Making Decisions

There are many decisions to make when creating a book, some you may not have even imagined. Making decisions is difficult for me, so this was one of the more challenging parts of the project.  It can also be a lot of fun, seeing it come together and nailing down all the details.

Book Layout

In order to get quotes for printing, I needed to know the size of my book and how many pages it would be. I wanted to include the 100 main gryphons plus the sketches, so I figured that it was going to be around 100 pages, but wasn’t sure. Also, depending on the size of the book, it could be more or less. I really needed to nail down these numbers, but was reluctant to actually scan everything and put it together, basically do the work of making the book.

What I ended up doing was a to-scale layout. I did rough scans of all the pages with drawings that I wanted, printed them 4-to-a-page and cut out the drawings. Then I drew scale pages (using a cardboard stencil that I created) in an old sketchbook and taped the gryphons in place. I decided to try an 8” x 8” page layout and figured out the scaling factor by measuring the printed gryphon drawing and comparing it with the one in the sketchbook. I wanted the gryphons to be printed actual size in the end.

This was very helpful for determining the number of pages, page layout, and exact placement of each gryphon. It allowed me to try different combinations, move the drawings around, and find the arrangement that fit the best. I put together facing page layouts in sets of three, so I could see how each set of pages would look in the final book.

In the end I used this layout multiple times during the book creation process. It was used to identify drawings that needed references and what page they were on. What notes were needed and on which page. Along with what was completed and not completed, what was exported, and which pages still needed to be finalized.

Writing, lots of little pieces

When you start looking at it, there is a lot of little pieces of text that go into a book, even an art book. Front and back matter are often overlooked, but in almost any book. I looked up several articles on what written pages to include and what they should say and they were very helpful. I would recommend reading up on it. Here is a list of the pieces I decided to write up and include in the book:

  • Title Page
  • Copyright page
  • About this book
  • Drawing tools
  • About the author/artist
  • Thanks
  • Gryphon challenge online
  • Photo References
  • Back cover

All these pieces took decisions, work and proofreading. They also took some research and investigation. I looked up articles and also at books I own for examples of each of these pages.

For the photo references, I really wanted to give credit where credit was due. I was actually a bit nervous about including photo-referenced drawings in my book. Copyright it is a sticky topic. In the end I decided to at least properly reference all those drawings because I thought they were quite critical to the book. Unfortunately, I hadn’t kept track of all my photo references as I did the drawings, since I had no idea I was going to make a book (otherwise I may have tried to pick creative commons references). Therefore, I needed to go find all those references, and write them up in proper referencing style. Here I thought my days of bibliographies were over!

For the copyright page, I decided I wanted an official ISBN for my book. That is, an International Standard Book Number. Luckily, they are free in Canada, so I only had to apply and give them information about my book and myself. It took quite a while to come in, but I took quite a while to finish the book too. Definitely apply for that early!

Screenshot of copyright page

A screenshot of my copyright page. Fairly simple, but still needed to be designed.

Other details included finding a picture for my ‘about the author’ page, and taking a picture of my drawing tools. I had to decide who to thank, and how to thank them, what to put on the back cover, etc. The writing was one of the last things that I had to do, and the thing that really delayed my finishing the book.

Text on pages

There were a number of pages with text on them in the book. This stage required some more decisions, such as:

  • What font to use
  • What to write about
  • How to number the gryphons
  • How to reference drawings
  • Which text should be hand written vs typed
  • Where to place text on page

There were a number of drawings that had stories, or notes associated with them. Such as things that I thought about while drawing them, interesting educational things about how I drew them, etc. There were a number of freehand drawings that I did in ink without a sketch for a guide. I wanted to indicate which drawings were freehand, but without being imposing. I have also seen books where the notes with the drawings were all hand written. I didn’t feel confident enough to write out everything, but I did include some hand written parts.

Sample page

Sample page from 100 Gryphons showing hand written notes, numbers and reference numbers.

I decided to hand write the numbers for each gryphon, references, freehand, and a couple notes. This meant that I had to write the numbers 1-100 in ink, scan, clean, and add them in, finding an unobtrusive place beside each gryphon for the number. It was a surprising amount of work for such a small detail. That is one of the things that I learned about book printing. Sometimes the small details take a lot more work than expected. For example, should it be Day 1, or just 1?

For the photo referenced drawings I wanted to link the drawing to the reference list in the back of the book. I did these references in pencil, so they were unobtrusive, numbering them with ‘photo 1.’ and using the same numbering for the reference list.

Fonts

I researched fonts for this book. There are two main types of font, serif and sans-serif. Serif have little tails on the letters, Times New Roman is a serif font. Sans-serif are cleaner, Arial is a sans-serif font.   Usually serif is used inside books and is nicer to read as a block of text. Internet fonts are a bit different, but that is a whole other story.

I picked out some common ones and checked to see if Gimp supported them. Here are some of the serif fonts I checked: Garamond, Baskerville, Caslon, Minion, Janson Text, Palatino. For sans-serif: Futura, Myriad, Helvetica, Franklin Gothic, Univers.

Font examples

Serif and Sans-serif fonts that I looked at.

I ended up settling with 12 pt Garamond for the internal text and Baskerville Bold for the cover. The cover text was tricky, because it had numbers in it. Some of the fonts had wonky looking numbers or kerning (spacing between characters).

Book fonts

The two fonts in my book. Not to scale, but to give you an idea. Garamond looks really good printed in a paragraph in a book, not so much in an image on the internet.

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