OpenClose – Updated Outcome

I’ve finally come to the end of this project. It was a long one and while I enjoyed experimenting I’m glad it’s over. I found this brief really hard compared to our previous tasks. I struggled with formatting large blocks of text and this was even more than the editorial brief. It’s safe to say I defiantly found this project challenging.

For the outcome I attempted to show the progression of evil through colour and text, while all carrying this modern Japanese flow. I used Japanese characters to signify the dates in the journal entries and the name of whose entry it was down the side. To carry the theme I had going I edited the numbers to look as if they were glitching in anticipation for the climatic finish. The final chapter turns white, a hint that evil might die in the last chapter. I tried hard to make this project one I’m proud of but I feel I could have done so much better. To get a better outcome I should have deconstructed everything more so it wasn’t so confusing for me. The size of the project was very overwhelming but it has taught me to focus on individual aspects first in order to move forward.

OpenClose – Final Critique

I had my final critique for this project not long ago so I need to break down my criticism and find out whats next. I wasn’t feeling very happy after my critique as I didn’t get the feedback I was expecting. It was my fault though, I wanted to take it in a different direction and take a risk but it didn’t work out. This just means I have more work to do to catch up.

My main critique was that my pages felt quite two-dimensional and needs some hierarchy. I was planning on doing most of this on the pull-out pieces but I think I’ll change the plan and have the base pages more interesting to look at. This will need a lot more time for formatting. My teacher suggested that I looked at using weight and other devices such as strikethroughs to give more of a narrative. An interesting point he mentioned was to pick out quotations and highlight these to draw attention to them first. By doing this it will give more depth to the books appearance and can set my own narrative. Something I need to do is really pick up the important parts of each chapter and visually express these in an experimental way. I have a lot to do so we’ll keep up to date on how the book is coming out.

OpenClose – Catch up and Critique

We are nearing the end of the project and I’m trying to pick up the pace. To help with this I wanted to collect my thoughts while also reflecting on my last critique. At the moment I am thumbnailing the basis of what I want the outcome to look like. I have gone for very simplistic approach with an oriental feel. This will give the book a more modern feel but still playing to the story with the iconic colour scheme. As I have mentioned before chapter one will be white pages and chapter 27 black to represent the growing evil throughout the book. The text will be opposing colours in a modern yet vampy typeface. The chosen typeface, Hiragino Kaku Gothic Pro, looks modern from afar but up close has this subtle spiked serifs which link back into the horror theme. The font also works with Japanese characters which I needed because I could only have 1 typeface in my outcome.

In my critic my tutor told me that I need to keep up the pace and get it finished in time. He also told me to think about the overall essence and what I want the audience to take away from my outcome. I want the audience to see that you can take an iconic novel and update it without loosing all the things that make Dracula iconic. Also I want my outcome to leave the audience wanting more and to feel more involved in the story. Hopefully with my use of folding this will allow the audience to feel more involved and can play with the book bringing them closer to the story.

I am now going to start my final piece, I know it will be a feat and will probably take a while to format everything the way I want it. Going forward I really need to consider hierarchy and pace, this is very important as there are so many details to this novel and I don’t want to make it confusing to read. I also need to add in colour, but I don’t want to cover the book unnecessary in colour. Everything is going to be meticulously though out which I feel is so important for a large text formatting brief.

OpenClose – Experimental Formats

Flatlands by Leanne SwiftTo start of this research I’m looking at a designer is called Leanne Swift who mainly works in graphic design. For this project she made a ‘Typographic based design proposal for the novella ‘Flatland – A romance of many dimensions’.’ Its elegant and sophisticated with a modern feel. The use of black and white makes it feel stark and clinical almost. I love how she uses the text to help create flow through the reading. The different text boxes interacts more with the reader and allows them move through the text in a different way. This is something I’d love to use in my own work, as Dracula is written as journal entries and I want to find a way to distinguish between them. Swift has gone for a more classic script font which reflects another era. The book is cleverly done and is beautiful to look at.

