I’ve been getting some artwork done on the computer lately. I find working on paper and canvas to be a far more satisfying experience but some ambitions can only be fulfilled with the help of a computer. Specifically I’ve been working on a book where I tie together lots of my artwork with some stories. I’ve been working on it for a couple of years now and I still don’t have anything finished. As a matter of fact I have three separate books started but none finished. That’s because I’m still struggling with exactly what I want to say and what form it will take. That and this stuff takes time. So this week I decided to take some of that time.

The book that I decided to work on was named “Textures and Art”. I started this one some time back in March or April and I think the concept was to integrate some of my past drawings and paintings with photos of textures that I took while out on some of my walks. And some unknown story would tie it all together. Or at least that was as much of the plan as I could remember. I had completed about fifteen pages back then and then abandoned it. Pretty much because I prefer to draw or paint. But I want to make a book. I really do. So I steeled myself to do some work on it this week.

I wanted to make it to forty pages but since I was nowhere near that number I just started with the next one in line. Last Spring I had worked out a basic design for the background and the idea was to pick through the scans of my drawings and paintings to find things I could visually tie together and eventually make a story out of. I also would use the photos of textures as design elements to help things out.

One thing else I would add was some of my street photography. I didn’t want them to be straight up photos so I decided to use some of my Photoshop filter recipes on them that take a photo and make them look different than your ordinary photograph. The few filter recipes I have make them look a little more like illustrations and a little more like pop art. Of course that means even more work.

My basic process for the whole thing went like this. First I choose a background design. There are four of them and they’re all basically the same neutral grey background only oriented four different ways: top, bottom, left, and right. I also started with a blank white background on occasion and then covered the whole background with a photo.

The next step was to choose a main image and decide where to place it on the page. The main image could be a drawing, a painting, or a photo. Sometimes the main image became a secondary image through the process but I had to pick one to start. All the work on the paintings and drawings has already been done since I routinely scan my work in so I have lots and lots of them to choose from. But it’s still always more work than I think it will be to design a page.

If the main image is going to be a photo then I have more work to do. None of the photos are finished. It doesn’t take a lot of work to make one since I have all the filter recipes saved as actions but it still takes a good ten to twenty minutes to get a photo done. And that’s me working fast. If I’m slow that day it all takes more time.

After the main image I pick a secondary image. I usually like to pair a photo with artwork but it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes I’d pair a drawing with a painting. Then I had to find a place to put the text. I chose a yellow/brown box with a black outline back when I originally made the design so I stuck with that. I had no hard-and-fast rules for the size and shape of the text box so I worked one or two of them in as they design saw fit. There is not a lot of text on the pages but I need some place to eventually fit the words.

After that I put in the tertiary pieces of art. This is where the most creative stuff happened. I usually went small with them and there could be any number of pieces but there were no other rules for this part. I’d interlock pieces and cover them up as I saw fit. No single tertiary piece was that important so I tried to get them to work as a whole. I even made some main pieces into tertiary pieces on later pages to tie things together.

I ended up getting about five pages a day done this way. I’d say it would take me about three hours to get five pages done and that’s all I could get done in a day. Or at least that was all I could take. I could and have spent a lot more than three hours a day on a painting or drawing project but those are a lot more satisfying to do. With this book design I would get frustrated after two to three hours. I’ve learned over the years that I have to stop then. I actually want to get this project done and too much frustration can make me stop so it’s important that I pace myself.

I ended up reaching my goal today and got that fortieth page done. That made me happy until I realized I hadn’t though about how to end this thing. I need some sort of visual ending but instead I had an ending they just stopped. It was a weird feeling. I almost always have an ending in mind for whatever I do but for this I had none. And as I ended the fortieth page was when I realized that. I don’t know how that escaped me.

Oh, well, at least I know the next thing I have to work on when I get back to that project. That pesky ending.