Telling a Story – Making the book titled Down the Rabbit Hole


In Search of Lost Time packaged

This week I am going to talk about the very, very tedious process of making a book. After I finished putting together a limited edition of Lost Time I wanted to return to the drawing into of existing marks. The pages were made from chemically rusted papers that create their own patterns as they are dipped and maneuvered before being allowed to dry. Much of page has is colored with soft golds and beiges. They are a perfect complement for graphite.

With the pages I had left in the pile, I pulled out the ones that seem to suggest and accommodate the narrative for my story about pursuits in life. There were to be no words like in the Lost Time book, just pictures. And it had to be larger – maybe 10″ x 8″. But what really determines the size of a book for me is what my printer will take in paper size. The larger Epson Photo Stylus R3000 has a daunting cost of nearly $300 to replace the multi colored cartridge. So I went back to the possibilities of what my Epson XP-600 could offer. This printer will only take 8.5 by 11″ papers and the cost of replacing ink cartridges is considerably less expensive.

But first the illustrations:

Down the Rabbit Hole Book layout

These are the papers laid out in how the colors flow together. There are no illustrations drawn in until I see if there is enough paper. Then I decide what each page should have drawn into it to carry the story forward. Remember there are no words – this is to be a picture book.

laying out sequencing colors

And sometimes a sheet is wasted due to having an idea that simply does not work.  See below.

big foot

This foot of the man stepping into the rabbit hole was heading in the wrong direction for one and when reversed in a photo program, it still was wrong. It was simply too big. The more I looked at it the more I did not like it. Best to put it away from the other blank pages. Rethink how to get him down there.

page3 lo res

Here he is stepping in just over the rabbit’s head and I get to introduce the rabbit in a very large way due to the way marks existed on the paper. I really like this rabbit. Keeping the story moving and the background colors continually flowing was a concern and some of the papers and even the illustrations moved about in the order I originally laid out.

page 6 lo res

Some pages were just so lovely on their own that very little drawing was needed. The rabbit continues to leave things for his hunter to enjoy more than the hunt itself.

When all the twelve illustrations and cover are finished, the fun part is pretty much over. The rest is work! Each one must be scanned into the computer. I prefer my HP Scanjet G4050 for this as it takes a larger size page and these originals are sized at 7.5″ x 11″. To get a proper color reading I prefer to put black paper behind my image so that the scanner does not make its own decision as to where the edges should be. I can do that in the scanning program before saving it. Of course each of them will be taken into a photo program (I use the free Fast Stone one) and be corrected if there is any tiny black along an edge that will show up later. Note the one above on the left side before it was corrected.

All of these images are scanned at the highest resolution possible for the scanner. I want all those subtle marks to show if possible.

After scanning and then the images being corrected in Fast Stone, they are adjusted in another free photo program I have come to count on called Paint.NET. There is lots I can do in this program and it is an easy one to figure out.

But regardless of what it looks like on the computer screen, you still have to see it in print. This is a bit painful as you watch your ink levels go down deciding on the correct size and how the pages will connect to one another.

Much as I hate to do it, the only way to get the picture book the size I want is to not only hinge the pages in the back but the foredge as well. This will be a pain to put together. The Lost Time book was small enough to have a folded foredge but I want Down the Rabbit Hole to be bigger. It is a picture book. There is not the intimacy of words carrying the story as well as the illustrations.

So I test out each page after making the decision on paper weight, borders and size. Luckily very few of these had to go back into a photo program to be adjusted. Each of these are saved after making sure that “best photo” is checked and the proper paper type logged in.

Finally there is the question of what font to use for the title page and colophon and then laying those two pages out in my Microsoft Publisher program. Every page and front and back covers are now saved in Publisher. I am hopelessly schooled in PC and have no way of changing to a likely more artist-friendly Mac. I need to work with what I have.

For now I think the book will be soft covered like Lost Time. I have increased their sizes to accommodate the minute addition of double hinging and I might want the back cover to wrap around to make the spine. This book will look similar to Lost Time only it will be about twice the size all round.

The one thing I do know about this whole process is that you just have to love your own ideas enough to see them through. An edition of only twenty will be just about enough to exhaust that love.