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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rocky road Annie...

I've had a hard time letting this one go. Somethings I know if someone else could take over; I don't mind the collaboration. But this project, has been particularly difficult on all kinds of levels. First it's not my story. It's a good friend whom I loved. Second, I knew her, the place, the history, but I didn't live in her time, didn't actually know the actors other than Ann, and I'm not African-American/First Nation (okay we do have the First Nation in common, and I think her dad did hie from Canada as my grandfather's family had, so we weren't totally unaligned, still this wasn't about our shared heritage, and I recognize the tale I tell is an undertold one that has meaning for a lot of people I don't know, and could be argued I don't have a particular sensitivity to). Still I am sensitive to her, the area, the history, the story. Part of the difficulty was feeling even qualified (I had her permission and help with this, so it was self-doubt).

Annie wasn't about the color of her skin, she was about living her life well, with joy and grace and determination, and I want that as well. So perhaps it is my tale to tell. The idea such a rich life might not be shared, pushed me into finish writing.

I also knew if I went traditionally, more than likely I wouldn't be able to do the illustrations. This was a toughie. Back and forth. I don't have a name, and more than likely I'd be paired with an African American illustrator, and many of my favoritest illustrators are black. But I love history. I love Old Orchard Beach, I love Ann. I would be okay with the idea and then get cold feet at the idea, because the idea of illustrating it just set my heart to beating. Truth be told I love the text but I wrote it for the illustrations, lol.

So self publishing, here I come.

The books by Tom Bancroft, I got for Margot's project and it helped immeasurably, impacted this as well. I will post the first two renderings of the first page (still unfinished, need to adjust a few things, and figure out what I'm doing with the text, whether using type (Perpetua) or calligraphic self-designed lettering as I'd first intended...

and here's an illustration I can't use, though I loved doing this drawing (hey loved it so much there's five different versions SOMEWHERE) but give you an idea of the feeling I want with the text...

Mama got back-- OUTBACK!

Any good writer knows  you have to have backstory, background. It's the same for illustrators. In this new venture of ebooks, the great hope is to animate the books. In order to do that, all the characters have to be made separately so they can be activated as it were. So thinking about the illustrations for this has been a different process. I was lucky through a series of posts to have found Tom Bancroft's books mentioned earlier. They've not only helped with considerations of how to build and animate the characters, but also with how those characters act within their environment. In this case, I'm trying to think of the background (and approaching it) as another character.

Because of time constraints, consistency and my computer's limitations, my plan has been (we'll see if it actually works out that way, HA!) to paint one overall background. I can crop for closeups and build on it. This is the very early planning stages, but I can already visualize Oscar's sleeping log, and where he looks in the waters edge while Kingfisher dives for a meal. Have to reference more flowers and mulberry bush and gum trees, and place them within, will also need to RENDER this (this is a very rough sketch). I also found a great blog on Background art... just a mighty fine thing (coming from someone who always resented having to concentrate her drawing on anything she didn't want to and that would be surroundings, until I realized that surroundings ARE part and parcel to story and character): animation backgrounds with Rob Richards

I need to get new ear buds, I think when I do, I'll put on some outdoor sounds (maybe I can find an actual billabong recording ala Edgar Winter?) when I do the finished renderings, but I'm loving the process! I think I will also include my thoughts on my own book (Duke Day for Annie) as I'm working on them simultaneously and hoping they will both be presentable before Christmas. Yeah, when I take a bit of the pie it's not a small bite, I oftenshove the whole thing into my open maw!

So the ROUGH background!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Stops and starts

I've been away for a bit. Some of it was life taking me by the hand. Some of it has been my attempt to grab some know-how. I've set a daunting path, so the way I approach and keep at it, is going to be a big determiner of whether I do this successfully. I had to learn HOW a book app/ebook is made (Flash and InDesign are the industry standard, and happily Adobe offers a Cloud subscription).

Then I had to cobble together the tutorials on how to do this, and I'm happy to say between the Youtubes and web, I've been able to get a good idea on what I need to do. I've set this week as a goal for making my first animation, and of course I shall share! Another blog post I'll share some of my favorite links if people are interested in figuring out how to dabble themselves-- it's FUN!

In the middle of all of it, I loved some of my drawings of the animals of Margot's story, but they didn't rise to the level of  'characters'. And I so want them to be identifiable characters, as well as worthy of animation. Amazon offered two books from character designer Tom Bancroft, and I ordered them, (Creating Characters with Personality and Character Mentor, if you're interested in taking a look).

But as much as I love the images, the discrepency of what I saw in my head and what I was drawing, though I could see personalities, were far apart.

Tom's books reinforced what I knew, but tweaked a few things, that I'd not really factored. Even though I knew about it, it took rereading it and thinking about it, for those elements to end up on my radar. I decided to push completely in the other direction, draw in shapes, working for a chibi effect. Here's some of the results.

A little more along the lines, but still not there by any means. So still pushing this idea, and absorbing Tom's Mentor book, which is about taking character design one further. My next post, I'll take one character and show how I meld these images/concepts and talk a little bit about how to develop the character visually.

I think the great thing is to have FUN! I say this a lot, and will be saying it a lot. I'd lost sight of how much I enjoy doing this sort of thing. And truthfully, if it wasn't so much FUN (and hey no one dies, so how serious do I have to take this? Just enough to, yeah, you got it, FUN for everyone), it would be too durned scary.

And I'll leave you with my space alien Roo: