Visual Book Process Documentation

For this project, I was not sure whether I wanted to make an art book or to illustrate a story. Making an art book would focus more on design in pre-made illustrations, while illustrating a story would focus more on design within the illustration itself as it related to the story. I looked at a multitude of examples of both, which can be seen here.

Ultimately, I decided to illustrate a story. I took the text from an old product of the internet, which tells the story of a cuil, or the level of abstraction away from the reality of situation. With there being seven levels described on the page linked above, it fit well within 8 spreads, or 16 pages. As I made sketches, I thought about how the increasing abstraction away from reality would mean greater chaos within the actual book itself. I thought a good way to incorporate design into the illustration was by increasing the disorder of the grid as the cuil level increased. A main source of inspiration on this type of grid as well as some elements of visual style was the Stinky Cheese Man.

For the most part, the middle parts of the book stayed as they did in my sketches. The position of 0 cuil and a description of cuil theory was shuffled around from my sketches. In my digital iterations, I decided on putting the 0 cuil and the description of cuil theory on the same first spread so that the book would begin with order and devolve into disorder.

Version 1

I decided that the grid should begin with words just underneath the cuil marker, since the descriptions were not that long and thus would not need a wider space. The 0 cuil was longer, and to minimize the rag on that description I left the hyphenation settings default, which was too many hyphens. I did not use page numbers since the cuil value would mark the “page number” as it were.

As I made illustrations for spreads, I focused on the fourth spread and later to really play with the grid.

Spread 4

For the fourth spread, after making the illustration and putting text on it, I realized that the text would make more sense were the page vertical. It would also increase the discrepancy in the grid. However, the opinions of other people during the interim critique and later made it clear that if I didn’t propagate the page turn throughout the rest of the book, the one page would stand out as extra different when I wanted it to be gradually different. Since I was not aiming to cause the reader to turn the book for the rest of the book, I changed the spread to what it was on the right.

Spread 5

For the fifth spread, I originally had the text appear in a text box on the left, with adherence to the grid but harder to read than page four. Since the illustration in this spread featured a set of stairs, I decided to change the shape of the text box from a rectangle to fit the stairs. Not only would this increase the disorder from the grid by making a shape that would not adhere to the grid very well, but also do it in a way that would increase the disorder from the previous spread. Even though the previous spread had the text split into multiple text boxes, all were rectangular. The black text on the brown background was somewhat hard to read, and I wanted that feature to come into play in the next spread more, so I increased the contrast between the text and the illustration.

The sixth and seventh spread gave me the most trouble. I wanted to differentiate the two, but I also wanted both to be harder to read and the grid to be increasingly chaotic. I considered having text over the whole image for the sixth spread, but I also wanted the illustration to be more visible since it captured what the text said. The text itself would just complement the image. I decided to put it in the corner, but not quite within the confines of the grid that I had originally made. However, I think that it was too regular coming from the stair-shaped text box of the fifth spread, so I feel as if I could have taken it another level. I could have drawn more inspiration from the Stinky Cheese Man.

The last spread was originally similar to the sixth spread. Since the last line had to do with a hot dog instead of the hamburger, I decided to focus on the dichotomy by taking the singular hot dog out as the illustration. I tried the text over the whole image again, overlaid over a hot dog so that the text itself would make the image of the hot dog. However, this was not obvious enough as a hot dog. I then revisited the idea of turning the book by making the text a spiral. This would be the greatest break in the grid since the person would need to turn their head or the book the entire time. I wanted to make the text the space itself, however I could not get the text dense enough or crowded enough to fill the page well. I so made the gradient in the illustration and placed the spiral text on top.

Finally, the cover page was to be either a hamburger or a hot dog. I originally decided against the hot dog because I thought that would give away the “surprise” at the end of the book. However, after some consideration and soliciting of other’s opinions, I decided to go with the hot dog as the cover since it would create a sense of discord between the two concepts of hot dog and hamburger. The reader would then most likely forget about it until the last page, or if not they would wonder about it until the last page, where they would find out the answer.

When I printed the book, I realized that I actually had nine spreads instead of the eight that I wanted, since I had eight content spreads and one “cover” spread. This was an oversight, but I could not imagine which spread to cut due to the nature of the theory and lack of time, so I left it as is.