S. by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst

Another piece I was interested in was this book written by Doug Dorst and conceived by J. J. Abrams. The 2013 novel named S. ‘is unusual in its format, presented as a story within a story.’ The piece looks as if it could have been someones actual journal, with the personal notes on the side to add extra detail. I love this personal touch to the novel it helps so much with the story telling. By using a similar technique I could highlight aspects to the audience that I think are important to the story telling. I could change how things are perceived just by using these techniques. Another interesting thing in this novel is the loose accompanying papers, from maps to letters they all push this narrative to another level that you might not find in a regular book. This is such a clever way of interacting with the audience and getting them physically involved in the story. This is always something I strive for in my work as I think if you can interact with the audience it allows them to become personally invested to your design. Hopefully I can have this same effect in the foldout I’m going to be making.

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OpenClose – Design Updates

So far I have been focusing on the exterior so I would have plenty of time to really experiment with the inside formatting. I feel at this stage in the project I have an almost finished exterior design and am ready to start with the interior. I obviously can’t start constructing until I have the pages complete but I have made a couple mock ups to see how everything works/looks.

Idea GeneratingI started out by thumb nailing some ideas. I knew I wanted to go down this Asian route so decided to have the title of the book in Japanese characters. By doing this it will hopefully give this mysterious look and won’t immediately be obvious to what it is. The red, black and white colour scheme will then help connect these two themes together. To separate the two chapters I will be having two openings to the book each with different coloured paper to signify the darkness spreading in the novel. The entire book shall be black and white with only small dashes of red to act as blood splatter. I want my outcome to be modern and sophisticated but still feel as if the book contains secrets. Hopefully by keeping the exterior clean-cut and simplistic it will come across this way.

Experimental TypeAfter this I started to experiment with techniques to see which would fit the narrative I am going for. I tried printing with lino, paper cuts, embossing and brush work. One that I loved was the embossing even though I don’t really think I did it correctly. What I did was sandwiched the 3d characters between card and fabric, making sure they stood out. In the picture you can’t see what is says and in person it’s not that much easier. I would have loved to used this technique if I had more experience with it but at this stage I think it would look messy. I was also looking forward to doing the lino cuts but I found they were too patchy looking to be readable. They also didn’t scream elegance which I want from my outcome. The technique I chose in the end and one I feel captured the modern feel the best is the paper cut. Having the text cut out from the cover in a clean fashion will give this window effect through to the first page. The shadows that it gives of reminds my of how Dracula moves around in the shadows. From this I needed to make mock ups to see how it would look in my hands.

I chose the A5 size first of all because it an average journal size and I wanted to show this aspect of the book on the outside. Another reason was it feels much more a personal size  which would fit the two long chapters in nicely, any smaller and I wouldn’t be able fit the chapters in comfortably. I started of by cutting out the characters in card and painting it black, black was just the tester because I didn’t have white paint at the time. I plan to have one side black and the other white in the outcome. At first I had the background colour behind the text as red but I found it was to brash and obvious. I want my outcome to be subtle and seductive much like how Dracula is perceived in the novel. I don’t feel he’s brash and outlandish. I then started adding thread to add some colour and to make it appear as if blood was dripping behind it. I found this made it harder to read the title and was a bit distracting, so I decided to discard the thread. Keeping it clean on the front will give me more space to make the inside and spine more eye-catching. So far I’m happy with how the projects going but I do feel I need to pick up the pace a bit. Once I’ve done a little more research I’ll get onto experimenting with the inside formatting.

OpenClose – Sandy Brown Exhibition

In the holidays I found this art exhibit on a lady called Sandy Brown who focuses on pottery. She learnt her skills in Japan, this happens to link in quite nicely to my project at the moment where I’m looking at Japanese bookbinding. Although quite different disciplines her use of colours and techniques can be transferred to my own project.

