1. No matter how much I wanted to draw in simple bold shapes - this is a kids' book, after all - detail kept creeping in. Maybe that's something that can't be avoided, and I need to accept it (at least for now) instead of trying to fight it. The book designer I'm working with assured me there's no problem with detail and I know my own kids liked it, but it still felt odd not being able to draw in any other way than the way I always draw.
2. There is nothing wrong with using reference photos, not even putting them on the lightbox under the drawing paper to get the White House accurate. Okay, I knew this already, but had a strange resistance -- it's "cheating" if I don't create everything myself! But figuring out a sweeping staircase in perfect proportion and perspective would've taken forever and still might never be right. And of course nobody really cares how it's done, just that it's there.
3. Everything takes a ridiculously long time. Yes I knew this already, too, but still get caught by surprise again and again. Rough drafts are quick, second drafts are fairly easy, but commiting to the actual final inked lines is another matter entirely. And then the colouring-in, which looks like it should take a matter of hours but somehow takes two days...
4. A big project with a tight deadline is probably not the ideal situation for trying a different fountain pen ink, but I'm happy with the new one - dokumentus - which is very fast drying and properly waterproof, not smearing when watercolour is added. Unfortunately it's not as free-flowing as what I'm used to, needing a bit of nib pressure and an extra second to start a line, but even on Bristol board I had no smudging problems which was a huge time-saving benefit and well worth the trouble.
5. As always, the first rough sketchy draft looks better in a lot of ways than the finished picture. A sense of fun in the lines, the feeling of life and motion - it's so difficult to define and difficult not to lose this as the final draft gets tightened up. Though I did find myself having to make last-minute additions by eye, free-hand, on the final artwork so maybe that'll help...
Oh, and one more, actually. An important one.
6. My usual method for drawing in perspective -- draw it by eye, come back and look at it later and move any lines that don't look right -- just won't do for large-scale whole room scenes. Being a little bit off with one part obviously affects everything else in the scene and there's a reason people map out the vanishing points and all that before drafting. I tended to work from my earlier drafts and didn't notice some parts weren't quite right until trying to neaten everything up for the final... and then time pressure meant I couldn't just start over.... yikes. Next time, a little more planning. While somehow keeping the spontaneity!
Can't wait to see the printed copies at the launch party next month!