Saturday, May 22, 2010

Post-Grad Update

I graduated!

There I am, with my roommate and fellow Honors student Meg, celebrating after the Honors Convocation.

Since then, I've been at home in PA, job hunting and catching up on bad television.

This morning, I mailed one copy of my book to Scott McCloud, and another to Top Shelf Productions co-founder Brett Warnock. Both should get to their respective locations (Scott's in California, and Brett's in Oregon) a week from now. So we'll see what, if anything, happens with that. Who knows? Maybe a week from now I will be updating with very exciting news!

Until then, I'll be watching bad television.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Present(ation) and the Future

I gave my Capstone presentation today! I don't have any pictures from it to put up, but I can say that it did go very well. I prepared some slides of my process for a few spreads, and used those to talk about the project as a whole, as well as my London experience. I was nervous at first, so I cracked a lot of jokes. Bill came (I was happily surprised-- I thought he'd be grading sophomore work today), as well as Kate, Allie, Chris, Meg and Kelsey, even Meg's parents. (After the presentations, Meg's parents took me and her out to dinner-- delicious!) It was such a supportive group of people. After I got into it, I felt really at ease, especially with such a great group there with me. I got a lot of compliments. Afterwards, the Honors representative who was monitoring my room and had sat through my presentation asked if I was selling the books, and when I said I wasn't (I don't feel right selling them when I got them all for free) she said she would have liked to buy one for her granddaughter. I told her I'd just give her one. I think at this point, it's time for me to share all the positivity I got through completing this project.

Which brings me to the future, or my ideal future for my book. In my most wild pipe dreams (I don't actually smoke a pipe of any kind-- it's just a figure of speech, hehe) I would love to submit this book to Top Shelf Productions to at least get an opinion from those in the comics profession. Top Shelf has published some of my favorite independent comics, including Blankets (and a whole bunch of Craig Thompson's other work) and the work of Jeffrey Brown, who writes autobiographical comics about relationships. I have his first book, Clumsy, and it is really incredibly honest and touching. Though he doesn't draw as gorgeously as Craig Thompson, it doesn't matter because you get attached to the stories and the characters-- it's so easy to see yourself and your own relationships in his work. (I was given Clumsy by my ex-boyfriend, and I found tinges of our relationship in the book.)

Actually, reading Brown's book Clumsy has helped me rethink the extent of my own project. While I find myself drawn to autobiographical comics, I didn't see my own project as anything more than something self-indulgent until recently. Rereading books like Clumsy helped me realize that maybe there is more to my own project than just a stack of books to sit in my living room. So next week, as I'm distributing many of my sixty copies to family and friends (and that Honors advisor's granddaughter), I will also be sending a copy to Top Shelf. If I do and nothing ever comes of it, fine. But if I don't, I'll never know.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


My books are here!!

I have a whole box of them! Check it out!

I don't know if you can tell from this photo, but the print quality on these pages is drool-worthy.

The title page! It's real!

Flipping through...

One of my favorite spreads.

I'm absolutely ecstatic with the way this came out. I've been getting a lot of compliments, and I'm really proud. We'll see where this project goes after this, but even right now I am so happy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Proof I'm Awesome

This morning, the SU Publications Office let me see a proof of my final book so I could approve it for final printing. It's even better than I anticipated! And, I have pictures:

The front cover!

Look how thin this is compared to my dummy or the binders with the original artwork.

The first spread! It's not perfect bound yet, so each of the pages was loose in the binding. You can't really see it in this shot, but the print quality is amazing. I'm so excited to have sixty(!) of these in less than a week.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'm No Dummy

Big news! I handed in my final document to SU Publications (thank you Clare Merrick!) They required files from me today, but also a dummy so they know what the final book should look like. So I printed out every page individually, cut them out and taped the corresponding pages into spreads (ick), and then proceeded to place them in an order that I liked. This was a fun process in a way, because I got to spread them all out on the studio floor and see them all together:

And then Allie took some pictures of me doing my best impression of Harper's Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch:

And then I decided on the final layout:

After I decided on the layout, I spent forever taping the spreads together in the right order. The result is a hoopty but serviceable dummy for the printer so they have a reference:
I decided I wanted the cover to look like the cover of the sketchbook I've been working in to emphasize the impromptu and personal nature of a lot of these stories. So the cover and back cover is literally just my actual sketchbook, which I wrote on in white-out and then scanned in using my roommate's scanner.

