Friday, December 02, 2016

'Forest of Sleep' Game Titles

Back in the late summer my friend Dick Hogg recommended me via Twitter to British company Twisted Tree Games, who were searching for a lettering artist to create a logo for their new game in development, Forest of Sleep. After shoving my hand in the air like a keen kid in class, and sending some samples their way, I got the job.

Inspired by and based on Eastern European folk tales, storytelling and narrative, and led by Nicolai Troshinsky's illustration work, the game is a beautiful journey through the woods. But you have to make your own way - and it might not work out for you, as unpredictable outcomes, for better or for worse, await you every time you play.


I was extremely impressed by its aesthetic, and even more impressed to read about the process, study and research that was going on behind the scenes, informing this curious game the likes of which I'd never seen before. It didn't fit my slightly out of date notion of 'gaming'  - despite being a fan of such beautiful contemporary games as Firewatch, HohokumPoto and Cabenga and the strange Papers Please which are illustration-led and work in a very different way from the platform / level-up format I knew in my teens and early 20s, I've been outside that world for too long, and was excited by this way of being re-introduced.

Hannah and Ed at Twisted Tree are clever people. They talk of things which in themselves sounds to the layman like a series of Dark Arts - AI, procedural generation and storytelling - and indeed producer Hannah has a PhD in Games-influenced Theatre and Theatre-influenced Games. In this article, she breaks down why this way of playing is so different and what she and Ed are trying to do:

We’re trying to make something that’s interesting to play, and which the player can push back against. Both in the sense of leaving gaps and letting the player fill those gaps with their imagination (which also relies on us framing things in a way that feels important enough that you might want to fill those gaps) and letting the player show what they’re interested in by how they interact with the game.
We’re doing this thing of reacting to the player, taking things from them, transforming and giving them back, rather than generating a story and the player just walking through it'.




Ed explained what they were looking for over the phone and I got to work researching Eastern European folk tales, Cyrillic script, Slavic languages and typefaces, Yuri Norstein films and folk art:





I started sketching in pencil in my sketchbook, and moved through rounds of feedback till a look was arrived at that was neither too Goth, too spiky, scary, menacing for playful - a balance that was tricky but very enjoyable to achieve as I immersed myself in the rare indulgences of fine-honing, endless tweaking and refining; we had quite a bit of time on this, which felt like an unusual pleasure:




The first problem was how to avoid what's known as 'Faux Cyrillic' - a device I've used myself on teen fiction to create the immediate suggestion of an exotic, somehow dangerous foreign language - which is the mimicking of the backward-appearance of some letters used in Soviet or Russian languages. Although it can look startling and impactful when done carefully and in the appropriate context, this was something to be avoided for this identity. So that was deleted from the concepts!

I moved to ink pretty quickly once early sketches were done; much as I love the look of a pencil drawing, it's often much easier for a client to visualise the weight and impact of a piece of type when it's rendered - albeit crudely or as a rough - in the actual medium it'll eventually appear in:










Ed liked the moon, but was wary of anything whimsical that might in any way Disney-fy the look - so this ink-washed moon was cut:





The letterforms were drawn freehand with a calligraphic nib pen, about 1/8" wide, with some strokes made with a 1/8" wide nib. The flourishes were done with my standard dip pen and favourite nib - but an older one, a little bit worn, to ensure the line wasn't too 'clean':



The final logo with its 'insignia' version, in colours to suit different uses within the game:

I'm really looking forward to seeing the game in its full and final form, and spend hours, the way I used to, playing the afternoons away. Thank you to Ed and Hannah for giving me the opportunity to get stuck into this job; it's gone down as one of my favourites, I think.



http://twistedtreegames.com/forest-of-sleep/
@edclef
@hannahnicklin
@PluralGames
http://www.troshinsky.com/eng.html


Thursday, November 24, 2016

DJ Food In Your Ears, Cocoa Amore In Your Mouth.


It might have become obvious over the past year that Inkymole has been building on its involvement with chocolatier Cocoa Amore, whose shop and all-round hub of chocolate education moved last year into its beautiful new store in ancient Silver Street, in the heart of medieval Leicester (just along from the cathedral where Richard III is buried).

Our role there began with an event we put on - a chocolate-infused Buddy Wakefield show co-organised with Pete, Cocoa Amore’s owner - and has evolved from helping out with a little window decoration and signage here and there to fully immersive Creative Direction. We’re currently enjoying the fulsome challenges of everything to do with getting an exciting new franchise off the ground - branding, consistency, interior decoration, marketing, merchandising, communications…and more. It’s hard work, but we’re loving every part of it.

One of the first things we focused on is the in-store music. It’s well-recognised that music can help enhance the atmosphere of a cafe and store (Cocoa Amore is both) and so as soon as we were given the ‘keys to the shop’ we installed a new amplifier, good speakers and a live music streaming system. Playlists curated by us or by our guest artists is not only streamed live into the shop from our studio, but as Cocoa Amore Radio can be listened to anywhere in the world courtesy of Tune In.



Our first playlist we put together ourselves, but our second has been by our long-term friend and collaborator Strictly Kev aka DJ Food. Pivotal in the founding of groundbreaking record label Ninja Tune in the early 90s, Kev’s worked non-stop as a musician, designer, collector and writer ever since, staying ridiculously busy at the forefront of new music and design for music over a jam-packed two-decade career.



His current playlist takes a sci-fi, cosmic/psychedelic vibe and smushes it into different genre corners, roping in such glittering gems as Radiohead (from the new album), Gaz Coombes, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Jane Weaver, Annabel (lee), The Dragons, Lalo Schifrin, Jan Hammer and Vangelis. It strides across decades easily and with audible panache, and has provided the soundtrack to many an overnight session working at the shop. And we’re still not bored of it - in fact, it’s one of my favourite playlists of all time.

