The process of making my four books was a long and arduous one that I documented as much of as I could without wasting time.
I began by drawing up a template for the various sections of each cover and beginning with the sections that needed the most paper on them and outlining the eyes. I used plain cartridge paper because it was something I had in abundance and was extremely malleable when wet. It took a long time to make all four because of the time needed for the glue to dry, but I managed to keep to the schedule Alex and I made and completed them all in 5 days.
Every few layers, I made notes on them about which bits I needed to change the relief of and which direction I was sculpting in. This helped me to mould the covers exactly how I wanted them.
The advantage of working on all four covers at once was I wasn’t wasting time at any point. I would do a few layers on one book, then move to the next, do a few layers, move to the next, do a few layers, move to the last and by the time I’d done the layers on that one, the first one was dry and I could repeat the process.
Once the relief was to my satisfaction, I covered all of the books with a layer of newspaper because it gives a smoother finish to paint onto.
From here, I painted all of them with a layer of PVA then several layers of white paint to cover the pattern and any overlaps of the newspaper.
Once this was done, I was ready to add paint. I began by adding a base coat of the primary colour of each book. Once I’d done a layer on each, I noticed there were gaps and lighter patches on them where the white was visible through the paint so I added two more layers to all of them.
From there I began painting and blending the highlights and lowlights into the books. I realised that the strokes didn’t reflect the texture I wanted so I changed my technique to a stippling technique with multiple shades of each colour. This made blending much smoother as well as creating the texture I wanted.
Part way through painting I realised I couldn’t paint until the back covers were attached otherwise they wouldn’t be blended properly. I decided on soft spines so I made them out of softer grey board that I could manipulate into a curve and attached them to the front and back covers with more paper mache.
I made notes about painting on the morning of the last day about the final touches and improvements each book needed.
I managed to do all of these except scale lines. I decided against the scale lines because I wanted to keep the look of the skin being smooth but hard, like and exoskeleton.
I kept to the plan Alex and I made again here, even with the unforeseen work of having to attach the spines and re-blend the paint.
The morning I made my painting notes, I also made an update checklist on what I had left to do. I felt confident that I could do it all in the time I’d allotted.
I quickly edited the titles and set up my screen for screen printing them. I discovered that because my covers were 3D, I would have to print my titles on pieces of paper and stick them onto my books afterwards. This meant painting 8 bits of paper and colour matching them to what was already on the books.
I used my positives as a size guide and painted my papers to match.
While my screen was drying, I began to format my books. I started by converting the type to black and white. I knew I wanted to keep the same type because this type has always felt like an integral part of these books. With these as an image file, I could just paste them into my InDesign document.
I made my InDesign document slightly smaller than my book so that my book would fit comfortably inside. I decided to put roughly two chapters of each book in the middle so there was some kind of content for people to look at.
I found the ebooks online and thought it would be really simple to copy and paste the text into my document but there were a lot of unforeseen problems that I had to deal with. The text from the website lacked a lot of spelling and grammar so I had to proof read it several times. Because Saphira’s voice can only be heard in Eragon’s head, it had to be in italics and it wasn’t. There were no paragraphs at all in the text so I had to guess when to put them in. Some of the chapters were so long that I had to cut them off before the book exceeded 40 pages and finally the chapter starts and ends were virtually impossible to find because the only marker was the chapter title in uppercase mixed in with the text.
This meant that formatting took the rest of the day I had planned to screenprint my titles and some of the next day too. However it didn’t put me behind because screen printing itself was so quick.
I printed, cut and bound my pages with a pamphlet stitch bind because there weren’t many and I thought this would work well. I wanted to print my titles and stick them on before I stuck the book in because they wrapped round one edge of the book. Once they were printed, I stuck them on and I was ready to hand my books in.
I mistook which day the crit was on so I had to hand my work in without feedback but I think I have done a good job regardless.
There are a few minor details of my books that I’m not pleased with. Once the paint dried on the title and blurb strips, the end curled up and the paint cracked on some of them, meaning when they’re stuck down, they don’t fit seamlessly like they did when I was painting them. The end papers don’t stay very stuck as the book is open and I’m not sure why, I tried sticking them multiple ways and it was the same every time. And the exposed bits around the edge of the content aren’t colour matched to the level I would like them.
I don’t think these things are horrible, horrendous mistakes, but they are things that don’t make the books as flawless as I would like them and they are things that I will take forward and keep in mind when making books in the future.
For the most part, I am very proud of my books. I think they are beautiful and they will definitely be displayed on my bookcase after this project.