I had to go to a bookbinding workshop in order to bind the pages I had printed off myself, and although I had done this once before, I still found it tricky. I’ve usually been pleased with the end result, but as I’m making a book I tend to doubt myself and struggle to see how the finished product may appear. The same was true in this case.
I have attached some photos of the process underneath, and annotated them.
It’s a process that I find stressful in trying to align everything perfectly- yet I realise that it is extremely difficult to do, and in some way this can be a manually bound book’s appeal. It seems to me a lot like cooking, in how sometimes you have a wait a while, and others you have to be very fast. I took quite a while trying to make my book correctly, but I think I would speed up with more practice. It is a process I would like to try again, if I find a good opportunity to use it. I would like to find time to experiment with it in my own time, to try the different techniques (such as box-stitches etc).
As well as the glue being tricky to control, because of how messy it was, I had a lot of trouble in trying to cut out parts with a retractable knife. Also, despite measuring it with 3mm either side and 5mm less for the spine, I ended up with only just enough card for the covers, to actually cover my pages. But in the end they seemed to work, and I think the slight thickness of the cover material helped with this slightly.
I have an interest in the culture of native americans, and of totem/spirit animals in general. Through researching illustrative styles, I came across illustrations of spirit animals, so this captured my interest. I began to explore this theme, and I found the game Never Alone. I chose to base my story heavily on Never Alone’s, but I didn’t want to spoil the game’s story for myself, as I was interested in playing it. Nor did I want to blatantly copy it.
I researched Inupiat native american folklore, in order to get an idea of how I might create the middle and end of my story. Through this, I was able to create an informed world. I also thought a fantasy-like story would be interesting to illustrate, as there’s room for experimentation.
I looked for visual styles which could resemble a blizzard and native american art styles. I felt watercolour would work well, because of the possible techniques. I had never used it before however, so had to research techniques and experiment. This was difficult because of a lack of time, and I would’ve liked to practice more.
Despite this, I think my illustrations were successful; my feedback has been that people like how they look, and that they like the way I have communicated the blizzard. It was hard to use the watercolours sometimes, due to their unpredictable nature. Especially when I tried to ‘take paint away’ in order to create lighter/white areas or lines, for the text to sit in front of and to communicate the wind. I would’ve liked to have used salt, but through experimentation found it too complicated and difficult to time correctly. Although unpredictability was good in how it gave an organic quality.
I also learnt not to put pages that aren’t a double-spread image on the same paper, incase I need to move one of the pages. I had to move one in Photoshop, to give my type more room on my InDesign document. This meant patching up the blank top by copying similar parts of the paper onto it. But I was pleased with my drawings, because I managed to maintain consistency, something I was worried I would struggle with. Using tissue paper as a basic guide for scale definitely helped, and it is something I have learnt as a technique.
Tried using the white paint to cover up part, to draw characters on to.
It worked only very slightly, and wasn’t very good for this typical kind of cartridge paper – it broke the surface of the paper easily if rubbed too much.
I liked the effect of using the masking tape to stop the paint from going where I didn’t want it, although it didn’t look especially organic like snow (with folds and curves), and it also had marks on the side, so bled into the painting. I did however quick like this effect, but it wasn’t what I wanted for this piece.
Further tests + equipment
Decided to try just the ‘blizzard’ on its own. But the background was very empty this way.
Tried to mask out the already-drawn girl, to prevent paint colouring her.
I applied too much pressure when cutting the masking tape however, and the cartridge paper was also cut a bit, despite trying to be careful.
Held the paper this way, to have the paint run in this direction for effect. I put salt crystals on it, hoping they would have a moving effect, like falling snow in a blizzard.
The salt didn’t really work however, and I believe this was because I used more water than paint.
I bought watercolour paper and tested the girl character on it – I decided I really liked how this character test came out, and so I would aim to recreate it!
Drawing out some of the first pages on the watercolour paper. (I made them slightly larger than 180mm so that I would have excess to make it smaller, rather than bigger which could decrease it’s quality when scanned)
I used tissue paper as tracing paper, to help with continuity and placement/scale. Especially useful for the pages I made as double page spreads, which had the same background.
I really liked how I was able to create the lighter/white curved lines inside the blizzard ‘stream’ here. It was hard to get to work due to timing, for other images.
I printed out my cover image this way to know how to make the back cover carry on from it.
I was at first going to trace the cover and carry it on, but I figured out that this may be harder, because I would have to draw it to the EXACT proportions of 180mm.
Instead, I simply tried to line up the front and back as best as I could, by placing the finished front cover to the right of the back cover’s paper. Considering this I believe it turned out well, because it does seem to have a continuity to it.