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I'll be releasing this year's new bookplate in my online store in March when I'm hosting my during the #ONLINECON event on my Twitch channel. Currently you can buy several bookplates from past years (and see blogposts for those bookplates at the bottom of this post). For this Blogpost I wanted to share the process for creating the art for the bookplate this year.
David Lance Goines for inspiration, and I found this poster he did for the Berkley Horticultural Nursery...it became the starting point. I knew I wasn't going to do all the hexagon background pattern, but I could incorporate the pose, the sunburst-halo, and the gathering of flora.
As for the colors, I got a little ambitious. Each color should mean a separately carved block––and it was at this point where, liking the look of the colors, I decided to compromise. I'd carve the darkest linework as a traditional print, and get all the color through digital trickery.
When I was in school, the technique for transferring an image from paper over to a wood block (or in this case, linoleum) I'd use graphite paper or rub pencil on the back of the paper and then retrace my drawing. But I found a tutorial online for transferring an inkjet printout to linoleum that seemed much easier. First I gently roughed up the lino surface with some fine grit sandpaper, and then painted it with a slightly thinned out wood glue.
I ended up doing this process twice because I screwed up the first time and thinned the glue out too much.
While the glue is getting tacky, I placed the printout of my linework onto the linoleum. I smoothed out the paper with a rubber brayer. This made sure the paper was really in good enough contact with the glue to bond properly.
Then I had to wait. Wait for the glue to really dry. Not just a little, but truly dry (this may have also contributed to my first attempt failing and me needing to redo the process). I used a hair dryer for a bit to help with the process--but I still waited hours before attempting the next step.
Twitch channel. I used the same carving knives I had in college––which frankly were too big for this project, but I still managed.
With the all the bits scanned, I could start the digital trickery step. You can see in the layer menu that I have a layer for each color (each tinted to match the color scheme from my rough version) and then masked out (the black icon next to each layer) so that the color shows though only where I want it to. I still had to make makes that would look and feel like block printed shapes as I made the digital masks for where each color would show
Overall, I'm very pleased with the results. I think it looks like a block print, it looks like Mouse Guard, I got the satisfaction of doing some traditional printmaking again, but I didn't have to go through the headache of carving seven blocks and try to register them all to line up properly. The last step of the bookplate process was to add the 'This Book Belongs To:' text and the lines for a name and the edition numbering. I used parts of the border to copy and create those lines so they looked cohesive.
I hope you enjoy this new bookplate when it's released in March...and below you can look back at the past bookplates and the blogposts about them:
To the left you can see the finished colored piece, but below I'll run through the art process for creating it.
I printed out the above layout composition and taped it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On my Huion lightpad I was able to see through the surface of the bristol to use the printout as a guide to ink by. I used Copic Miltiliner SP pens (primarily the 0.7 nib) to ink in the lines. It's in this step that I'm concerned with line weights, textures, spot of black and detail that isn't in the pencils. If memory serves, I inked this all on my Twitch stream as fans watched and asked questions. The inked art was then carefully packaged and shipped to its new owner.
But before the piece was shipped off, I got a high quality scan of it so I could use the art for my own purposes down the line––sketchbook or something. The coloring process starts with painting in all the areas with basic flat colors, establishing what parts are which colors. It's not necessary that everything be the same color as what will appear in the final, but just making the different color areas very easy to re-isolate during the final rendering process. At this step I also painted in a color hold (an area where I want the inkwork be be a color other than black) on the background and the pattern on Rand's shield.
In my most recent sketchbook, Dawn, Daye, & Dusk I played a lot with lighting effects for different times of day––and I think it carried over into this new piece where I have more sun and lighting effects than I have in the past.