I shall celebrate this Independence Day by first posting a page of Dicebox. Then I will make lemon bars to bring to a gathering of friends where we will eat, drink and blow things up. Added bonus: I will let my daughter light things on fire.
At last, a new page of Dicebox. Also at last, there's a new working blog on dicebox.net plus a lot of cleaned up code, restored function, updated links and so on. And perhaps more notable, these darn update delays are coming to an end. In a couple weeks I'll have finished a couple obligations and can turn more time back to Dicebox. This excites me.
For these instruction booklets I wanted to recreate the feeling of those found in card sets and pocket games. the ones with small, compacted text on onionskin paper. After some experimentation, I discovered sumi practice rice paper worked the best. I needed to tape it to another, stiffer sheet of paper in order to run it through my printer, but it did beautifully. Trimming rice paper with an Exacto blade can be a right pain as it often snags and then tears, even with a brand new blade. Luckily I had discovered the wonder that is a rotary cutter which does a clean and quick job of it.
Among the games I wanted to include was Tabula, the precursor of Backgammon, which needed fifteen counters for two players. Which, naturally, I felt I should provide. Besides a few of the other games required counters for various purposes. The glass gems used for vase decoration ended up being a satisfactory and cost effective solution.
A set of cleromancy instructions also seemed in order. As with the games, I pulled from various sources and shaped each fortune-telling method to my liking. One of the methods of casting called for a circle to help interpret the shape of the answer. It was a perfect opportunity to incorporate the circular symbol of Book 1, the labyrinth. (for Book 2 it's a spiral, Book 3, a wheel and Book 4, concentric circles) While experimenting with the layout, I wondered what printing it on the back of the instructions would look like. I decided it looked good.
I found many candidates at a variety of sites but was reluctant to commit to 12 to 24 bags before seeing a sample. Luckily I came across U.S. Box where I could buy individual samples or various items. I chose the black fringed faux suede for the feel, size and vagabond appeal. I might not have chosen something so whimsical without being able to handle it first.
A box was needed to hold the whole kit and caboodle. After much searching and comparing, I ended up finding the absolutely perfect box back on U.S. Box., a red and black jewelry box, square with a snap closure. (It was almost like the manufacturer had me specifically in mind.)
I had already planned to make a custom insert to hold everything separately and securely in whatever box I ended up with. Quite a few prototypes were made in plain white paper before I worked it out. Then I created a final dieline in Illustrator which I then printed directly onto black sheets on Arjowiggins' Curious Skin paper, a very tactile and strong paper I always wanted to find a reason to use. To get the cleanest fold, I lightly scored the lines with the back of an Exacto knife tip before folding.
Finally comes the branding of the box. The labels were made by simply printing black on the black Skin paper, inspired by the effect I saw when printing the insert die lines. As the ink isn't fully absorbed by the paper (which creates the effect), I need wait a day before trimming them out. I then adhere it to the top of the box by spraying the back with adhesive, using a makeshift guide to help me center it.
Digital color match proofs of select pages for Book 1
I've been saving this as a signal that the book is finally on its way to the printer.
As an apology and thank you for this whole process taking two months later than I than anticipated, I will be sending a print of the full wrap around art–without logo, etc–to everyone who has pre-ordered this book. I will also be providing free access to a pdf and/or cbr file of the book to the same. And maybe one other gift if I can source it for a reasonable cost.
I will closing pre-orders on the 21st of this month, when the cost of the book will rise from $25.00 to $26.50 USD. I won't be offering the custom dice beyond pre-orders and probably not the kerchiefs either.
This also means that I will soon be updating Book 2 again! I'm aiming to resume on a regular basis on the 21st of this mont, but that is dependent on my fulfilling of other obligations first, including finishing the spot coloring of Hope Larson's upcoming graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time.
I will give further updates on the ETA of the printed books as I get confirmation from the printer.
One thing harder to see is me shifting the colors somewhat, nor did I document rejected shading.
Next post will be Stage 3: Textures, patterns and effects.
As I wrap up the production files for the print version of Dicebox: Book 1 : Wander, I've decided to share my current art process to compensate for sporadic page updates. This'll specifically follow me making a stand alone illustration, but a lot of the steps hold true for how I approach comics. The piece in question is the art for the cover spread for the Asides, those fill-in comics that I was lucky enough to have folks gift me when I needed a break from Dicebox. As you might have noticed, I don't really have fill-ins anymore; my impetus for doing them was initially due to me being on a subscription site, Girlamatic and I figured paying customers deserved regularly scheduled entertainment. I continued to have them after leaving Girlamatic as that was the current expectation of a webcomics audience. Nowadays, with the general acceptance of RSS feeds and social media as aggregators, folks are more forgiving of a fumbled update (even if I am not). Also, I don't intend to take that much time off during parts anymore and I'm certainly not planning to have another kid.
Anyway, let's begin:
The entertaining white gap running vertically in the middle is me realizing the bed was too short and hence extending it.
Also, obviously, I've flopped the drawing. I actually liked it better this way from the get go and as I want to put the title and intro paragraph on the right hand page, it was a win-win situation.
This illustration is actually beyond this point in refinement, but not quite at Stage 2: Final line art and initial rendering. Which'll be my next entry here in a few days.