Sunday, 10 February 2013

Making books 11: cover mockup

I really love linework, and was a bit at odds with what to do with this cover as i'd originally wanted a landscape book rather than portrait, but portrait is a little more affordable than landscape in the end.
[But landscape has more scope for arty looking pieces. A4 portrait is a butt ache.]

I didn't really have an original idea for what I wanted at all, but doing an original character with no basis in my comics is hard as I feel I can't give them enough of a living feeling.
when I first came up with the concept of the collected sketchbook- I'd wanted to include colour pages, which with the printer I'd chosen ended up being not possible. This situation evolved to the current point where the printer I've chosen CAN do colour, but I've decided I'd work in making a specialized colour artwork book at a later date, and as a sister book to the one I'm currently making. It also meant I could do two versions of covers- one whose theme was linework like the contents, and one which was in full colour.

So this is the linework version.

I'd gone through a few themes in my head for this, running through lists of things I'd really love to draw. I always have problems putting backgrounds. I can draw them, with a bit of a prod generally, but I hate putting them in because I don't feel I get the right amount of starkness or impact I want. I'll need to work on that and practice just drawing in backgrounds until I work out the right balance. >_<

In this case, I decided I'd draw in a reef to go crazy with sea creatures and stuff. And then I ended up choosing humbug fish for their lovely rotund black and white shapes.

... and then i hit a point when i was happy with it even though I hadn't drawn what I'd intended... Which makes my skin crawllll with failed intent. I shouldn't really as I still got what I wanted [A cover] but i think i'll end up rolling my sleeves up later this year and having a bash at the failed intended drawing.

still, I like the resulting pic. [I didn't get an isbn in the end because I hate the barcode regs and stuff you need to put on the covers. Making a book that is technically a not-book offically means I can do whatever I like on the covers :p [Including not putting the title on it. ]

There are good points to getting officially published [circulation] and there are good points to messing about making your own books. :)

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


A little while ago, Nich Angell, author of the 7string comic suggested a bunch of us comikers working together to make a card game, and here it is! [I think it's basically top trumps with a bunch of the main characters from our comics, - mine are Meths and Maria!]

Nich will have a few packs available at his table at LSCC at £12 a pack but if you are interested in any, please let me know as I can order them in for you to pick them up off my table. Please do this quickly as we are prepping pack orders immediately, and will need to know to have orders sorted for LSCC. [I can arrange availablility at other cons I'm going to as well.]  contact me at naniiebimhbd[at]

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Making Books: 10

A few long days this week [already!] as I had a bunch of commissions and jobs to do. I managed to get a  good chunk of my pages for the ZERO sketchbook checked up, but I also had another project to collect together a second page reference book for a comic I'd drawn for another company a year ago. As it was sitting like a large toad on my desk top since January started, I thought I'd better just get it sorted and out of the way then go back to ZERO.

Books to make:
OM 2 Ref book- this week
ZERO sketchbook- end of Feb
M5- 2013

I've run out of printer ink so can't make my second dummy at the mo -_-;; so I'll have to just format my pages instead and wait til ink arrives by post.

I have some cover ideas  for ZERO too so I can continue with that. Otherwise, it's been pretty hard to start up drawing for several weeks now -_-;;

Have decided on a printer in mind for the project now. I made my decision on Saturday and contacted and got the final sorts of specs and formats off them on Monday.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Making books :9 Dummy book

Well, putting printers aside for the moment- I'll show you my weird book making process. Remember the sheets of post-its with thumbnails a few posts back?

 I rearranged them in groups and in the order i wanted to have them read in. There are 4 sections in the book- Fanart. Original, comics and Mephistos. I then reformatted them paired up in page order with their page numbers. This lets you check out neighbouring pages and see which ones to match across two pages if necessary. It also lets you drop into place your inbetween and title pages.

[As everything is on post its, you can stick and unstick to rearrange too]
This helps for the next part- formatting:

First- I make up the page size- in this case, I opened a new file on international page sizes to A4. I then added an extra 3mm bleed on each side using canvas sizing. [If you add the extra using another background palette colour in photoshop- you can see where the bleed borders are on the first background layer- you can then use a guide to section it off. I also put guide on a 1cm safe area around the page as well.

I next added a plain white background layer for the page. I name it by the page number I'm using [say 64 like in the photo] and started finding the images i needed for that page. Having marked these out with the folder number and  which other pics are sharing the space, It's really just a matter of rearranging them.
At this stage I don't threshold or flatten everything as I'm just checking continuity, and I'll need to clean up the pictures as well.

I then continue creating the rest of the page layers in order.

Next part is to print in order. I usually do this a page at a time, running them through the printer for each page side. the end product is a lifesize book you can check though. I'm a bit rubbish at guaging pages on screen, so i much prefer seeing them in analogue, but you really don't have to do this. A lot of my comiking process though includes checking a print version to check read and flow and to see if the art is ok in real life.

Anyway, this version isn't printed on the best paper- [it's pretty thin] so it's not the way it would look in the final process, but I can now mark my edits and and write in any notes i want to include in the book.

