June 30, 2006


The process of making something is simple: think about what you want it to end up like, and work on it until you get it. Of course, be flexible, be influenced, make mistakes, discover limitations, make concessions, struggle... but essentially that's it. Thematically, for me, it seemed appropriate to ape things from children's books, little golden books, and just older books--the kind you'd find at a rummage sale or used book store: hardcover, clothbound, debossed title, gold foil, no dust jacket.

The tough stuff was deciding how to lay the damn thing out, and this was entirely content driven. What was necessary to show? What was within the range of work that I could accomplish, given the time I had? 3 paintings? 2? How many boards? How much concept? In the end, a very simple setup: concept in line and colour to explain the flavour of the thing; the text, separately, for easy access, and concision, and text alongside plenty and plenty of boards--that's what the book is supposed to be showing, after all. Top it off with a DVD to tell the story again, even more clearly, in a third and fourth form, and that was it.

An intro page
the story
kid concept
adult concept
a bridge
storyboard drawings
and an outro page (as I called it in my head).

There were some issues with paper, and printing. The first decisions to make are how big you want your book to be and how you want to get it bound--because how are you going to get it printed? I checked out small run press places, but couldn't find anything to accomodate the colour printing or fancy cover I wanted. I wanted ENDPAPERS, dammit! and I wasn't going to compromise those until I had exhausted every option. I considered printing it myself on my brand new Epson R800 (which also prints onto DVDs), but eventually opted to try the many print shops around my house. TPH, The Printing House is where my girlfriend's company got a bunch of stuff done so I thought I'd try there--DISASTER. I had taken the liberty of purchasing some nice fine art paper from VISTEK, and not only did they ruin all of it with inconsistant, poorly colour managed, streaky printing, but they couldn't even fit the images on the page.

The problem was, you see, that to have a book that was bound and not just glued together, the pages needed to be folded into what you call signatures; therefore, if I wanted the book a decent size, like 8 1/2" x 11", as it was, I needed paper that was 8 1/2" x 22" long. Though I had found some, printing was a problem: no one could accomodate it. TPH tried and failed, wasted $90 worth of MOAB paper, and left me stuck. I did not pay for it, and left agast at how careless, unprofessional and uninformed they were on paper stock, ICC colour profiling and the capabilities of their machines (a Heidelberg Quickmaster Direct Imaging press); I found that it paid to do my homework--I wanted to talk to people in their terms. Arctic Paper (and the rest of the internet) taught me most things I know.

Things were getting down to the wire, however, and I had still not solidified the printer or binder. I bought a couple of crumby Epson Storyteller books, just in case things didn't pan out. Enter PIKTO and DON TAYLOR, BOOKBINDER to set me straight. Both were helpful, accomodating, and clear; answering all my questions and plying their trades with precision and expertise. Because I had images that would span two pages, Don suggested binding the book like a children's board book, binding in the middle and gluing the edges, so that each spread was in fact a long intact page. This influenced the printing, and at Pikto, they booked me on a workstation to import my TIFF files, convert them to the appropriate colour profiles (so that they matched what I saw on their screens), and GICLEE print them onto a huge roll of paper. They then had to be carefully transported, flattened by me via books, and brought to Don, where he trimmed and attached them together. I was early on asked to chose a bookcloth and to provide a drawing from which they would make the stamp for the title. After handing him the printed papers and waiting a few days, I came by to pick up the books--two in total--and that was it.

So there it is. It was expensive, I'll tell you that; for the printing more than for the binding. Both were of the highest quality though, so I wouldn't have had it any other way. Both were a joy to work with; I have since returned to get photos printed, and it's now my intention to bind EVERYTHING.

My best recommendation would be to do your homework; learn as much as you can about all things book/paper/colour/printing related. Find people you feel comfortable with, people you can ask questions to, and ultimately, people you feel you can trust to do your project good. You're the director of this project, so you need to be not only clear about what you want, but open to understanding how other people's expertise will plus your content. That in the end, is all we're asking for.


  1. You're my hero.
    It'll be my turn soon.

  2. Anonymous6:14 AM

    Nice work and great effort! (But it`s not original and that`s the most important part, for a true artist, no offence). Never the less, good luck and I hope you get all you want!

  3. Really informative post! I know what it's like to be unsatisfied with a lot of printers out there. When I wanted to self-publish my comics I ran into similar problems, and I ended up printing it on my own. Not as professional looking, but it got the job done at the time I guess.

    Next time I print something I'd like it to be of a higher quality, I guess I'll have to do a lot of searching to get what I want though.

    Your book looks like it turned out wonderfully ^_^

  4. J -- U R DA BOMB.

    Thanks anonymous, that's food for thought.

    And you too leisl-- I'm glad you found the post useful. I'm glad you've been making your own books--it's fun, eh? Thanks!

  5. wow amazing stuff indeed...you talk about a one man band... your a one man army!!

  6. Hey Nick,

    Found your blog recently. It's been great to watch the progress of this story idea. Please come and visit my newly hatched blog. Oh and you were much more gracious than I would have been to the "anonymous" post.

  7. You've told a wonderful story of creating a book for your wonderful story and images...engrossing stuff Nick.