Git Yer Copy Mateys

ARR! After many battles, a bad case of scurvy, and a long awaited journey over ragin’ seas, the many boxes of treasure doth arrived at me doorstoop. “Captain and Crow’s ABCs” be available for purchase, mateys! Git Learned!

sketchbookjack.bigcartel.com or sketchbookjack.com

Captain and Crow's ABCs childrens education book learning funny humor design art illustration black and white ink pirate captain crow matey stripes letters boat ship R favorite jack kasprzak sketchbookjack typography bold layout design book publishing print clever graphic karate jar art bars innards laugh silly kids children Captain and Crow's ABCs childrens education book learning funny humor design art illustration black and white ink pirate captain crow matey stripes letters boat ship R favorite jack kasprzak sketchbookjack typography bold layout design book publishing print clever graphic karate jar art bars innards laugh silly kids children Captain and Crow's ABCs childrens education book learning funny humor design art illustration black and white ink pirate captain crow matey stripes letters boat ship R favorite jack kasprzak sketchbookjack typography bold layout design book publishing print clever graphic karate jar art bars innards laugh silly kids children

It was a long a trying ride but I had a lot of fun doing it.  I’ve learned a lot from the process of making this book, so I can move on to the next project with more insight.  I hope it can bring a couple of smiles to faces.
Captain and Crow's ABCs childrens education book learning funny humor design art illustration black and white ink pirate captain crow matey stripes letters boat ship R favorite jack kasprzak sketchbookjack typography bold layout design book publishing print clever graphic karate jar art bars innards laugh silly kids children typography

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Kickstarter Rewards Chart

 

I’ve you haven’t found it already, please check out the Kickstarter Campaign to get “The Island and the Plough”, AND “Captain and Crow’s ABCs” AND an interactive iPad ebook App version of “The Island and the Plough” printed and in your hands!  This is also your chance to get custom art work on the cheap!  You can get a mugshot of yourself in the style of the The Daily Mobster, or you can get a one of a kind letter print in the style of “Captain and Crow’s ABCs” OR you could even get your paws on some of the original art from one of the books!  So head on over or share with your friends and family.  http://kck.st/1kDaMZ6reward_sheet

Get Your SketchbookJack Custom Sketch

Now is your chance to get a SketchbookJack sketch of you, your mom, your dad, grandma, dog, tea kettle, teddy bear, gold fish, or maybe just leave it up to Jack. This is a rare opportunity to get a custom original for only $25 via the “The Island and the Plough”/”Captain and Crow’s ABCs” book publishing Kickstarter campaign. Not only will you get a custom sketch, but also a PDF version of the book of your choosing. Share the love: http://kck.st/1kDaMZ6

SketchbookJack Books Kickstarter

For those who have been following me for a while you have seen post after post of this book, that book, this app, and that sample page. But now, they have all come together in one single chance to make it all

Two books, “The Island and the Plough” and “Captain and Crow’s ABCs” (plus “The Island and the Plough” interactive iPad ebook app) are becoming real with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. Think of this a pre-order, not as a risk to invest in a project. The work is already done, we just need to get them printed!
Please, check it out and share with your friends. If you can’t fund, remember that just sharing the link and getting the word out means more than you might think.
http://kck.st/1kDaMZ6
TWEET IT
 

6 Things to learn from the Book Proof

   The proof print for “The Island and the Plough” has officially arrived!  I must say, it is very exciting to see it in physical print.  Regardless of my thoughts on ebooks, and digital media, there is something really great about a book.  I am still sorting the official business with copyrights, and the ISBN registry, which will allow some time for the printers of the final version but it is so good to see this in near finished form.  I want to thank everyone who helped me along the way and have been so patient as well as those who follow and support the entire process.  I can’t wait for this to be a completed project, and then start the next!

  Here are six preview images of the book proof. I tried to choose six images that sort of represent something we can learn from this entire process.

1: First Impressions Are Important

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The front cover of “The Island and the Plough”:

First impressions certainly aren’t the be-all-end-all, but despite the old saying to not judge a book by its cover, people do.  I know I do, but more importantly than judging it is calling attention to and grabbing the eye.  Something catchy, simple, and strong is often a great idea for the front, cover, or introduction of any project. A book calls you by its cover.