Swisheramma Exhibit This piece in particular I found interesting. The aggressive splattering I found relevant to the story of Dracula. The piece felt almost frantic and angry. With the looming red background it sets this dangerous tone. The white swirls are what really stands out to me, it feels as if it’s the innocence or light trying to break through the danger. When standing back I feel anxious, its like this swirl is coming out the painting. The surrounding paints were all very different to this one. Each painting focused on gentler colours and had a more natural feel without the underlining feeling of danger. I thought maybe each was meant to symbolise different emotions she feels and this is one of anger. Overall I really liked the exhibit it was interesting and thought-provoking, two things I wish to bring to my own work. I want to also have this sense of danger in my outcome but with a more modern opulent feel. The story of Dracula is seen as quite romantic as well as dangerous, it’s all about passion. I need to show this passion much like Brown has in this exhibition.

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OpenClose – Book Binding

When doing my research for different types of bookbinding I first went to the library where I found a book on lots of different handmade books. I took pictures of the ones I felt most inspired by. Aleta by Julie Johnson had a really interesting construction almost cutting the book into two. This would be a really creative way of dividing the chapter in my book. My outcome needs to have a visible divide between the chapters and this would be such a unique way to do it. It would also add something extra to an otherwise normal book. Perhaps with my own I can divide the chapter even more by having contrasting paper, black and white could show the progression of evil though the book. Having the red accent could then follow thought, keeping the design visually linked. Another design aspect I enjoyed was the binding from E. Bond’s book, Fault Lines. The centipede like stitching attaching the signatures together looks very earthy and give some texture which I love. Also having the spine exposed makes it look naked and handmade, this is something I wish to have as I want to link in the journal aspect thought the exterior. Lastly the two shaped books stood out to me, having a shaped book is great for narrative. It can quickly allows the reader to know the tone without even reading anything. I think it is a clever storytelling technique to use but I think it can come across child like. In book shops I have seen so many different shaped books for children so I have that connotation with them. The books above looks creepy and unusual which I love but it’s not the style I’m going for.

After seeing the unique binding in E. Bond’s book I wanted to do some research into Japanese binding which I had heard of previously. ‘Japan was one of the first places to begin creating bound books. By the 14th century, the most popular style of Japanese bookbinding became the fukuro tori (pouch binding), which is the style most people think of when they think of Japanese bookbinding.’ Pocket books were bound together with thread or tightly wrapped strings of paper and then a front and back cover was applied. It was a great way of creating book for the ever-growing world as ‘the pages could be sewn according to any number of traditional and fashionable methods.’ From then decorative styles of binding were developed which can give each book its own style. What I love about this method is the versatility of designs you can come up with, as long as you have the basics down the look is up to you. I want to take this historical techniques and adapt it into the Dracula story. Creating my own pattern that reflects the story could add something unique to my outcome. I love the thought of having blood-red stitching against the white paper, symbolising his attack on Mina. This would call for some practice but I’m excited to learn a new skill for this project.

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OpenClose – Thoughts

I’ve been feeling a bit all over the place in this project so far so I wanted to make a catch up blog to sort out my thoughts and get everything down. Above is a small image bank of what I want my outcome to feel like. I’ve chosen classic colours and modern imagery with a hint of the past. I first felt like choosing a black white and red colour scheme was too obvious. I looked around for other colours but ultimately they didn’t feel right for the novel, they didn’t capture the opulence of Dracula himself. It is an iconic collection of colours for a reason, it allows the audience to immediately know what they are looking at and helps with the story telling. Hopefully this modern take I have will set it apart from what is already out there.

After looking into the research I did prior, I really want to take this oriental manga approach. I think this will help with the modern edge and might bring something different to this iconic book. From this I’m going to start researching asian book binding techniques and look into japanese type. I think with the recognisable colours I could get away with having the title of the book in Japanese characters. Hopefully the already wide knowledge of the book from the audience will recognise it as Dracula without labelling it so obviously.  I also think that doing the outside appearance first will be the best idea, I want to quickly get it out of the way because formatting and creating the inside will take a long time. I want to leave plenty of time for this as I feel it’s still something that I need to improve on and might take me longer than I think.