A couple of my favorite spreads in dummy form:

You can see how the pages don't quite line up, thanks to my shoddy hand skills. But I handed it into the Publications office so I will be receiving the final copy in about two weeks, with a color proof sometime next week. I am so very very excited!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Going Digital

Yesterday, I scanned every page and then imported the scanned files into InDesign. Here is a screencap of what just a portion of my project looks like, at about 12% zoom.

This makes me feel pretty awesome.

Tonight, I will be messing around with the layout of the informational pages. I scanned in a bunch of my sketches from my original notebooks as well as the writing I needed for them, and I'm going to play around with that in Photoshop before importing them into InDesign. (I'll post those too, or snippets of those, as I finish them.) This will be the only digital manipulation this project has in it. I'm pretty proud of that.

Bill came into the studio while I was scanning this all, sat down, and said, "I can't believe you did this." I kind of can't believe it either.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

No More Painting!

I'm finished painting!!

My overstuffed portfolios of work for this project. The bottom one is entirely filled (that's 48 pages) and the top one is a quarter filled (12 pages).

Splaying the pages open to see all the pages in the first portfolio (which is balanced on my lap on a couch at studio.)

There's Allie in the background working diligently on a project for our major. I thought I'd be cute and photograph the painting she's in with me.

Now the trick will be finishing everything up in time for getting this to the printer on Tuesday. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy April!

Hello all!

April brings with it the completion (gasp!) of this project. It's a surreal feeling to be at the end of this, especially when I look back at old entries when I was just beginning the sketching phase. I'm actually very proud of this project-- its content, quality, and the fact that I followed through on something that has been an aspiration of mine for a while (to write and illustrate my own graphic novel). It definitely helps to have the supervision and support of professors and the wonderful people in the Honors Department to keep me going week to week. And soon I'll be posting an entire list of people I need to thank, because there are way too many to fit on half a page in my actual published document.

So since the deadline for getting this to the printer approacheth, this is my last week of painting content. (Wow.) So here's a glimpse of what's on the drawing board (painting board?) this week:

So tune in later this week for the last batch (wow, I still can't get over that!) of painting, and any more updates about actual publication. 'Til next time!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Color in London

When I started this project, I knew I had to make my final product in color. I have a great fondness for pen and ink, and I think black and white work can be really beautiful if done well (take, for example, Maus by Art Spiegelman and Blankets by Craig Thompson), but I knew that I wouldn't be happy with pure black and white for my final product. There is so much beautiful color in places like London and Istanbul-- I thought I'd be cheating these places of some of their life if I only used black and white.

In this way, a lack of color can emphasize the feeling of missing such beauty. For one of my more recent spreads, I decided to experiment with color vs. black and white to get my point across. In this spread, my boyfriend comes to visit me in London, and I am eager to show him everything I have come to love. Throughout my time abroad, I was always so excited about everything I was experiencing, but there was always this pang of homesickness for the people I left in the U.S.-- a lot of times, that was my boyfriend. I wanted him to be a part of everything I was seeing and doing. And, for four days in March, he actually got to be. So I did have this feeling of the landscape of London getting extra meaning, or extra "life," from the two of us being there together. (Corny, I know-- what can I say, I'm a lovesick puppy sometimes.) So for this spread, I demonstrated how him being in London made everything that much more alive and colorful to me.

I started with a light grey wash over what I wanted to be black and white.

This is a close-up of that first panel: me waiting for him outside his hotel, in black and white because he's not with me yet.

Close-up on the first of three middle panels that sweep across both pages. This is an exaggerated field of flowers in St. James Park near Buckingham Palace. I really loved the visual of having these dull grey flowers suddenly blooming bright yellow as we walked by.

The final product for the first half of the spread. Here, you can see the color appears when we hug, and the three locations (St. James Park, the Millennium Bridge, and the Royal Festival Hall) all fade from black and white to color depending on where he and I are walking.

The second page of the spread works much the same way as the first, with color signifying where we are together. When we are hugging goodbye, the color is still there, but after we say goodbye the color disappears. In the last panel (shown directly above) everything goes back to being black and white, but there is a little hint of my new perspective on things: a bright yellow flower popping up out of the crack in the sidewalk.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Takin' Care of Business

Hey all! I know it's been a while. Thanks to a combination of midterm projects, spring break, and a computer meltdown (my laptop needed a new logic board), my updating abilities were temporarily stunted. My apologies. But even though I haven't been updating, I have been working diligently.

