Thursday, September 02, 2010

Making a picture book dummy for Duke

Recently I finished sketches for Duke, a picture book to publish with Charlesbridge. And if I can say so myself, they turned out very nice. I say that modestly. Yesterday, I made photocopies of my art, and made a dummy.

The author, Anna Celenza, brilliantly wrote the story in such a way that didn’t bind me to the text, as can happen sometimes with nonfiction. With this book I got to interpret the text however I saw it, within the confines of the subject matter, Duke Ellington and his creative process. I got to create just like the Duke!

This is the first time that I’ve made an actual physical picture book dummy. In the past, I’ve created flat layouts with photocopies of my art with galley text. Or I scanned my art into the computer and made dummies using a computer program like Quark or InDesign. The idea of building a picture book dummy with an Exacto knife and glue stick seemed tedious to me at most. A waste of time at least. But with Duke, I decided to give it a try. It was well worth my time.

As I hold the book in my hands and flip through the pages, I can see problems early on, problems that might otherwise have gone overlooked on a large layout with crop marks. With a trimmed and bound dummy, images that get swallowed in the gutter jump right out. And I've noticed a few other problems, things that might not have been noticed until staring at them in a book store.

Yesterday, armed with sketches, a ruler, and a proportion wheel, I completely staged an invasion of my local Kinkos (my own photo copier is near death). I spread out everywhere, which annoyed everyone around me competing for tabletop space. Because my sketches are so large, most of them required several scans which I pieced together when I got home.