Hilda Bewildered Page One Progress Pictures

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It will be interesting for me to come back later to this post and see how I’ve had to change the wording or the colour scheme. So far I’m going for a green and golden hue. The pages will get darker as the story progresses.

I’m in two minds about the font. Comic book readers are used to reading in all caps, but I do lose something in the writing because at times I capitalise certain words for a specific effect. The comma in this particular font (Universal Fruitcake) looks too much like the full-stop, so I may have to go and manually do something about that.

I am tempted to add patterns to the wallpaper etc but it does take an entire week to do a single page, so if I linger on this one I’m off schedule… So, onwards and upwards — page one done and only another 31 to go. This time we have decided to go with exactly 32 pages, which is a printed picturebook convention initially decided on due to binding. In digital books there is no such print limitation, but The Artifacts was shorter than that (I think 22 pages) and Midnight Feast is much longer, and I have a hunch that whether readers know it or not, we’re conditioned to reading a picturebook 32 pages in length. It hasn’t been easy to tell the story that’s in my head in exactly that number of pages — something which print authors have always had to do, I suppose — but the good thing is, interactivity of apps allows for certain aspects of story to be told in economical fashion. Storyboarding for 32 pages has been a matter of condensing interactivity, and transferring certain assets from one page to another. I hope it will work without too much card shuffling at the end.


What It Looks Like In The Beginning

Creativity is messy, and these are reassuring:

Famous Authors’ Handwritten Outlines for Great Works of Literature.

Meanwhile, I took a look at the original concept sketches I drew for a mock up of Midnight Feast. One thing’s clear: I don’t do pretty mock ups. I’m glad I write the stories myself because I wouldn’t want to have to waste time doing pretty mock ups for approval. The advantage of being writer/illustrator in one is that my concept sketches exist only to remind me of my own original idea.

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Also, I don’t have the messiest workings. This is pretty ugly: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Manuscript for “Ozymiandias”

This is cool: Inside The Sketchbooks Of Famous Artists

And funny: The Original Manuscripts, What Books Look Like Before They Are Sent To The Publisher from Laughing Squid

The View From Bed

Not interesting.
Slightly more interesting.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen from your bed?

For me it would have to be the spider I woke up to one morning. It was dangling at the end of a thread, right in front of my nose. It wasn’t exactly a Huntsman, but still not pleasant!

A Scene From Midnight Feast: Roya’s Bedroom

I decided to put the full workings of this first page up because it illustrates how I changed my mind about the colour scheme. As you can see, I proceeded to create a bluish sort of colour scheme, avoiding the black outline with a colour wash that appears in many children’s books. This is fairly quick to draw, but doesn’t look as attractive to me.

In the end, to overcome the feeling that this project will never get done, I decided to make the ‘A’ version of each page the line-drawing and wash sort of illustration which can take about half the number of hours for me to crank out. This is because instead of rendering form tonally, I can just plonk down an outline and colour it in with a block colour. This makes drawing the characters a lot quicker. Since some pages have multiple touch and fade ‘animations’, drawing each character tonally proved too time consuming. If we spent a month on each page, this app wouldn’t get done before I got sick of it. But it’s not just about time. The ‘A’ version of each page has to look different in mood, and I was wondering how to achieve this at the beginning of the story, before Roya has fully entered her imaginative world.

As you can see, I begin to change the colour scheme back to the colour of the original canvas. In keeping with a more sketchy style, I’ve decided to hand-write the text.

I made Roya’s arms shorter so that she looks a LITTLE bit younger. I think she can pass for 12-14 now so I’m happy with that.

I had to send a whole bunch of preview screens to Dan so that he knows where to position the elements.

That probably gives some idea of the number of elements in this page, and how difficult it will be for Dan to get this page loading quickly and playing nicely. So there are no guarantees that he’s going to fit all of them in. He tells me that Apple are vague about upper memory limits, which means coding an app for Apple is a matter of trial and error to some extent.

Anyway, it would be nice to think that mobile devices were completely free of the constraints of print publishing — the need for a 32 or 24 pages, the need for approximate rather than precise colour and so on. But there are limitations on what we can do in a storybook app, even in an app designed for the best mobile hardware out there: Apple’s.


And here’s the next version. I’d like to say it’s the ‘final’ one, but you never know! I figure the first few pages need mucking around with the most. After I’ve got a mood down, I can remember how I did it, then recreate it on all the following pages.