Monday, July 20, 2009

Work in Progress: Book Illustrations

Over the past several months I have been (slowly!) illustrating a children's book for a friend. The final illustrations will be hand-coloured drypoint prints - a favourite medium of mine. The story is written in rhyme, and is about two young girls and their button collection... A lot of fun to illustrate! We will be self-publishing the book before the end of this year.

This is my first full-length book illustration project, and I'm absolutely loving it. I must admit that I've had to learn a lot on the job... And I still have a lot to learn yet! Below I describe the process so far, and include some images of works in progress.

The very first thing that I did was draw up little thumbnails of each page. This helped me to decide how the verses and illustrations would fit together and flow from one page to the next. This is a very important step and I'm grateful that I put the time into it right at the beginning.

For each illustration...

1. I start of by developing each thumbnail further, experimenting with different compositions until I come up with something that looks good.

2. In return for chocolate (okay, only
sometimes do they get chocolate!), I then get my younger sisters to pose for me and take reference photographs. My sisters have been very useful, and always so cheerful and willing to help. Thanks girls!

3. Using the photographs as a reference, I then sketch out how the illustration will look (using a page template to make sure it is the correct size). These "sketches" started off as beautifully rendered drawings for the first several illustrations, but as time marches on I've been spending less and less time on this stage of the process...!

4. Then I scan the drawing, email it to the author for feedback, and print it in reverse to the correct size.

5. Having cut a piece of clear drypoint plastic to the correct size (either to fit the border within the page or leaving enough room to bleed it out), I then tape it over the top of the reversed drawing and start scratching the image into the plastic. This is the step that takes the most time. A lot of fun but rather tiresome...

6. Once I have a few drypoint plates ready, I take them down to the press at polytech and print them. At the moment I'm experimenting with different papers and inks, so have had to deal with quite a number of bad prints... But there's always at least one good one in each batch.

7. After sorting through my prints and choosing the best, I then colour them with watercolour washes. This step is the most exciting! The images come alive, and feel ready to be part of a book.

Once I have finished all of the illustrations, I will scan them into the computer and arrange them with the text before (finally!) taking the whole thing to the printers.

ANY FEEDBACK on my illustrations thus far would be greatly appreciated! Please leave your comments.

More to come... Keep an eye out!