The naming of pages

Illustration by Myfanwy Tristram. A record player and two speakers. On each side is a record collection. The front record in each stack is by Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cocteau Twins, Echo and the Bunnymen and Bauhaus. On the floor is Eden by Everything But The Girl.
Records by Myfanwy Tristram (work in progress)

So it turns out that it’s not that useful to name your files things like ‘page 54 new.jpg‘, ‘page 54 April.jpg‘ and ‘page 54 altered.jpg‘, etc, when you’re working on a project spanning several years and which has involved a lot of page revisions, reordering and rejigging.

I’ve returned to Satin and Tat for now – the problems with it still remain: there’s still not enough time and it’s still too big a task, but neither of those things become less true if I abandon it, and I might as well be chipping away while thinking about my next move.

I’ve ordered the second print run of the Protest book, with its ISBN, and when that arrives I’ll be dedicating more time to getting it out there, but for now, rather than twiddle my fingers I’m back to drawing records and punks with purple hair.

Well I say drawing. ANd while I have done a bit, I’ve spent most of my comic creating time today moving completed pages out of a folder named ‘coloured pages’ and into a subfolder named ‘properly numbered pages’.

Satin and Tat exists in various forms:

  • As a typewritten script
  • As thumbnailed pages, drawn digitally and in their own folder
  • As a print-out of those thumbnails, giving me a pleasingly dogeared volume that I feel free to scrawl notes on
  • As layered files (first PhotoShop, then Affinity) on my hard drive
  • As finished jpgs on my portable hard drive (up to the pages I’ve completed, of course). Turns out that these should have been TIFFs, you live and learn.
  • As copies of these finished jpgs, on a Google Drive, in case the worst happens and I lose all my local files
  • Often – and here’s where we hit the problem – as multiple versions of a single page where I’ve thought ‘I’ll just try doing it this way’ or ‘I’ll just delete that element’, without deleting the earlier version or giving them a coherent file naming structure.

Well, I guess this is how you learn to do better: you see the downsides of the way you’ve been managing things.

One thing that is clear when going through my folders is just how very, very much artwork I have produced thus far. When I say this project has taken an insane amount of time, it’s not just because each page takes so long to draw; it’s because in many cases I’ve been redrawing or rearranging pages, and in some of those cases, multiple times.

This has been a result, to an extent, of learning on the job. Look*, I thought I was doing all the right things (and to an extent I was): character and reference sketches, a full script, (eventually) a full thumbnailed version. But I have also been getting better at drawing throughout the project; and adding new pages to make it flow better or add a deeper point to the plot.

This week I was drawing away on a file named ‘page 81’ when I realised the number didn’t tally with the page numbers in my print-out, which is what prompted the ‘properly numbered pages’ folder. It’s this sort of admin that adds still more hours of work to the project, and doesn’t even result in artwork.

That’s all, really. While I was renaming all my files today, I did think about this tweet and wondered if anyone would do the same for a half-finished comic.

*Politician’s “look”, sorry.

Published by Myfanwy Tristram

I am an illustrator, situated in Brighton on the south coast of England, and with a special interest in comics and graphic memoir. I also work for a non-profit which encourages people to be active in democracy and to exercise rights such as the right to information through FOIA.

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