photo of a leather-bound journal on a wood background

When I first started working at Chip Theory Games this year, the Waterlogged Book was the first big design project I was tasked with. This is a book that accompanies our newer game, Undertow. It’s a collection of stories and artwork that go with the game and can be purchased additionally.

Before I started working on designing the pages, I was tasked with reading the Liberation Logbook, which was the accompanying book to the first game in the series, Too Many Bones. The Liberation Logbook is really amazing! It is a leather-bound book that has a design burned into the leather cover. It also has pages that have been burned in the book. Seriously! The company that printed and bound the books took a blow torch to the pages to singe them! How cool is that?! And because every page burned differently, every book is unique.

So I had some really intimidating shoes to fill! This book had to be as cool, if not cooler than the previous book (which in a way would be easier, since this book wouldn’t be getting burned…ha!) The leather bound part of the Waterlogged Book was already decided, as well as the format of the book (the sections and a general idea of where some of the artwork had to go in the sections), and we wanted the book to not look so completely different from the first book that it didn’t look like it could have come from the same world.

The first part that I started designing was the background of the pages. I used the same background as the previous book, but I added water pools and drip spots to the pages. I also darkened the page on the edges, which didn’t have to be done to the previous book, since it literally had its pages burned.

Then I moved on to the text and artwork. The headers were really fun to create! After that, I got to read through the stories and search through all of the art from the artist, Anthony LeTourneau, and add things in the book where pictures would seem to make sense. The book is supposed to be like a journal of the Gearloc’s (Too Many Bones characters) journey as they float on a raft down the river. It was so much fun looking through all the art to decide what to use. Anthony is such a talented artist, and he had done so much amazing stuff! My favorites were the tentacle drawings and the pair on the raft at the end of the Kickstarter story portion. When I found the tentacle art, I didn’t think it was being used in the game, but I loved it so much, that I had to add it to the book. It turns out that the tentacles are a part of the Tyrant that is making its debut in this game, so it worked out perfectly!

I also should talk about the prepress snafu that I encountered for this book. Even though my font was embedded, when we sent the book to be printed, our first draft came back with the font looking ok, but all of the ligatures were missing. So the word “first,” would be missing the “fi” and printed only as “rst.” It was very frustrating, since I missed it when I was checking the book. The images looked good, and the text was there, so I was ready to say ok to the entire project. Luckily, Josh had actually read some of the book, and he noticed it right away. (Definitely not my finest proofing moment…) I’m not sure what would cause this to happen when the font is embedded, but now I know that I absolutely need to create outlines before I send out my PDFs for printing. I never ran across that when I worked in prepress. I only saw font problems if the font wasn’t properly embedded, so this was a new one. So for any of you who are sending files out, make sure you do this as well. Or at least make sure to check all of your ligatures, since they can be easy to miss!

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