Tag Archives: Isabella’s Shoe Studio

Printing Spot Colors

12 Oct

A Story, and a Tutorial

This post begins with a story and ends with a helpful spot-color printing tutorial. If you’re a designer in a rush, by all means, scroll! 

isaHomePage

The Story

In the spring of 2013 I was putting final touches on the art for a project that will always be near to my heart: Isabella’s Shoe Studio (duopress/2013).

duopress Doodle books

Isabella followed a string of Doodle books which I also illustrated for duopress. Every book in the Doodle series has a 4-C cover (standard 4-color process printing), and a black and white interior — basically, a pre-press breeze.

Like the Doodle series, Isabella would be an activity book, but would also tell a story.

Isabella’s Shoe Studio is something completely unique: a Doodle Storybook™. We decided to use the the Doodle books’ 8″ square trim size and French flaps to give Isabella duopress’s house look; to set her apart we would do something special in the realm of color.

Some crazy person had the idea to give Isabella’s Shoe Studio a 2-C interior. Somebody else (or possibly the same crazy person?) suggested a 3-C cover. I love the retro look of two- and three-color printing, and we all agreed and it would be a fun, inexpensive way to set Isabella apart.

ISS Pantone swatches2-C = printing in two-colors; in our case, black + PMS 196, a gentle petal pink.

3-C = (you guessed it!) three colors.

For Isabella’s Shoe Studio’s 3-C cover, we added PMS 304, a turquoise-y blue, to add a some punch to our soft pink.

Class, don’t trust your computer monitor! The color you see on your monitor is generated from a luminous mix of RGB (Red, Green, Blue), not CMYK—see below—and the appearance of color varies from one monitor to the next. To select colors with confidence, use a Pantone swatch book. These are expensive, but well-worth the cost. If you can’t afford a swatch book and you’re working with a local printer, stop in and ask to have a peek at theirs.

Printing: Color Basics

Process color (CMYK)

If you’ve ever had to replace ink cartridges for a desktop printer, you understand the mystery of 4-color printing, known as PROCESS color, or PROCESS printing. The full spectrum of standard* colors are created by a mix of CMYK inks: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK. This is The Process. Standard Operating Procedure. Every printer on the planet (and every pre-press operator) is programmed to print in CMYK.

*Special colors like metallics and fluorscents can’t be created from a standard CMYK mix. Those colors have to be added in a separate print run, and are called SPOT COLORS. You’ll find them at the back of your Pantone swatch book. 🙂

Spot Color (1-C, 2-C, 3-C, etc)

Rather than resulting from a CMYK mix, a SPOT color comes from a can; or more likely, an industrial-sized drum. Spot color is pre-mixed ink that is identified by a PMS color number—very similar to the way house paints are organized and presented. A spot color can also be a recipe of multiple inks stirred up into a color cocktail.

In book publishing 2- and 3-C printing is much more rare than CMYK, but spot color images surround us every day on screen-printed textiles and bottles. Imagine a two-color graphic printed on a T-shirt, or Coke’s trademark red and white logo printed on a bottle.

The Story, cont’d…

duopress is a fairly young company. In the spring of 2013, although we were working with a highly excellent printer, our inexperience coupled with a language barrier added layers of confusion to our tech-talk.

My only experience at the time with 2-C printing was from the year I spent managing a full service print shop at the Savannah College of Art and Design in the mid-nineties. Every term, graphic design students were given a 2-C, screen-printed logo assignment. Our shop techs printed those bad boys by hand, dragging goopy Chroma/Tech ink with a squeegy over templates that had been burned onto film—usually multiple times before achieving a perfect print—for every student. (Think T-shirt screening by hand, times a million.) This task kept us busy around the clock for weeks at a time, and it remains etched in my memory.

The Chroma/Tech assignment taught me how to manually set up files for 2-C printing; in other words, how to separate the colors.

