Beyond the Morning Mountains released

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Volume One of my Tales of Quahnarren fantasy gamebook, Beyond the Morning Mountains, has finally been released. More information about the world of Quahnarren and links for where to purchase are available at the ToQ website.

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Design process: report covers


As I was looking through my archives for a particular file today, I came across these old cover designs for an Election Benchmarks report completed back in 2013. As you can see I pursued two main concepts; silhouettes representing ‘work’ and ‘care’ (together they suggested ‘family’), and varying circular shapes, which mainly relied on their cut forms and colour to create interesting relationships.

The client was very keen for something simple and clean to match previous reports, and asked that I submit at least a couple of options to give them a choice of style. The initial string idea (top left) wasn’t working as I’d hoped it would, so the thin lines became positive and negative shapes, which helped to break up the cover into three logical sections. I still like the second design, but it wasn’t the approach that the client favoured. I actually produced quite a few other alternatives using the circular design, but morphed most of the stronger shapes from those ideas into what you see above, maintaining a simplicity that functionally separated the two-part title and logo.

The chosen design (below, shown as back & front covers) is only a minor adjustment of the third design above, featuring an edited title and the alternative logo. There’s a strong grid of connected reference points underpinning this design, which does make it a good choice from my perspective – even if it probably appears as just a few random shapes to most viewers. Such is the life of a designer!

Charlie Brown’s a real winner!

YAGMCB_02 YAGMCB_04 YAGMCB_06

Last night I went to the Stirling Community Theatre to see the Hills Musical Company performing You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. Their production was excellent; a really grood cast, orchestra, set design and lighting, which made for an enjoyable evening. My programme design (above) also adequately performed its role to support the production!

You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown poster
Poster design for an upcoming production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown by the Hills Musical Company.

The main title was hand lettered by me using PITT artist pens, referencing the early lettering style of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz. As a huge fan of his work, I was very keen to create a colourful design that respectfully conveyed a classic comic style with an obvious Peanuts feel, while also matching the set design which will feature large comic panel sections on the stage backdrop. Charlie Brown’s iconic zigzag T-shirt, which was also hand drawn and inked, became an important central element in the design as it offers a strongly contrasting and very striking pattern.

Further promotional design work for this production will use these key elements in a variety of different combinations, which have been deliberately created to provide a flexible system of components for any desired layout or format.

Children of the Black Skirt – again

Children of the Black Skirt

My poster design for Children of the Black Skirt is currently enjoying a second coming as it is now being used again to promote the new shows by Ink Pot Arts Inc for the 2015 Adelaide Fringe. I’ve slightly altered the positioning of the main title to accommodate the ticketing and support requirements, which has actually improved the design slightly in comparison to the original poster.

Gone Troppo: Last Wave at Waitpinga

Last Wave at Waitpinga
Hand lettering, photographic manipulation and graphic design for Gone Troppo track Last Wave at Waitpinga – a great surf-rock instrumental.

I’ve created a 16-page pdf booklet as a bonus download on bandcamp, which features a selection of the photos taken by me during filming, together with a few video stills of the pro surfers shown in action during the video clip. All of the images have been given an appropriate ‘grunge’ surfing look, adding texture and colour enhancements to accurately capture the coastal feel. Here’s four images from the booklet:

Last Wave at Waitpinga Last Wave at Waitpinga

The song is available as a double single with another instrumental titled Looking Down the Barrel on CD Baby and bandcamp for only $1. Also available as a single track release on iTunes.

The previously posted music video can also be found here.

Gone Troppo: Sands of Time

Gone Troppo_Sands of Time
Cover designs for a new track by art-music collective Gone Troppo. This was an interesting design process, due to the songwriter requesting the investigation of an alternative approach that further referenced the ‘sand’ element from the song. My initial thoughts were that without the high contrast of the original blue & yellow design, the overall impression created by the thin linework would be too diluted and therefore not stand out enough at the small scale of an icon, which is where this artwork would mainly be viewed.

As it turned out, the design still works well with a lighter textured background and my concerns were proven incorrect. This is always an interesting part of the design process for me, and something I’ve regularly communicated to clients when changes are discussed. Many requested changes are often very difficult to judge accurately before simply trying them to see the actual impact on the finished design. Experience has shown me that some small adjustments can have a significant negative effect on a design, dramatically changing the flow, appearance or readability in a way that myself and/or the client will not accept. Current digital production methods certainly make it far easier to alter artwork and investigate options, especially compared to when my artwork was mostly hand drawn and assembled – but any changes incur extra time (and usually money) so the designer is responsible for efficiently advising a client and resolving all queries without futile and costly exploration.

