The Book

Posted by on Oct 20, 2017 in Blog | No Comments

I’ve been working on my book a bit the past week. Here’s a quick recap of the journey…

I wrote a partial prose/partial graphic novel at the end of 2014. I had wanted to write a novel that my daughter, who was a reluctant reader, would like. I actually completed the writing in a relatively short period of time and had rough thumbnails with captions in place so that my daughter (then ten) and I could read it together. She gave it a big thumbs up! I realized that the graphic novel sections were too compressed, so in 2015, I reworked the thumbnails so that they were more spread out and also refined the thumbnail drawings a bit, which took a huge amount of time. In 2016, I scanned the drawings onto my computer and figured out my approach for the final illustrations.

I am not a comic artist, nor a sketch artist and I typically draw very slowly, if I draw at all. I decided that I could get my ideas across with very simple line drawings that hopefully would appeal to my prime audience –the 8-12 year old girl. Even then, the process for me to create these simple drawings is a very slow one. In 2016 I got busy with other projects and so the book stalled.

But now I am going to try and move forward, albeit slowly, when I can find time here and there. Truth be told, I got the book out and onto my desk because my painting studio has been uninhabitable the past 10 days. My studio is in my unsealed garage and the air in the bay area from the horrific Northern Californian fires has been just awful and very unhealthy. My studio smelled like a chimney and I was finally able to fully air it out yesterday. Being in Novato, I was not close enough to be directly affected by the fires, and I am, of course, so thankful to have a studio and a house when so many people have lost everything. The good news is the weather has been improving for the firefighters and we even had some rain last night and they expect full containment of all of the fires in the next few days. But it has, and will continue to be, so heartbreaking for so many.

Back to the book… I think the biggest leap I made this week is realizing that I am okay with the limitations I have as a “comic” artist. For me, I need reference material to be able to draw accurately. But since there are multiple poses and figures on each page, I simply don’t have the time to even try and find or create reference sources. I mostly need to be able to draw from imagination, using only the occasional reference if need be. So in my final drawings, I am refining the 25% enlarged thumbnails in pencil first (the final line work will be shrunk on the computer to improve quality). I then use fine micron pens to outline the drawings. And then I re-ink most of the lines to get a varied thick-thin quality. I have decided that if my line is wobbly or extends beyond a line or if I make a mistake, I’m just going to leave it. If it bothers me when I am completely finished I can always fix it on the computer later when I will also add text and color–which will be another huge endeavor–but that’s another story. I’m just trying to evoke an expression or movement or set the scene and not be too fussed by accurate proportions and details. I am already discovering that there is a certain quirkiness to these drawings that I like. And my daughter, now 13, thinks they’re really good. My goal is to be happy with the overall look and not pick apart each drawing. Quantity over quality. Not usually the way I think!

Click for a slightly larger view