Continuing on the silent book

I haven’t given up on this project yet!
Currently I’m working on a layout, like what size the pages should be and if they should be filled with many small pictures or just a big one. And, I’m trying to find the right colours. That is really hard, because it’s supposed to take place at night, but I don’t want to make it too dark.
Of course, it’s not really possible to make a bright night scene unless most of it is filled with lamps or other lights (something I’ve had many arguments with clients about). But I still want to experiment to see just how bright I can make it and still have it obvious that it is night time.

So I’ve made many more colour tests:
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It is very important to take notes, so that when I find I combination I like, I won’t forget what colours I used.

I thought I had found the right combinations after making those three in the top, and the one on the bottom was the final test, sort of.
I thought it turned out great and wanted to get started on some actual, big illustrations (before I even have the layout sorted out). I was so excited about it so I sketched up three at once.

The process right now goes like this: First I make the rough sketch on a regular copy-paper, as to not ruin anything on the fancy one.
Then I wait until it gets dark outside, so I can trace them onto the fancy paper with my crappy homemade light box (a box, a plastic plate, two light strings, and a whole lotta tape) , which only works well in complete darkness. It’s the only bad thing about the days getting longer, me being forced to be patient.

Once traced up on the fancy paper (which really isn’t that fancy, I just think so because it’s expensive with my low income standards) I make the shadowing with pencil.
This is new for me, I usually make a very light pencil sketch and try not to make it visible through the paint, but here it’s a really big part of the painting.
When finished it looks like this:

 
And finally, painting, following the instructions of my notes on the colour tests, it turned out like this:

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I thought it turned out OK. Although, then I showed the finished pieces to a bunch of people who didn’t see that it was night time at the first impression, so I guess I’ll have to darken it down a little.
And I’m realizing now that the dog should get some more of my time. I haven’t made a character sheet for it, only the children, so unless I work a bit on that it’s going to look like a different dog in each picture.

Very well, not a hundred percent successful, but I’m getting closer, and learning a lot on the way!

 

Till Mormor

Hi everyone. The rest of this post will be in Swedish, as this is a letter to my grandma. She is way too cool for email, and I’m too uncool to figure out how to send photos in the regular mail or over the phone.
Sorry english-speakers, and y’all who’s only interested in the art. I’ll make it up to you sometime. But right now Grandma has requested photos of my “house”!

Hej Mormor! Förlåt att jag inte svarade på dina sista SMS. Jag försökte skicka bilder, och det gick inte. Jag misstänker att pengarna är slut igen. Får åka in till stan i veckan och ladda upp. Men för just precis nu, jag vet ju att du läser här också, så här har du dina bilder!
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Här under några jätte-höga popplar bredvid vägen bor jag. Jag är alltid nervös för att de ska falla ner på mig när det stormar. Men så farligt blåser det faktiskt inte. För det mesta.

 

 

 

Från utsidan får du se bilder från i somras, för här är så jäkla ruggigt på vintern, bara en enda stor lerpöl. Och så har jag inte städat på gården heller!1Här syns ett ganska slarvigt hemmagjort staket, pall-soffan, lådcykeln, och grann-vagnen borta till höger. Som tur är så är den obebodd så jag får vara ifred. Och där står ett bord som du gav till mig! Det har följt med ända från Alby.

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Och baksidan. Solrosorna blev det inget av den sommaren, men tak-trädgården klarade sig fint.

Insidan:WP_20180223_021Här är mitt skriv/mat/allt annat-bord, och hela halva sidan av vagnen. Man får ju klämma ihop sig ordentligt om allt ska få plats. Till och med hunden klämmer ihop sig, fast hon är väl den enda som inte behöver det. Hon är ganska sympatisk av sig.

Och här är andra, tråkigare sidan. Hela köket, ytterkläder-krokarna och bakom skynket där är sängen. Ursäkta att jag inte har diskat innan du kommer på rundvisning.
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Och så lite från gården. Här är ju ganska stökigt och så.
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Här är två stall, två traktorer varav ingen fungerar, och den här jäkla tuppen som följer efter mig!

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Och nu sitter de och blockerar min framfart när jag ska hämta hö.

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Den här damen kan verka ganska vänlig, men egentligen så försöker hon bara övertala mig att ge henne en morot. Lammen där är bara ett par veckor gamla.

