Everything starts with an idea.
Sometimes that idea is simple; just look at the light-bulb, or the wheel! However, while an idea might be simple in nature it might be difficult to execute and make it into more than just a scribble on paper. Find the full process of how I do artwork here, both in the form of video and images.
Where do ZuW's ideas come from?
9 times out of 10 my ideas stem from dreams I had as a child (Specimen G-13 and Jinimaru), or from more recent stages in my life (Subject 218), as for the remaining 1 of the 10? They can be inspired by other media (like Losing Speed), or from a lack thereof for certain topics (such as Donisaur).
Okay, so how does it start?
Once I have made some notes on a scrap bit of paper, or sometimes an entire sheet of fresh paper, I begin typing the notes up into a word document on the computer if it is for a written project. If it is just for a picture, I simply refine the doodle on the same bit of paper into a more definable sketch. I'll kick things off with how I do the artwork.
How the artwork is developed
All artwork is first drawn by hand with pencil before it is inked in pen, or on the computer after being scanned in. Once on the computer, the image is then split into two layers; line-work and colour layer. This allows my pictures to keep a nice bold outline. After flat colours are applied, I then add shading in the form of shadows, before adding the highlights. Once all shading is applied I then do any last-minute touch-ups to the image, such as adding effects such as thought bubbles or emotes. Many techniques shown in the videos can also be applied to Photography Editing projects; working in layers and using different overlay options in Photoshop can help you achieve a wide variety of effects.
This process happens for all images, even those that are drawn entirely on a computer. A single image, like the above, can take up to 5 hours from start to finish of constant work. Images with backgrounds take a lot longer, and can either be drawn in the same method shown above, or be painted by hand before being scanned in and polished.
You can see videos of how I do my artwork below, or subscribe to my YouTube Channel to watch past live-streams from Twitch of me doing each stage from start to finish.
Summary of the Process
More videos are available on the YouTube channel; be sure to subscribe to avoid missing new content!
As for the written work: things take a lot longer. Once the notes are typed up the document is saved as the plot synopsis. This document is saved a second time, where I will then make changes to it and begin flushing out the plot with dialogue, descriptions, scene transitions and other written examples until it becomes what is known as the first draft.
Now that you know some of that jargon, onto the publishing process itself.
The Publishing Process
First the book is written as a concept, this is when a brief plot is written out and can often be found as the "Book Summary" later in development. Once the brief is written it then enters what is known as the "first draft", at this point all the plot is fleshed out, dialogue and basic description is written, and it is then put to one side for a few days. I return to the first draft after a few days to look it over with fresh eyes, at which point I then begin to make revisions. Many of the books lay in this process for many years, and some still are stuck in "first-draft limbo".
If a book is fortunate enough to finally meet my liking, it then exits the first-draft and is handed over to my proof-readers; they read the first-draft, correcting any spelling or grammar mistakes I might have overlooked in my own revisions, before handing it back to me for approval. This process of back-and-fourth editing can put the book through various drafts before it leaves the proofing stage.
Once proofing is done, then it gets its artwork drawn and inserted into the relevant pages, before uploading to my Printers/Distributors. At this point I design and construct the cover artwork. Once I finish this stage, I order a proof-copy of the printed versions, examine them page-by-page for any printing errors or loss of quality, and hand it to one of my proof-readers for their second opinion. If both of us agree the print copy is suitable, I then give my Printer/Distributor my permission to distribute the book, and then order myself copies to sell at conventions. EPUBs skip the stages beyond ordering a proof copy, as I simply have to preview the EPUB on my phone, tablet and E-Reader. I do still ask for a second-opinion from my proof-reader when I convert the book into EPUB.
The differences between EPUB and Print
An EPUB is convenient since it can be downloaded anytime, anywhere in the world, onto your smartphone, tablet or E-Reader. Because EPUBs don't require a printer, they can be sold for a far cheaper price. However, if you have no internet connection, or not enough room on your device to download the book, a printed copy can save the day.
Physical books purchased from LuLu are slightly more expensive than Amazon, since they add distributor revenue to the price, on-top of the printing costs, and distribution fees. I am able to get special offers direct from the printers to buy my own stock, to sell wherever I want, without having to pay such fees. In a sense, I cut out the middleman. This is why I am able to sell books that are priced as £25.99 online, for £9.99 at conventions. Physical books cost more, but make nice gifts for people who you know love reading, and if your devices run out of power a print can be a welcome relief for a potentially boring journey. Sometimes, you just can't beat a physical book!
Why some books are in Colour or Black and White
Only applies to certain books. Black and White (B&W) books are cheaper than Full Colour online because they cost my distributors less to print, however you will be missing out if you do decide to go with B&W. All images are coloured in guides and children's books, or partially coloured in general books. The only prints that are best for B&W are the mature books, as none of their pictures are coloured excluding the front and back covers, which come in full-colour print as standard.
For the best option, grab a full-colour copy of any of our books at a much cheaper rate from the nearest convention ZuW will be attending, or keep your eyes peeled on the Ebay store for leftover stock. All EPUBs come in full-colour but if you try viewing the E-Book on an ink-based E-Reader it will still display in B&W; view your E-books on a computer, smartphone or tablet, to see them in full-colour.
Remember: Printed books prior to June 2020 are sold either on LuLu and can be found on the iBook store, Barnes & Noble, and more. All books are available in either physical print format, or as an EPUB (E-Publication) for reading on tablets, phones or E-Readers. After June 2020 all new physical and EPUB books will start appearing exclusively on Amazon.
How Comics are Developed
This is best explained over on the Subject 218 page, which is the exclusive Comic Project for the site at this time.
Unlike the written projects which are distributed across the web, the Subject 218 Comic can only be found either at Comic Conventions or on the Kindle store via Amazon.