The biggest challenges with the Gojira project have been technical issues, mainly dealing with scanning and printing the illustrations. I am planning to have 10 copies of the project printed and bound, as limited-edition artist books. The books are approx 90mm X 140mm, and contain 31 pages in an accordion-fold.
After quite a bit of searching, I was able to find a printer willing to take on this project, Les Arts Graphiques here in Nice. Megapom', a local photoengraver, will be scanning and treating the drawings. And finally, a local artist has agreed to hand-bind the books once they are printed and assembled.
We did 6 tests, in quadrichromie and in bichromie. The best process appears to be quadrichromie with a layer of Pantone process black. This makes the outlines denser. Using quadri (instead of bichromie) also helps bring out the depth of the illustrations, by capturing the fine naunces of grey in the coloring.
What makes this project complicated is that the accordion-fold is very long (about 2.7 m). The accordion-fold will have to be printed out in 4 separate pieces, which I will then fold and assemble together. So we will really have to make sure the printing is even, and that there are no strong color variations between the different segments.
The scanning process will take place in 2 steps: first, we'll scan the outlines, and then, after shading and texturing those outlines, I will have the full illustrations scanned a second time.
Then the 2 scans will be superimposed in Photoshop, which will help make the outlines very dense.
So I have quite a bit of work set out for me! I aim to have completed the outlines by the beginning of August, and begin working on the colors later during that month. Sometimes I wonder how many sets of copic liners and Tria markers I will need to finish this all!
Over the past few weeks, I've drawing the first chorus sequence in the Art of Dying. This is one of the central sequence within the song, it's quite heavily textured and absolutely mind-blowing.
Here's my original outline of the sequence:
The next step was filling in the forground and background, giving texture to the outline.
And then I began shading, using Tria markers in 12 shades of gray, to bring out the depth.
I realized that the lettering has to been done separately and then added in with Photoshop, because the letters are quite fine and really interfer with drawing the hairline textures in the loops - the letters make it difficult to draw the textures in one continuous movement.
You can hear this sequence - which I've labelled sequence #7 - from 4:16 - 4:45 in the video below.
The Gojira project is moving right along - I feel like the past few weeks have been a bit more productive! In any case, it sure is difficult to balance a huge personal project like this one with my full-time day job doing graphic design.
I've been working a lot lately on the 1st verse of The Art of Dying. I've been refering to this section as "sequence 4," which you can hear from 2:17 in the video at the end of this post.
It's been a challenge, especially developing the background loops.
For this sequence, I wanted the foreground loops to be a little less present, and make the background loops a more important part of the composition - reflecting the balance between vocals and accompaniment.
The condensed, sans serif is to emphasize the linearity of the vocals, not to directly spell out the vocal line. I used some overlapping in the composition along with some extended ascenders and descenders to suggest the vocal texture and rhythmn.
Process has been an extremely important part of executing the Gojira / Art of Dying project. Since the project is so huge, I've tried to be a methodological as possible - asking myself, what is the best way to get the right type of results.
After working out the general structure and contour for the entire piece, I worked on finding the best techniques and materials to render the texture. This involved testing dozens of different pens, pencils, inks, markers and paper.
These trial-and-error sessions helped me determine the right materials: tria markers in 12 shades of gray, and Copic multiliner pens in about 10 different thicknesses, on Inuit Ultra paper in blanc glacier.
I initially began the project by simply drawing in the Moleskine japanese-fold album. But this ended up being a problem: the tria markers and copic liners bleed through, making it impossible to work directly on both sides of the pages.
I then began working on separate sheets, which will be scanned and printed out in the same format as the japanese fold album.
This has required a lot of tracing, and I had to adapt my working surfaces accordingly. I first was working on an Ikea table with a small lightboard... and the project quickly outgrew the table. I recently got a new table with a full glass top - which has become a huge lightboard, basically. It's a lot less cramped and I can get much smoother curves.
I'm wondering how many meters long the project will end up being... and sometimes I wonder what I've got myself into! :)
I just got back after a nice little vacation in the US and the How Design conference in Chicago. It was a great experience, and I really enjoyed the sessions with Armin Vit, Cami Travis-Groves and Jessica Hische. And I especially appreciated talking with Cami at the portfolio review, her comments were really encouraging and motivating. Thanks a ton, Cami!
I'll be off gallivanting Italy for a couple days (the Big four in Milan -- Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer & Anthrax, yay!) and then it's back to work next week!
I've been working on the first color tests for the Gojira project, working with Tria markers in about a dozen shades of cool gray. They are quite easy to blend, and it's fun creating shading in the shapes and giving them texture. It feels like the drawing is starting to come to life.
The main difficulty I'm having now is finding the right way to fill in the background. I'm currently working on a series of different tests to find the right technique for this.
When I'm drawing the different sequences in the the Gojira / The Art of Dying project, I use a lot of loops. I see the sound construction of the song as very circular.
During the drawing process, these loops go through many steps. The loop I've drawn here is a very small fill from the last sequence of the Art of Dying (minute 6:05).
Step 1: a basic, short-hand version of the loop.
Step 2: fleshing out the basic shapes of the loop and the thick thin contrast.
Step 3: correcting the loop dynamics for rhythmn and movement.
And here is the finished loop-shape placed within the composition.
Once I've finished drawing all the loops, I'll begin the coloring process. The entire composition will be against a black background, and the loops filled in with textured linework in blacks and greys, as in this example:
Yesterday I posted several photos of the protoype paper sculpture structure for the Gojira-Art of Dying project. I put together this video to better explain how the paper sculpture works. It's a bit long (because the song is so long!). As the song plays, each corresponding loop of the paper sculpture is highlighted.
First of all, I divided the song up into sequences according to how I visualize it. Each of these sequences works like a loop that circles around and around on itself, until you move onto the next loop.
Now these sequences don't necessarily correspond to a proper musicological analysis of the song or even to the sections indicated in the sheet music. But that wasn't my intention either: I wanted to break the song down into the different sequences that I see synesthetically.
One of the difficulties was working within the constraint of the 50-page moleskine format. This meant dividing up the sequences in a way that made sense, and also that worked out mathematically.
The other constraint was developing a looping structure that functioned and that respected the layout of the different sequences.
One of the really important points for me was to give enough importance to the chorus. These sequences are so powerful, and are really the central pivot within the song.
I also decided to fill the entire reverse side of the japanese-fold album with one short sequence (sequence 11) that repeats itself over and over, in order to really emphasize the hypnotic quality of this passage.
So once you've gone all the way to the end of the 50-page accordion fold, turned it over and came all the way back, you end up back at the beginning again. The entire project consists of loops, from its initial form, to the breakdown in sequences, to the drawing of each sequence - in which the sound itself is in loops... it all breaks down to the cycle of life and death.
One of the primary ideas behind the Art of Dying project is that the booklet can be folded together into a paper sculpture through a system of short cuts in the paper folds.
So you have the Moleskine-size notebook with 50 accordion-fold pages, which then loop over each other to show the structure of the song. Each loop corresponds to a sequence in the song, and the placement of the loop is determined by its relationship to other loops.
This idea has proved to be quite complex to work out, and my first few prototypes didn't function properly - the pages kept tearing because the cut placement wasn't properly thought-out. But I've finally managed to get the cuts placed in the right spots, so that they work and are the least intrusive possible.
And so I've finally put together a prototype that works.