Populating the Cover Image with All of the Characters in the Book

Rather than restrict the cover image to simply Jimmy jumping down the chimney, I’m going to make the cover a group picture that shows all of the characters. That will be Jimmy Jay, Jenna Jay (his sister), the two hitchhiker mice (I don’t know their names yet, but I think they’re definitely hobos), Momma Jay, Bernie the Buddhist Dachshund, and Uncle Johnny. Even though Buddy Butterfly has fallen down the chimney and is out of sight, I’ll have him popping up through a hole in the page saying something like, “What about me?!” It will be cute, I promise.

The other question I’ve been thinking about is the age range for the book. With children’s books you have to declare the ages the book is appropriate for. I think the ages 8 and up sounds right.

Here are the two hitchhiker mice. I wonder what their story is?

Adding Detail to My Cover Image

Today I started working with calm intention on my children’s book cover image. After weeks of floundering, I now feel that I can complete this drawing. I’ve passed the point no return — I might as well just plow ahead and accept the end result. However it turns out will be okay.

My usual pattern is to hate the image I’m working on, and then appreciate it when I return to it later. In this case, I’m going to trust my process and call on my inner Art Soldier to fend off the waves of disapproval that my thinking mind keeps pouring out.

The Art Soldier Marches on with Another Cover Image Sketch

I’m borrowing the term “art soldier” from Kate Bingaman-Burt. I’m forcing myself to march on even though I feel that I’m knee deep in mud and my legs are weary. Art is War? So be it. Down here in Southern Oregon the war is intensifying as it draws closer to the end. An inch a day is more than a humorous way to describe my progress— and inch a day has become a miracle.

My latest inch…

Chore Day Oct 5, 2019 -- Cooking for the Week, Going to the Art Store, and Brainstorming

Every Saturday I cook up food for the week, usually making some bean and sweet potato burgers for my canine amigos (with all the nutrients required by canines), and some delicious goodies for myself, such as rice and beans flavored with lots of powerful spices.

The big event of the day was a trip to B&N in Medford, where I bought the latest issue of Ad Busters which asks, Can artists save the world with a Brutalist new aesthetic? That’s a question well worth investigating, I say. To prepare myself for the future, I went to Art Central I bought a big Fabriano notebook for my gouache paintings, a Kunst und Papier watercolor tablet, and four small Princeton brushes for my gouache painting. They have with eye-pleasing cerulean-colored handles.

And I did some uncritical brainstorming on the iPad — I’m trying to figure out how to do the cover image of Jimmy Jay jumping down a chimney. This is my third effort. I think I’m loosening up a little with each attempt.

8000x4000px Cover Image for Children's Picture Book

Since my children’s picture book will be printed as an 8x8-inch square, I need an image that is two 8-inch squares side by side, with a bit of extra space for the bleed and for the spine. I decided to create an 8000x4000px image. Procreate will allow 12 layers for an image that size. I could have made a smaller image — say 6000x3000px — but I want to make sure that I have lots of headroom pixels to play with. With an 8000x4000-pixel image, I could conceivably go up to 26-inches square — that would be a hella big children’s book. However, for my purposes, having the extra resolution means that I won’t have to redraw this image to increase the resolution.

I started roughing out the image today. I used the camera in my iPad to take a picture of the thumbnail, then I the photo into Procreate. Once there, I scaled it up to fit the 8000x4000 image. I’ll have to figure out how to fit the title text on the page, that’s for sure.

Adding Eight More Pages to My Children's Book

My original plan was to create a 32-page children’s book. Thirty-two pages is pretty much the standard length, so I created 38 images and edited the book down to 32 pages. When I discovered that the print book would require 5 or 6 pages of front matter (title page, copyright page, frontispiece, etc), I thought about keeping the 32-page length by removing five images and doing some rewriting. However, that plan made me sad. Instead, I decided to create a 40-page book that keeps all of my original images and text and adds one more realistic painting of a Steller’s Jay, which Jimmy Jay is, and a realistic painting of a Monarch butterfly, which Buddy Butterfly is, with perhaps a little information about them.

Today I managed to complete one more page. The bleed lines show where the pages will be trimmed. By extending the image into the bleed area, there won’t be any white space at the edges of the page when the printer (Ingramspark) creates the bound version of the book. There is, however, a white margin along the spine — that’s where the book will be glued in. The white margin on the inside of the page is one of Ingramspark’s official requirements.