Painting a Double Page Spread

While writing chapter 2 of 7" Kara (oh hey, it's available in my store!), I decided that the time had come for my first double page spread. An excellent opportunity to let the story breathe presented itself halfway through the story, and I decided to take it.

I'd designed a wraparound cover not too long ago, and I decided to apply a lot of what I learned doing a black and white cover to watercolor pages.

This post is going to be a little out of chronological order, since I wasn't smart about saving my process.

When designing a double page spread (or a wraparound cover) you need to treat it as a whole, while taking into consideration possible pagebreaks or the spine.

This design, the cover to this year's ashcan, is pretty simple,  I  knew I'd be able to do a lot of tweaking in Photoshop, so I didn't spend a lot of time drawing unnecessary elements.

In Photoshop, I created a single file that was as large as both pages put together, and spread out my elements accordingly.  As you can see, I replicated the single handprint all over the design, knowing that I could make each appear as an individual by varying how I paint the individual hands.   I adjusted the placement of Kara as well as the paint pan so the overlap made visual sense.

After I arranged my elements, I cropped the image into two images, each the size of one page, and printed out the bluelines on cold press watercolor paper.  I stretched both pages on one large lap board so that I could work on them simultaneously.  This ensures color consistency.

This page is still unfinished, but it demonstrates working on the double page spread as a single unit.

These sort of spreads can be time consuming but rewarding.  While it is possible to create a double page spread or a wraparound cover on a single large piece of paper, I find that I can get better detail by working across two sheets.

Of course, if you're going to go to all the trouble of designing a double page spread, you want to make sure it prints as a double page spread.  I utilize Adobe InDesign to make sure my pages are laid out correctly.


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