Manual Color Separations

The image above is an actual example of the color separation plates that we made for Isabella’s Shoe Studio. I created 2 separate plates in grayscale mode for every image in the book: a pink plate that showed the printer where to put the pink ink, and a black plate for the black ink.

halftone dots

Any gradients or tints of pink had to be converted to a HALFTONE DOTS, just like vintage comics. We converted the pink cheeks for all of the characters in the book, which had been created by smudging charcoal, to halftones—see above. (Halftone How-To: Convert image color mode to BITMAP. Select “halftone screen” on the new menu that pops up, then play with the sliders until you’re happy with the size and density of the resulting dots.)

Isabella’s Shoe Studio’s designer Charla Pettingill created two InDesign documents of the book’s interior to send to the printer: one for the black ink, and one for the pink. She placed any type that would be printed in gray or black in the black document, and pink type was set in the pink document.

This process is great if you want to give your project an authentic retro look, with a bit of off-register color here and there, but be advised: there is a ton of extra work (look up TRAPPING before you make your decision!), and you will have to explain to your printer what you are doing. Modern pre-flight technology is automated, even for 2- and 3- color print jobs. A printer’s RIP (rastor image processor) software creates separation plates automatically. If you submit manually separated plates, you run the risk of throwing everyone into a tizzy.

Carries book

I write this from experience! We had a a bit of trouble with Isabella’s Shoe Studio‘s printing process—but class, I have to say, in my humble opinion it was all worthwhile. The way those inks rest on that creamy white paper and interact with one another is a joy to behold. Isabella’s Shoe Studio is the kind of tactile experience that causes designers to salivate. The above photo shows 1-C on the inside front cover (PMS 204). The 2-C title page (PMS 196 + black) is reflective of the entire interior of Isabella’s Shoe Studio.

IMPORTANT NOTE: People in general and printers specifically prefer not to be thrown into tizzies. If you are using spot color, even if you have tons of experience, ask your printer to provide a file set-up guide. There are multiple accepted methods, and preferences vary. Copy and paste this sentence into an e-mail: “Please send your pre-flight requirements for spot color printing.”

At duopress, we’ve produced several beautiful books that include 1-, 2-, and 3-C elements since paving the way with Isabella’s Shoe Studio, all with much less stress. Here’s how we currently set up 1-C spot color files:

The Tutorial

Prepping Images for 1-C (spot color) printing

Grayscale Mode

Open the art files in Photoshop. If necessary, convert to grayscale (Image –> Mode –> Grayscale). If you file is not in grayscale mode, Photoshop refuses to allow you to convert it to monotone mode, which is your end game.

Level Check

Adjust levels (Command + L) until you have a true black and white image. Open the info menu (Window –> Info). Hover your cursor over the image and check the color mixes in the info panel: in black areas, the K on the left should read 100%; in white areas, it should be 0%.

Monotone

With your PMS color number in hand (Class: swatch book!), change your image’s color mode to DUOTONE. (Mode –> duotone.) Note: Eventually your file will be a MONOTONE, but for some reason this is not given as an option in the drop-down menu. Do not panic, just keep reading.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 8.34.14 AM

When you select the duotone option, a  “Duotone Options” menu appears.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 8.40.56 AM

Set MONOTONE as your file TYPE. Click on the color box next to “Ink 1” to reveal a color-selection menu and corresponding eye-dropper tool.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 8.44.51 AMSelect “Color Libraries” to reveal yet another menu—this one is a list of the world’s color systems.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 8.45.20 AM

Scroll to select your printer’s preference. If you’re unsure, ask! At duopress we use PANTONE solid coated, which is pretty standard.

Scroll to find your color number, or type the number and its swatch will appear at the top of the list. (Note: type fast! pauses between numbers cause Photoshop to get confused.) Photoshop requires that you enter a name for the color into the field next to the swatch.

Voila! Your grayscale image is now a monotone. It may look slightly different than your color chip but don’t worry, that’s why you invested in that swatch book! The ink will match the printed color swatch, not the color you see on your monitor.

Monotone files can’t be saved as a TIF. Save the art as a .psd file (.eps works, too), and place it in your layout.

Pantone colors can be imported into InDesign’s swatch palette, for any lettering or graphic elements created in InDesign that are to be printed in the spot color.

