The next stage for me is to sketch out thumbnails for the whole book. I'm given basic layouts which show how much text will appear on each page. I can move this text around to make it work with my sketches but I have to bear in mind that it must always appear on a pale background and I want to avoid using panels over the illustrations if I can.
I work at a very small size so I don't get bogged down with needless detail. All I'm concerned with here is composition and how to get the images to work and flow with the text, mixing viewpoints and angles so each spread has it's own feel and doesn't become predictable. I don't need to worry about spread 13/14 as everybody is happy with that at the moment.
*WARNING - contains spoilers!*
Hoorah! After a meeting at the publisher's with the editor and designer, everybody is pretty happy with the way things are progressing and apart from spread 17/18 where the two characters aren't relating very well - and also the final spread which needs completely re-thinking. Originally in Peter's text there was a stationmaster (Pete) and a signalman which is why there are two figures on the platform on the last spread. I suggested that it might be better just having Pete, who operates the signals as well as running the station as it is a very small station and perhaps less confusing for the reader. Everybody agrees so I am given the green light (or flag in this instance) to proceed to full-sized roughs.
I don't always add tone to my sketches but I do here, very quickly, just to give a bit more body to the drawings. I use a mixture of pencil sketches scanned into my computer and other parts are drawn straight into Photoshop with a wacom tablet and pen. I then play around with compositions and sizes, layering the image up with line and tone until I get something that I think is working.
Full sized sketches are done so whilst they are being looked at by the author, the editor and designer, I decide to experiment with some colour work over my rough drawings.
This project has coincided with a period of experimentation in my work. I had begun to get frustrated that I often lose the spontaneity of my sketches in the final work because of tightening up. I have started playing with working right on top of my sketches and incorporating them into the final piece. Only re-drawing and tidying up where things are a bit vague or really messy. I add several layers of colour in various blending modes on top of any tone adding to the texture that is already there.
I try and keep as much of the loose sketch in the colour work as possible. So far so good...as soon as the sketches have all been approved I will start final artwork for the entire book.
Part 3 coming up!...