Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Psychochronography in Blue (Part 4)

As is suitable for a TARDIS Eruditorum cover post the story begins in the past.  If you want to go right back to the beginning you can check out the previous posts for volumes 1 2 3 (click the numbers) and the tangentially related A Golden Thread before we continue.

But those are not the beginning of the tale of this book cover, except in the way that my parents being born is the beginning of mine.  No, this books gestation began way back in Phil's Blog, but the cover began back in June, when I had the idea for the cover.  Except it wasn't to be this book's cover, because both I and Phil both agreed it would make a better cover for Volume 5, and thus it shall be.  This left me lacking an idea for this book though, so I went to do some roughs, which after a surprisingly small number of adventures would eventually lead to the following.

As you can see, the style of the cover is quite different to the previous ones, and is suitable not only for the single doctor the book focuses on, but should also carry a very suitable vibe from that period of time.  It wasn't always that way though - I knew I wanted Jelly Babies to be the focus in some way, but I really wasn't sure how to get it.  Here are the roughs as I did them, you'll note the last one looks completely different to the others, and I'll get to why in a moment.

So, this is the first time anyone has seen these, including Phil.  I didn't send them to him because A) the rest are awful and B) I sort of knew he'd love the last one anyway.  Sure enough when I sent it to him he basically said "Hell yes that one" and he was amused (as was I) that it was a completely unsuitable cover for the Gothic Horror vibe that settles on Doctor Who during these years (goodness knows what I would have done if he'd hated it).

You'll note the other covers are also not terribly Gothic Horror - but they're not all that mid 70's either - that's why I do roughs; to work toward the feeling and vibe that I want.  Except in this case it was pointless because after the grinning silhouette cover I went and made a cup of tea and  saw the box for the tea bags. This made me think of how crap packaging is these days (Tetley tea, in America, has packaging that looks like women's sanitary products.  I kid you not), which made me think how awesome packaging used to be (design wise, not freshness wise), and then I knew what I had to do.  Something that evoked, but wasn't identical to, Jelly Baby packaging of the 70's.

To get the Jelly Babies for the last one I just traced the 3D one I'd sculpted for the one on it's far left.  Yes, I sculpted a Jelly Baby that looked a bit like Tom Baker.  I named him Jelly Baker.

I don't think I sent Phil the tiny thumbnail though, I think I sent him this one:

Which is basically identical, but I made it a bit larger.  Knowing that if Phil was going to like it I'd have to do the Jelly Babies again, I did them on a separate sheet as vectors - the only downside being that after scaling I had to rasterize them to get the lines (Don't fret if this means nothing - if just means there was an extra step each time I needed a different size baby, but I didn't need to redraw them all over again).  Here's the result of that - not that you need it, you can see the results in almost every image on the page.  Of course if I used Illustrator this would be a moot point, but I don't have Illustrator, so there.

So Phil signed off on it and I got to work on the larger cover.  I wasn't happy with the layout or choice of the fonts though, so I went to find something more suitable, and Phil wanted some changes in the choice of text.  Phil was also concerned that the wear and tear to the paper wouldn't be evident against the white, so I fiddled with the staining of the paper a bit, eventually settling on having it more stained than the 'white' of the design rather than less, as it worked better visually.

The font I settled on for TARDIS needed a little tinkering with to make it work for the text above it, but otherwise it all went quite smoothly.  The back cover was based on a book I have from the time period, although the border to the text and colours are different.  I also decided to keep the back cover mainly blue as I wanted the spine to be blue (as is the intention for the whole series, and always has been) and it looked odd having the spine blue, and then going back to white for the back cover.  This was finished back in early September, with the re-sizing of the spine and the replacement of the temporary rear blurb text being the only work still needing to be done.  Phil got me the final page count and rear text a couple of weeks ago, and that required some re-sizing of the spine elements. I took the opportunity to bulk up the title text there a little too.
All in all it was a very smooth cover, and despite it's simplicity I'm very pleased with it.  And that would usually be it, but this time there are a couple of caveats.

Firstly, this is the first Eruditorum cover available with a matte finish.  It's long been a minor irritation that the covers have to be glossy, as this breaks the aged illusion somewhat.  Not completely (I've fooled at least one person I've shown them to who didn't realised I'd designed them and wanted to know about "the old Doctor Who books on your shelf"), but enough that it's bothered me.  Createspace now allows Matte finishes, and Phil proofed this one with that in mind.  The results are apparently far better (I've yet to see more than  photograph), so any additional prints of the last two books will also be with matte covers - not A Golden Thread though - that one it all about the gloss.

The second caveat is that when Phil did his kickstarter for Volume One: 2nd Edition there was a stretch goal for merchandise.  Vol 1.2 isn't available yet (He was, quite reasonably, waiting to see what the 50th anniversary held before going ahead with it), but we've set up a storefront for when it is.  Up until yesterday it contained a T-shirt and some Mugs for volume 2 (my mug hasn't arrived yet, but my T-shirt looks great), but it made sense to do a mug and shirt for volume 4 to tie in with it's release.

For this I made a few small changes to the design.  Firstly I increased the number of babies on the image.  While I wanted the book cover to be bold and obvious, the associated products can be a little more obscure, and I like the idea of the 'Jelly Baker' being less overt in the image.  If you want an overt version there's both a mug and shirt available with just the Jelly Baker.

I've also put in the "Jelly baby?" question.  This isn't using an existing font, as I wanted it to be more reminiscent of the 70's Bassets Jelly Babies logo.  I found a font that was sort of similar and then modified it heavily to match the classic logo, without it being identical (The Capital B is lower case here for example).  The question mark had to be done from scratch, and I made it subscript to keep the lowercase feeling of the question (Having it higher made it feel more forceful rather than inquisitive for some reason).

Finally I decided to remove the wear, and that might be the case for many of these going forward (just the merch, not the book covers).  Convincingly wearing a book cover is relatively easy, as you have the entire area to work with, but for a Shirt or mug you just have the printed part, which is a small portion of the whole.  Hopefully my graphic skills are good enough that I don't have to rely on the aging for them to look good.

And that really is your lot, except for the links where you can buy all the goodies.

Phil's post on the launch is here (when it goes live in the morning at least)
The book is available here (there are more options in Phil's post too)
Mugs and T-Shirts available here


  1. Brilliant, I don't think anyone expected this cover!

  2. Love it. I ordered a mug this morning.

  3. The 3D Jelly Baker is going to haunt my dreams as badly as the Wirrin did. (Thank you, as ever, for the phenomenal work.)

  4. Thank you all :)

    Ferret, we like to keep folks on their toes.

    Phil: It's about as gothic horror as you can get with a piece of confectionery I think ;)