Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2014 Bookplate Process

For the past two years I have released a 4" x 5" bookplate (You can take a look back at the process for 2012 & 2013). The purpose of a bookplate is to write your name on it and insert it (with photo corners, glue, or tape) inside the front cover of your book (doesn't even have to be a Mouse Guard book) so the book can be identified as coming from your bookshelf. In past years I've done relief printed & stained glass images. This year, I went with an embroidered image. You can see the final plate to the left and in today's blogpost I'll explain the process of creating it.
I started by thinking of something that would look good as an embroidered scrap from the Mouse Guard world. I'd done a tapestry image for a sketchbook a few years ago, and wanted to play with that imagery again. The tapestry is based on a real quilted wall hanging my friend's mother made for their church and I'd drawn my version as part of a commission (right) and also into the pages of the Black Axe. What I like about the tapestry is that it depicts an unknown past matriarch holding three key tenants of Mouse Guard in front of her: defense (the castle), diplomacy (the scroll), & aggression (the sword). The symbolism is perfect for a balance any matriarch of the Guard would need to strike. These also became the basis for the game the mice play in taverns called "Swords, Diplomacy, & Strongholds" (...though I may shorten that game's name to just "Swords and Strongholds"...)

 There were several false starts for figuring out how to do an embroidered look...everything from photoshop plugins and programs, to web-based cross-stitch pattern makers..and even the idea of really doing some embroidery. But I figured out a trick to get what I wanted manually in photoshop. So I needed a rough sketch to build on to start the work. The rough is just a small pencil drawing on copy paper that is a simplified version of the piece above. The right side of the image isn't well fleshed out because I ended up mirroring the left side since no part of this sketch would be visible in the final piece.

The process for making everything look like stitching is by making lots of strokes to simulate each thread. The different colors are each on different layers and each have a bevel effect on them. The various filters and programs I found that auto embroidered an image for you made everything too uniform and precise. I went with this manual way (using a wacom to help with making all those tiny digital brush strokes look like hand-drawn lines) so I could give it a more handmade feel...make it less even, a little more worn and imperfect. Upclose, the illusion fades a bit because this technique can only simulate so much (even with added fabric textures applied), but when scaled down to the final print-size, I think the effect is rather convincing.

Here again is the final image. These will all be signed and numbered limited to an edition of 750. The first convention I'll have this bookplate in-hand for is Emerald City Comic Con in March. After that I'll start offering them through my online store.

2014 Appearances:
C2E2: April 25-27
Comicpalooza: May 23-25
Heroes Con: June 20-22
San Diego Comic Con: July 23-27
Boston Comic Con: August 8-10
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12

1 comment:

Seth Rosamilia said...

Fantastic bookplate. I think it really captures the "feel" of Mouse Guard that I love so much.

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