20 April 2018

Book Jacket project: 1984

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One style missing form my current project is what I think of as "pure" design", meaning dependent solely on design elements like typography, colour blocks and simple basic shapes. I forgot I had a hardcover of 1984 and it seems a perfect fit for this sort of design. I want to get away forth idea of staring eyes and raised fists and go for something much more basic and, I hope, eye-catching.

16 April 2018

Vectorizer test

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Mike Luce did a test over at his blog with Super vectorizer 2 which I already but only used in a limited way. So I took a really old, super detailed drawing to see how it did turning bitmapped to vector.

As would be expected, the dot and line work looks pretty damn good. It did take some playing around to get there though. The doorway greyscale was done with grey chalk in original and the tones are a little too subtle to be vectorized, but still, not a bad look.

Affinity Designer does not vectorize bitmaps like Illustrator does (barely) so if you need an external program for that Super vectorizer is a good choice and very well priced.

13 April 2018

Book Jacket project: 20000 Leagues Under the Sea and Ghost Stories

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I love Jules Verne novels and have read  quite a few in English or French or both. Captain Nemo was the hero of my youth (along with Verne's Rubor the conqueror). I originally was going to make a 3D version from Verne's Nautilus plans... but the Disney version is just the best. I put it up there as one of the best ship designs in all science-fiction.

Again, I am going for a very clean, open look. I had to redraw the Grosset & Dunlap logo in Designer. I used a coloured gradient to give the feeling of the sea without having to have bubbles, or fish or anything like that.

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This tiny book of ghost stories is the last of my uncovered hardcovers, I think. I guess a way to
continue would be to take some books I love and do new covers for them. I might

11 April 2018

New Drawing - pole cleaner

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Another in my never ending acrobat series. This time I did it all in (digital) ink and painted under it in colour like I used to do occasionally with ink and watercolours on paper. It has a different feeling than my other colour stuff. I think. Hard to look a your work objectively!

06 April 2018

Book jacket project: Murders in the Rue Morgue and other stories

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Another one to work on from a small format hardcover I have had for decades and oddly enough... never thought to see what stories were in it. There is no table of contents so I added on on the inner front flap. Page numbers to come.

I decided on a long bio for Poe on the back since giving a resumé of each story wasn't going to happen. The photo is the typical one you see of Poe. I did some retouching and restoration to it and might do a little more.

On second thought- I found the above far too banal and predictable and went for something much cleaner. Tell Tale Heart is one of the stories in the book so I went with that for the artwork which I made in 3D. I like this one much better. Numbering the table of contents on the inner flap is a challenge because they start with a one digit number and progress to three digits making it look unbalanced. I changed 1 to 01 which helps a little.

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04 April 2018

Book Jacket project: Abandoned and Oracle of Nostradamus

Yet more book covers.

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Abandoned is the second book of Jules Verne Mysterious Island trilogy. I've never read (or seen) the third in the series.

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Oracles of Nostradamus is a little book with all the "predictions" he made in French with dubious English translations. Just something I keep for reference.

30 March 2018

Book Jacket project: Tarzan of the Apes

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This one came together very quickly. I knew I wanted to use the original cover art so I made a cleaned up version of that and also used the original text placement as inspiration for the book title and author name placement.

It is a very thick book, so the space allowed for more creative titles on the spine and remain readable. I also extended the green background into the back covers the text would be offset.

Flickr post: what just happened?

So I posted a pretty standard image from the old port one morning a few days ago and got a message from Flickr saying 400+ people had seen it by the end of the day... and it kept going and going...

I have no idea why this happened. It's an OK photo, I actually have a few better ones of the same thing I posts months ago. I do have some images with many more views, but they are mostly of guys with no shirts or something and took years to accumulate those views.

I am not complaining, it's nice to get noticed, but too bad those 4300+ and counting views are not on one of my animations or documentaries. In that case, the chances of me getting some work from the attention might be dramatically increased. I just find this odd, this is as close as I get to viral anything. it doesn't look like anyone checked out any of my other photos on Flickr as a result so it's some sort of fluke I'm guessing.

16 March 2018

Book jacket project: The Picture of Dorian Gray

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So this one I tied to break away more from my habits and it has a sort of paperback book cover look to me. These past three book were all from the Modern Library, so I need to maybe look into my collection and find another publisher. I have a few Jules Verne and Burroughs Tarzan of the Apes, so there are other subjects to cover (pun intended).

