It seems like a few people were confused over my last update, believing that all my illustration work was done. Actually, I'd finished all the drawing and painting, but there was still all the digital compositing and editing and cutting out that needed to be done on many illustrations, which took the last couple of months.
But now, today, as of just this minute, ALL of the illustrations for the colour book are done.
I'm currently uploading them to my editor, and I expect she'll have the layout back to me within a week. Which means we'll be only a few steps away from getting a proof from Lightning Source, and then THE BOOK!
It is with a great amount of relief and joy and relief and pleasure (and relief, did I mention relief?) that I can finally announce I've finished all the drawing and hand-painting work on all the illustrations. There's still a fair amount of editing to be completed, so it's not quite so huge an announcement as saying everything is done, but the end is certainly very much in sight now.
Today I also wanted to share with you a bit of an overview of how much work is involved in each illustration. For this book I've been working in a hybrid traditional and digital way, doing both pencils and watercolours by hand and then compiling them digitally. Although I'm very comfortable working exclusively traditionally, I find this hybrid style produces an end result that is cleaner and crisper for printing, but still retains the charm and texture of traditional work.
Everything starts with a sketch. Then another. And another. Then I decide none of them are right, make a cup of tea, and do several more. Eventually, a sketch emerges that I'm happy with.
I use thin paper (not quite tracing, but semi-transparent) and draw my final pencils on new paper. This is something I do whenever I have multiple characters or a lot of action. If the initial sketch is simple enough, I will usually do the final drawing directly over it.
Using a photocopy and transfer paper, I transfer the pencils onto watercolour paper, then paint in with watercolours. I then scan both the pencils and colours in.
I make the pencil layer transparent and touch up the watercolour layer so it fits to the lines. I add shading and another digitally inked layer. If the illustration has no background, this will also mean cutting out everything around the colour and pencil layers, and re-pencilling the outlines on the whole drawing. I'm feeling slightly tired just thinking about how many drawings I've done this to.
Extremely important: tea break.
Colour balancing, more inking, checking against previous drawings for consistency, possibly a dash more tea, tweaks and formatting.
All in all, the whole process for each image takes 12+ hours. I had honestly thought when I first started that the smaller vignettes would be quicker and easier, but as I continued to draw I realised they needed just as much attention and detail as the larger spreads. As the work progressed, I also returned to many of the earlier images to touch them up, add more detail or, in some cases, redo them completely.
I know this has taken a lot longer than I predicted, and I am grateful for everyone's patience. We're on the home stretch now!
Illustrations for chapter 8 have just been finished, and what an adventure it was! A kind gaoler's daughter, a daring day-light jailbreak, fleeing on a steam-train... it was a great chapter to work on. Four more to go!
New Book-Putting-Together Person!
That's right! I am very pleased to announce the appointment of an Editor/Graphic Designer who is going to work with me on the production side of things to get everything ready for print: the very wonderful Alex Hurst. As an Editor/Designer she has worked on magazines, books and websites, and regularly puts together anthologies of independent writer's work in Writer's Anarchy.
This is a huge boost for the book, as it means there will be a faster turn-around and a very professional product. She is super-excited to be a part of the project, too!
As promised, here is the second in my blog series about the design processes I've been going through to produce these illustrations. This next one is about the cars, probably the most difficult piece of design work I've done so far (and certainly the one that has gone through the most variations!)