Today I have been back in the studio, making a start on the remaining bits of artwork needed to finish off Dragon's Dinner. You may remember, I posted most of the artwork to the publisher nearly 2 weeks ago.
I thought I had only the cover left, but the Designer told me last week that we now have the money to have coloured endpapers - a rare treat - so that means I need to do some artwork for them too. The endpapers, for anyone who doesn't know, are the pages stuck down to the cover at either end, anchoring it to the inside pages. I had originally thought that I would do a sketch of the animals in the story being chased across the bottom of the pages by the dragon (into the book on the front endpaper, and then out of the book on the final one) which would be printed in line only, like above. We have decided that I will do much the same thing, but in the pastels, like the rest of the book.
I'm doing the cover artwork first though, as there's a bit of a tight deadline, and that's the more important piece. It needs to be ready in time for the publisher to take a proof of the book to a big trade fair in Frankfurt in October, where publishers from around the world meet and try to negotiate foreign editions of their up-coming books.
As you can see, I draw on pink paper. This is because the paper has to have a texture to hold on to the pastel properly, which means that you can usually see tiny spots of the paper colour through the chalk, even when it's finished. If you work onto white, this looks terrible, whereas pink is a handy mid-tone and adds a subtle warmth to all the drawings. It's a lovely texture too, that makes the printed illustrations look a bit different. If anyone is interested in having a go at pastels, the paper I use is Canson Tientes, available in most art supply shops, and it comes in loads of different colours.
When the line-drawing was done, I sprayed it with fixative. This is because I will quickly obscure the lines with chalk, as soon as I put the pastel background in (you always do the main background colours first). So what I then do, is carefully rub back the areas where there are to be animals etc, re-exposing my guidelines just enough to see what I am doing. But if I forget to fix the line before I start, that rubs out too!
I have tacked the prepared paper to my drawing board with masking tape in each corner, ready to start colouring with the pastels, and stuck the print-out of the line drawing alongside, as an additional guide. I have asked the publisher to return a couple of key pieces (ones showing similar images), which I will also tack to my board. This is to use as colour reference and to ensure continuity: the characters have to remain exactly the same throughout the book, or I'm in trouble!
But this previously finished artwork has to get back from being scanned first. The publishers usually send it off to the Far East somewhere (it's cheaper). Scanning turns my pastel drawings into digital images. All my original artwork is then returned to the publisher along with a DVD full of the digital versions. These are then ready for the Designer, who puts the illustrations together with the text, to create the layout of the final book.
The Designer told me this afternoon that the finished scans have just arrived on her desk, so my bits should be with me in the morning. While I am waiting, I think I'll trace up the endpapers too, so I'm all ready for lift-off when things arrive!