I did this one for my wife as well. I usually do her a picture for Valentine's day.
have the end product in mind
I would agree with having the end product in mind from the beginning. I self-published a book by myself and the number of compromises and changes required because I didn't think about the end product was very high.
I am glad I had done the exercise of fully completing a book before really getting into illustration/writing full time. It really taught me about the things I didn't know and the lessons mean a lot more when you have practical knowledge of doing stuff the wrong way can get you into trouble.
On no. 5, my first editors (I use that term loosely) are a couple of people who can easily image into the images. I decided to do this as an extension of the process @Lee-White and @davidhohn gave us for illustrating. Take baby steps, provide options, choose the best one before moving to the next step. 50 Thumbnails -> 8 - Value Thumbnails -> 3 - Small Sketches -> 1 - Refined Sketch -> 1 - Final Picture. I would struggle to remove a character from my story if I had already done character design for them and got to know them. If they are just in the text I am a little less attached.
I did struggle a little bit with my more recent manuscript as there are pages in the dummy without any words (story through illustration). I solved that by creating simple text descriptions of the feelings and goals of the illustrations on those pages. This allowed the editor to follow along though I did learn during that process to be clearer in those descriptions.
On no. 10, I currently don't have a good critique group. I have a few editors/readers I will be using for this initially. Luckily, I have a family that is into literature and they have no qualms about giving me their opinion! I will use them for now, until I can establish a more formal group for this stage. One thing to note about feedback at this stage is the need for knowing the provider of the feedback and filtering the feedback through that lens.
@TessaW finally got back to this... other projects slowing me down. Here is my version of the hybrid. I am really liking it. Thanks.
As I move to the next stage I will have to watch the tangent of the white kitty's ear and back. But otherwise, really happy with the result. Let me know if you have any other feedback.
@xin-li Here is my process (so far) I am working through it with 2 dummies right now and that is informing the process as I go. The end of the process has not been tested as I am not that far yet with either of the dummies. I will try to provide reasoning as to why do things as well.
If the text depends heavily on the illustrations I will include illustration descriptions. One of my dummies has only 300 words or so of dialogue and some pages have 0 words on them as the main narrative is shown in the illustrations. This is an advantage the author/illustrator has that is more difficult with a separate author and illustrator.
Have readers/editors review the text in dummy format. I chose the google slide format as it allows me to have remote editors/readers review and provide feedback right in the tool. Not only this it feels very much like a physical book to me. I might be an editor at heart (ask @Braden-Hallett ) and this allows for tons of editing and feedback.
At this point, I will develop a counter-narrative or additional narrative that exists only in the illustrations. I will document this somewhere so that I create illustrations I can refer back to it. Think of stuff like a cat in each picture that is not really part of the written narrative. Or a counter-narrative of an unspecified creature reversing everything the main character does. Every book doesn't need this, but it provides non-readers a jewel they can find that the reader may miss.
Once I am satisfied with the text, page turns, rhythm, and flow I will begin the illustration process. First I start with character and style studies. I will attach these examples directly into new slides at the end of the dummy so all my information is in the same place.
Next, I will do 2 two page spreads. I do this intentionally before I sketch the whole book out. I do this because of comments @Lee-White has made about the illustration process and that the first 1-2 finished spreads usually cause the editor or illustrator to go back and do deep revisions of the other sketches. You might decide on specific style changes or to change or add an illustration narrative. I have found this to be true based on my style of working, though I can't attest to it globally.
This is how far I am with my most advanced dummy. So, the rest of the process is speculation at this point. But here is my plan:
I will now sketch out the entire book. Some things I will look for at this juncture are illustration pacing, double spreads vs. vinettes vs. single page, review illustration narrative is complete, and style consistency.
At this point, I will have a larger group of editors/readers review and provide feedback. Note that with google slides I can have feedback directly give in the tool or I can also simply PDF the document and solicit feedback through email.
Once satisfied I can create a PDF to start submitting to publishers. Here, I will need to do a few different things like preparing a cover letter, create a book synopsis, and move the text back into a true manuscript format. I am not sure what else as I haven't gotten this far yet.
I plan on also creating a physical dummy using www.blurb.com by choosing 8x10 as my size it should be relatively easy and cheap (<$10) to create these and I will be able to show them to any audience I meet in person. If you choose a different size the cost will increase as they are not the 'trade' size but still pretty reasonable.
