February 10, 2021Excitement in the Lab

After 2 years, 32 articles and 93 blogs and Facebook posts, and the all writing and all the graphics that go along with them, I've started to think of my website as my laboratory. All the writing every month keeps me attuned to what I do and why I'm doing it. And drawing all those graphics, especially for weekly Facebook posts, is like conducting a grand experiment. I can play around and try out new ideas and techniques. When all my experimenting turns out great, well, terrific! I've learned something new that I can use again. And when the art turns out a little stinky, that's okay, too. I still learned something ... don't do that again! And in a few days or a week, the old posts slide down the list into oblivion and get replaced with whatever new thing I tried this week. I still don't like Facebook and I really just endure it, but it does have it's advantages!

And all the writing and drawing and experimenting, while fun, really is a lot of work. But it's been so worthwhile to see my own confidence grow and to see the website fill up. It's especially fun to get those occasional emails from some nice stranger thanking me for information they found helpful on the site. Mission accomplished!

But I sure did struggle this past month getting Part 4 of the Planning Your Book series written. This was the article where I would show how to go about finishing the illustrations of a whole book.

In the article I explain how everything on all pages of a book needs to be consistent throughout. How you can't just complete 1 drawing at a time, you have to work all 4 drawings at the same time! So you go through all of the pages/drawings and render all the instances a character appears. Then you pick another character or element, and render all instances of that. And so on.

I worked on the main characters first. They appear on 3 pages. I drew them the first time they appeared, then the second time, then the third time. Then I scanned the three pieces into the computer. But that was just the first layer of color. They would require 7 layers of color to complete them. So I had to repeat those same 3 steps 6 more times!

It's okay. Don't panic. It is, after all, only 4 drawings. That's why we decided on this little story, because a real book would've been 12-16 drawings! Yikes! But putting a little perspective on this really helps ... deep breath ... don't stop ... just keep going ...

Before I started the next part, I thought maybe I should lay out the first graphic demonstrating how I did these two characters ... just to see how that was going to work out. Then I could use it as a guide for laying out the graphics for the other characters and elements as they got completed.

First I found out that I was going to have to zoom in really close or else folks reading the article on phones or tablets wouldn't even be able to see the details. That made the scanned pictures larger. But there were 7 layers of color, which meant 7 scans and 7 pictures each of 3 drawings. 21 scanned images! To arrange in just one graphic! And it was just the first and smallest part of 6 parts to complete the whole book! Uh-oh!

I kept drawing, scanning, arranging graphics, writing copy and the article kept growing and growing and growing. How long can a web article be? I kept getting pictures in my head of skinny, worn-out readers with bloodshot eyes and super-developed muscular scrolling fingers!

Okay, that was funny ... humor always helps! And I know what else will help ... a nice, hot shower to clear my head. Maybe that ionizing-oxygen-synaptic thing will happen to my molecules. Then a good night's rest and I'll get up in the morning all fresh and figure it all out.

But, no. All my ionized-moleculed-synapted-brain cells were focused on was math:

Okay, I've got 4 pages. There's going to be 6 parts:

Part 1 - the 2 main characters, appearing on 3 pages
Part 2 - the other characters, appearing on 2 pages
Part 3 - the animals, appearing on 2 pages
Part 4 - the bedroom scene, appearing on 1 page
Part 5 - the ground and water, appearing on 3 pages
Part 6 - the tree and the dock, appearing on 2 pages

Let's just assume that each part will need 7 layers. Of these, Parts 2, 3, and 6 will go on 2 pages each, multiplied by 7 layers each. Parts 1 and 5 will go on 3 pages multiplied by 7 layers each. Part 4 will be on one page multiplied by 7 layers.

And when I arrange all the scanned images into 6 graphics with 7 or more layers for each Part times the number of pages each appears on, the graphics will need to be so many pixels wide for different screen resolutions so that the graphics are clearly visible on standard phone screens. Wider images will be taller, too, so multiply that measurement by how many different parts times how many pages times how many layers for each ...

It's never a good idea to freak out in the shower. All that water and soap makes the tub slippery. You could hurt yourself! And how embarrassing to get found like that ... all wet and soapy and ... well ... you know!

Fortunately the shower voices showed up. And even better, this time it was God's voice. I know for sure, because when He shows up, what an effect He has!

My ionized-moleculed-synapted-brain cells were still all busy multiplying and freaking out over the results. But it's an incredible feeling to have your brain on fire and yet your heart is so peaceful and still. Shows the contrast between the temporal and the eternal. He is so amazing!

He never just tells me what to do. He just kind of explains the reality of the situation and lets me decide if I'll choose to proceed my way or His way. This path we're on is definitely headed somewhere, though I couldn't say where it'll end up. And sometimes the best way to see the present reality is to take a backwards glance ...

And I saw afresh all I was talking about at the opening of this blog ... 2 whole years of writing and drawing and experimenting and playing and trying new things I never did before. And here I was, trying another new thing. I just needed to stay calm. Draw the pictures. Scan the art. We're going to make this work!

The next day I went back to my laboratory/studio to finish what I started. When experiments go awry, you just have to find a different way around the problem! And I did eventually. Not without a few more bumps, mind you ... at one point I even had 2 articles, Part 4 and Part 4b in a grand attempt to shorten the article. But that didn't work out too well, so I put it all back together into one.

And, hooray! I got it all finished up! And I didn't perish in an embarrassing demise in my bathtub in the process!

If you'd like to see the final result, click Planning Your Book – 4

But I won't lie to you ... after all the other articles I've done, this one about kicked my butt! But having it done feels so good!

But there's still more to this story ... see you next week!

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  • Dixie Cooley says:
    2021-02-14, 06:44:45
    God's #7
    You got this!
    Thank you for your blogs.
    I suppose He should be #1 ... then it'll all fall into place ...
    Thanks for reading!- Sherry A Mitcham