Assignment 4 – self led brief – Artists book

From the choice of options, I went for the artists book with a view to creating a journal for writing in using the artwork I’ve created in this unit.

Brief:  create a diary or journal of sketches and artwork.

Idea:  I have a book called ‘The Artists Way’ by Julia Cameron.  This book has been extremely helpful and instrumental in getting me back on my creative path.  One of the tools in it is the morning pages, where you write down your thoughts on paper for at least 4 pages every morning.  The idea being that you effectively get the thoughts out and onto paper, where you can either dump them and leave them or examine them. 

Over the years, this practice has helped me through a variety of situations, not just my art.  It has taught me to examine the thoughts that are in my head by putting them down on paper and seeing whether they’re true or not.  Alongside Byron Katie, a helpful guide and creator of The Work, which echoes the same sentiment as Julia, these ladies have helped me to work through patterns in thoughts that negate my creativity.

As a result, I’m aware that a lot of artists and people in general, don’t often take the time to review the thoughts that swim through them.  Some thoughts can be taken as truths if not examined, and these can create a negative belief that doesn’t help you to create.

So with that in mind, I wanted to use the artwork that I created during lockdown and create a journal for others to write their thoughts in.  It can be used however you see fit, the main thing is that you connect with it and make it a habit of writing down your thoughts in it.  It can be a to-do list, a rant, a series of doodles, scribbles, thinking out loud or a mind map even.  It is important that you just connect pen to paper and transfer the thoughts in your head onto the page.  It is a form of meditation with a practical element to it.

Over time I’ve bought so many books that are journals for ‘get your sh*t together’, bullet journals, a makers yearbook and other endless aids for organizing yourself.  The most helpful ones have been the blank page.  As I know from experience, the white page can be offputting, so the images behind the lines are designed to be abstract and have a lower opacity to their original so that you don’t feel intimidated by a completely blank page.

Process:  My sketchbook during lockdown, had a double page open and taped down, ready for paint.  I had a range of colours in pots ready to go and paintbrushes and other tools right beside that.  I would paint how I felt on the page, not thinking, just picking a colour and randomly applying it.  I’d smudge the paint on using various brushes or my fingers.

After letting it dry I might apply another coat or I’d use coloured pencils and pens to add more details.  This process became a daily ritual for me.  It helped distract from the world, it gave me a purpose and a focus.  There are two months where I wrote on the page after the paint had dried, a visual diary of what was going on at the time. 

As the months progressed I moved to simply leaving the page blank, I didn’t add words, I was happy to leave the image as it was.

From those creative expressions, I gathered the images that I hadn’t written on and scanned them in.  I converted them to a pdf and then more recently, used Affinity Publisher to put them into some order and added lines and some text.

The result is a book that can be used as a diary.

In it’s pdf digital format it is a 24 pages booklet.  For printing however, I had to adjust for my home printer and make sure that the pdf was printing both sides of the page, with the paper able to handle both sides being fully inked.  I had to take into consideration what the front of the book would be and where the text would be placed, as it was all printed in landscape.

It took a few attempts with test pages to check if the front and back pages worked okay, but we got there eventually.


It was really positive to create a book using my artwork only.  There are lots of comic ideas that I would like to pursue, and it would have been a good plan to do that for Part 4, but time constraints don’t allow for a decent attempt at it.  This project felt more achievable in the timeframe I had.  It was great to repurpose my artwork into something that could be potentially used for selling.  The story behind it was also strong enough for me to want to pursue the project to completion.

There is often a conflict with assignments in relation to what I want to do versus what is achievable within the timeframe.  It can be frustrating as I’d like to pursue sequential art and push to use the tutor feedback as an opportunity to get valuable help. 

I know that one of the issues that comes up for me is the fact that I might have up to 3 story ideas in mind, and no script.  Creating a script would help me focus the ideas into something coherent and would give direction on the images.  I’m also aware that to create a comic that is 24 pages is not something that takes five minutes, so pencilling, inking, colouring and lettering all take time, and I definitely didn’t have that for this assignment. 

I’m happy with the completed assignment for Part 4 and I feel it is something I would use and others might find value in.  It’s creation was from a very unique experience of lockdown, and I find myself less inclined to do the same painting these days.  It’s definitely taught me the importance of art for mental health, and I’m lucky that I had the ability to use it for that purpose during lockdown.

The images :

There were a number of images with writing so I couldn’t use them.  Instead I opted to use the images that had been created later into the lockdown and that didn’t feature any writing on it.  There were at least eight or nine of these painted double pages, so I scanned them in and cropped various parts of them to create a background for the journal.

A screenshot of how the pdf would look when opened and scrolled through.  If you were using it digitally you could edit the pdf to add text.

Another screenshot of the interior, showing a 75% opacity in the background art.  The lines for the journal are black so that it is easier to identify.

A screenshot of the interior pages (without lines).

As a test, I printed the front and back page along with the content and back page.  It took about four attempts to get the images to align correctly so that the content appeared where it should.  The home printer didn’t reflect the colour correctly either, so everything appeared quite muted in comparison.  The copy paper was for testing so was only up to 90gsm, which absorbs a lot of the ink and doesn’t give a fair reflection on the finished page colours.

All this considered, the layout was still looking good.  I had printed a full book of the pages before, which when printed from landscape gave me double the pages and I then stapled them together.  When I went to print it however, it was in pdf format and it took some figuring out to ensure that all pages were printed in sequence and back to front.  Text, letter

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An example of an earlier successful print of the book.

This is something that the printer would probably deal with and once you’ve sent the pdf file, they’d be able to handle it better.  However, I can see from the work done, that the formatting and aligning the image within the bleed as well as ensuring the front cover and back cover were printing ok, was all a bit of a headache.

I had been using Adobe InDesign, but the subscription was too expensive.  I have recently been using Affinity Photo and Publisher, which are great and a once off purchase, but they have small annoying functions in them such as the object layer can move even when you haven’t clicked on it.

I may have to resubscribe to Adobe, simply because it makes light of publishing jobs.  It’s hard to justify the cost though as I’m not fully employed in the industry and my current jobs in illustration are few and far between.

The final pdf has 13 pages in it, so when printing I printed the range within 3-12 pages and then separately printed the front, back and interior and page 1 images so that they’d work.  It was messy, it took time, I couldn’t figure out how to print all the images as one smooth print and I’m not sure my printer was set up for the task or even up to it.

What I do know is that:

  • printing at home is more cost effective if the images are plain and in black and white.
  • Getting a file ready for print needs a thorough checking.
  • Having a good working knowledge of publishing and InDesign would go a long way and save time.
  • The paper matters – cheap paper doesn’t cut it (pardon the pun).

Final images for the Assignment 4:

front page of the book – pdf as per email

I had to trim the edges a fair bit to get a clean line, and on the cheaper paper it was really tough to do.  I folded it and finished the fold with the bone tool.  An oversized stapler was used to bind it together.

The final sketchbook journal is a lovely small A5 sized lined journal with some gentle background art that was created during lockdown.