Monday, December 27, 2010

Microsoft Paint + too much free time = the best (late) Christmas present ever

 So, one time while I was taking a bookbinding class at BYU, I got this awesome (read: overly ambitious) idea for an advent calendar-themed book.  It involved French folded sections with stories inside for each day of December up through Christmas.  That year (2008) I was supposed to give a Christmas present to my brother Aaron.  I decided I would make him one of these books.  Before I even got going on it, however, I realized that I wouldn't be able to finish it on time, so Aaron essentially got a big fat IOU.  When Christmas 2009 rolled around, I managed to make one of these books for my sister Sarah (we have a rotating gift-giving schedule in the family).  It took somewhere from 40 to 50 hours to make, and once I finished it, I knew that there was no way on earth that I would be able to get one made for Aaron for the 2009 season.  So, with high hopes, I set a tentative due date for Aaron's belated book: December 1st, 2010.

Sarah's Christmas book, 2009

Well, as we all know, Christmas has already passed and December is nearly over, and it is not a huge surprise that Aaron's book is still not finished.  BUT there are very good reasons for this.  Let me explain to you why this 100+ hour labor of love is not quite finished yet:

You see, it all started when I rekindled my love for Microsoft Paint.  I remember spending lots of hours in junior high drawing pictures on the computer with my friend Jamie Thomas.  She was a budding computer animator herself; she once drew an inappropriate but awesome picture of Nick Kane being a butthead (literally) and making me cry (I haven't seen the picture in years and I can't find it, but it will be like finding a long-lost treasure if it ever surfaces on a hard drive somewhere).  Anyway, a couple of months ago I drew a few pictures on Jenny's computer and remembered how much I love paint, so obviously it only made sense that somehow I should incorporate this talent into Aaron's Christmas book.  I decided that I would illustrate the Twelve Days of Christmas, print it out and make it one of the sections of the book.  These would be quick, crappily drawn pictures, I assured myself.  I would have it all finished within a few hours...

It all started out innocently enough.  As you can see, the partridge in the pear tree is rather crudely drawn:

The two turtle doves were definitely more professional, but they were still pretty basic.  It was at this point that I decided my only prayer for doing this in a timely fashion would be to save my pictures, open them in Microsoft Publisher and then use the copy and paste function to create my multiples:

The real time management issues seemed to crop up when I drew the three French hens.  By this point, I had realized that I actually was better at drawing on a computer than I was with a pencil and paper.  Why draw crappy pictures when I can turn out real works of art??  As you can guess, by the time I got to the twelve drummers drumming, I had logged about 25 or 30 hours of computer time on drawing and formatting the pictures.
3 French Hens

4 Colly Birds
Sweat runnin' all over my 5 Gold Rings

6 Geese A-Laying

7 Swans A-Swimming

8 Maids A-Milking
9 Ladies Dancing
10 Lords A-Leaping
11 Pipers Piping

12 Drummers Drumming
I mean, by the time I was finishing, things were getting borderline ridiculous.  Just the cow for the 8 maids section took me over an hour to draw.  But when Aaron pulls out his trusty letter opener next December to slice open the section containing the 12 Days of Christmas, I'm sure he'll be blown away by the sheer awesomeness of the thing.  I already have the coverboards made and the section envelopes cut down and folded for it.  Now, all I have to do to finish the book is compile the stories for the other 24 sections...hhhhhhhh! actually I have most of them together, already.  And don't worry, I won't be illustrating any other sections.  That was taken care of by some scissors, glue, and the $3 copy of "Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book" that I found at the thrift store a couple weeks ago when I was buying my Christmas sweater.