I was on a roll yesterday (Saturday March second) like I haven’t been on in a while. Last week I wrote about printing out proofs for my “The Great Gatsby” illustrated book and this week I finished up four illustrations for it.

In printing out the book so that I could see the book design in print rather than on screen I saw that I was two illustrations short. I’ve made dozens of illustrations for this book so I figured, “What’s two more?” and got to work on them. I drew and inked those two illustrations on Thursday and Friday so they were ready to be colored (digitally in Adobe Illustrator) on Saturday.

The coloring went fairly swiftly because last year I made an entire 80 something page sketchbook full of ink textures that I scanned in and had ready to go. I used the textures as part of my coloring process to ad interest to the drawing. Having so many textures to choose from, and each could be changed digitally, already done speeded up the process considerably. I’m glad I made them all.

Oddly as I was doing these two drawings I didn’t have specific spots they would go into the book. They were more “Spot Illustrations” than illustrations of specific scenes. Spot Illustrations are more general. I had two specific chapters that needed one more illustration each so I looked for a place to put them in each chapter. One fit in perfectly but the other did not.

Oddly again the other did fit in perfectly if I removed one of the illustrations that I had already finished. Coincidentally that was the illustration I liked the least in the book so I decided to drop it out. Of course that also meant that I still needed one more illustration to replace one of the last two that I was making. But first I had to color a third illustration.

In printing out the proof I noticed that there was one uncolored illustration. I guess I placed it in the book design and thought to myself, “I’ll color it later” and never did. At least until then. I took the time to color that one much in the same style as the first two and that also gave me time to think about that last drawing that I would need.

By the way I’m glad I have a working inkjet printer again because as part of the process of coloring these I print them out on 11×17 inch paper so I can proof them and see what they look like on paper. It often takes a few printouts to get the color right but with these ones on that day it only took one or two printout for each one. I was really on a roll.

After finishing coloring the third illustration I decided that I was going to try and find an image to use for the last one among my “Three Marker Style” drawings. Those are a series of ink drawings that I’ve made over the years that have no destination. I like to do them to work out images. I sometimes use the ink drawings as a basis for some of my “Big Ink Drawings” but mostly they exist on their own. I’ve done a couple of hundred of them. I even used a few of them in making this Gatsby book.

I didn’t look through the actual drawings but I did look through the folder of scans I have of them. This is another reason I scan in everything I do. It makes it easier to look through stuff. I shuffled through the folder of scans and not a lot of things jumped out at me. They are a lot of weird drawings that aren’t literally related to Gatsby in any way. I saw a couple of near misses in the first hundred or so drawings but then came upon one that I knew would work. It was a strangely drawn face of a man and I knew it would work with the line where Gatsby asks Nick “What do you think of me?”

When I make a “Big Ink Drawing”out of these “Three Marker Drawings” I usually take the time to redraw the small drawing to fit the larger format. But I really didn’t have to do that here. I’d be using it at a smaller size and I’d be making it into vector art so that I could blow it up without losing quality. So I just got to coloring it as I had the other three. Pretty soon it was done.

The roll I was on lasted all day. I started working at about 8AM. I think I finished the first piece at about 11AM, the second at around 2PM, the third at about 4PM, and the fourth at about 6PM. That’s a long day and I’m not as young as I used to be but I paced myself well and didn’t have to push to finish. In my youth I could push through and finish a piece late in the day but it takes too much recovery time if I overwork these days. I would have just waited until today to finish it but I’m glad I didn’t have to.

I changed one last thing at the end of the day. As I looked at the printouts of the four pieces I din’t like the background design of one of them. It was the “It’s Romantic” one and the whole piece was in a box. It’s a face in a box. I thought it would look better if I brought the left and right sides of the box in so that they were behind her head. Luckily that was easy to do digitally and I finished it up in about twenty minutes and I was done for the day.

And what a day it was. I’ve almost got the project finished. Though I haven’t decided on a front cover yet I have two of them done. Plus I haven’t printed out the covers or the drawings I did for the front and back pages but that won’t take long. I think I finished the book on Saturday. Or close enough. There is still some design work to be done but all the illustration are finished. I started this project back in January of 2022 so it’s been over two years that I’ve been working on it. It’s good that I can get on a roll after all that time.