No work to show this time around (process pictures and sketches from my time abroad will definitely be coming up very soon) but I thought I'd update about the general process as it is going right now:

After some editing, I only have six more pages to paint of actual artwork (so crazy to think I've only got six more to go!), then I will design the covers and the informational pages (which include things like "Author's Note," "About the Author," etc.) Then it will be sent to a printer in Syracuse through the very helpful people at SU Printing Services, and about two weeks after that I will have fifty copies of my own book to give to whoever wants a copy! (So let me know if you want one... or fifty. Haha.) I will be giving my files to SU Printing Services by April 13th, so all of this is happening very fast. I can't believe it's already almost done!

So keep an eye out for more updates in the coming weeks about progress. I leave you with this photograph that my roommate took of me working on one of my Paris spreads, and the caption to go along with it:
"This is a female Brianna in her natural habitat."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy March!

Wow, I can't believe it's March already! Time flies when you're working hard, I guess.

Thanks to a freak snow storm that got us some cancelled classes, I was able to complete more than my weekly amount of pages. Now I'm up to 40 completed pages!

As most of my recent entries have been process photos from pages I've been painting, I thought I'd do something different to mark the beginning of the new month: As of the beginning of this semester, I was studying abroad a year ago, which gives me the interesting opportunity to look back at my sketchbooks and see what I was up to a year ago today.

A year ago today, I was preparing for my upcoming trip to Istanbul by attending the exhibit Byzantium at the Royal Academy. There were no artifacts from Turkey specifically, but the kids going on the trip got free tickets there so we could learn about the history behind the Byzantine Empire, which encompassed modern-day Turkey. Here are a couple sketches from what I saw there:

As you can see from the caption, the bust of Emperor Constantine, made in 325 A.D.

You might not be able to read this caption, so I'll write it here: "Votive hand holding a cross. Syria-Palestine, 6th-8th centuries." I wrote my own commentary running up the side there vertically. That says, "Though other artifacts in the exhibit were much more ornate, this one really spoke to me. I think it's the simplicity, and the human element-- like I could see the faith in crafting it."

So, there you have it: one year ago today, I was doing something much cooler than sitting on my couch blogging. But I hope you appreciate the blogging now. I think this is something I'll do from now until the project is finished if I come across something of particular interest in my sketchbooks. I'll be back soon, so watch for updates.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Good News and Good Painting

Hello! Sorry for the gap in posting. But I'm back this week with good news: One, I'm over halfway done with painting. And two, Honors gave me the funding to print 50 copies of my book! So hurray!

On to the process photos. This particular page is the second page in a spread about this painting in the National Gallery, which I saw when I visited it with Chris over our spring break. The painting is of Parliament. It was a significant moment for me, as I explained to Chris: I had probably seen this painting in books a million times before and passed it over, but now I had stood where Monet stood and had seen Parliament in real life, and now I was seeing this painting... it stuck with me.

So, the following is my interpretation of the painting, and what it meant to me. I liked this page, because I got to experiment with using watercolors like Monet used oils-- not that I'm likening myself to him talent-wise-- and I got to play with a lot more color than I normally do. So I hope you like seeing it as much as I liked painting it. (I won't caption them all-- I think you can just follow the progression.)

Chris is saying in that speech bubble: "We'll have to come back here someday."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Notre Dame

Before I get started, happy birthday to my mom! Without her, none of this-- my semester abroad, my artistic talent, this project, and my existence (heehee)-- would ever have happened. So thanks and happy birthday, Mom!

I've finished another four pages for this week, but I thought I'd show the process on one of them.

My reference photo: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. Gorgeous.

Laying down light washes of color.

Filling in the secondary areas of color.

Adding some detail and shading with watercolor pencil and tiny brushes.

Getting darker with my shading.

The final page: completely painted, with pen outlines for the cathedral and text boxes.

It's amazing how something that takes so much time to make takes next to no time to post on a blog. Hehe. I think next time when I do one of these process posts, I'm going to include time stamps for all the pictures, so you know how long it takes for me to complete a page. But until then, I hope you enjoyed our little trip to Paris.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy February!

So, it's been a little while since I last updated, so I thought I'd check in. Since my last post, I've finished ten pages. That means only 40 more to go!

I also turned in a funding application to the Honors Department for a grant that would give me money enough to print and bind a whole bunch of books, so keep your fingers crossed!

Now, onto some more process photos. Since you already know the drill, I'm not going to caption them. But here they are, for your viewing pleasure.

Hope you enjoyed these! More to come as I keep on keepin' on.