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Hunden har någon slags dispyt med tuppen. Jag lägger mig inte i.

Omgivningarna är himla trevliga. Till och med på vintern. Här går jag på promenad nästan varje dag.DSC_0170
Mest ängar och björkskog.DSC_0174Och så piren nere vid havet. Den går runt halva ön, och på sommaren är det fullt av motionscyklister här.
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Tja, det var väl det ungefär. För nu i alla fall.

Hästen och hunden hälsar från i höstas!

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The Kiosk painting process

Hello there!
Here’s a new painting, inspired by the time I was in school, and me and my friends used to collect bottles to trade in for candy.
Ok, not quite. In reality I only wanted to paint a little shop, and the bottle-idea came along on the way.

In the constant search for new techniques, this time I tried out making the outlines in colored pencil. I do that a lot, but I always just stick to one color. This time, I thought I’d try using ALL THE COLOURS!
So, first step, the outline:
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Next step. Start painting! Here I’ve only added some light brown, and it’s really cool how it already looks like an almost finished piece!
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Now, just keep on painting.. Almost got all the colour down now:
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And lastly, went back to the pencils to go over the outline that was too thin, and add small details . And I also used a white gel-pen to put some shine on the glass and the left kid’s shirt.scan0142

This was really interesting to make. Looking back at the process, I wish I had left more whites in there, and made some of the white areas darker – the lady behind the counter looks like a ghost!. It was really hard to control the values, I think it’s because when the colour was already decided by the pencil, I just filled in the areas with that colour, and forgot how each object looked in relation to the others.
I think this could be a really good technique for bright and colourful images, but I’ll need a lot of practice before I can get the most out of it. And I need to remember not to zoom in on the details before I’ve considered the big picture.

That’s all folks. Happy Friday everybody!

Em

A super long post about making a children’s book

Hello! Happy saturday everybody! I’m having my first day off in what feels like forever, and it’s well needed. I have a lot of things I’d like to do with my free day, like rebuilding my working space, finish sewing a dress I started on two years ago, fix my boots, repair the fence… I probably won’t be doing any of those things though. My only plan is to take a really long walk with the dog (she truly deserves a day of attention), finally drink that beer that’s been waiting for me in the fridge for months, and to write this blog post. So here we go.

I’m gonna talk a bit about the very first steps into making a children’s book (or any illustrated book). I’m working on one as a side-project right now, and thought it would be fun to document the process.
Disclaimer: there are surely better ways to go about this, I’m only talking about how I do it, and am not suggesting that anyone follow my advice.

First of all. Coming up with an idea. For me, this is the biggest and hardest part.

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My imagination works fine when I’m coming up with an idea for a painting, but when it comes to making up a whole story, I’m completely lost.
I believe this is because I don’t think in words. My thought process is mostly made out of images and abstract stuff. Because of this, all of my book-ideas are almost completely word-less. And that is also why my book ideas never starts with a story. They start with an image, and the story follows it.
For this particular idea, it was this sketch that started it ——->

 

I can’t just set out to write a story and come up with one. They just show up from time to time, and I may or may not be able to catch them. If I’m in luck, a sketch like this comes up, where I can tell that This is a story. I don’t know where I got that image from, but it caught my attention, because there’s clearly a story behind it. Why is he carrying that jar, and where? What’s inside it? What led up to this moment, and where is it going next?

From here, I could figure out that the jar is full of fireflies, and he has caught them to bring home to his sister, who is afraid of the dark. From there, the story could evolve.
It’s no longer about the fireflies. They turned out to be a minor part of the plot, but I won’t spill any more of that. I can do that once I’ve gotten further in this process.

After the first sketch, a few notebook-pages are filled up with awful sketches:
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I’m trying to find the look of my character, and all those tiny squares are images I came up with that might be included in the story. And those numbers, they just happened to already be on the page. I obviously didn’t have any big plans for these sketches.

Then, I keep looking for my characters. I struggle with character consistency – that is making the character look the same on each page. So I have to work on that a lot.
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I’m starting to get a grip of them here, but I’m not quite there yet. Before starting on any book, I will go through dozens, sometimes hundreds, of character-sketches to be able to keep them consistent throughout the book.