@xin-li thanks for posting this. As you can see I LOVE building a process I can follow multiple times so I don't have to think about it again (and can focus on the creative work). This forced me to write it down and now I will be able to use it going forward!
@Braden-Hallett I like the idea of having the linework soften in the background. It really brings out the focal point of the piece.
I really "see" the hound because of the solid linework on him. I am wondering about the kid though. The lines are not as strong on him/her and I wonder if that is pushing them back? It almost feels like the dog is closer to the viewer.
You might want to think about your "rules" for line work to emphasize focal points and portray depth.
I do love where you are going with this style.
@animatosoor thanks. It has been really fun AND I am learning a lot.
It has has been very informative to learn how each illustrator handles differences in sex, age, situation, species, etc. And it some of that has gone into how I have been approaching characters in my world-building as well.
For example, most of the illustrators have much larger heads on their children than their adults. The adults tend to be proportioned 'closer' to reality (usually still very exaggerated but closer.) I have decided to do the same thing in my style. Children's heads are wider and their bodies are 1:1 with the head. For adults, I am using round heads and their bodies are usually 1.5x-2x the head height.
For another project, I am building out fantasy races and this comes even more into play as I am using proportions to help define the races. It is nice when one project informs and reinforces another project... got to love synergy.
Princess Leia was fun. I based these off of a reference piece. I noticed when I had finished sketching the one in Will Terry's style that I got the body all wrong and it should have been MUCH smaller.
But I am learning, and consistency is part of that...
@sigross thanks for giving me a good name for them. I am definitely charging more as they are 'woodcut prints' and hand-printed as well. But I didn't want to have to price them out of the market. Always a delicate balance.
It was funny though, I dropped this one off and I noticed the other didn't have a price tag? I asked the store owner and he said his price tags are super sticky so he was afraid to put one on the frame.
I think I will make him tags that do not stick for my pictures...
@Braden-Hallett there is navigation... it is just hidden behind the 3 dashes.
@aska it took me a minute to figure out that the menu existed. If you want people to get to your 'projects' or 'blog' pages you might want to make connections to them visible.
I do like the simplicity of it though. The site is not taking away from the artwork.
@Heather-Boyd asked to see all of the sketches that got me to this one.
I had 5 sketches and I let my family pick which one to finish. They were very split... which I think is a good thing.
I was surprised that the first sketch was the one to win out!
For my process, after the sketch was chosen I did an ink drawing using a .5 and .25 pen. I scanned that in and sent reversed and inverted it and sent it to the Glowforge to cut my woodcut plate. I then printed 18 of them (only about 12 were good enough to be in the edition) and then I chose one to watercolor. I used one of the misprints to test colors on.
I printed these on Arches hot-pressed watercolor paper, which is WONDERFUL! It worked great for both the printing and the water coloring. I use TomBow watercolor markers for the watercolor. Washes are put on with a brush and the shadows are put on with a TomBow blender. I like the TomBow markers because I am lazy and don't like to mix my own colors and I get very good color consistency with them.
Oh, and I also take the inked version and create the little wooden mini with it using the GlowForge.
@Braden-Hallett the gaming market is definitely interesting. As I was talking with the shop owner he was pretty excited about the idea of books as well. He has sold a few kids books already things like the 'DnD ABCs'.
I thought I would share. I just signed a consignment deal with a local game shop and I am planning on putting character design portraits at the shop.
For me, this is a great win as the world I have been writing and illustrating is very much a fantasy type world so my images fit right in with Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games. It will be great because I will be able to expand my characters in that world AND get paid for it.
I am going to do them all in a mixed woodcut print/watercolor style. I have been working towards this and I think this will also push my technique in that style.
Also, I will be able to print many of the images and watercolor each with different colors so each person gets a unique character. I will also cut a small figure for them to play RPG with the character as well with the Glowforge. The picture is about 4x4 and will be framed and matted in an 8x8 frame.
Here is the first image, let me know what you think, any feedback for improvements on the image is welcome. I plan on doing quite a few of these.
@TessaW thanks for the response.
I liked 6 for a similar reason because it provides a very different feel than the previous as the 2 ideas are very different on the 2 pages.
I really like what you did with combining #9 & #10. Thank you so much for taking the time to re-draw it. I think I like it better than 9 or 10 individually. I was really drawn to the 'underground' view for some reason but struggled to make it work.
Great feedback, thanks again.