This is a central image of the book, where one scene runs directly into another. Putting the normal margin round it felt wrong, so I have decided to put the two pictures together, even though they are different scenes. This is the only place in the book that I have done this. The reasons are twofold: the aesthetic feels better like this, and the emotional element of the story feels more direct. It is a problem to set up a double-page spread in this manner because the margin between the pages may not print exactly right – but there is a 3mm bleed tolerance; and also, since the book is going to be perfect-bound, there won’t be a staple in the middle, which would exaggerate a mismatch. So hey, that’s the way it is going to be.
I have now done the cover, complete with lettering, and it is in my especial folder on my desktop to be put in disc, and taken up to Spittal for a pre-print meeting, where I will check the cover for size; and also check the colours in other scans. I have made two copies of the cover scans, as it is easy to misuse them. For instance, if you set uptext using Acrobat, if you take the file back into Photoshop for any reason, the lettering gets stripped off. I can’t use Photoshop lettering for the final scans as the main printer won’t recognise it.
The scans are all done now, except for one double page which I have decided to print without borders, even though the design does not cross over the page, as it is a crucial scene in the book which the borders alienate somehow. The above illustrations seem to go together OK, though having painted the two separately there is this slight disjunct. However, I am going with this as part of the atmosphere of the book. There are old-fashioned elements which I am aware of, and which I actually like.
In a week or so there will be a pre-print meeting, when I shall find out how the colours reproduce on their machines. When painting on a white ground it was necessary to reduce the magenta (using Photoshop) but I think the colours work differently on the brown. I have put the words on to these scans in Photoshop, so as to get the spacing right; but once I have seen the printers, I shall move the scans over to Acrobat for putting on the final lettering. This will all come off the scans if I take them back into Photoshop, so it is obviously necessary to get the colours reading right before I create the final scans and put them on disc.
The first process is nearly finished, now I shall have to apply myself to the publicity and the selling process; but one thing at a time….
One of the most difficult things to do has been to decide on the page structure of The Midnight Hare. This is one of the few double pages where the words are not integrated into the pictures. I have fiddled around with the width of the margins, and have settled on something in the region of 9mm/10mm, with a 3mm bleed. I would have liked to have the margins even smaller, but because of setting up the images with the bleed all round, I think I underestimated how narrow 8mm would be. I have not had any straight edges round the paintings, this is deliberate, I wanted a hand-made feel, so the pictures were spilling into the surrounding background, rather than the brown acting as a frame. I did a lot more work to these two pictures, which has made them more vivid, so I am quite pleased about this. I shall start putting on the text next week, for which I need to use Adobe Acrobat.
Most of the scans are now done, and I am testing out two pages set against each other. Usually I would work on a double page spread, but because of the paper I chose, which was in smallish blocks, and also due to having a worktable that is quite small and always totally covered with layers of stuff (all being used), I did the illustrations on separate pieces of paper. This is really not to be advised, but is producing some interesting juxtapositions. Anyway, the book is what it is, by now. The borders on the finished pictures will be narrower than in this example, as I don’t want too much brown in the book. These scans are a touch hectic in colour, but this may tone down when they are full size, and in CYMK format. I shall check this when I go up to the printers for a pre-print meeting. What I do feel cheerful about is that I have learned so much, so far, and have a lot more to learn, which is all to the good.
A completely new idea for the logo – a small pen and ink figure drawn on grey paper, lightly coloured, then isolated from the background and set against a moon and sky set up on the computer. This will be very small, obviously; but I think it works much better than an earlier attempt. It shows up OK in black and white. The Moonwuzo is a character from an earlier book, “Old Merlaine”, which was published by Heinemann some years past. I have been working on an illustrated dedication, and a small oval for the last page of the book, and then all the imagery is finished. Most of the scans have now been done, though they need some cleaning up and then the words will be laid over the imagery, in most cases. Hoping to get “The Midnight Hare” to the printers within the next few weeks.
The scanned pictures for the book are now nearly all stored as pdfs on the computer, ready for the text to be laid on to them with Adobe Acrobat. There has been a need to clean up some of the colours as the brown paper used has a ridge on it which traps the top layer of colour and produces a stripy effect. It was quite fun trying to eliminate this, but in some paintings melding the colours produced too bland an outcome. My Wacom tablet has been useful for adding details, and all sorts of clever programs on Photoshop have enabled me, for instance, to lay the painted words of the invisible Midnight Hare on to the picture, without my painting them directly on to the paper.
The text is finished, so that is the next thing to deal with. There are of course imponderables, not knowing how accurate my scanner will be when the scans are taken to the printers. On the whole I deduct some of the magenta and brighten slightly. There will be a preliminary meeting with the printers before the book goes to press, when we can hopefully sort out these subtle matters. I have found it necessary to concentrate on one element at a time whilst getting this book to publication; having a kind of loose deadline for the printing is a useful spur.
This is the first page that as been set up to print, original in PDF, though this is a jpeg. It will be necessary to go over to Adobe Acrobat to put in the text, then store on the desktop until the book is put on to disc. I have thought for a long time about how to present The Midnight Hare, as most of the words are to be incorporated in the paintings; and I have decided to go for a rough edge – this takes far more time, as the Photoshop magic wand doesn’t really work with this, as the margins aren’t that clean, and it is inclined to pick up colour in the painting itself. However, I like the hand-made look. The new scanner has arrived, the blues are coming out fine, and not breaking up as they did before. The skies will need work on the computer to eliminate some of the stripeness, which comes from the paper, but a little bit of this is OK, I think it adds to the slightly crafted look, rather than having a shiny, hard-edged appearance. It is a relief to have decided on the method, now there is a lot of hard work ahead.
The blue tints seem to have worked OK on this picture of the Midnight Hare and Milo flying off above the wood. I overlaid them with various other colours and smoothed them with water, so obviously there is this one particular colour, pale cyan, that the scanner breaks up alarmingly when it is laid directly on the brown background. We came back today with the winter sun glaring straight in our eyes, and I was seeing fleeting patches of magenta and cyan and a kind of mustard yellow all over everything for a while. There was a whiteness to the sun itself and the glare surrounding it, and it made me consider cooling down the yellow in this illustration. On the other hand, the yellow works against the whiteness of the hare; and also enlivens the page, which can get too subdued with the strength of the brown as a base.
I have started to load illustrations for The Midnight Hare on to my scanner at 600dpi, which is the size I use for material to be printed; and blow me down, the scanner resolutely refuses to print out the pale cyan that I have used on several pages in the book, other than in random blotches. In the end I changed the colours, and the illustration on the left is how I will leave it. There are problems working on brown paper with gouache, neocolor and crayon, especially as the paper is supposed to be for pastels. However, the somewhat subdued tones quite please me – I shall have to work out something else for the skies, but at least I have come across the problem now rather than when the book is ready to go to print. Probably quite fortunate that much of the book takes place at night, as pale cyan isn’t much of a night-shade. How spoilt one is, with new technology – times past, one’s work came out in virulent shades, created by expensive machinery; whereas now all I have to do is sit here and fool around with crayons and the computer. Nice.