February 27, 2011

Little Snail Blue

Well it turns out last week's teasing glimpse of spring was just that, a tease. Just to bring the point home, mother nature hit us with some snow this weekend and this morning we woke to this:

But this is only the second time we've had snow this year, despite predictions for a tough winter, and the first snow we got, back in November, barely lasted two days.  Plus, shoveling was a good workout for both of us this morning so, all things considered, and knowing that the snow drops (and spring) are patiently waiting under the drifts, there's no cause to gripe.  Besides, hanging out at home, drinking tea in front of the fireplace, and knowing there's no pressure to get anywhere has it's up side. And it was a good day to print; no need to go out and start working in the yard yet. 

I finally reached a decision on which colour to go with for the snails late last night.  I had the block cleared and ready to go by dinner time but still hadn't made up my mind on the next colour.  So I loaded last week's print into Photoshop and spent the evening mucking around with layers and testing colours yet again.  Having the background colours to work with helped a lot, so although the images were rough, they still gave a good enough idea of the overall effect.  Keeping in mind that the Photoshop colours are meant only as approximations, first there was red:

Then orange:

And then blue.

I also tried a tan version that didn't work at all but I kind of liked the orange one.  I showed my different options to Roland and asked for his opinion but it didn't help.  I was, of course, hoping he'd pick the orange version too but he didn't like it.  He liked the blue one.  (Is is a "guy thing", Stuart?)  In the end though, the thing that decided it was the spider print. 

I'm not sure why I didn't do it before, one of those stupid lapses I guess, but I finally compared the spider print to both of my considered options, orange and blue, for the snails. At which point it was totally clear that if the snails were orange, the colour scheme would be too close to the spider print.  I don't want that; I don't want a theme like that.  So that left the one clear choice:

It took me nearly 45 minutes to mix and test and mix and test the ink until I finally got a blue I liked but I'm satisfied with my decision.


February 20, 2011

The Colour of Spring

Yesterday morning I looked out the window and into our back yard and saw a sight that made my heart do a little jig.  

The snow drops have come up in the woodland part of the garden. Lots of them.  

They've probably been there for a few days already but I'm not at my most observant best on workday mornings, and it's still not fully daylight when I leave the house, so I missed them.  But yesterday, sitting down to my Saturday morning bowl of granola, there they were.  The harbingers of spring.  Nevermind that the weather people are talking about the chance of snow sometime during this next week.  Snow shmow. The snow drops are out in the woodland garden and all is well.

All is going pretty well with my printing too.  I still haven't decided what colour I'm going to use for the snails in this next print.  I've got the sketch propped up against the wall on my desk, which means I look at it at least ten times a day, and each time I look at it I change my mind.  I'm playing a game of mental ping pong but that's ok. I still have a week.  

I printed the first two colours today...nice happy spring colours:

A week of looking at the prints as they are now will also help settle the decision on the next colour.

Right now, a bigger concern is whether I'll have enough time during this coming week to clear all the parts of the block that need to be taken out before the next pass goes on. 

February 09, 2011

Kid's Book Plate Two

I'm working on the next illustration for my rediscovered kid's book.  

As with the spider print, I had the pencil sketch for this one worked out from years ago.  I only made small changes to it, although I still have to give the snails some more breathing room on either side, but deciding on the colours turned out to be  trickier than I expected.  I really want to keep the number of colours for all the images in this series simple and limited to just a few.  Otherwise, I can see this project waiting for completion for another 15 years and by then I might just not be a spry as I am now. 

I used five colours for the spider, but two were white and black so, really, I only used three actual colours.  And that's what I was aiming for with this next print too.  But damned if I can make three colours (and black and white) work so that I like it.  Not unless I make the background all one colour and I'm just not sold on that idea.  So, after a weekend of fiddling around, I decided on six colours for this next one.

Except, after hours spent the old-fashioned way, pencil-colouring, I also decided I don't like the colour combination all that labour resulted in. 

It happens to me every time. I'm not crazy about working out my colours in Photoshop.  It may be nuts but I like the smell of pencil shavings and I have a huge set of good pencil crayons so I start my colouring with them.  But I get impatient and restless; it takes too long.  I then switch to markers which, invariably, because I don't have as many colours to choose from, end up overpowering everything.  And they can't be lightened up.  Like in the picture above.  It's way too bold and way too dull for a kid's book.  Too terra-cotta somehow.

At this point, having spent my free hours on the weekend colouring, I don't have the patience to do it again. So, in search of instant gratification, I Photoshopped a few other versions. 

#1 - I tried making the green lighter...
#2 - And changing the rust into blue...

#3 - And then the blue into tan...

All of which, of course, took me a fraction of the time it took to colour the thing in with pencils!
Anyway. I think I'm leaning toward the tan version for now.  I think.  I guess I have time to ponder still.  I doubt I'll be ready to print by this weekend since I don't even have the lino glued to the support for now.