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How to eBook (picture book edition, part II)

May 31, 2013

painting

If you just stumbled upon this post, this is part two in my ongoing series, How to eBook, picture book edition. If you want to self-publish an eBook, you’ve come to the right place. I will be taking you from the writing and planning stage, through production, and all the way to publishing and making it available on Amazon.

In part one I discussed the preliminary steps: Writing your manuscript and planning out your dummy. Now on to part two: Final art.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

Besides your preferred materials (paper, paints, crayons) you will need a scanner capable of scanning at at least 300dpi. If you work digitally, obviously you can skip this part—and you can get off my lawn!

STEP III. Final Art:

paper

You have by now written your manuscript and sketched out your dummy. It is not the intention of this blog to give tips on how to draw and paint. My samples throughout this series are from my eBook, Duck Duck Moose on a Plane, which were done with black pencil and watercolor.

However you choose to work, RULE #1 will always apply:

RULE #1: BE EFFICIENT!

Again, it is beyond the scope of this blog to teach you how to make your illustrations efficiently (personally I make charcoal drawings on tracing paper, which I then transfer to vellum as my under drawings before I paint); but what I can teach you is to think ahead about production.

If you followed my instructions in part I, you will be painting at least thirty two pages of art. If you’re like me, that’s no sweat; painting is fun. But eventually you will be scanning all of these pages, and adjusting the scans for quality. This part is decidedly not fun. So that’s not fun x 32.

So here’s the tip: Make your art on paper that will fit nicely on the bed of whatever scanner you have available to you. Yes, it is possible to work bigger and then piece things together in Photoshop later, but remember RULE #1. Piecing one or two pieces together is no big deal. But if you want to reassemble 32 illustrations at super high resolution, that’s gonna’ be not fun x 32!

scanner no
In the above image the purple line shows the edge of the glass on my scanner.

You’ve heard the saying, measure twice, cut once? Well, you just heard it again—so be careful when figuring out your page size. Keeping in mind RULE #1, it will not help you if your art fits the scanner if the paper doesn’t. In the above scenario, where the paper goes over the purple frame, I am going to get a shadow on my scan. Cleaning the shadows off 32 files, again, not fun x 32.

So instead measure your scanner bed, and then do your math.

scanner yes
Look how nicely this page fits.

8″ x 10″ is a standard ratio for traditional picture books. This ratio also looks good when displayed as spreads on an eReader, since both of these forms are based on the Golden Section.

If you suck at math—like all real artists—get a proportion wheel (pictured below) and learn how to use it.

proportion+wheel

STEP IV. Scanning:

Now that you have painted your illustrations, go ahead and scan each page at 100%, 300dpi (minimum). Save as .tif files.

Be smart and stay organized. (RULE #1) Make a folder where you will store your scans, and name each page in a way that makes sense to you. Don’t get fancy. I make a separate folder for each book I make; in there goes a folder called “scans ƒ” in which each scan is named, 01.tif, 02.tif, etc.

•   •   •

That’s it for today. The next post will be about building your digital mechanical.
Stay tuned …

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