Big Ideas and Flatplans

My bird book plans are starting to take shape. What I am wanting to create is a logbook x Spotter’s Guide x old-school I-Spy book (ageing myself here…) in a fairly small format using the scans of my paintings as the main identification guide. Nothing complicated or fancy, just the basic shape and plumage to build familiarity. More often than not we do not see the whole bird, or it’s flying away, or – my personal pet peeve – directly in to the sun so it’s only the macro elements we register. I remember being thrilled to bits when someone said they were out walking and recognised a bullfinch having seen my painting…

I’m going about it in all the wrong way as I started by playing around with InDesign before working on my flatplan, but my book mentor Paul put me straight and I have printed off my templates so I can work out what/which bird goes where as they face different ways and I need to ensure they ‘flow’ through the book, something I hope will be instinctive.

Way back when I used to go to London every week I would sit in the coffee shop in Foyles reading books I never bought, and one was about graphic design for beginners. Having trawled my memory I remembered which one it was:

I have always loved typesetting, fonts, written ‘stuff’ and design so this book lark is a perfect excuse to indulge all this. That and the thought of actually having my very own printed birdwatching book is deeply motivating.

I will have a series of 6 or 7 little books based on habitat and perhaps the odd quirky collection. They will be light on words so I will have an accompanying book on how to appreciate the birds we see around us. I feel compelled to highlight the trouble our birds and wildlife are facing but hopefully in a way that encourages folk to understand, value, but most of all enjoy the birds they see…I am definitely a carrot rather than stick kind of person.

Here is my basic knock up:

I have added a bit of colour to the tables, and I did a quick cover in Canva so that I could feel like I was bonding with the project:

I have never done anything to do with books or publishing, although my brother writes for a living and Paul is a published author too. I am aware I am going about things back to front but for me this is a journey of investigation and exploration, and I am confident I will get there in the end! Adobe is proving quite a challenge but maybe tackling it for the first time on the day of my covid jab was quite a big ask as I did feel quite rough and I don’t have a huge amount of instinct for new software {understatement}.

It is really lovely revisiting my paintings, and I have a few more to paint, and a lot to get scanned once the shops open up again. I would really like to do a turtle dove – for now I need to choose birds with no yellow in them as I’ve run out and am getting more gouache for my birthday next month…

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