So this week I had planned to work on the shading and highlighting on my illustrations. After experimenting with a few different styles I realised that it didn’t add anything to the images and actually seemed unnecessary. I hummed and hawed about this decision as I was worried the illustrations would look incomplete, but after numerous attempts, I found that the images just looked better without. Which is great, because it will save me a lot of time!
So all that’s left to do now is refine the line work in places, correct a few mistakes, and then the story pages will be complete. I’ve started working on the front cover, and I’ll need to create some illustrations to accompany the ‘from the author’ page, and the inside title page, etc. After that, I’ll be all done! I’m reluctant to put a timeline on it, but I think I’ll be ready to publish by the end of the month!
I also ordered my web hosting this week with a company called OVH, as recommended by my web designer friend. It’s only £2 a month and I now have a custom domain name – tomplumbooks.co.uk
It’s all coming together slowly but surely!
Just a very short post this week as I have only one thing to say – the colouring is done! After many late nights of Photoshop, the colouring is finally complete! I finished it this evening, hence the very late post (11pm GMT). Admittedly there is still some tweaking to do, but generally speaking, all pages have now been finished. Next up shading and highlighting!
Had a week off this week and was away visiting family so not a lot to report I’m afraid this week. I did manage to get a reasonable amount of colouring done while I was away though, so should hopefully move on to the shading and highlighting fairly soon.
Now that a fair few pages are finished (in terms of colouring) the book is really starting to come alive, and I’m really excited to see it compiled and printed.
A problem that I’ve been addressing this week, is when I was designing the book I seem to have forgotten to make room for the text on a number of pages. An amateur mistake I know, especially as some pages I had considered the text and others I completely forgot. I guess I got carried away with the drawing and focused too much on creating an interesting image and forgot all about where the text would go. And I’m now having to fix this in Photoshop, at the cost of the composition in some cases too, unfortunately. I’ll remember for book number two though!
Every mistake is a lesson learnt, and every error is an opportunity for growth.
This week I set up a Tom Plum facebook page and a Tom Plum twitter account, so those plus my Instagram page means my social media is all set up and ready to go! There’s nothing on there yet, but at least they’re ready.
I did begin recording video close-ups of me sketching out Ninja Nan to post on social media, but after multiple failed attempts I decided to try again another time. I think the pressure of being recorded seemed to block the creative juices and the sketches were a bit rubbish really.
I did, however, resolve the form issue from last week. After hours of research, I was about to give up when I found a method using forms created on a platform called JotForm. It’s a roundabout method as you have to create a new form in JotForm, embed that in your site, and then link that to your MailChimp list. It’s not the simplest method but it works, so that’s the main thing!
I also had a discussion with my web designer friend and he recommended instead of using the WordPress.com platform, to instead pay for separate hosting and using the WordPress.org platform. When I first set this blog up I didn’t even realise that two platforms existed – turns out there’s a big difference between them though! It seems WordPress.com is more of a beginner tool with limited options, whereas WordPress.org is more of an Intermediate tool which requires more skill but gives you much more options. So at some point, I will be switching over!
The page colouring for my book is steadily progressing, however, I didn’t work on it quite so much this week so there’s still a fair amount to go. I’m chipping away at it though, so one day soon I’ll finally be able to say ‘the colouring’s all done!’
If anyone knows how to get MailChimp to work on a WordPress.com website any tips would be greatly received! I’ll get to that in a bit though…
This week I’ve been gradually ploughing through the colouring, working on the book most nights still. Last night I worked on one page for an hour and a half and it’s still not done… My wife did remind me that creating a children’s book does take a long time (she has a degree in illustration and created a children’s book for her final piece), but it’s so annoying! If I could work on it full-time it would be done in a week! Hopefully, one day that will be a reality, until then though its twilight hours only.
I’ve also been working on my author website a lot this week. I’ve updated the About Me section numerous times, added Instagram integration, and attempted to add a MailChimp sign up form. I’ve managed to add a pop-up form that appears when you first visit the website, however I also want to have embedded forms permanently in place on the page. I can’t for the life of me get it to work though! I’ve researched it and researched it but can’t find a way around it other than using plugins, which you need a business account for. Such a pain! I’ll keep trying though, where there’s a will there’s a way!
So, as you may or may not have noticed, I’ve changed the naming format of my weekly reports – instead of ‘Progress Report – Week X’ it’s now ‘My First Book – Week X’. I did this because I realised that once I’ve completed ‘My Nan is a Ninja’ (my first book), and begin working on my second/third/fourth book, it’s going to be much of the same again ad infinitum. I also thought it sounded more interesting than just ‘progress report’.
I’ve decided instead to continue the weekly posts up until ‘My Nan is a Ninja’ has been published, and then revert to a monthly progress report. This way I can still record my progress, without retreading the same ground too much. I’ll also begin writing book reviews of some of my favourite books and possibly start posting useful tips that I’ve learnt along the way.
This week I also created a separate author webpage as I plan to keep this blog as a unique entity going forward. This blog will be home to my journal, reviews and general musings, and my author page will only feature my finished books and all the official author stuff.
It’s still a work-a-progress, but feel free to take a look –
So, My Nan is a Ninja has progressed steadily in the colouring department. As per usual I think I overshot the mark on how much could be achieved, but I feel I’ve made a substantial dent in the workload. It’s just taking too long! I want to compile it now and see what it looks like on a Kindle!
Okay, so it turns out colouring takes a long time…
Firstly I’d just like to bring attention to the amazing picture (see featured image) of Ninja Nan that my little boy Zachary drew. Zachary loves drawing with me and this week when I was working on ‘My Nan is a Ninja’ he surprised me with his own drawing of her! My first ever fan art!
So, this week I’ve been gradually getting through all my pages adding colour, but it really does take a long time. I’ve been putting 2 or 3 hours in most nights, but the amount achieved in each session is not nearly as much as I’d anticipated. Thank goodness I found the Illustrator technique to save myself re-inking every outline, or I’d be doubting whether the book would ever be finished!
I did find another technique to speed up colouring in Photoshop though. It’s not the most sophisticated shortcut in the whole world, but I’ve found it’s saved me a fair amount of time when colouring larger areas. I’ve adapted it a little bit to suit, but it goes as follows.
Choose an area of single colour that you want to fill.
Colour around the perimeter of this area, making sure the line is a closed loop when finished.
Select the area inside this loop with the Magic Wand Tool.
Next, create a new action and begin recording.
Extend the selection by 2 pixels.
Use Control + Backspace to fill the selected area.
Use Control + Backspace to fill the selected area a second time. (I find doing it only once leaves me with a faint white border line that doesn’t fill, whereas the second time will remove this).
Set the shortcut for the action to an F key of your choice. (I chose F5 as it was the only one which didn’t have an additional function attached).
From here just repeat steps 1 – 3 on each area to be coloured, followed by pressing your chosen F key while highlighting inside the selected area.
Anyway, I’ll keep grinding on and hopefully will be almost finished colouring this time next week… #famouslastwords