Monday, June 7, 2010

Working process for completing a spread in my Pop Up book, Spread 8, "Going Home"

 The working process for all spreads is basically the same. I generally start with an idea or story line and then visualize the scene with all narrative elements necessary to tell part of the story that will appear on any particular spread. To accomplish this segment I begin by doing lots of small, thumbnail sketches to formulate the picture space. This gives me the opportunity to consider many different directions from which to view the scene.
   During this phase of the process I think of myself as a camera. I mentally move myself to any location in the scene I feel will give me an interesting view. My eyes (the lens) see the space and my brain records the picture. To get a "print" of the image I visualized, my brain processes the picture through my hands, onto a piece of paper in the form of a drawing.
  The drawing can be a very rough sketch I can produce very quickly, or one that is more finished I can show to a client for approval. By doing very rough sketches for myself, I can look at many different alternatives in a short period of time. This gives me the time to consider the way I am portraying space and the importance I give to the various picture elements. I also think about how the placement of objects convey the idea I'm working with as well as how the eye of the viewer will move throughout the composition. By doing rough sketches I can also make adjustments, either slight or major, as I do successive variations.

You can see in the spread of the eagle flying up to its nest, the rough drawing shows the basic elements and their placement. This sketch is the result of do many smaller and way rougher versions. While working on this tighter sketch I gathered photographs of the different objects contained in the picture. I located many pictures of eagles in flight, eagles nests, eagle chicks in nests, different species of trees, overhead photos of the location and my own reference photographs of the actual location. Using reference photographs is essential to producing work which is accurate and believable.
   You can also see that the drawing also takes into account the relative size of the pages and flaps that will be included in the book. I also think about what elements will rise up from the page as the spread is opened.
   Based on this sketch and placement of objects I can start to think about the pop up mechanicals that can be used to make the spread three dimensional when it is opened by a reader.

Making the objects pop up is a trial and error process. It can also be very frustrating and time consuming. I use David Carter's book, "The Elements of Pop Up" as a bible for making pop ups. The examples in his book are just the starting points for making decisions about what may or may not work.

   Most movement and energy is gained by opening and closing the pages. The basic mechanical giving the eagle life is a small tent behind the body of the bird. This is accomplished through what is called the rough cut dummy. Parts are added and, or modified to make the bird look accurate. You can see in the closer look, that there are lots of small pieces taped on a larger piece.

   Behind the short flap is the nest which is based on opposing angles. The nest with the eagle chicks actually twists to open and then close into the flattened space between pages. Again, lots of trial and error resulted in the rough cut dummy.

After all the mechanicals have been perfected and I know they work as planned, I'll progress on to making a white dummy which is a more precisely produced working model. You can see in the picture below, parts are cut cleanly and there are no parts that have been taped together. To achieve this, the perfected rough cut dummy must be carefully disassembled and recreated on a single sheet of paper adding all glue tabs and score lines. Angles, scores, slots and tabs must be plotted with precision in order for the white dummy to work properly. The result you see is the perfection of a model that actually works and resulted in a small hill of discarded attempts that did not work.

Now that the white dummy has been prepared and is working as intended, this final illustrations can be rendered. For this project I'm creating the initial renderings as black and white pencil drawings. The first drawing I did was the overall background with the trees, river, bridge and figures standing next to the pick up truck. This drawing was scanned and opened in Photoshop to add color. The technique is to start by silhouetting various objects which will be saved for future use as digital friskets. They are created as channels. The various channels can be turned on and off at will to protect excluded areas from the colorization I need to perform. Below is the original pencil drawing and the resulting colorized version.

In addition to the background there are many other parts that have to be made and assemble into the other elements of the spread. All are originally illustrated in pencil and colorized using the same technique described above. Below are individual parts necessary to complete the eagle and nest with the eagle chicks. This function becomes something of a jigsaw puzzle, trying to fit pieces together to economically utilize the paper stock that will be printed.

The final picture in this series is the assembled working color dummy. The color prints were made on my Epson 1280 printer using bright white International Papers Accent Digital Opaque. I used 65lb. and 80lb. cover weight paper stock. It's a nice smooth sheet and prints well for making dummies. It's also strong and scores well.

1 comment:

  1. This is quite wonderful! what does the structure behind the eagle look like...could you post a picture of the mechanism? or send it to me via private email?