The first project of the year is both an individual and group project around exquisite corpses. We were each given (at random), 4 biographies of fictional characters which we will bring to life. In total there are 56 characters and the brief looks at how we can produce this as a book as the end product altogether. Exquisite corpse is essentially "a game in which each participant takes turns writing or drawing on a sheet of paper, folding it to conceal his or her contribution, and then passing it to the next player for a further contribution." So as a collective we will be aiming to produce a final book to be printed, split into flip sections in exquisite corpse style, including some or all 4 of our characters as contribution.
After lots of discussion as a group, we had to make lots of decisions about the format of the book, size, paper stock, how the content will be displayed, discussion around a front/back cover etc. We did make lots of decisions on the day so we decided that the pages would be a4 but trimmed down to be slimmer - working to a size of 297mm x 170mm, split equally into three segements to 99mm x 170mm. We decided our pages would be double sided, with a character on one side and on the reverse include the details of their biography. Due to mixam (the printing company) restrictions we are limited on page numbers so we decided we would include our 2 best illustrations within the book. Regarding the font of the text we include, we thought it would be good and more interesting to select a font which suited each character. Also when we discussed background we decided background were optional but more emphasis should be on the character.
My 4 characters are, Strangeways Pigg Strangeways, Prosper Louis Pascal Gueranger, Sebastian Drizzle and Rodolfo the Magnificent, each with unique characteristics.
Strangeways Pigg Strangeways:
Profession: star cricket player of the early 1900s
Notes: frequently ran himself out when his super-long beard snagged his stumps
Prosper Louis Pascal Guéranger:
Profession: 13c. Benedictine Monk
Notes: addicted to mead, of dubious morality
Notes: the world's only professional Goth surfer
Rodolfo the Magnificent:
Profession: circus performer
Notes: short-sighted knife thrower
Character development research:
'The Art of UP'
Strangeways Pigg Strangeways
For my cricketer I pictured an old image as they are a 1900s character. As they are a star sportsmen they will be in uniform, holding a cricket bat, with a long bushy beard with a stump stuck in it. To ensure each section portrays elements of a cricketer, I will have him wearing his hat in the top section, his cricket bat and ball in the middle section and the bottom section will have the knee/shin pads along with stumps as part of the background. I had to really play with the background for this one as the uniform is white it's difficult for it to stand out against the background.
Prosper Louis Pascal Guéranger
For my monk character I pictured an old, drunk monk with a bit of beer belly. Keeping the 13th century in mind I imagined an old mood to the character, and tried to associate medieval colours. I also wanted him to be holding a pint, and thought the cross could have sunk into his drink with mead splashing out highlighting his dubious morality. I thought the stitches would portray wrinkles on his face well, and I wanted his face to be quite red to signify his alcoholism. I also gave him droopy drunk eyes and a bit of a dribble frothing out his mouth. I also think the cloth texture of the robe etc fits very well with the time period. To make sure you could tell which character it was from each section I added an open bible to the bottom section on the floor which I think is considered bad linking to the dubious morality.
For my goth surfer, I imagined a stereotypical goth, long black hair covering his face, pale skin, skinny, black oversized top with a striped top underneath, tattoos piercings, a surfboard with a skull on it. I aimed for a colour scheme of black white and purple to link with the goth theme, however a blue background to contrast and also link with the surf element.
Rodolfo the Magnificent
The picture I had in my head involved my character dressed in a typical circus outfit, stripes and a wasitcoat, gloves and a top hat. He'll be wearing glasses since he's short sighted, probably. big jam jar glasses, and possibly be squinting to emphasise this more. Red is a common colour associated with the circus and also danger (short sighted knife thrower). After producing the main elements of the figure I played around in photoshop with colours and backgrounds. I did find this quite challenging actually just figuring out how I wanted the page to look and how to lay out the background bearing in mind that it is meant to be minimal.
Example of how the book would work:
Here is an example of how the book works using just my 4 characters to create unique combinations. I think we can tell how fun and creative the finished outcome will be once all the characters are included. This was a really fun first project to get us back into the swing of things and I can't wait to see the final creation put together over the next few days.
Production of the final outcome - printing in house:
When it came to finally putting the book together, there were numerous elements of the process which needed solving and deciding - the order of the illustrations, paper stock, the cutting process (bulk - 30 copies).
The format of the book and how we were going to bind it also took some working out, including the hole punching process. We had to arrange the pages in the book a little more spaced out to provide room for movement and page flicking. This meant that we had to reprint all of the front and back covers however as they needed to be slightly bigger due to the added space between the pages. We also realised the front and back cover needed to be much sturdier as the book was becoming quite floppy due to all the cut out pages inside. To solve this we used yuhu glue to stick the covers to mountboard which worked really well.
For the cutting process, we had to work out which order to cut edges of the print sheet first, to ensure we could still figure out all the crop marks and line it up correctly. This was a very complex process, we opted originally for using the guillotine and I marked out with masking tape where to line the sheet up for cutting off the different edges. This was going to be an extremely tedious process doing one sheet at a time, baring in mind there were 28 pages in each book, and 30ish books. After speaking to Helen, she showed us the big industrial guillotine which would mean we could do a big stack of books, very accurately and neatly, at a time. We split the book into two halves for the cutting process, to make life easier for the cutting process. After splitting into two halves, we decided we would need to order the pages of the book before continuing to cut into thirds (as that was a very long and tedious job afterwards). A few of us decided on a strong front and back page, and a strong middle. We also tried to provide enough contrast between each page thinking about colour, texture, and media. We kept the two halves separate until the final binding, as the hole puncher only took half of the book in the machine anyway so this made life easier.
The production line and binding process:
The final product: