Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mary's Book-for the birds

I have to confess. I'm actually am not that good a draw-er. I never get things the way I want them on paper, I'm always unhappy with the results and I blame the computer. I've been doing artwork on the computer since my dad bought us one of the first Macs in (literally) 1984 and once I found the wonder that is Command-Z to undo all my transgressions, that was it. Over. Pencils? Please.

So I tried to think of a couple of ways to incorporate my digital art into the Moleskines. There's actually a number of ways to do this, but I reject an easy and simple life. No, THE HARD WAY IS THE WAY FOR ME. At the end of my Big Think on this, I came up with the idea to have my designs cut out of vinyl on my friend's plotter, install the vinyl graphics onto heavy gauge acetate sheets, then mount the sheets into the book (with genuine Hollywood gaffer's tape). I decided this was a trick best saved for a watercolor book because the weight of the paper would be best for mounting. And with the watercolor paper, I could do a washy background color really easily.

Since Mary's was the first watercolor book I got, she was the test subject.

01 cuckoo

02 lyrebird

03 kookaburra

04 peacock

Some detail shots-you can click them to view larger versions at Flickr if you like.

05 detail

06 detail

I didn't get a really good photo of the collaboration page I started for Milo because I left the paper under the acetate totally blank for her to work on. White on white - blah. But I did get this nifty photo that communicates the idea:

07 collab

This is the first collaboration page I've started that I've been really happy with except for the fact that some blue watercolor crept in at the edges (not visible in the above photo. My personal test for if it's a good collaboration is, would I be excited to finish it? In this case yes. The graphic has a hole in the middle and plenty of white space around. It floats above the page, so she could ignore my overlay entirely, or she can design around it deliberately. She can play hide and seek, use whatever colors she wants, and the paper is completely free.

One more admission: Two pieces of this series I created completely from scratch. The Kookaburra and the Peacock are birds I'd already drawn, but I put them in new arrangements to fit in with the idea of gig posters.

Lessons learned: Um, I don't know whose idea it was to make all these small and fiddly details for me to spend HOURS weeding out of the vinyl. Oh that's right, me. Some details had to be picked out, some had to be left behind while a large field of vinyl was lifted away, but even with the best cutter, the vinyl tends to stick to itself and declines to separate from fine details. I've done this work before, but never with this level of detail. Heh. Now I know why my buddy insisted on cutting two of each, and then let me sit and do all the weeding. He got the better end of the bargain by far, but rest assured, these were worked over just as lovingly as if I'd drawn them by hand.

Also? Cats are not good helpers on a project like this. I'm sending it on free of paw prints and cat hair because I don't want to be That Lady, but they wanted to help SO MUCH.

All in all, I'm happy with it (less air bubbles would be nice) and I have one more idea of something to do like this. I may do it all again, but with less wavy lines that come to an ultra-fine point. Yeah.

I'll post a photo of my self-portrait collaboration with Mike's dragon a bit later.


Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

WOW! These are extremely interesting!! How totally fun! I can't wait to see them in person!!!! So EXCITING and DIFFERENT! WOW!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I have to admit that I also prefer working on the computer and have been trying to dream ways to transfer my computer work to the mole, but that was not one way I;d considered--I thought of print transfers etc.

milo said...

I'm crazy in love with your design!!! creative solution!

Andrea said...

The work you put in to these is boggling my mind! Jaw dropping detail! I can't wait to see these up close.

ballookey said...

Thanks all! Definitely fun, definitely learned a few things.

steve said...

These are all so insanely cool, and truly extraordinary! I'm drooling!

thraxil said...

Neat, I'd be interested in seeing a collaboration where someone draws/paints on the paper underneath so it will show through in the transparent parts.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I was thinking the same thing--that would be very cool!!! :-D

henniemavis said...

Un-bee-liev-able. Wow, my mouth is still hanging open.

At the risk of parroting everyone else, I can't wait to see these in person. I'm already sure I've never seen anything like it.

ballookey said...

I'm glad they're well-liked. Thanks for the sweet comments. :)

Mike Kline said...

These make me a little sad! Sad that I won't see them in person... Wow! Such beautiful and delicate work. I am curious how thick - what they feel like and, and, so much more. Absolutely cool!