Blasta Books Newsletter #4: Illustrations

Blasta Books Newsletter #4: Illustrations

In our last newsletter we walked you through how our creative director, Jane Matthews, brings the book to life at the proofs stage. The first step is creating what we call proof zero, a pre-proof that only the designer, editor and illustrator see. We use this proof to see how the text looks once it's been laid out and to gauge the exact space available for Nicky Hooper's illustrations.

To do that, our editor, Kristin, goes down to Nicky's Dublin studio to map out the artwork. On Kristin's first visit, Nicky pulled out stacks of her original artwork – you might recognise some of these from Nicky's Instagram feed and the Korean fried chicken from Hot Fat.

Kristin and Nicky then sit down with big mugs of strong coffee, A3 printouts of proof zero and contact sheets of the photos that the author (in this case, Lily Ramirez-Foran for her Tacos book) took during the recipe testing to use as references for the illustrations. They go through the proof page by page to see what space is available for illustrations and then decide how to fill it. If you look carefully in the photo below, you can see that Nicky has already sketched in ideas to fill the two of the pages.

While working on Tacos, Kristin and Nicky wound up shuffling a lot of pages around to create a better flow of text and artwork – so much so that they got themselves hopelessly confused. The solution? Nicky got out the scissors and they literally cut and pasted the book back together.

With her notes and sketches from the meeting, Nicky then spends the next four weeks drawing the illustrations by hand. Once all the artwork is finished, it's set with the text to create the first complete proof. This is the proof that the author sees and is the version that they and the editor proofread.

Proof 1 is one of the most exciting parts of the publishing process. The copyedited manuscript, the design and the illustrations all come together and it starts to look like the finished book it will soon become.

You can read the rest of the newsletter here.

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