Stuck or stick with it?

Bartc

Well-known member
Messages
1,160
I'm having trouble with illustrating my new book. Last book had color photos and diagrams and they did help, plus folks found them appealing. This book is of a different nature and it was suggested that sketches would liven it up and break up the print. I can well appreciate that suggestion, but book illustration isn't one of my skills.

Let me set the scene. First book was a memoir and had a narrative basis running a little over 200 pages. This book is meant as a companion, but it has no narrative underlying structure, rather it is a set of short tales, vignettes running 1 - 3 pages each for about 110 pages.

It was suggested to me that I illustrate the latter with simple or humorous sketches meant to look just like quickies, not finished pieces. I get the concept, just ink lines done quickly, some humorous, some just a pictorial representation of a story element. This I found daunting! I can certainly draw and sketch, either from life or imagination, but doing so from imagination to match a story seems a big step farther.

So I wrestled with my doubts and finally whipped out maybe 60% of what I would need. OK, some do work to my eye, some work but are "so what?", and some just feel too primitive. They're different styles, which is fine by me, so that's not necessarily the issue.

I have yet to come up with another set of illustrations, however, which means that some runs of chapters have pix, while others are very bare. That's a bit of a problem for me in that, even knowing they don't all need a picture and skipping is fine, this is too clustered.

I feel stalled and wonder if I should just give up the illustrating altogether. Any thoughts?
 
I wouldn't give it up! I don't see that every single vignette would need an illustration, either. Why force it? From children's books to Titus Groan, there are examples of only the occasional illustration accompanying a book.

Take the ones you believe are the strongest and go with it. Let them act as a charming addition to the book and not as something forced by an editor.

In other words, don't throw out the baby with the bath. ;)
 
I wouldn't give it up! I don't see that every single vignette would need an illustration, either. Why force it? From children's books to Titus Groan, there are examples of only the occasional illustration accompanying a book.

Take the ones you believe are the strongest and go with it. Let them act as a charming addition to the book and not as something forced by an editor.

In other words, don't throw out the baby with the bath. ;)
Terri, you may well be right. In the end, I just powered through creating enough illustrations to feel it was "balanced" but not for every one of 56 vignettes by any means.

I'll have a couple of folks look at it to determine if the effort is worth keeping, or altering, or scrapping. I mean the pix by that, not the text which is certainly finished and polished now. I've been happy with the text.

The concept for illustration was anything that related to the story, simple ink lines, supposed to look like quick sketches and not finished compositions. So I penciled out basic layouts and inked them in with a Sharpie. Some look good for that intention to my eye, others look amateurish. But if the intent was to look like I was doodling as I was noodling the text, then I suppose they all fit the bill. We'll see.

It was a realization that drawing and painting from life or imagination is NOT the same animal as illustrating a story. I have additional respect now for illustrators, and I already found them pretty fascinating to being with.

Here are a couple of examples:
jackie mason sketch.jpg
This first is OK, meant to crudely simulate comedian Jackie Mason giving the finger.
chow chow cup sketch.jpg
This second is childish appearing, but taken from a photo of a simply shaped food truck . Ironically, it is the actual shape of the truck and the logo is the actual logo of the company in the story.

As you can see this kind of range of styles and execution is pretty broad.
 
I wrote a memoir too, and at the beginning of each chapter, and more throughout, I made quick, rough sketches like these. I liked how it turned out. Having your own "hand" in the book makes it special, in my opinion.
 
Well, the book is done and uploaded and available on Friday on Amazon. I took Terri's advice. In the end I eliminated some that weren't any good and felt unnecessary. Kept others. They vary in style, but they were all re-done in finer blue pen line, which looks better than the marker versions.

The manuscript is written in Word, which was fine for uploads into Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon's self-publishing facility. But true to form, as I experienced with my first book, the e-book version has been a pain in the butt about formatting. It simply doesn't recognize Word formatting very well, particularly with pix. Done anyway, and glad to let this bird fly on its own now.

Many friends have urged me to make a book out of my line and wash travel paintings. I may very well do that, since it costs nothing but time to try. There the paintings are already done and it would be the reverse - the narrative (if any) would be done to support the already finished paintings. Much easier, I suppose!
 
Back
Top