In InDesign, click the arrow in the top right corner of the SWATCHES menu, then select “New Color Swatch” at the top of the list. Select your color mode, and import the chosen spot color into your palette.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 11.45.01 AM

 

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Violet Lemay, the author of this post, is an illustrator, and is also the art director at duopress. Credit for all duopress book concepts goes to the publisher, Mauricio Velázquez de LeónClick here to see all of duopress’s books.

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Vine Animation

19 Mar

ISS_top of shoe

Meet 8-year-old Isabella Ivory Edelston-Finch, the star of Isabella’s Shoe Studio.

ISS_Cover_forweb*

Isabella’s Shoe Studio is a Doodle Storybook™ book that I wrote and illustrated with the help of my friends at duopress in 2013. To help promote the book, I’ve pursued every creative idea that’s popped into my head.

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Felt Dolls

First, I made felt Isabella dolls. We featured them as prizes for social-media-driven photo contests, and gave them starring roles in travel-based slide shows. This photo was taken by fan Christa Bellock of Elgin, Illinois, who won a felt Isabella in a Facebook contest. (Click here to follow Isabella on Facebook.)

1902717_10151994133532196_935633935_nPaper Dolls

Then, I designed paper dolls for promo events. The photo on the left was taken at aMuse Toys in Baltimore.

Seeing all of the cool ways that kids were adding color to the paper dolls gave me a new promo idea: Vine stop-motion animation!

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. . . . . V i n e . . . . .

Vine is a mobile ap/social site owned by Twitter that features 6.5 second videos. To create vines, you have to load the Vine ap onto your phone (no video cameras!) and set up an account, which is very, very basic. Once the ap is loaded and running all you do is click the video icon to get started. Touch the screen to record. As long as you hold your finger on the screen, you are capturing video.

The trick with Vine is logistics. I found it next to impossible to hold the phone, touch the screen and arrange my chosen shot, all at the same time. In order to make frame-by-frame animation, I needed a device to hold the phone for me. I ended up buying Joby’s gorillapod flexible tripod.

vine studio

After coloring a bunch of dresses, attaching the tripod to a stepladder and taping my Isabella paper doll to the shooting surface to keep her from moving, the rest was easy. I recorded her for a few clicks, changed her dress, recorded some more, and so on.

paperdoll vine screenshot

First Attempt: Isabella Paper Doll Vine

Click the image to the right to watch the resulting vine. If you’re unable to view it, create a vine account following the steps above— it’s easy!

While you’re working on your vine, a progress bar on your phone’s screen shows you how many seconds you’ve recorded, so it’s easy to gauge your progress.

The paper doll animation is adorable but we felt it didn’t showcase the true nature of Isabella, or the intention of Isabella’s Shoe Studio—which isn’t really a “fahsion-y” kind of book.

New Concept: Isabella and the Sneaker

After flipping through a copy of Isabella’s Shoe Studio for inspiration, I decided to attempt a more elaborate stop-motion animation in which Isabella actually moves, and interacts with a shoe illustration in the book.ISS_highTop

The high-top sneaker on these pages spoke to me. The text on that page says, “What inspires you today? Draw it on this sneaker.” I saw Isabella popping out the top of the sneaker with a pencil. Isabella would touch the blank surface of the shoe with the pencil, and the shoe would proceed to decorate itself as she slid down the side of the high-top. That was my basic idea, which became slightly more elaborate as I got to work on making the vine.

How-To Guide: Frame-by-Frame Animation

20140319_155308To begin figuring out how to shoot the vine, I made a frame-by-frame storyboard. The storyboard became my go-to reference throughout the entire process.

After watching some incredible animated vines by Pinot and Ian Padgham (see links at the bottom of this post) and counting the clicks, I figured I’d need between 20-30 frames. Because a page from an open copy of Isabella’s Shoe Studio would be the “stage” for this animation, I made 3o grayed-out prints of the page from the book—approximately one page for every frame.

20140319_155953Then, using a light table, I penciled Isabella onto every sheet making her interact with the shoe—old-school animation style.

In addition to animating Isabella I knew I’d have to color the shoe as I went, which meant drawing in a copy of Isabella’s Shoe Studio. I didn’t want to use more than one copy of the book for this project, so I couldn’t draw Isabella directly onto the open book.  Instead, I used the light table again to ink the drawings onto clean printer paper. Then I cut them out and lined them up on my work surface. I quickly shaded her jeans with an Ebony pencil and used a pink crayon stick to blush her cheeks.

