The scans are finished, and to help the printers I am sending off this mock-up of the book, just to help set up the pages, and in case there is a muddle with the scans which I am sending over the internet. The notebook has the rubber band round it because the images I stuck on with Pritt have filled up the book so that it is gaping at the edges. The other good reason for doing a mock-up like this is it helps to see misprints, punctuation, continuity. You’d think with a scant 500/600 words there was not that much room for error, especially taking into account how many times I have looked at the text; but they still occur, from those slippery typos, to the sudden understanding of how ridiculous a sentence sounds, ie. “Leave my hare alone.”  Maybe one of my rare visits to the hairdressers made me notice this. Anyway, now off with the motley and on with the donkey work.




The Midnight Hare


The colour proofs have come back from the printer, they were sent over the Internet and returned by snail mail, and look fine.  Painting on coloured ground with gouache has surprisingly produced far less problems than painting on white with water-colour.  The grain in the paper does not interfere too much, as I have got rid of it on Photoshop in the places where it was creating a stripy effect on the protagonists which I did not like, and in the sky, where it looked all wrong; but the breaking up of the colour in the rest of the background feels mostly OK.  This image above is the last page of the book.

Now the colour proofs are done,  I shall put the text on to the scans. I note that in the above text there should be a comma after “lane” – I was setting this up temporarily from memory rather than the actual text. I also had a line in a pivotal point in the story: “LEAVE MY HARE ALONE!” but suddenly realised that, read out loud, this sounded a bit ridiculous, especially from a boy for whom the comb is obviously not felt to be much of a necessity.

Now I am going to have to put my mind on to practical elements. Meanwhile another story is brewing in the background. There is an Owl. And a Heroine. I think.


The Midnight Hare: the cover

COVERBACKandfrontfeb6newlogoand textokThere are a couple of elements left to sort out with this: I need to put the ISBN number on the back on the right-hand side; and I will possibly use a different font for my name (possibly Boldoni) as I don’t like the way the “L” doesn’t slope in the italic script.

Doing the cover has been worrying me for ages. The book is being perfect-bound, so I need to have a strip for the back spine. To make sure this was accurate, I used the same dusky red brown as the wider strip but paled it out on Photoshop, so there was not much disparity between the darker and the lighter red, but it gave me an accurate guideline for laying on the lettering on the spine. I was quite pleased with this solution.

I took the reviews from books that were published by Orchard Books quite a time ago, so I had to check the sources were still extant, which they were. I was amused that the spelling of one of the reviewers on the original books was spelt wrong – glad I looked it up!

I should have done the cover months ago, as the front should be used for publicity purposes.  I will probably get some postcards made of the cover, with information on the back; or else get a kind of card made using both sides of the cover, and then have some information on the inside, which would be a more expensive, but I think more attractive option. Since much of the information would therefore be given by the two-sided card, I could write other information in by hand, which would accord with the self-publishing element, and would give me more leeway about the information I offered.

The printing costs are not going to ruin me; however, I won’t think about doing another book until I get my printing costs back – the other costs I will ignore until I have to tot them up for my tax return…

The Midnight Hare pp.20 and 21


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 Midnight Hare: putting on the text


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….

The Midnight Hare: pages 17 and 18


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.

The Midnight Hare: Flying Home


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.

The Midnight Hare, pages 6 and 7

pp6and7The 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.