31 March 2006

How To Make A Book part one: History and Early Stages


For the past three years I've marked my daughter's birthday by making her a book. The first year it was almost an accident - I started making a card and it unexpectedly grew to eight pages (one for each year of her life) so I made a front and back cover, stuck the pictures on cardboard to make pages then stitched the pages together to make a book.

Back then, I'd been doodling for about three months, had limited materials, experience and knowledge and painted with old waterpaints onto typing paper (just about the least suitable medium for anything wet unless you're planning to paint on toilet roll). The whole thing, from initial idea to completed book, probably took me less than two weeks.

Last year's book was an altogether more ambitious project. I started work on it in November 2004 and at the time it wasn't intended as the next birthday book, it was just my second project using my new gouache paints as I settled into my new home in Liverpool. The story was semi-improvised from an idea that had been knocking around the dusty backshelves of my imagination since I was about ten. My first friend really was a bee I rescued from near our bramble and I often imagined myself a fighter-pilot on the back of a bee, flying it like a plump furry spitfire. After I had drawn the first four or five pages I realised it would work well as a children's story and decided to make it the next birthday book.


For this year's book, I raised my sights even higher. Throughout the year, I kept a spare eye on illustrated children's books to see what did and didn't work, what I did and didn't like and how I could fir those observations to my style of illustration and narrative. The main thing I realised was that small focussed on me, the father/writer, whereas the best children's stories focus on a child. Alright, small was a child in the flashback that made up most of the story but it starts and finishes when he is less small, the adult. The centre of the stories I liked best (and also the stories my daughter likes best) starts out as a child and ends up as a child, even if they've grown up a little in the process. So I had to make the book a lot less dad-focussed and a lot more daughter focussed. A dad figure could be involved, but he has to be an object rather than a subject, and he has to be less knowing, less wise, less in control than the daughter figure who is telling the story.

Towards the end of 2005, as I began to mentally arrange my general thoughts about the pending book and search for specific story ideas, I learned of lulu, a company that allows creators such as myself to self-publish our work without going to the expense of large print runs. Straight away I decided to use them for the next birthday book. Now all I needed was to come up with an idea.

(How To Make A Book continues in part two: Ideas)

28 March 2006

mothers day

(A mother's day card. As it was in the meatspace, late. Meaning nothing unless you've read this book...)


(Stop Press: the book actually arrived this very morning - you can buy your own copy at my lulu storefront...)

23 March 2006

And another one...

I'm waiting for the book to arrive - it's being posted from USA and lulu reckons that can take anything between 14 and 30 days so it could arrive next week or next month and meantime my behaviour is that you'd normally associate with an almost dad pacing the corridor outside the delivery room (except, being thoroughly modern, I was in the delivery room when the trope was reversed - and in the operating theatre for the emergency c-section). When the book arrives I should be able to start getting my head round the 'How to make a book' series of posts I've been threatening you with for the last x weeks AND I'll put a link in the sidebar so you can buy your own copy. For now, here are smaller, lossy versions of the front and back covers...



(Any of you who've been around here for some time may notice that I've recycled one of the review gags on the back cover - sorry!)

21 March 2006

Semi-thwarted? ...and the rest of the free mobile phone wallpaper

Well, if you have a gander down the right hand side of the screen you should see that a few changes have taken place. There would and should be more changes but the fing what fwarted me t'other day has fwarted me again! It worked for a bit, then it didn't, then it didn't again and now it's not working at all. I just hope I'm able to post the rest of the free mobile phone wallpaper that I remembered to stick on the cd at last...

snow joke1smallformobppbydad
homelessgouachegogbannercrucified santa
boxing day

(So if you can see 13 mobile wallpaper images here then I guess I was. Able.)

19 March 2006

Mice and Men (or Ghosts and Suns)

I had intended to spend this afternoon/evening (with rare access to a decent broadband connection ) updating my blogger template to incorporate the various new blog graphics stuffed onto the CDRW I brung along with me but guess what? The otherwise brilliantly reliable (and best of all, completely gratis) blogger chose this pm to have a spat and not let me. Bah! I go home hungry, tired, grumpy, the work I had intended to do completely undone. I leave you with these samples of the stuff of which I type and hope I get chance to do what I wanted to do next time...


12 March 2006

Mobile GoG

Have you noticed how magazines and newspapers have adverts for expensive graphics for your mobile phone? Well you can have mine for free - jusr right click the image and save it. You'll need a cable to connect your pc to your mobile. My mobile always has some image of mine as its wallpaper and here are a load of recent and less-recent examples for you to help youself to...

elvy6formob copymovingpicsformob copy

More when I remember to put em on cd.

The Second Flight of Plucky Ducky

I did a new logo for the book (which just needs to be uploaded to lulu, converted, printed and delivered but that's not as simple and straightforward as it sounds)and here it is...


I extracted 'Plucky Ducky' from the blue sky to create a miniature, skyless version for the copyright page, thus...


(Except the miniature version is quite a bit smaller, obviously!)

8 March 2006

Once again, a wee preview of the book...


...or more paint doodles/accidental art/whatever you wanna call em.

I've now scanned all the paintings for my book and they're sitting on my hard disk waiting for the miracle of modern DTP to turn them into an illustrated narrative (or summat) and these were all the splodges of oddness I managed to ransack from the margins, edges and borders.

The observant amongst my reader may have noticed that some such doodles have already found homes in the less-impermanent neighbourhoods of this page.

At the moment, the little bloke below is my favourite but I haven't the foggiest what to do with him...


5 March 2006

Still busy painting illustrations for the book...

...but very close to finishing. Only one and a half paintings left to do. Then all the scanning, dtp-ing etc to magically transform 20-odd odd illustrations into a spiffing children's book. After that I need to paint a realistic gnome for somebody else's book cover (and hope the book is published), finish the leaving present and start work on another children's book idea that started camping in my head a few weeks ago. Sadly I haven't done owt new for here though so you'll have to make do with this illustration.


Stop by soon for a series of posts explaining how to make a book from only universal sparks. And paper. And some pencils, ink, gouache, a pc, and the wwworld.