2: Dot your Is and cross your Ts.

the island and the plough children book sketchbookjack design layout black and white cartoon illustration page inner

Inner cover pages of “The Island and the Plough”:

The “legal/acknowledgments” section of any project is of the utmost importance.  Noting your sources and identifying yourself is crucial, even on a single image.  There is nothing I hate more than finding a great image or illustration on the web but there is no identifier as to where it came from, so I can never find more of that goodness!  Thank Google for the reverse image look up. Don’t forget to acknowledge those that may have helped. Be gracious, thank those that have honestly helped you, because no project is done alone (even those that physically are done alone, mental, emotional and inspiration support comes from everywhere).

3. Set yourself some rules.

the island and the plough children book sketchbookjack design layout black and white cartoon illustration page play work papa

The children play but Papa warns them of the great white sea in “The Island and the Plough”

Like Papa warning the children of rules of the island, be sure to set yourself some basic ground rules.  Projects very easily get out of hand, grow larger than expected and veer off into unexpected territories.  Be clear with yourself about goals and expectations.  Most importantly make sure your project is manageable!  It is much easier to grow any project than to trim back an unwieldy beast.

4. Know your strengths and embrace weaknesses.

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Papa throws an apple down to Eli in “The Island and the Plough”

Papa has the wonderful idea to throw apples from the tree down to his son Eli who catches them.  This works well until he throws an apple too far, setting forth the entire story.  Know where your strengths will take you and what weaknesses you have that might hold you back.  Focus your strengths to really drive the project and carry the bulk of the work. You may even tailor a project (Like this project I focused on constrast with black and white) to your specific strengths. Work with weaknesses, not against them. Composition, for me, is tricky. To be frank, the children’s books out there have little of it (mostly just an image with text below); finding reference or examples was quite difficult. I needed to be creative and make composition a focus but not let it hold me back as I wanted a very graphic style and include dense typography to help tell the story.

5. Be willing to accept non-perfection.

the island and the plough children book sketchbookjack design layout black and white cartoon illustration page sleep bed

Mama consoles Papa in “The Island and the Plough”

There are many things, even in this final piece or a feature film I may have worked on of which I still want to change. The viewer almost never notices them, so learn when good is good for the sake of the project, time line, goals, and just over all sanity, to not obsess. Like Papa needing consolation from Mama, don’t be afraid to ask for help, critiques and comments. You are your own worst critic, so fresh eyes that aren’t directly attached to the project are best, but try to make it someone who will be constructive and give reasons to what they think rather than claiming something is not working.  Surely, too many comments can lead to a mess, but none is far more dangerous. I suggest getting feedback early on in the process, then work on it a bit for yourself, and then comments near the end (but not so far to the end you can’t take them into account). Try to ask someone other than your mother.

6. Just do what you want.

the island and the plough children book sketchbookjack design layout black and white cartoon illustration cover back description

The reverse/back cover of “The Island and the Plough”


Some of my story ideas are certainly a little “off the beaten path.”  An editor I once talked to said my work is wonderfully unique, but impossible to categorize (and therefore, market).  I was unsure if I should take that as a compliment or a critique. It may be true, and I might possibly only live in a niche market, but that is all I know; do what you know.  I write about what I think about, and things I would enjoy to read or illustrate.  Perhaps, this story is a little heavy for children and I wouldn’t even dare to call this book for children, rather an story for those who also like illustrations. If something is deemed “unmarketable,” I always go back to the fact that someone marketed and sells (a lot, mind you) rubber dog poop and plastic vomit.  Anything is marketable.

“Salvador” Character Concepts

salvador_character_design_cartoon_illustration_boat_ship_captain_skipper_admiral_beard_concept
salvador_character_design_cartoon_illustration_boat_ship_captain_skipper_admiral_beard

salvador_character_Design_concept_illustration_cartoon_ship_boat_captain

This is the very early part of the process where I begin designing the characters based off the rough outline I have for the story.  I usually write the story in conjunction with the design/illustration phase because they feed off each other so well.  The raw idea sometimes comes from an image or a drawing of a single character or it can come from a single sentence, or verbal conceptual idea.  The writing then instructs the drawing and the drawing feeds back and instructs the writing.  I suppose this is the benefit of being the writer and the illustrator as usually the writing is completed and illustrations are filled in after the fact; however, this can pose a challenge as well being that the writing is not in stone and allows for much variation and meandering.  I think the visual aspect of illustrated stories (hence being illustrated and not novels or short stories) plays a stronger role than many give it credit and needs to inform the very construction of the story.