Once all of the little Isabella’s were cut, colored and arranged, I stuck some bright orange notes among the cut-outs to keep myself on track time-wise as I shot the vine, and to keep the cut-outs organized and true to their corresponding frames on the storyboard.

isabella cutouts 1

Besides Isabella and the shoe, the third element in the animation was the pencil. My idea had it popping out the top of a 2-D drawing of a shoe, so it had to be flat, not a real pencil. To make the pencil I photographed an actual duopress pencil, adjusted the photo in Photoshop, printed 12 copies on a single sheet of card stock, and cut them out. Voila: pencil!

isabella cutouts 3

The last step (and quickest, by far!) was to shoot the vine. With the book propped up on my trusty Ikea bookshelf, an area that is well-lit by both the sun and overhead electric light, I used double-sided tape to attach each cut-out to the page, one at a time. Between each shot I added a bit more color and design to the shoe—because, after all, Isabella’s Shoe Studio is a book that invites you to design and decorate shoes! The photo above shows the “stage” after shooting…. with the shoe fully illustrated, and little Isabella’s everywhere.

sneaker vine image

The resulting vine is adorable. To watch Isabella slide down a sneaker, click the image on the right.

Once you’re on Vine, follow me, and I’ll follow you!

Inspirations/Extra Help

Pinot on Vine

Ian Padgham on Vine

Tips from Nick Summers

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To order Isabella’s Shoe Studio, click here.

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To view my second vine (Isabella and the Sneaker) on youtube, click here. I used iSkysoft to download the vine and covert it to a .avi file, which I was then able to upload at Youtube. The version of iSkysoft that I use is not free, but is very useful for downloading various forms of moving images—including Picasa slideshows.

cross-promotion: Mail Me Art

17 Sep

MMA_cover

This past spring I was invited to participate in Mail Me Art: Short and Sweeta gigantic group show that travelled to three London galleries over the summer: The Framers Gallery, Factoryroad, and Croft Wingates. The events, all for charity, were organized by my friends Darren and Jane Di Lieto.

posters

The following description, written by Darren, was taken from Mail Me Art‘s website:

Mail Me Art is a fun little project that was created by Darren Di Lieto of The Little Chimp Society in late 2006. He was looking for a way to connect on a real world level with all of the brilliant and talented illustrators who had become part of his community and network. Mail art was the perfect way to accomplish this task. The Mail Me Art project has held exhibitions up and down the UK, and was published as a very nice book by HOW Books. It has also been featured or mentioned by Digital Arts, Computer Arts, Design Week and The Telegraph over the years. Mail Me Art is still going strong to this day and there seems to be no stopping it!

5books

When I got the call, time was in short supply. I was up to my eyeballs in work, rushing against no less than five book deadlines at once for duopress:  Doodle AmericaYummy Food DoodlesSan Francisco Baby,  Let’s Doodle Around Baltimore (a special project for the Baltimore school system), and Isabella’s Shoe Studio.

I couldn’t say no. Darren has helped me out many times in the  past, sharing his knowledge with illustration students in my classroom live from the UK via Skype—despite a rather hefty time difference, and his own busy schedule. We are friends.

Also, I have taught self-promotion classes for many years, and I try very hard to practice what I preach. I would advise a student in a similar situation to just DO IT! Short-term pain, long-term gain. And anyway, Mail Me Art was a charity event, so I wasn’t going to turn it down.

From the moment I accepted the challenge, I knew that I would paint a wing-tip shoe on a manila envelope. Thanks to overlapping deadlines, I was swimming in a sea of shoes! Happily exhausted, other ideas were not exactly floating to the surface in abundance.

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 9.08.46 AM

When my art made it across the pond, Darren asked, “Why a Shoe?”

He asked several of us to write about the inspirations behind our envelopes, for possible inclusion in the book that would accompany the exhibit. I was more than happy to oblige. From the moment I accepted the written challenge, I knew I’d be talking about Isabella’s Shoe Studio, because that was my honest answer. My contribution to Mail Me Art: Short and Sweet was a shoe, and the reason was Isabella’s Shoe Studio.