Here's a video flickthrough of the contents of the book-

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Making books:8: Printers II

Still doing some research on this, with the unfortunate problem that each printer has something specific I would like [sewn signatures/ short print run/ ideal pricing to budget], but none of them have it in combination. Bit frustrating.

2nd in low cost- sent me a lovely paper sample book which contains printing on different papers by their colour and greyscale digital paper which is great! [All printers should make this booklet. REALLY] Only thing is their hard back binder is a different company and it costs £4.75 per book to be bound.

Most expensive so far which gave me their short run wibalin and jacket cost, not a printed paper case cost, so trying to get a second estimate off them. Then it'll be wrangling samples time.

3rd has the problem of being the 3rd in terms of cost, but containing all the mod cons except- the lowest print run is 250. I don't think i could do these numbers unless i have at least 150 pre-orders. I also have this one earmarked for another print, so it would be nice to test them out really.

Not heard back from my first printer [if you remember my FLIPDESK from the other day- it's for more complex reasons than printing... but still from my side of it, it's not going well.]

Anyway- well, so far, sorting out a lot of print and postcard/bookmark printing and did a load of photo ref printings, and sorting out a few comms.

I've really been a bit too busy otherwise to do much drawing.

Just as a feeler, who would be interested in a 200 page hardback of my sketchwork from 2008-2012 [it's black and white with colour cover] for £40-£50 in limited edition [either 100 or 250 at this stage] ? Please comment if you're interested :/ 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Making books:7: Printers

I've researched my fair share of printers, and there are MANY. There are advantages to finding ones in this country [You can communicate! Shipping is ok and usually included in the price!] and advantages to overseas printers. [They do so much more stuff without going >H< at your specs.]

Most of my contacts are in the UK, and actually I have a number of printers depending on the item I print. Each has it's own advantage and disadvantage, and I build up a working relationship with each one.

At the moment, I'm looking into hardback books. Unfortunately all of the printers I use are either too expensive or don't specialize in it. I'm researching both short and long[ish] run printers for different projects. It's a long process. I've just spent weeks trying to work out if I could work with one, and I'm getting to the point of going back to the beginning and  having to research other printers.
Ok, as a client, I'm nit-picky, so part of the blame is mine, but having cut down my ideal book printing specs [A4 landscape with a few colour pieces] to A4 portrait just plain black and white [they could only do either the full book mono or full book colour], I'm starting to go with the gut feeling I had at the start about the printer which is- I'm not sure we click.
So, I'm starting to look into more printers and see what is available, and maybe get something that might be able to work with the preferred specs I wanted.

Anyway- you spend a long time doing this sort of research, and it's worthwhile finding ones that work exactly right for you. It's different for each person. Also- it can be frustrating. Be aware of this if you're one of the people [Who I may not know very well at all] who flippantly ask me what printer I use and will I tell them so they can use them.

I'm not kidding, I'm generally holding back the urge to punch you. -H-

I know you're just asking for advice, but from my point of view, you're asking for a shortcut I've spent time looking into and gambled money on... I'd not get anything back from you for doing this. Most people I've talked to about this - NEVER SPEAK TO ME AGAIN. I don't get thanks- I get competition.

All the same- this is what I suggest- look up stuff on the internet- find out the sort of books you would like to make. Google the printers who do them. Spend some time contacting them for estimates [make sure you ask if delivery and VAT are inclusive for any sort of printing, VAT is sort of there or not there depending on the printed item.]  and get sample printing sent to you. you'll simply eventually find something that works for what you need.

Anyway- I LOVE making my own books. It's why i spend so much time and effort on it, even though a publisher would take a lot of the work doing this off me. But it's something I'm passionate about, and I feel disappointed if you say you WANT to make books, but you don't spend the energy and time working out how to do it yourself. It's a process I think is necessary to really produce nice stuff.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Making books: Part 6

I spent some time the last few days choosing images and placing them to the number of pages I had specified to my book specs.

200 A4 pages to play about with.

Anyway- it's been a long job as I'd whittled down to about 400 images all different sizes and subjects which needed organising and paired up to fit in groups on a page or singly.

I decided to print them out and do this by hand. Even though it's fiddly, I can just do this bit so much faster by hand and eye than digitally on a comp.

Printouts of thumbnails of all the images I'm going to have in the sketchbook.
These are set up in date order by years. 2008-2012

Cut out and sorted into different subjects-
Mephistos/ Comics/ Original/ Fanart

Similar times and subjects are paired up stuck onto a post-it so I can swap them around later when I start setting up the page order format.

Roughly paired up. At this point I may still have to swap images around if they don't pair up well on an A4 page when I start making the pages in photoshop.

A large chunk of all the page thumbnails!

I managed to get up to  176 of these today- I'm going to spend some time later working out what inbetween/ content/ empty/ title pages i need then start seeing what i need to fill out. As a sketchbook, I didn't want to have too many big one page images as I want it to feel a bit more crowded.