Category Archives: Innerscape

The Godsend – Innerscape, book 2 cover

Just a quick update to show you what I’ve been obsessing about while I should have been writing blog posts. 🙂

This is just a mockup as the ‘spine’ will be wider in the final – I haven’t worked out the total pages in book 2 yet but it will be a lot wider than the one for book 1.

Okay, that’s it. No comments on this one.

cheers

Meeks


Using the Createspace cover template with Corel X8

This post is a bit premature as I haven’t yet shown you how to find the exact number of pages of your manuscript, but…I’ll do it now while it’s fresh in my mind. So, here goes. To create the cover, you will need:

  • the trim size of your finished book – i.e. the finished size you want the book to be. Mine is 5.5 x 8.5. You’ll find info. on trim sizes here.
  • the number of pages you end up with when you pour your manuscript into the appropriate trim size template – i.e. with the margins, etc., preset by the template.
  • and some kind of graphics package. The one I use is Corel Draw X8.

Finally, you will need the Createspace cover template for the trim size of your choice:

You can find the ‘Build Template’ here:

https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do;jsessionid=5C5EE350ED4B426685472D15E9996AB3.2129a643a7ae5ba6aeba4b626969fb21

To use the Build Template, simply select the trim size of your book from the drop down list like so:

Then type the total number of pages into the box for ‘Number of Pages’ and click the ‘Build Template’ button. The little app. does its thing, and in a moment you should be looking at something like this:

Click the ‘Click here to begin Download’ button and save the file to your computer. As the file is a compressed zip file, you will need a program to unzip it. Most people use Winzip. I prefer a non-Microsoft product called PowerArchiver. Whichever product you use, the file will be unzipped to look like this:

5.5×8.5_BW_230 is the name of the unzipped cover template and it comes in two versions – pdf or png. As I don’t have an app that works with pdf files, I imported the png version of the file into Corel X8.

This is what it looks like:

 

The instructions for using the template start with ‘Create a new layer in your image editing software. This layer will serve as the design layer.’ In other words, keep the cover guide separate from the graphic you build on top of it.

This is good advice as you don’t want to accidently meld the guide and your cover, with potentially drastic results. Nevertheless, I didn’t use the layers in that way. After tracing the dimensions of the cover template, I superimposed the tracing over my background image and worked with the tracing on the same layer as everything else. That’s what the faint white line is on the cover:

 

I could have used the guidelines in X8, but at one point I had so many of them all over the place, it would have been impossible to see what I was doing. Now I just have to remember to delete the guidelines before I send the image off to Createspace. [And boy do I hope I haven’t just jinxed myself!]

I hope you’ve all had a pleasant weekend,

cheers

Meeks


Corel Draw X8 – Miira cover final

I thought that X8 would be X6 with a slightly different interface, but it does actually have some nice features that I wasn’t expecting – like links to some very sophisticated fountain fills and a much improved transparency feature. Those features may have influenced the rather radical changes I’ve made to the cover of the first book:

Unfortunately, the image doesn’t quite show the depth of colour in the cover as the CMYK black has come through as a rather washed out charcoal in RGB [for web display]. Once the cover is printed it will be much sharper and the silvers will ‘pop’ more…I hope. Anyway, I’ll probably fiddle with the balance a bit longer, especially if you guys point out things I’m too blind to see, but this is basically the front and back cover spread that will go to Createspace for the print version.

One of the hardest things to figure out was what to put on the spine. Once I’d worked out the total number of pages for Miira, including copyright, Afterword, etc., I plugged the number into Createspace’s calculator, and it spat out the exact size the spine must be. Unfortunately, as the first book is quite ‘slim’ there’s not that much real-estate to work with.

I experimented with a number of fonts, but none gave me the crisp look I was after. And then, as I looked at the circuit board, I suddenly realised that I had all the components from which to make my own ‘font’, one that would mimic the wiring of the circuit board. Thank goodness, the end result didn’t turn out to be too kitsch. The new look circuit board also gave me the pattern for the back cover blurb. Making the text fit, however, was another exercise in patience.

And finally, a word about the new background photo. I was all set to use the bush sunset photo I’ve shown you before when I found a pic I’d taken ages ago of my own backyard:

 

I was trying to capture the amazing play of light through the trees and fluked it. The shot is nowhere near perfect, and I haven’t touched it up in any way – I don’t know how – but I instantly knew it would give me the feel I’d been searching for. Pretty happy with the result but annoyed at myself for wasting time and money on the bush sunset pic. Ah well…

I promise to do a how-to post about the Createspace calculator as soon as my eyes uncross. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


Circuit board vectoring, version xxxx….

