) to my drawing table to give it it's best chance at staying flat.
It did stay flat after the paint dried!

So, put some more paint on top of that....alot of paint...and waited again.
Wow, that board stayed flat as a pancake!  I was THRILLED!  This was going to work well!

Finally I decided to paint a little something with some detail on top of the background paint I had already put down to make sure it would still hold up well.  That is how I paint...background first, then come forward to the middle ground and finally the foreground where all the detail and darker values tend to be.
Wooooohooo!  Yes!  It passed the test!

I used Liquitex acrylic paints with a white bristle brush mainly.
I'm now ready to take my completed tracing (pages 6 and 7) and begin my first painting!
It's November and I'm already jumping into my first painting...the last painting is due in July.  This means I have 8 months to do 18 paintings.  I feel really good about where I am in the process...I can do this and hopefully even complete everything before my July deadline.

Preparing the illustration boards

During the time I sent the sketches to the editor, I knew it might be a couple of weeks while I was waiting to hear back from them.  What could I do during this time that would help me keep my momentum going with the project instead of just twiddling my thumbs?
I decided to prepare my illustration boards.  Here are the steps to that:
1) buy the illustration board (I got mine from Hobby Lobby...Mixed media strathmore series 400)
2) cut the boards to the right size leaving around an inch and a half of white space around the outside of the illustration area.
3) draw crop marks on the boards exactly to size (the book is 12"x 9" per speed...I also need to add a half inch all the way around the illustration so that the painting bleeds out a half inch more so that when they cut the printed pages, if they are off a little, I've got extra painting all the way around for them to comfortably work with.
4) label each cut illustration name and page numbers.  When it's time to paint a particular spread, I will have all my boards ready to go....I just get the right page number board and start tracing the picture down on it.

Trick to save time and be accurate:
You'll notice the last board at the bottom of the fanned stack has corners cut out.  This is my "template" board to help me put the crop marks in exactly the same place on every board...rather quickly.  I just lay that board down on top of any other board and make my crop marks by tracing next to these cut out corners.  Then I take a ruler and draw very light lines around the illustration area so that I'll know not to paint past those lines.  Easy Peasy!

I feel good about doing something with this gap of time that will help me with my whole process later.  It will also be rewarding to watch the stack of illustration boards get smaller and smaller as time passes...and that will be a great "visual encourager"!

Beginning the tracings

The drawings I have made and sent to the editor at this point are "loose"...they need detail put in them and tightening up on my proportions and making hard and fast decisions about what exactly I will paint in each spread.
I start this process with the first spread which is the dedication, title page.  If you go back and look at what I sent the editor, you will see that it is very generic of tiny and it's small...doesn't fill the space of that side of the spread very well.
And the other side of the spread where the dedication will go, has a very finished tight was the only page in the whole set that was a finished tight drawing...the bird in the party hat.
When I went to work on the title page, I decided to show Tiny blowing a party blower with the bird, Pete, flying up off of Tiny's nose because he was startled.  I decided to take Tiny's huge body and have it go into the gutter (center of the spread where 2 pages meet).  This would allow me to keep the dedication side open for it's own picture.  I felt Tiny needed a party hat and by the time I got the tracing like I wanted it with Tiny, the other side with the bird in the hat seemed like too much for the spread.  I felt like the dedication side only needed a piece of ribbon streamer and some confetti...sort of like an "after thought".  So I pulled the tight drawing of Pete and the party hat and drew a streamer.  I will make the streamer smaller before I paint it.
Because I had departed from what I sent the editor, I emailed the spread to them to make sure it was alright with them.  Better to find out now than have to redo later.
To date, I've not heard back from them yet on that spread.

So I move on to another drawing.
I'm choosing to work on a spread that seems close to making a tracing of it without very much work.  I really want to get a painting under way at this point as a confidence builder.  I'd like to say, "I"ve finished a painting on the Tiny book!".  It's important not to get bogged down or "stuck" in the creative process...I need to keep it moving.  Momentum is a big deal with a project this involved.
There is no background on the drawing I choose and the tracing does go quick....wooohoooo!

You can see I put a pencil on the drawing to give you a size comparison of how big the actual drawings are....12" wide by 9" tall.  I also put the original sketch above the tracing.  Now I can take the tracing...transfere it onto illustration board and start painting.

Beginning sketches finished and approved

I have finished the remaining sketches for the book that I will send on to the editor by email.

When I sent all the spreads to the editor by email, and after a couple of weeks, I heard back from them with positive feedback.  There were small comments made on several of the spreads to either add things that I had overlooked or be sure that a background in the picture in one spread was consistent with the same room background of a previous spread.
I took all my drawings and went through the whole stack writing the comments from the editor out to the side so that when I make my tight tracing (drawing), I will be sure I make those changes.

I was very happy and relieved that there were as few changes as they sent to me!