I deliberately didn't use black backdrops on the last few because I think that while visual short-cuts are useful and sometimes needed, it's best to at least try and avoid them or turn them on their heads now and then. Horror is always some ornate font, in red on a black background. Dripping blood abounds on these covers. You might end up using some of all of those visual tropes in the end, but it's always useful to take another road first.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is very different from the typical gothic horror story, much more psychological and while there are violent turns, there is also a lot of humour. The monster is our own ego and pretentiousness revealed in the character (and portrait0 of the eternally young Dorian Gray.

The illustration is a 3D render I made to look less 3D prices and more painterly. A skin-less looking hand is pushing it's way out of a paining in an ornate frame that has been covered by an old sheet. I made one image that didn't show enough of the frame which made the image a too ambiguous so I made another. The font is simple and clean. None of the text is pure white, I find it easier to read if the text on black is a light grey over pure white.

14 March 2018

Book Jacket Project: Frankenstein Version 3

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Thanks to Mike Luce's feedback, I went in a different direction. Did I want to have no illustration? I really wanted a Wrighson on the cover, afterall these will eventually be covering the books in my library. I also liked the white paper and the larger image lets me have that simplicity without sacrificing drama.

13 March 2018

Design Project; Book jackets

It is no secret my work load has been say... reduced over the last year. Getting new contracts has been near impossible despite some very successful projects in the recent past. I guess a well reviewed design for a book and a nomination for an international Emmy don't really carry much weight these days... at least where I am concerned.

I have been taking up the slack by working on my personal projects, mostly animations. That is fine but I need to keep my design work up as well so I've decided to look trough my personal home library and redesign book jackets for a few of the hardcovers I have. 

So I am going to post my results, experiments and ideas here and hope to get some feedback to keep me on my toes with my graphic design work. My plan is use mostly design techniques but I might also try illustrating a few myself - depending on the book. I will try different styles and looks for each book and maybe even several for each book as I go along.

If I can get money to print these up, I plan to use them in my book collection.

Please: click the images to enlarge to see them in detail.


I actually did this one before, I think with Pagestream on my Amiga many years ago. I love the Bernie Wrightson illusions for this book and used this one on the old jacket as well. Originally I liked  the stark white over the textured backdrop, but settled (for now) on an old wet plate texture from the days when photo negatives were on glass. I also tried a version with no cover image.


I read this books every few years over again and researched 100s of other covers - many of which I found pretty terrible. Again I like a clean look and white as a backdrop would also work for this I think. The skull with wings is a royalty free graphic I slightly changed and I chose a font that was not overly decorative. The blood splatter was something I though I should avoid but then thought this needed little more excitement added. 

08 March 2018

In The Future with Nostro-dumbass!

New version is done! Now to raise some money and try it in some festivals.

22 February 2018

Nostrodumbass - remake!

I decided to redo my project In the Future with Nostrodumbass from 8 years ago because, while the voice by Michael Keamy was awesome, it was done in standard definition and I think I can do much better with the animation now.

He is now little less influenced by Korla Pandit and a little more influenced by Jafar from Aladdin. As you can see from the old model (below), he originally didn't even have legs. I also fought tooth and nail with the rigging and think with the character object autorig I used for Charles Billingsworth in Dramatic Readings I can get a much more nuanced performance. 

My plan, now that he is ready for animation, is to look over the old script and re-edit the dialog into something tighter and hopefully funnier. The original won a small prize at a Toronto film festival in 2010 and I might try and get this new version shown around as something new.  Like many of my projects, the original wasn't seem by too many people to begin with. 

I have decided to drastically change the set as well. I am not sure many people got he was at an organ in the original or how important it was that he was. Seemed important at the time. I decided a podium and a more preacher like setting was better as he can now move around more freely. 

12 February 2018

Dagon - new animated Lovecraft short

I put a lot of time into this one, preparing, testing and working out problems. It take place outdoors for most of the film which is new for me and has more effects work than I usually have. Michael Z Keamy does the narration and did a great job. I also added more sound elements to this one, trying for a creepy sound as well as feel for the mysterious island.

I could say more, but I'm really sick at the moment and need to lie down!

16 January 2018

Space station 2018

I have a couple projects I come back to every now and then to see if I can do better or how much faster my new software/computer is using the projects as a way to compare render times etc.

This one I did originally to encourage a friend to write a story he wanted to write and I liked it enough to keep reworking it.

The big difference this time was cutting the render time dramatically by using textures to detail the model instead of polygons so the model is really simple overall. I was also able to add many more details which I think make the station look much larger.

Below: the 2015 image is on top and the new on below.