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Now I want to start experimenting with colours and styles. I really wanted to see a finished version of that first sketch, so i played around with that for a bit. Here are two very similar colour-tests ———->

And one, very small and still not complete, but much closer to a finished piece:
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I’m quite happy with these colours, and now I want to get the style right. I find that the ink I often use in illustrations makes it much too sharp, and I want a softer style for this project.

Here are three (but really two) tiny tryouts, with the “might get included-images”, where I tried using blue and brown pencils to outline, instead of the ink.

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I don’t like these at all, which is why I didn’t even bother to finish the third one.

 

 

 

More tests.
Usually I make a sketch in pencil, draw over it with non-erasable colored pencil or ink, and then erase the pencil so everything gets clean and sharp. But as I said, I’m not looking for sharp this time. Here I’m trying out making a very rough pencil-sketch, and just paint on top of it.
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I kind of like this. Maybe it’s a little too rough, but I like it a lot better than the previous tests. As you can see, the colors are much less intense here, and I think that adds to the “softness”, so I’ll stick to that.
Next test is also pencil and watercolour, but cleaner this time. With more loose drawing for the most part, and a few added sharp lines where objects needs to be distinguished from each other.scan0052
Now this one I really like. It still needs some work, but it is definitely taking the direction I want it to go.
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I also really like this little sketch. I might make a project in only pencil sometime, but I don’t think it’s this one.

 

 

At this point, the story in my mind has evolved so far that I even have a storyline, with a beginning, middle and ending, and even a few words!
So I make a storyboard, which is pretty much a rough sketch of the whole book. Here I’m sorting out the order of the images, and trying to decide which ones gets a full page and which only gets a spot. This is probably going to change around a lot. Images will be removed and added and the order might change. But it’s a really good way to see the whole story at once – even though I’m the only one who really knows what’s going in in most of these. Still painted over the last part though – can’t give away the ending just like that!scan0100.jpg

This is as far as I’ve gotten on this project. At this point, it feels like most of the work is done, and I am more or less ready to start making final illustrations. Though I’ll still be making more character sketches and style-tests before I take it further, because of course I want everything to be just right.
And I also want to figure something out with the words.
As said, my ideas are word-less, and while text is often a big part of any book, it’s not an absolute must. There are already books out there that are completely word-less. My big favourite is “The Arrival” by Shaun Tan. It is absolutely amazing and I recommend it to everyone.
I will have to decide if I’m going to include just a few words, or keep it completely silent. I’m considering using sign-language in a way or another, because I believe there are many deaf, mute and otherwise non-verbal children who might enjoy a book like that. I’m just not sure in which language I would have it if I did. It would be difficult to redraw the whole thing if I ever want to translate it.

Oh well. Still lots to think about, but the big and important steps are taken, and now it just takes some refining before I can start working on the actual illustrations.

If you managed to read through this whole thing, hooray! Thank you, and well done! I hope you got something out of it. :)

Have a nice weekend!
Embla

 

 

 

Process of the Mushroom-village

Just like it took me longer than it should to realize that I could use my current interest for mushrooms to make art, so did it take a while for me to start combining the mushrooms with my love for tiny houses.
I don’t know what took me so long. Mushroom houses are already a big thing, and I’ve drawn some before I got interested in the fungi-species. Oh well, at least it hit me eventually.
Here’s the steps I took to make my latest mushroom-painting.

Starting out with a little sketch in my notepad.
At first it was a quick drawing of only the shrooms, that’s where the idea of tiny houses hit me, and the architecture came along, and finally I added some people. It all looked really messy, so I had to use my colored pencils to be able to see what’s what.scan0030

I liked the idea, and made a bigger tryout-version. You can see how much the paper has buckled, it’s because it’s made on a regular paper, and not the one made for watercolor. It was only supposed to be a pencil-sketch, but again it was so hard to tell the objects apart, so I was only going to use a little bit of colour, but got carried away, and both colored and outlined the whole thing. It’s almost a finished piece all by itself, but not good enough to stop there.
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From there, I traced that picture onto another regular paper. Changed the houses, added and took away a few details, all that stuff. I went back to including people in this one (you can see them in pencil where I haven’t drawn over them with ink) but I changed my mind. If I were able to make the painting bigger I would’ve kept them, but with the current size they would end up too small, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make them as clear as they needed to be in order to make a good addition to the piece. So I ignored them, and outlined the rest with ink, mostly just so I could see it better when I traced it onto the thick watercolor paper.
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After that, it was all in pencil on my fancy-paper thanks to a homemade lightbox. Any window plus daylight would’ve worked just as well.
I drew over the outlining with a brown pencil- the kind that won’t erase – and removed all the gray. That makes for a more colourful picture.
Then it’s finally time for the watercolor! Here’s the first layer of paint, with a pencil sharpener for scale:
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I’m so happy to finally have a phone with a camera on it, so I can document this stuff with ease. The only downside is that the photos don’t make justice to the reality. Maybe it’s the cloudy weather, but it seems like no matter how I try, the photos turn out very gray and pale compared to the actual painting.