Here are the first few pages of the Captain character.  Like I said in my previous post, this story has some of the same themes as “The Island and the Plough.”  The main characters are going through a similar sort of learning, exploring the world around them, but yet have a bit more wisdom than the naysayer villagers.  That said, he needs to be reminiscent of a boat captain, but not too stereotyped.  He also needs to seem wise, but eager to learn anew as well.  He is not hardened by the bitter landscape or the cynical villagers so his face needs to be somewhat kind.  I fear already that he begins to look much like the character from “The Island and the Plough” so it may be that the beard needs to go.  This is one of the most fun parts of the design phase, but can also be fairly frustrating.  These are just four of the twenty plus character pages I have done for him.  If the “what I think I want” phase does not work, then I often go in a radically different direction, maybe tall and thin, or short and beardless, perhaps younger even and begin to veer far away from what I had originally envisioned.  That type of process usually helps to refocus what is working, what is not, to bring a vision of it I may have yet thought of but also help show me from what to stay away.

I will post some concepts of the village and landscape next.

Finishing One and Starting Another

The Island and the Plough book page preview mockup layout design

While I sort out the ISBN registries for “The Island and the Plough”, and navigate the intricacies of publishing a picture heavy book to the many eBook formats that are out there, I am busily working on writing and roughing the designs for my next project which I will begin to post about very soon.   I am super excited about my next book, as the story is really getting to me.   Everything is falling together pretty well.  Interestingly, it certainly has, unintentionally, some of the same themes as “The Island and the Plough” but in a very different way.  I have a pretty strong outline completed, promising concept sketches, and a few ideas for page spreads that I think will look really great.    I have yet to find a title that suits it but I am sure that will come along in time, but for posting purposes I will refer to it as “Salvador.”

The basic concept is a story of a fishing boat captain and his young ship mate, Skip.  The two are amidst a sleepy fishing village perched at the rocky cliff’s edge where the land meets the ocean. Their ship is but a small, single sail boat that barely seats two, not to speak of nets full of fish.  The captain also has an old tugboat, in severe disrepair, that he wishes to fix up and use because it is larger and could get them to deeper waters and carry more fish.  The naysayer villagers laugh at his inability to catch fish as well as his dream of using the tugboat for fishing.  Whilst readying themselves to push out one morning, a very unlikely new friend washes ashore.  The story unravels into three parts as the Captain and Skip adventure out to include high sea sailing, wrangling/wrestling with nature, and a hunt for an unusual treasure which can only be had with the help of their newly found friend, all while the cynical villagers laugh from afar.

Until then, I leave you with this book page layout-mock up of “The Island and the Plough” until I bring more news of a release date.

The Island and the Plough : Contact Sheets

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I am quite excited to say that I am nearing the very last stage of “The Island and the Plough.”  Editing and formatting proves to be quite an arduous process.  I had a first round of contact sheets proof-printed and had a few people review them.  One person in particular who is a writer/director (on the film side of things) had some really great final editorial remarks.  I decided to take a few into account and rework some small things here and there, adding one extra idea right at the climax of the story which I think will really accentuate the central tone and punctuate the climax better than what I had.

Here is my nearly completed, revised set of contact sheets.  I apologize for making them so small, but being so near completion of this project, I still don’t want to give away the story.  But there is something very interesting about viewing the pages at this size.  It gives a very clear sense of the progression of tone, contrast and balance, not to mention a great macro view of each page’s composition.  It brings the process to a full circle back to a “storyboard” format to really review it once again.

I am still in the throes of deciding how exactly to distribute this project as contacting/meeting with agents and publishers is a very slow process.  Many of the people I have talked with, even in the publishing industry, still suggest self publishing.  At some point I will be doing a small run of prints for proofing purposes as well as for family and friends, which I will make available to sale.

The Island and the Plough : Final Drawings

I have almost reached the end of the tunnel; who knew I could actually complete a project.  I am in the middle of the second to last illustration and only have a handful of pages to do typography.  The illustrations have certainly been the most time consuming part of this process, but they were also the most fun.  I will still have to give some extra attention to the typography as I want a very graphic style to match the look of the illustrations.

Here is a single page preview of “The Island and the Plough.”  I don’t want to post too many internal illustrations as to ruin the surprise of the hero’s journey which is also why I have chosen an image from early on in the story.  I will post a more detailed synopsis when I begin to actually market and sell the book but for now this is just a tease:

Sketchbookjack The Island and the Plough page preview

In "The Island and the Plough," Papa warns the children to stay away from the fence and the edge of the island for fear of being swept into the great white sea.