OpenClose – Interior Research

While looking on Pinterest I found this beautiful book by a graphic design company called Jo Fang Society. They are a very recent company only originating from the start of this year so there isn’t much information on them at the moment. I do know that they work in China and designs all sorts from product, packaging and film. These page designs stood out to me because of the bold, contacting and simplistic look they have. They have used the text as image and as a focus point for the layouts, as we aren’t allowed to use image in our design I thought it was relevant and as I’m looking to bring a modern take to Dracula these are perfect for gaining inspiration.

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I love the simplicity in this page, the way they have used the negative space is beautiful. The blurred type on one page tells the story of the text on the other. Perhaps the text is the emerging of evil from the soft white background. I also admire the hierarchy, the title immediately draws in the eye to what is most important. On the other side is the main text. I love the way the text falls down the page, it’s very unique for our culture. Id love to take this into my design somehow, it would still have to be easy to read though. The small text box is perched at the top in a way. It is floating in mid-air which gives it this very light feel contrasted with the heavy text on the other side. What I take from the layout is that one side is trying to overpower the other, which links in to my subject really well. I want to take inspiration in the way they have hierarchy in their pages as it reflects what is happening in Dracula.

By Jo Fang Society

The second page layout I’m looking at is quite different from the first. It doesn’t feel dark but there is still a clear hierarchy within the elements. This metamorphosis looking title is what immediately draws me in. The text is growing and change which might tell the story. It comes to this point where the text is clear, it’s a clever way of showing growth and change. The way they have overlapped the text so its illegible is interacting with the audience which keeps them encapsulated in the story longer. Leaving the audience curious throughout. This title looks as if it engulfing the main text. The body text is almost fading into the background with this typeface. It is subtle but important in telling the story visually without image. I wish to take these techniques forward in my own work. I want to really focus on hierarchy when I start designing, looking at these designs I feel it can help assist the story telling immensely.

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OpenClose – Chapter Analysis

To start of the project I wanted to take an in-depth look into the chapters I’ll be working with, chapter 1 and 27. The novel is written as journal entries which is split between the characters so I have to be careful not to make my outcome confusing for the reader. Although I could take advantage of this aspect by making the book feel handmade as if it is filled with secrets. By using the separate entries I can split each chapter into smaller chapters, this I could really play with and create a unique layout.

Chapter 1 AnalysisChapter 1 is about setting the scene for the book. Stoker is very descriptive in his books which is helpful for me. I can take these rich details and visualise them with text and layout. One important part in the first chapter that I want to highlight is travel and landscapes which is spoken often in the entries. Having some pages represent maps could portals this well or even using one of my spreads to show the landscapes that are loved by Mina. Another stand out visual is when Jonathan talks about seeing his coach driver have glowing red eyes. I can show this in my use of colours, unfortunately I can’t use imagery so I would have to think of an inventive way to show this through the text or pages. Lastly the scene involving the blue flames conjures up a lot of imagery. In the novel Jonathan said he could see this blue flame though the driver as if he wasn’t really there. I thought about showing this by using transparent film and weaving it in the pages so the reader could still see the text.

Chapter 27 AnalysisThe last chapter is the one I think I might find harder, it is longer, has more journal entires in and doesn’t have as many important visuals. The most relevant aspect is at the end of the book where Dracula is killed. Throughout the this chapter there is still a lot of talk about travel and surrounds which I can still incorporate. This one might be more of a struggle but I’m still excited to start experimenting.

I need to consider some things moving forward such as the length of the chapters. They are quite long and I need to be carefull that I meet all the brief specifications but still keeping it unique. A second thing is to keep an eye on my schedule and keep on track. This project is very intense and we haven’t got to long to create it in which means I need to quickly do my research so I have plenty of time for development and creating the outcome.

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