Friday, March 11, 2016

The Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses

In January, Ian Andrew contacted me, looking for illustrations for his poetry book, The Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses. He didn't want polished illustrations, he wanted sketches that weren't too refined (in his words, 'crude') - a departure for me, but I always do my best to deliver on what a client wants! I sent him links to a few of my sketchbook pieces to check that that was what he was after, and he was happy with the level of detail.

As well as the interior illustrations, I also did the cover and the typesetting. I also did work on the Kindle version, but due to technical difficulties Ian did most of it himself. (Amazon's Kindle plugin for inDesign doesn't work with Creative Cloud, stopping at CS6, the Kindle Previewer doesn't work on my iMac. I did a lot of fiddling on an ancient macbook that still has CS4 on and can just about handle it, but the Kindle plugin also doesn't allow images behind text and insisted on showing them as incredibly tiny thumbnails. In the end I sent the stuff to Ian and he put it together in Amazon's Kid's Book Creator (which I could use, but the preview didn't work. I'm inclined to think Amazon could provide better software!)

I did 18 sketch illustrations for the book overall, plus the cover. Ian was great to work with. I initially worked out each image digitally and sent him a pdf of the book with the drafts in place. He didn't want any substantial changes other than the addition of one more drawing. I then used my lightbox to sketch directly over my drafts on fresh layout paper, keeping things as loose as I could. This was a little tricky for me, as usually I refine everything (probably a little too much) so I worked hard at not obsessing over details. 

Here is a small sample:

This Chihuahua is based on a real one. I was sent photos to use as reference, and it was the grumpiest chihuahua I have ever seen. I adjusted the elf costume a bit, as the original would have looked a bit weird in a rough pencil sketch. 

One of the poems was about the Irish town of Larne. The artist is Larne watercolourist Sam McLarnon who is mentioned in the poem and was loosely referenced from an image by Bernie McAllister - a relative of Ian, which was handy! Ian asked that I use that image for the cover as well. 

When I'd painted the cover and filled the gaps left in the original sketch for the text, I decided that the front was really too bare. It needed something more. I toyed with the idea of various boats, but eventually settled on a few seagulls, just to fill up the space and add a touch more interest. Many of the poems are quite reflective, so I didn't want anything too wacky - wheeling gulls seemed to fit the bill. 

The cover is set in Trajan Pro and Melany Lane (apart from the S in 'silly', I dropped in an S from Recherche and altered it by hand to fit with the other letters. Ian felt, quite reasonably, that the original S was difficult to read.)

Here's a look at the back of the printed book:

Ian was very happy with the final product, which pleased me a lot. I love a happy client! Yay! He was also kind enough to leave me the following lovely testimonial:

Alison’s skill in producing perfectly tailored imagery that matched my words, was a revelation. With a minimal brief she delivered illustrations that were so much better than any I could have imagined. Her work is the true testament to her vision and creativity.

You can buy The Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses in paperback or Kindle. Ian's poems are very good, I can recommend it for anyone who likes poetry anthologies. (I receive no royalties from the sale of this book)

Ian has also written several thrillers that are well-regarded. You can find them on Amazon also. 

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