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Old 04-20-2014, 05:09 PM   #1
ShimmeringSword
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Color Art Working on digital book layout

Long time no art post PK. I lurk here and post occasionally but haven't submitted art in over a year, maybe two.

I've been working on an art / setting reference book since late last year and just started working on it's layout design. It's my first time in quite a while that I've tackled graphic design, first time on book layout, and I'm also learning InDesign on the fly.

I'm passing this WIP PDF around to look for critiques. Feel free to voice pretty much anything that comes to mind.
The dark frame object is only silhouette currently, I'll probably be painting that up next. Text styles, object styles, general layout, everything essentially is all up for tweaking.
By the end of the month I want to have a roughly 30 page PDF ready to hand out to those that backed me working on this. And in 2-3 months I need to have the entire ~120 page book finished.

Thanks for any help. PDF can be found here: http://sta.sh/027sp9f8dibm

And here's a pretty picture for some fill
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Old 04-20-2014, 09:50 PM   #2
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Nice!

I've done a few pdfs and a fair amount of layout work so I'll try and be helpful.

Ok first thing, why is it in landscape? It is probably not the best option for a book for printing, it's harder to read, the crease in the middle needs to be stronger, and it's just not that good.

Every background is the same dark drab colour. Look at a warhammer codex. You will find some areas are dark, but the majority is light backgrounds, because in print it is easier to read. The reason why black on white on pc sucks is because our screens are brighter than the ambient colour. If you have some side info, or a character quote or a bit of back story. Break off a block of colour and separate it. Overall try to have more variance.

If you have character art without a background, export them with a transparent background and have them sitting directly on the page. Try and integrate all the design elements more.

Fonts. Choose two main fonts, a title font which is sans serif. And a serif font for paragraph readability.

I would highly suggest you move away from battle worn fonts. It's a very amateurish design thing to do that. If you want beaten up text, don't overuse it, and beat it up manually. Otherwise your glyphs look annoying. I'd really suggest to actually move away from overly techy fonts other than titles. if anything classic font design with sci-fi looks super sleek.
I really think you should sit down and put a fair bit of time and work out the best type faces for your universe. 40K uses gothic fonts, and it lends a specific aesthetic, whereas battle tech is all over the place for it. (but that could be said about all of battle tech haha)

Here is my quick shot at redesigning a page.


I've gone for a much more modern and sleek look, and tried to move away from 80's battletech handbooks. Which are really outdated in terms of design. Maybe that's what you were going for?

So tldr;

More variance, better fonts, more white space and intention to the page design.

------------------------------------------------------------
Also is the writing yours as well? Is that fair game for critique?

Also as a side note, I really wish you would move away from the lazy colourisation method. It may be fast, but none of your local colours ever have any colour purity and their register is all over the place compared to the values.

Glad to see that you are finally putting out stuff!

PS. do you use skype now? if so add me.
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Old 04-22-2014, 03:16 AM   #3
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Not much to add besides what Muzz said, specifically about the text and page color and the typefaces. When learning Indesign or graphic design overall it's good to know when less is more, especially when discovering all these new functions to play with. The easiest way is to find reference that you think works well and imitate elements you think are useful. One thing to keep in mind though is continuity. I see you use three columns in the earlier pages, then suddenly they're two. It helps to break down every page in a sort of grid, where you can both place text and picture while still maintaining the build up of earlier pages (this doesn't necessarily goes up for spreads as you might add a broad column of text underneath a pic.). Just my two cents, once again I think Muzz addressed the best critiquepoints already

No concerns about the art part though, your stuff looks even more solid than it used to!
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Old 04-22-2014, 08:54 AM   #4
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It's going to be digital only right? Thus why its in landscape

I don't mind the border, but I think the black space between the border and the content area needs to be way smaller. As it is kind of a waste of space as it is now.

The transparent black backgrounds of the text seem random, and looks bad when they overlap like in pages 2 and 3. I suppose they help make the text more legible, but you might as well just make the background texture a tad darker and ditch the text box backgrounds.

I'd also get rid of the thick border on the images. The cut corners aren't bad. Again, the random overlapping black transparencies don't look good. Maybe just do a really thin black border with the cut corners, or very subtle drop shadow.

Regarding fonts, you need to add some tracking (space between each letter) to it. Right now its very dense and hard to read. The headings should be aligned to the left like the rest of the text, not to the indents.

There also needs to be a lot more space around each element. Right now, the text boxes are butting up really close to the border and images. Everything needs some breathing room so it doesn't feel so cramped.

If you REALLY want, I can do a quick mockup to show you what I mean more clearly, but I am very lazy so only if you want me to haha.
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Old 04-28-2014, 11:49 PM   #5
ShimmeringSword
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Stopping by to say thanks for the crits. Muzz volunteered to pick up the design challenge and the task of putting together this months preview PDF, so far it's looking really good.

Here's what we're working with currently. (disregard repeated filler text examples)

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Old 04-29-2014, 09:58 AM   #6
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Much better! The dark background is not really what I'd go for, but that's solely a personal reference and I do think it fits your subject well.
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Old 04-29-2014, 11:12 AM   #7
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I think that the header and footer do not contribute in any way to the look of the layout. Letting the pages breathe and leak outside the actual frame of the book would be much more pleasant. All the design elements feel disconnected. Why is there that circle next to the title, the text is weirdly close to it. The margins of the page do not follow the layout that is inside. There is too much space above the Union Army Infantry heading in the white box. The cursive doesn't look particularly good either.

I like muzz' original concept best. It could use some change of the fonts, but otherwise it looks very cool.
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