Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2015 Bookplate process

For the last 3 years I've released a limited print designed to be a bookplate for your books (Mouse Guard or otherwise). In years past I've used some type of process other than inked linework & digital color to create the image for the bookplate. I've done block printing, faux stained glass, faux embroidery, and for this year, I made a real* mosaic. To the left you can see the final bookplate design, but below I'll run through the process for making the piece.
I started with a sketch I refined in photoshop (adding color cues & an elaborate background design) that I printed out and glued to a piece of chipboard (the stuff the backs of sketchpads are made of). Then I started the slow-and I do mean slow-process of cutting up little 'tiles' of chipboard and gluing them down to the mounted printout with super-glue. To fit into some of the stranger places, I'd refine the tile shapes using a hobby knife. 
Because I didn't pre-paint the chipboard tiles (there was too much chance for loss or over production of any given color), when I'd get a section of color finished, I'd paint those glued down tiles with acrylic paint. Going one color at a time made it easy to not get lost in the process of re-figuring out which tiles needed to be which color. I'd make small color variances within each area so the piece looked like it was made up of imperfect tile bits rather than looking painted or photoshoped to be one flat color.

The process took much longer than I thought and over the course of two days I gave myself a bad arm cramp and a knot in my back and neck from leaning over the detailed tile bits for so long. It was a major relief on the last day when I was filling in the small areas of the background, though I had more accidental gluings, chipboard de-laminating, and lost custom cut pieces in the last few hours than I did on the whole project. 
Once the tiles were all glued down, I sprayed several clear coats of sealer over the entire piece. When that dried, I crossed my fingers as I mixed up custom grout, and rubbed it into the gaps between the tiles, obscuring the mosaic in the the process with thick muddy grout. Then I started wiping away the grout from the surface, hoping this roughness wouldn't chip tiles, peel paint, or just plain not come off. Ultimately, only two tiles had any damage from the grout process and to the left you can see the final mosaic.

Unfortunately, it didn't read well as a small image, so I made a lot of adjustments in photoshop for the final bookplate file. Here again is the final image. These will all be signed and numbered as a limited edition. The first convention I'll have this bookplate in-hand for is Emerald City Comic Con this month. After that I'll start offering them through my online store.

2015 Appearances:
C2E2 April 24-26
Motor City May 15-17
Denver Comic Con May 22-25
Heroes Con June 19-21
Long Beach Comic Con: Sept. 12-13
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11
Art-Bubble Comics Festival: Copenhagen: Nov. 14-15


Anne Cooper said...

Very interesting approach, lovely work as always. Thanks for showing your process!

Max West said...

Amazing work, David. I've read some things about printmaking; I remember the printmaking rooms at the Art Students League while I learned painting there. The whole process of creating prints through various media is astounding and something a computer can't do!

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