£6666 progress update – anatomy of a page

Would you look at that! What a massive and intimidating number! Anyway, hello and welcome to the start of the producton blog for Dead Air. Now that we’re nearing the end of the kickstarter campaign I’m going to be moving the smaller updates over here so I’m not flooding inboxes with kickstarter updates! Let’s have a wee look at what I’ve been up to this week…

The anatomy of a page

Here’s a look at how I design my pages! The first stage is the concept for the page. The book is split into three(ish) eras of documentation – post war, 70s and 80s, and “other”. Right from the start I thought it might be a neat idea to have a cover for each era to help solidify the tone I’m trying to get across. The cover of the book is, ofc, a barefaced copy of Protect and Survive, which covers the able archer, Deutschland 83 era of nuclear horror, so the post war era and “other” need to be represented inside the book somewhere. Lets look at the 50s!

After WW2 the UK propaganda ministry, the Ministry of Information, fell to bits. The remaining public safety remits fell to the Central Office of Information, who are more widely known for hits like Charlie and The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water. Of interest to us is the fact that the people now designing and writing guidance about nuclear obliteration were the very same people who, a year earlier, had been writing about setting up anderson shelters and keeping the lights out so the Germans wouldn’t see. A bit of a jump.

First I mock up an uggo layout to see if the idea I have in my head actually works on paper. Here the key points were:

  1. Long boring government agency names and sentences
  2. HM stationary office style materials, like school jotter paper or something
  3. A seal – at this point in time the government were putting seals on EVERYTHING
  4. grot the thing up to make it look like it’s been unloved for decades

“Broadcast Continuity Strategy for the Rebuilding Period” is an objectively terrible name for anything, which fits the theme nicely I think. Chuck in a 3rd Edition to give the impression of capital B Bureaucracy. The Ministry of Broadcast Communication is a good stand in for the MOI, and it lets me play about with the seal a bit more! The seal itself is mocked up in illustrator – I put a little cross on top of the antenna to maybe trick the eye into feeling like it’s got a crown on it, like all government seals do. Of course I do not want the government knocking my door in with a battering ram for making up a fake agency so I do not use an actual crown. The nasty paper texture didn’t work – even this quick mock up lets me know the texture just isn’t right for this publication. It feels more like a book than a leaflet. With all that in mind, I put it away for a few days then come back with fresh eyes. The first step is scanning a book in to get the texture I want –

Here’s the raw scan of one of my most beloved books – Camping and Outdoor Fun. The texture is brilliant and I already have a paint stain on it from a previous camping trip! I’ve found that the most realistic mank is always real, actual mank. Next, muck about with the hue to get a more governmental colour (this makes sense to me at least) and do the layout work in illustrator.

Ok now we’re talking! Swap the font out for a print safe ones and do some clever tricks to make the layers feel printed into the cover. If you’re interested, I’m using a multiply layer to bring the high points in the scan out in front of the text, then a low opacity layer of the text immedately over it to knock the reds back down into blacks. It’s a really simple trick but I’ve got to say I’m pretty proud of how it looks! The water ring is a real water ring – I just put my tea down on some card and scanned it. Finally I print it out to see how the print copies will look – I really feel like this is important. I want people using PDF and people using print to get the full effect. Sometimes this means tweaking saturation levels, often it means bringing up contrast in print, but this time it looked great first try –

Looks good to me! Ignore the new stains, I spilled curry on the print lmfao. I really like the print test stage for another reason too – I get all of the bleed area printed which gives me a different impression of the image. In this instance, I realised I would be daft to leave out the dented corner of the book on the bottom left. Look out for it in your copy and you can feel like a giant brain hipster for knowing about it from this blog post.

Anyway that’s the general workflow for most of my pages. This one is a bit different because it’s Just For Flavour, so my next post will probably look a bit more into mechanics. I’ve made HUGE strides in the last week or so with the mechanical model, probably 80% of the way to the release ruleset. My beautiful flatmate Sadie has been playtesting it and has given me the unbelievably powerful feedback that it is “already fun”.

If there’s anything in particular you’d like to hear about please let me know! The best way to contact me is on mastodon @fiona@dice.camp. I hope this has been an interesting peek behind the curtain 🙂 Thanks for reading, stay tuned and stay safe out there,


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