Having completed at least three physical portfolio hand in’s over my experience in university (including foundation) I feel I have improved with each one.
I really enjoy curating my development work in a flowing and coherent way so that my reader can see my journey of experimentation’s made from start to finished result.
This is some really great experience with selecting work that has gone into the Professional Practice portfolio.
The organisation and tidiness of my collection of work is something that I wish to continue to perform in my professional presentation for client contact.
Hobby Craft were particularly good with supplying me all the things I need in a excellent quality of product for an affordable price and Abbey Book binders is definitely a connection that I will be keeping.
I have participated in helping the show build and now that it is completed I have set up my show piece being two copies of my printed children’s picture book called ‘Grumpy Granny’.
My idea of how I wanted to show my work involved some smashing in the morning.
I sourced these clay pieces from the ceramics department throw away box having asked the tutors for this source of scraps. By not making my own ceramic piece it removes the environmental problem of firing.
I learnt that could only use fired objects as air drying clay has some dust properties that pose a health and safety issue. Lucky enough I got my hands on some excellent vessels to therapeutically smash on the day of my deadline!
I then went to share my idea of combing some broken ceramic pieces to go along with my showing of my children’s book to connect to the event of Ella who accidentally broke a vase in my story.
Amelia (head of year) assisted me with the presentation/composition layout of these items.
We achieved something eventful and interesting and I am very pleased with the result.
Having seen how this piece looks like a show object I decided to also include my other copy of the book for people to pick up and read.
The print quality of my book came out beautifully, the feel is very smooth and professional.
I hope to send this work to relevant opportunities such as publishers and competitions in hopes to grab the attention of writer collaborations and attaining a publisher for my work.
I attended a trip to the Printers with Dan Peterson and the book club (fellow book making students). I was introduced to the machinery involved in printing, different paper thicknesses and gained advice on the best paper quality to print on being a silk finish.
I had also had a lot of guidance from Dan Peterson in tutorials on how to prepare my work for the printer. Where I learnt about the bleed, exporting and layout of the documents.
Using this information was really useful for when I went out an organised for my own book to be printed with the nearest place from the uni being Abbey book binders to achieve the professional hardcover results that I was after.
Taking with me an example book in the same dimensions and my set up on my laptop I ran through what I had prepared. The assistant from Abbey book binders also named Dan taught me a few little tricks on InDesign for next time to make things easier for my design role in the future.
I asked to see examples of the quality I was going to get and I was happy with what I was feeling and seeing.
My front and back cover of my book went through multiple design possibilities.
I started with using images from within the book and experimented with hand drawn text for the a personal and authentic touch to the title.
Such as these:
From the feedback that I received the grumpy granny watching some TV (shown above) was the best idea I had developed. However I quickly grew to dislike reusing an image from within the book. So I decided to recreate a new interpretation of grumpy granny using that image as an idea. This way the pages within the book can remain a new experience for my readers.
This lead to this design:
Image placed on to the spread but needed a better placement:
My final front and back cover design:
I wanted to fill the spread with colour to achieve a striking and fully entertaining result.
I developed the idea to reuse the front image to make the back image. In fact this made the spread work as a whole really nicely.
The process involved setting the placement of the front image, cropping it to size then I duplicating the square image and flipping it to produce the back. When these two pieces where fitted together I then used the content aware of the spot healing tool to create a tidy result that I was after. This was to avoid the unwanted line between the pieces placed side by side on the spine area to make the images come together as one piece.
This is the hand drawn text from the front cover. I really enjoyed getting into the emotion of each letter. By turning the scanned image white background to transparent I was able place just text onto my desired background image.
Using the feedback to look into InDesign typefaces to create a professional result for words to go with my picture book. It took a few goes to get the right look. I needed my font to be received as friendly and gentle and then suddenly burst out with life when the words suggest loud sounds like SMASH. This way the visual aesthetic of my words embody the moods of my characters that connect to the imagery to convey emotions such as fright, anger and enthusiasm.
Having experimented with hand drawn text I had already an interesting composition layout that I felt was fun and had a sense of personality. Rather than blocked on in a predictable format of simple sentences I liked to use the space and guide my reader on a less predictable pathway through my story. To have eyes move fluid like a river through the book.
Here are some before and after experiments:
Typed in Bahnschrift.
Typed in Century Gothic.
Experimented with hand drawn element for loud words following the suggested advice from my tutor Anna.
Making sure I got feedback from various friends and tutors before I took my work to any printing stage made a remarkable difference to the quality of my result. Sometimes you have all the ingredients but it takes a someone from outside of the work to suggest the thing that its missing.
The word ‘SMASH!’ has character like I wanted it to have for the scene. Which was to convey the impression of a loud and frightening sudden sound.
A combination of hand drawn and InDesign text in the friendly typeface of ‘century gothic’ was used. I wanted to avoid creating a scary book or one that is stale. So the text needed to convey the love and gentleness of both character throughout to keep it warming and symbolic of the environment of home. This way my book is a pleasing experience that sees through the problems that present themselves in the story.
My images went under a repetitive process of editing, printing, reviewing and editing.
I had to make sure how the colours would appear when printed, knowing that what is original will differ from what is on screen and what is on screen will differ from what the printer can produce.