I’ve deliberately turned comments off this time as the graphic isn’t done…I just wanted to share what I’ve done so far:

505 separate objects, no background as yet so the silver effect isn’t that obvious, and the edges have to be trimmed blah blah, but I think the circuit board will look good in print and reasonable in thumbnail. That’s what I’ll be testing out next but for now I feel as if my eyes will never uncross!

I hope you’ve all had/are having a great weekend,

cheers

Meeks


#Corel X8 vector graphics vs photos

In my last post about the new Innerscape cover, I vented about the trouble I was having getting the silver effect I wanted. Your suggestions were brilliant so I thought I’d do a quick update of my progress. The pic below is a test graphic to illustrate the difference between the two methods and how they might look in the finished product:

The silver ‘wire’ was created using Corel X8’s fountain fill. It is clearly silver, even when I reduce the size down, i.e. it scales well. Unfortunately it is absolutely uniform, something a real ‘wire’ would never be.

By contrast, the gold ‘wire’ is a photo taken of a thin needle shape covered in foil. The foil was silver, but the lighting created this decidedly golden effect [evening, overhead light and table lamp, both with bulbs of ‘warm white’]. I only know this with the wisdom of hindsight. 😦 If you look closely at the column on the right, you will see that when I increase the size of the gold wire, it becomes more and more pixelated, i.e. it doesn’t scale well. [Clicking on the image should display a larger version]

Finally, I created two, identical slices of the circuit board. Both were made by creating the individual components and ‘grouping’ them together. The silver, vectored one is shown below:

Although each of the tubular components comes from the one, basic shape, I fiddled with the fountain fill to a) make the image more realistic, and b) to reduce the uniformity. The golden slice is also made up of individual components, but essentially I just cut them out and stuck them together. I really like the way the image turned out, and I like the golden colour, but it’s not what I was after.

Which will I use?

This question is not as either/or as it looks. In designing the covers for the Innerscape print version, I wanted each one to:

  • have a unifying ‘theme’
  • be different
  • tell a subtle visual ‘story’

Thus, as book 1 is about Miira leaving the real world and entering a virtual one, I want her facing towards the stark, artificial image of the circuit board. That’s why the image has to be instantly recognizable as part of a computer. Books 2 and 3, however, will show a gradual blurring of the lines between real and virtual, with the changing circuit board being the unifying ‘theme’ that binds each image of the series.

At least, that’s the idea. Whether I can actually pull off this ambitious idea is moot. To make it work I’ll have to create two, completely different images of the circuit board – one with the silver wires and one with the gold. As each small wire will be made up of at least 3 components, it’s going to be a huge job. Not impossible, but it will test my patience as the original circuit board image has very few wires that are exactly the same.

To be honest I think I’m crazy to even think about doing this, and yet…how often do you get to create your first print book? Sitting here, calmly typing about my options, I know I’d hate myself if I gave this project anything less than my best, and fudging the graphics would definitely be a cop out. So…I’m going to be a busy girl. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


DIY silver foil photos [update]

My scrunched aluminium photos didn’t work terrible well, but Dawn sent me some pics of real silver:

Going to have a play with them tomorrow. Fingers crossed. 🙂

* * *

I was searching online for photos of silver foil to use as a texture in the Innerscape cover when I had a light bulb moment – why pay for someone else’s graphic when I have metres of aluminium foil in the draw?

This is a screenshot of the five photos I took in the kitchen:

I lightly crushed the foil before positioning it in various places to achieve different light effects and angles. I’m still a lousy photographer, but I hope these pics allow me to create a true metallic effect for the ‘wires’ on the circuit board. And the best part is, if it turns out to be an absymal failure, it won’t have cost me anything but time. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


“A rose by any other name” could be a tur…nip

In my previous post – Miira, a sneak peek – I proudly displayed the cover I’d created for the first book of the print version of Innerscape. There would be three books in all – a proper trilogy – and the five, original episodes would be split between them:

  • Book 1 = Innerscape, Episodes 1 and 2,
  • Book 2 = Innerscape, Episodes 3 and 4,
  • Book 3 = Innerscape, Episode 5

As Episodes 1 and 2 focused mainly on Miira, I decided to call book one ‘Miira’, with a sub-title along the lines of:

  • book 1 of Innerscape, or
  • episodes 1 and 2 of Innerscape

And because it all seemed perfectly clear to me – how could it not when I’d been thinking about little else for weeks? – I assumed that it would be clear to everyone else as well. Dawn’s comment on the post brought me back to earth with an almighty crash. She asked:

is this going to be a reprint / new imprint / new version of Innerscape….or fresh and new Miira ?!!

That was the moment I realised how ripe for confusion my airy ideas for the print version had become.