MMA cover

The exhibit has come and gone, but the book Mail Me Art: Short and Sweet lives on, and is available at amazon.co.uk. It is beautiful and I am honored to be included. Please click the link, have a look, and take a few minutes to write a review. Darren and I would both be grateful.

MMA_interior

Isabella is in there—she seems to be everywhere that I go, lately.

Gans Saratoga*

As a bonus, there are a bunch of photos in the final pages of the book (contributed by Yours Truly) of my envelope beginning it’s journey here in Saratoga Springs.

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The moral of the story, Class, is cross-promotion: promoting others and self simultaneously, and all (in this case, anyway) for the greater good.

collaborate

26 May

ISS_Cover

A while back, after having made several books together, my publisher friend Mauricio Velázquez de León (owner of duporess) invited me to a Skype lunch. While he sat at an outdoor cafe somewhere in Baltimore with a tasty-looking sandwich, I ate a salad in a Savannah Panera, and we talked about this and that.

Before he let me go, he asked what made me tick, artistically—a very interesting question that threw me off guard, and really made me think. I love to draw cities, and kids, and animals…. but if there was one thing we weren’t already doing that made my artist’s heart sing, it had to be SHOES.

During the rest of that Skype lunch and for a long while after, we talked about shoes, and how to make them into a book. We shot ideas back and forth leisurely for quite a while (one year? two??), and then somehow or other “The Shoe Book” made it onto a tentative production schedule. We were actually gonna do it. So, I had to write it.

love_lossNow, I’m not a writer, I am an illustrator, but I can string a few words together in a pinch. With a vague idea in my head based on the amazing classic Love, Loss, and What I Wore, a book I had read years earlier, I spent a week or two typing up a charming little manuscript. Mauricio called the draft “lovely” or something to that effect, and, despite my bent toward self-deprication, I agreed with him. It was a lovely manuscript. (In keeping with my amateur writer status, it was largely auto-biographical—so predictable!) But it wasn’t a book for duopress. Not yet. After thinking about it for a while, he came back with suggestions.

Duopress publishes innovative books for curious children. “The Shoe Book” had to be an innovative. Maybe even interactive. My original manuscript was very nice, but there was nothing innovative about it.

I started over, converting the words into an activity book. Letting go of my original approach wasn’t easy, but I trusted Mauricio and forged ahead, trying to combine his ideas and requirements for the project with my initial inspiration. The result was more than a manuscript for an activity book, because it had a voice: there was a story, told by a little girl. Her name changed a few times but eventually became Isabella. Page by page Isa shared not only her love of shoes, but her obvious love for her family and friends, and for the process of design.

“The Shoe Book” was becoming not only innovative, but special!

partySCANWith a working manuscript I made some art samples, including this painting. Although this watercolor didn’t come close to making it into the book, it helped me find the look of the book. Just part of the process.

Mauricio and I went back and forth revising the manuscript too many times to count, making changes even as I was up to my elbows in ink chasing that drop-dead-absolutely-final art deadline. It had to happen that way, because the book was innovative—something totally new and different—and every spread generated more creative ideas. Input from duopress’s copy editor, distributor, family friends, and our beloved designer Charla Pettingill also helped form the final product.

The result: Isabella’s Shoe Studio, which will be available this fall. We will be promoting the book this weekend at Book Expo America.

My name is on the cover, but Isabella’s Shoe Studio was most definitely a group effort, a true collaboration. The project evolved,  and we rolled with it. What a pleasure.

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The story about how this doodle storybook came to life has two morals:

First, for publishers: Get to know your team and encourage them to explore their passions. You’ll be glad you did. (It may interest you to know that Mauricio only owns 3 pairs of shoes, and two are exactly the same! If he hadn’t asked what made me tick, it’s doubtful that duopress would have a shoe book on the horizon.)

Second, for my fellow artists: Don’t be afraid to collaborate. Good ideas can always be improved, and they may die if they aren’t allowed to be shaped by smart people who are in the position to do something with them.

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It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough!

Ecclesiastes 4:10, from The Message by Eugene Peterson