Looks like it’s about to be finished here, but it’s really only halfway through:
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And then, finally finished!
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I struggled a bit with the surroundings. I realized too late that I had only planned for the actual mushrooms, and not the back/foreground. Those parts were improvised, and I wish I had spent some time on that. It could’ve been worse though, and I’m quite happy with how it all turned out.

I’m really looking forward to the day I get to live in a real house, and have enough space to make big paintings. Then I can make this one over and include the villagers.

Little Christmas-painting

Merry Christmas, or happy whatever other holiday you’re engaged in!

I’m no fan of holiday-celebrations myself. It’s not that I have anything against christmas, it just happens to be filled with things that makes me nervous, so I usually try to avoid it all.
I was planning on spending the day alone, but agreed to come with my boyfriend to his mom’s house. Luckily, their idea of a good christmas celebration looks a lot like mine.  They spent the whole day playing computer games and watching series, and I was listening to music and painting this:

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Say what you want about Christmas, but the theme sure makes for some idyllic motives.

It almost beats that one year when the whole celebration was eating clementines and watching die hard.

Hope everyone else also got to spend the weekend the way they wanted to.

Mushrooms (hi again)

Hello. Seems like my blogging-breaks are just getting longer and longer. Been three months since last time I wrote, I think. All the latest posts are starting with “sorry I’ve not been around”.
I really like writing here (and have about seven unfinished posts just laying around) but I’m making too much of a big deal out of it, and end up not doing anything at all.
This was all just meant to be a log of my process. I think I became too self conscious when people started following it.
So, yeah. Time to stop taking things so freakkng seriously and just write whatever whenever.

Today it’s about mushrooms!
But first, a little something about how my interests can be kinda disruptive.

So, I like making catalogues. Like this one:
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These are really great to have, because my memory and imagination really isn’t the best, and I tend to draw the same kind of plants over and over again.
With this little piece of paper closeby, it makes it really easy to change it up a bit.

Last month, I was going to get started on a catalogue of insects. This is how far I got:
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As you can tell, the small ones are in line with the plant-catalogue. Just some random insects to refer to for later. Suddenly I felt the need to draw some actual insects. so I did. Then, I felt the need to split my insects into sections. I mean, there are the ones with wings, the ones who crawl, the small ones and big ones and the ones with hundreds of legs.
I just wanted a bit of order.

This led me to two sleepless days of researching insect-classification, and this little map of species.

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I must admit, I think the result is pretty great. But this isn’t the kind of information I will be using for anything ever, so it was pretty much just a huge waste of time.

Yeah, my sudden bursts of interest sometimes reaches a point of obsession, and as I said. It can be very disruptive. I really should’ve been working on something else.

Anyways, that didn’t stop me, and once I was finished with the insects, I did the exact same thing with fungi. Not just the mushrooms, but also mold, lichen, yeast……. All of it.
Now, I won’t be showing you that map, because it’s not even finished yet. But I’ve been way into mushrooms for a month now, and the obsession has luckily tuned out and is down to a healthy hobby-level.
Instead of focusing too much on the classification of the species, I’m more into painting the ones that I think look cool. Here are some:

The shaggy ink cap:
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Pixie’s parasol (what a great name!)
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Verdigris agaric. I went way overboard with the background here.

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Pagoda fungus:
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It took me waaay too long to realize I could make this into bigger pieces of art. But I finally got it!
I really like this one of the oyster mushroom:
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And lastly, some mushroom I forgot the name of. Here I was mostly inspired by the fact that the fungis genealogy is closer to humans than to plants. Which is super cool, and I now consider them to be little people just standing around in the forest.
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Anyone got really into mushrooms now? No? Still just me, huh?