My design features various elements from the song itself: a diamond, travel, a broken heart, the universe and a sunrise. The track is available to download at CD Baby.

A Snake in New York

SNAKE PLISSKEN print
I recently watched John Carpenter’s classic sci-fi film Escape from New York again, and was inspired to create a design featuring lead character Snake Plissken, played with rebellious coolness by Kurt Russell.

In 1988, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once great city of New York becomes the one maximum security prison for the entire country. A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline, across the Harlem River, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline. It completely surrounds Manhattan Island. All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards inside the prison, only prisoners and the worlds they have made. The rules are simple: once you go in, you don’t come out.

I’ve always liked the setting, atmosphere, music and general style of this cult movie since first seeing it back as a young teenager. Snake is a great hero character and was to later be the inspiration for Solid Snake from the popular Metal Gear video game series.

The typography I’ve created is based on the font style used in the film for the prison signage, which I think really captures the unique 80’s look of type design during this period and is what I believe to be the signature font for this great film.

Prints, t-shirts and more available to purchase at søciety6.

Snake Plissken tees

ToQ: Beyond the Morning Mountains fantasy adventure gamebook

ToQ: Beyond the Morning Mountains
Today I’ve finally announced my gamebook project set within the fantasy world of Quahnarren. Beyond the Morning Mountains is a very ambitious project, featuring over 120,000 words it is extensively illustrated throughout, and is the first in a planned series of adventures that will take readers to all corners of the world that I am creating.

Visit the Tales of Quahnarren site to read more about the book, and if you’re completely new to the adventure gamebook genre you can also preview a few written sections to gain some understanding of what these books are all about.

Not an accidental pattern

Consultation Doesn't Happen By AccidentConsultation Doesn't Happen By AccidentConsultation Doesn't Happen By AccidentConsultation Doesn't Happen By AccidentReport design and page layout for the Centre for Work + Life at the University of South Australia. It’s always nice to have the opportunity to create a strong and flexible pattern design, which in this case was devised to be broken apart and used as visual page elements for pull-quotes. The main report (above) was then summarised into a 6 page horizontal format brochure (below).

Consultation Doesn't Happen By AccidentConsultation Doesn't Happen By Accident

A pickle of a story!

RCHRD’S GLSSS ND TH WRRNG NGHBRSRCHRD’S GLSSS ND TH WRRNG NGHBRS is an entertaining eBook written by new authors Julie and Luca Harper, mostly about Giant Spider Crabs, Greater Bulldog Bats, Green Iguanas, maths, music, timekeeping and vowels!

I was asked to provide a cover design, including a full series logotype and hand lettering, plus a few mono interior illustrations (three shown below) for the book, which at times proved to be more challenging and time intensive than I had envisaged.

RGNTWN_ShoppeRGNTWN_Boris and EddieRGNTWN_Clearview Village mapThe mono illustrations were completed in Illustrator using the pressure sensitive blob brush, and were created as loosely sketched pieces, capturing some of the energy found in the written style of the book. The main characters themselves proved to be somewhat hard to successfully define and capture accurately, and we went through a number of iterations and revisions before I produced the simple character sketches for protagonists Nigel Le Nez, and Madame La Bouche.

RGNTWN_Nigel Le NezThese hand drawn pencil sketches then became desired final art, with colour added (as seen above) to match the cover formatting. This wasn’t planned, and it introduced a number of design issues to solve, as the two standing characters dramatically altered the spacing and balance of all the cover elements, which required an intensive rethink of the layout to retain a reasonable design structure.

Ultimately the client was happy – which is all that really matters – and the book moved on into the final production stage. It is now available to purchase from Amazon for Kindle, or the Kindle Reader App, and can be downloaded HERE. So, if you know someone who would like to read a fast paced rollicking story for 7-10 year olds, then I can fully recommend the eBook as a highly entertaining reading experience. And, don’t worry, the vowels are supposed to be left out!

RCHRD'S GLSSS

Typographical Defense Bureau

Typographical Defense BureauTypographical Defense BureauThe ongoing war against bad typography continues!

In a world now flooded with poorly executed communication and promotional material, only a dedicated and vigilant resistance against offensive and unacceptable typographical crimes will see us gain a much needed victory. Be part of the solution and join the freedom fight from bad type today!