A few seconds later, I realised something much, much worse – with brand new covers and a new name for each book, confusion would be the least of my worries. ‘Scam’ and ‘con’ would be more like it. The last thing I want is for anyone to buy Innerscape twice, but if someone who’s read Innerscape and knows me personally – like Dawn – can ask if this was something new, then how could I expect a complete stranger not to ask the same question…and be angry at the answer?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t sleep very well last night. I desperately want to hold a real live book in my hands, and I really like the design concept I came up with for the print version trilogy, but my original decision to publish Innerscape as a serial has finally come back to bite me on the bum. If I upgrade the ebooks to mirror the print version, readers can rightly accuse me of making a greedy grab for more money. Yet, even if I leave the ebooks exactly as they are, having such a different looking print version will still cause confusion.

Then, I had a thought. Amazon allows you to bundle print and ebook versions together! If I did that, maybe it wouldn’t matter…

Ah, but which ebook episode would I bundle? And would Amazon even allow it when the print and ebook versions aren’t exactly the same?

It was around my third cup of coffee this morning that I had a better thought, at least I hope it is. What if I leave the ebook episodes as they are and simply create one, single omnibus edition of the whole story? As an ebook, it won’t matter that Innerscape is huge, and so long as it’s clearly labelled as an ‘omnibus’ edition, there should be no confusion…

Or would an omnibus ebook simply add to the existing confusion?

I seriously don’t know any more. I really, really need some feedback on this one. And please don’t hold back out of kindness. If I get this wrong, complete strangers are going to be much less diplomatic than any of you. 😦

-sigh-

Meeks

 

 


My first purchases from iStock :)

I can’t tell you what I’ve been working on just yet, but I will show you some photos I just bought from iStock:

I was looking for a visual image of Nabatea when I found this first one on iStock. It’s a lovely image and only cost $36 AUD, but then I also found this one:

This is a painting of an oasis and nowhere near as beautiful as the previous, photographic image, but it does have a ‘waterhole’…and it’s no more real than Miira’s Nabatea.

As most of you have already guessed, I’m struggling with a cover for Innerscape. Here are two more images that I’m pondering, both created by The Offspring :

and…

I’m still a very long way from being happy with any of my preliminary concepts so I’ve turned comments off for this post. Tomorrow I hope to begin a new technical series on how to prepare a manuscript for Createspace. It’ll be full of the things I learned while making every mistake under the sun, so stay tuned. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Coal to Newcastle or #robots to #China UPDATE 18/4/2017

I was going to post a recipe for plum cake, but then I found this video clip on Quartz. What can I say? I like robots. 🙂

So, this from China:

And this from…?

But I saved the best till last – the Teslasuit. It’s a full body haptic suit. For gamers to wear in conjunction with a VR headset.

The Teslasuit doesn’t exist…yet…but there’s a Kickstarter campaign to turn it into reality. 

Apologies, I was wrong – the Teslasuit does already exist and it’s being enhanced by its developers. This is what the still image looks like:

And these are two video clips that show it actually working:

There is also another video clip but you need Flash to play it and I don’t use Flash anymore. But for those that do, here it is:

http://www.bbc.com/specialfeatures/horizonsbusiness/seriessix/sharper-senses/?vid=p03xnpch

And finally, you can go to the website for even more information :

https://teslasuit.io/#intro

I am seriously excited!

Meeks


Neural lace – Innerscape comes one step closer!

Apologies but I’m high fiving myself like an idiot because of an article I just read in futurism.com:

https://futurism.com/within-the-next-decade-you-could-be-living-in-a-post-smartphone-world/

The whole article is interesting as it attempts to predict the near, medium and long term future of communications technology, but it was this paragraph that made me so happy:

This week, we got our first look at Neuralink, a new company cofounded by Musk with a goal of building computers into our brains by way of “neural lace,” a very early-stage technology that lays on your brain and bridges it to a computer. It’s the next step beyond even that blending of the digital and physical worlds, as human and machine become one.

The only thing I’m sceptical about is the time-frame. Tech that you carry and tech that you ‘wear’ is one thing, but tech that invades your brain is something else entirely. I’m sure there will be some maverick individuals who will ignore the risk and give the neural lace a try, but most of us will not jump in quite so quickly. Think desktop computers and the general public. The vast majority of people who use smartphones now either never learned to use computers properly or never felt comfortable with them – i.e. the gain did not negate the pain.

I think the concept of an in-built, brain-machine interface will be around for quite a while before some tech comes along that will make the interface, safe, painless and most of all, easy.

To me, easy is the operative word because, as a species, we always look for the line of least resistance. I just hope I’m still around when it happens as the next few decades are going to be very interesting indeed. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


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