Listen in at any time, and feel the cocoa-y feels as you go about your day! (better still, if you’re close enough, get a gingerbread hot chocolate in the shop and listen in the warm chocolatey fug):

Cocoa Amore Radio

You can also listen to more DJ Food music and mixes and/or follow at these online establishments:
Soundcloud.
Bandcamp.

Facebook.
Twitter.
Instagram.

There is plenty more happening at Cocoa Amore to write about, but here are some historic blogs about our work at the shop:

Halloween Windows http://blog.inkymole.com/2015/11/halloween-signwriting-at-cocoa-amore.html

Share Certificates http://blog.inkymole.com/2015/11/i-liked-company-so-much-i-bought-it.html

Christmas Trees http://blog.inkymole.com/2016/02/christmas-trees-at-cocoa-amore.html

Mothers’ Day http://blog.inkymole.com/2016/02/snug-like-two-beans-in-cocoa-pod.html

The Legend That Is Solid Egg http://blog.inkymole.com/2015/03/solid-egg-2015.html



Monday, November 21, 2016

Lost & Found: II



Found when recently tidying the office: work that used to be part of a display of rejects, experiments, ideas, killed jobs and lost projects.

Posting one at a time!

This one was a wedding piece. Bricks and horseshoes for the bride and groom! They went with another one of my designs in the end, but loved this one too as I recall.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Lost & Found: I



Found when recently tidying the office: work that used to be part of a display of rejects, experiments, ideas, killed jobs and lost projects.

Posting one at a time!

D&AD Pencil for 'ReTweets of Love' Campaign

I've only just learned that the series of 7 pieces I did for Diet Coke via Droga5 won a Wood Pencil in the D&AD awards, for 'Art Direction for 'Poster Advertising'. Er yeah, they forgot to tell me that!

Here is the award story in full, and a reminder of the pieces. (Unfortunately the illustrators involved are not credited.)

The only one that didn't make it to a final was the jewellery - I designed 4 pendants in lettering for one of the Tweets, and 3D printing company Shapeways were going to make it a reality, right until the last minute when they pulled this design out of the collection, I think due to the concerns of technicals and legibility.

Those pendants are shown here for the first time though, with me modelling practice size experiments!




















































D&AD Pencil for 'ReTweets of Love' Campaign

I've only just learned that the series of 7 pieces I did for Diet Coke via Droga5 won a Wood Pencil in the D&AD awards, for 'Art Direction for 'Poster Advertising'. Er yeah, they forgot to tell me that!

Here is the award story in full, and a reminder of the pieces. (Unfortunately the illustrators involved are not credited.)

The only one that didn't make it to a final was the jewellery - I designed 4 pendants in lettering for one of the Tweets, and 3D printing company Shapeways were going to make it a reality, right until the last minute when they pulled this design out of the collection, I think due to the concerns of technicals and legibility.

Those pendants are shown here for the first time though, with me modelling practice size experiments!




















































Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Long ago, in a time before colouring in books...

Long before the trend for adult colouring books, there was the original 'colouring for adults' DoodleArt of the early eighties, beautiful big black and white prints supplied in a tube that you coloured in yourself, and aimed at grown-ups.

Littered with flora and fauna, butterflies, animals, skies, grass and fantasy worlds, they were addictive and extremely popular at the time.

The memory of my Mum at the dining room table completely immersed in colouring in was still vivid in my memory when, a few years ago, I made this black and white screen print designed to be coloured in at home. 

I offered a fully printed colour one too, but the B+W ones were more popular. I thought I had long ago sold out of these, but in a recent studio loft tidy up, I unearthed a pile of them.

But what to do with them? We're trying to tidy up and make space for new projects!

So, I'm offering them free to anybody who wants one, for the cost of P+P+P (postage, packing and PayPal fee) only!

£4 UK
£7 everywhere else in the world

If you colour yours in, feel free to post the finished masterpiece on FB, Instagram or Tweet it!

Sent in a sturdy 12" mailer, the print is slightly under 12", on cotton rag paper with a deckle edge, and comes with a large border for framing. They were printed by K2 Screen in London, printers to record labels, recording artists, designers, publishers and illustrators the world over.

Each one is of course signed.

Help me tidy up the studio!

GET ONE HERE

PS: if you want more than one, email me to pay a different way, as the little shop system will charge you postage per print, and I can get more than one in the box!









Saturday, July 16, 2016

Helen.





I have been more upset than I've let on about the news of Helen Bailey, the children's author, who has been found dead after three months of being missing. I have been thinking about her a lot since a colleague alerted me to her disappearance, wondering where she is.

I didn't know Helen, we never met, but I created her logo and her early Electra Brown book covers, published by Hodder, in 2007. She had a lovely smiling face and her books are delightful. She had received a catastrophic blow in life, but had channelled her grief into creativity via her blog Planet Grief, and gave hope and comfort to countless similarly-bereaved humans.

I just wanted to acknowledge her today. I read some terrible news stories this week; the obvious ones, but also some slightly more under-the-radar stories of women being killed by partners and family members around the world. It sickens me that this still happens, and for a moment I had to shut off the news altogether, as I was boiling with rage that breathtakingly medieval belief systems still exist which allow women to be terminated for daring to live less traditional lives, lives which challenge or are simply different from the traditional paths they were expected to follow. We don't yet know why Helen was killed, we may never, but her death was reported as one of three stories in one day of women killed by men they loved.

Helen's partner has been arrested for her murder. Time will tell if this is the truth, but I am shocked and sad that this should happen, and I am thinking today of women and girls everywhere who have lost their lives at the hands of people they loved and trusted.









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