This process involved my use of Photoshop and manipulating the setting of curves and levels. The image below also went under construction having felt that it needed to be more representative of the text reading it as a dusty room.
Lots of scanning, printing and checking:
I also made pages that had lots of white space or an opposing white page with text into full spreads of colour by creating background washes and using Photoshop to work them into the white spaces.
This way my book was fully colourful and not so sparse and empty.
My pages are much more exciting and attractive working over the full space of the spread but keeping it partially transparent in parts to create a sense of playful depth preserved in the perceptible evidence of my image making process.
This post shows more of my explorations of text that I experimented with for my book Grumpy Granny.
This involved a lot of time spent on InDesign and also printing out multiple dummy books to see how they are perceived in the destined format.
I looked into typefaces that I felt gave a friendly impression to evoke my message of home throughout the story and to be received as a welcoming journey for my audience to be drawn too.
It really helped to place a few different typeface experiments on the same page to see the comparison of their visual effect.
In this case (shown below) I wanted to avoid a font that was too heavy and use something that is more light in weight to avoid the text distracting from the image.
I wanted to achieve a harmony between both image and text to create a fitting relationship that would empower my message of the work .
I explored the various spaces that the images offered.
I hadn’t originally planned on using text directly onto the image from my storyboard but as I like to work with space in my image making anyway I had no issues with finding room for my text when I developed this idea.
In search for example children’s books I have been to the local Llandaff North library to review the short narratives and illustrations.
I picked out four books from the children’s books section that I was drawn too from the imagery and titles of the books.
The MOG book I immediately recognised for its acclaimed story work and illustrations. Although I didn’t know the Welsh language I simply used the heavy use of imagery to understand the story to which I could make good sense of being the irritating yet loveable and heroic MOG cat that he was in this story.
This research was targeted towards combatting my areas of difficulty around designing my front and back cover, copy right page, fonts and word and image layouts.
I was also taking inspiration for future work on self writing another story for my future children’s book.
This book entitled ‘When I coloured in the World’ written by Ahmadreza Ahmadi and illustrated by Ehsan Abdollahi was a beautiful read and experience. I loved the repetition and the act of inspiring change with ideas and action. This is a book of shining hope and empowering the reader to take control and take action.
The illustrations were colourful and extraordinary. This book layout employed a separate page for text and image. This way I could really take in the meaning of the words and the image into two experiences in harmony with each other. I came away feeling particularly happy from reading this book that is important for both children and adults to encourage a healthy and happy mental health.
Another book that I really enjoyed and thought was a simple and a relatable book was called ‘RAIN’ written by John Usher and designed by Genevieve Webster.
It is interesting to see the collaborations of authors and illustrators asI have interest on forming such future partnerships myself.
I loved this book because it reminded me of the pain of my severe boredom as a child stuck indoors because of the bad weather. I liked how imaginative the ideas of how much fun there is to be had out of playing in the rain as the child expressed to his granddad who sensibly had them wait to go outside until the rain had stopped. The joy in the water left over by the rain had been worth the wait in the end and it had been a rewarding experience for both reader and character.
From this research I have gathered an idea of formats that can aid me with my own childrens book development.
The images below show my experiments with combining my working images from my self-written and illustrated children’s narrative combined with my hand drawn text.
Front cover experiment:
Spreads from the story:
From printing the spreads out onto A3 paper and seeing them as they would be in the rough scale as they would be for my final children’s book and worked into a dummy book format as shown below.
I was able to see problems with the readability of the text and it had an untidy and disorganised structure about it. With challenging compositions that can be easily disorienting despite my inventiveness with the use of the space with my images.
I realised that from here and from the agreed feedback that I had received from various people who I had approached with this dummy book. I needed to make the text much more readable and professional which turned my interest to sourcing examples from the local library and with using software to produce such text as offered on InDesign and Calligraphr (an app that can transform hand writing into a downloadable typeface) for the inside story.
I have also been reflecting on how my original page concepts from my storyboard worked with images that fitted text outside of the images rather than mixed in with them. I explored mixing them with the images as it is very often used with contemporary children’s books and I have enjoyed the two working as one.
However this simple layout idea is something that I want to experiment with as it is how I originally planned it following the time of my research and admiration of such separation found in classic children’s books such as A.A.Milne’s Winnie-the- Pooh series that call for more contemplation of the image.
However, I made my decision to go with hand drawing my text following my urge to put my own emotion into the work and to reduce the disconnecting time of fiddling around with text using a less familiar software InDesign.
This way I could feel each letter and design it exactly to how I am thinking it freely and without overcomplicated it by treating the text with energy and acceptance as I had done so with my image making.
I used my A3 scanned copies of my page spreads, with A3 tracing paper overlayed and secured down with masking paper to draw onto to achieve my perspective of image and text composition in collaboration.
Using the A3 light box I transferred my text designs from my tracing papers to paper and then scanned them in for editing.
The editing process like with the images involved cropping and cleaning up. The colour of the scans had to be adjusted using curves to emphasise the white background and grey of the pencil hand writing to a strengthened black colour. This way the contrast was strong and made it easier for the software to separate the black from the white into two seperate layers. I reused this really useful tutorial that has helped me time and time again with separating my drawing from the white background that it was originally produced on.
From this tutorial I achieved my text to be on a transparent background so that it can be easily overlayed as a separate layer over my spread images.