Category Archives: For the LOVE of BOOKS

Exploring how the spacial relationships between typography and image can enhance meaning

My Heart Misses You in Waves

I am pleased to show off my latest piece of artwork. This is a cropped version of a much larger submission to the author of a children’s book for consideration to be chosen as an illustrator of her series. Hopefully, my vision and the author’s are copacetic…

If not, I can still use the art, perhaps my image is striking enough to serve as a greeting card. The caption could read: “My Heart Misses you in Waves…” or “Sending Heartfelt Hugs,” or simply “I Miss You.”

The Map of Elvonia

 

I am so happy that a fantasy map I did last year may finally see itself being published. Not a stand-alone, it is a part of the novel, “The First Fable,” by K. R. Bourgoine. The white space in the middle of The Map of Elvonia  accommodates the gutter margin of a page. The Dragon was a special touch I added, a personal device of the author’s I noted from an old business card of his.

I was really happy to be doing fantasy maps again. There’s something about them that feeds my soul. And I hope my incredible feeling of awe while creating the map somehow gets infused into the printed copies.

The author, K. R. Bourgoine, recently began a KickStarter on his novel, “The First Fable,” and it’s up and running at the moment. Interested individuals, please inquire by hitting this link below:

Thank you very much for your interest.

Book Covers designed by DARLENE for Stephen E. Crockett



This Gallery displays eight recent book covers designed by DARLENE for author, Stephen E. Crockett. Stephen’s subjects and themes are drawn from the mountains and foothills of his North Carolina home and each story is its own little slice of psychological horror…

About Stephen E Crockett:

Before turning his attention to autobiographical, truth-based fiction novels, Stephen E. Crockett started his writing career back in 2001 with the publication of  “The Prophet Code” by Aethyrea Books, which he followed up with “Bible Prophecy” in 2006.

In 2010, he published in Kindle, “The Dark Man” followed in 2012 by the biographical story, “Black Tar: For the Love of Heroin.” Then came “Ocular: The Monster in the Mirror” in 2013;  “Knob Hill: The Grey House Murders” in 2014 and “The Island” in 2015. “Ouija: The Devil’s Doorway” and “Diary of a Drug Addict” were both published in 2016 while “The Puppet Master” was published in 2017.

Stephen’s works are only available as Kindle ebooks on Amazon.com in the Kindle bookstore. Just use your ebook reader and do a search on Stephen E Crockett, or click on the titles below. 

For anyone interested in knowing something about any of his books, here are their descriptions:

BLACK TAR: FOR THE LOVE OF HEROIN

  • Black Tar is a biographical look at the use of heroin and the toll it takes on the addict. It is written from an addict’s perspective and details the day to day existence of one junkie as he lives from fix to fix and watches as his life spirals from alcohol, pills, and Cocaine to heroin and intravenous drug use. His attempts to free himself and live a sober life are always half-hearted at best and so his casual drug use spirals from a clean life, with a job and the hope of a family to a heroin addict; living hand to mouth–unemployed and desperate on the mean city streets. In this smack-tinted world, our junkie bounces back and forth between the extremes of overdose and withdrawal, both of which have the ability to kill him. Life is desperate for a junkie and all too often, they find themselves dangling between the fix that will kill him and the sobriety that will let him live.

DIARY OF A DRUG ADDICT

  • A heroin addict looks back over a life of misery and addiction. From his earliest days experimenting with “gate-way drugs” to his spiraling descent, through every available illegal drug – into the hell of heroin addiction. He gets pushed by his addiction to heroin from a manageable addiction that he can control, through the loss of everything he owns and holds near and dear to his life. Heroin becomes his ever-present companion and over the years it turns him into a homeless, jobless heroin addict living under a downtown highway bridge. At his lowest, suicide seems to be the only way out, but when he finally hits rock bottom he realizes that in the mess, the muck and the blood that his life has become, salvation may still be possible. If only he can stay away from the needle and be as successful sober as he had been as a drug addict.

OCULAR: THE MONSTER IN THE MIRROR

  • Within every mirror, there is a reflection; and within every reflection, there is a world. It may be as simple as your face in the morning or as complex as the world behind you. But not every mirror projects a reflection of whatever you place in front of it. Some mirrors have depth and in that depth, there hides another world–a realm you will never see unless you go looking for it. Sometimes you can find it, most times you don’t. Those that do open themselves up to a realm beyond our physical world, a place where dreams hide and nightmares come true; where monsters are real, and a man can quickly find himself hunted by creatures he knows nothing about and has no control over.

KNOB HILL: THE GREY HOUSE MURDERS

  • Following Hurricane Donna, a struggling family of four follows their dream to own a house. They run the real estate gauntlet, never finding anything they like until their agent shows them the last house on her list. A run-down Victorian style mansion sitting all alone on a piece of property the locals call Knob Hill. It looms over the valley like some giant gargoyle and is known to the locals as a place of mystery and great horror. Undeterred, the family buys the house and begins remodeling it. But just as they are settling into their new home, the nightmare begins. A silent, residing evil force reaches out to the oldest child and establishes a connection that slowly but surely guides him through the house’s violent past. When he is commanded to exact the same horror on his own family he does as instructed, skillfully killing his family members until there is no one left but himself and the demon who then drives him to suicide thereby reclaiming the house that has been its all along.

OUIJA: THE DEVIL’S DOORWAY

  • A group of young friends form a club to investigate occult subjects. From witchcraft, to mysticism, to magic. They get together on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. In the beginning, nothing much comes from their persistence. But then, one of them suggests they test the Ouija Board to see if there is any truth to its fabled abilities. Their main objective is to see if they can use it to summon invisible forces from the other side. Their experiment is successful, but quickly gets out of hand. All but one abandons the project. The last standing member of the group takes the Ouija Board home and continues using it to contact spirits. Demons or Angels? He can’t be sure until they leave little doubt in his mind as to what forces he has been dealing with.

THE DARK MAN

  • Scott Clemmons lives in a world of hurt. Abused by an alcoholic father who murders his mother when he was twelve years old, Scott must deal with his own increasing paranoia and insanity. A big black bird shows up, invades his sanity, helps him murder his father to avenge his mother’s death, and then attempts to protect him from attacks that Scott believes is launched by his father’s disembodied soul. As he spirals into alcoholism, he must defend himself from “The Dark Man” who haunts the family farm and seeks to destroy everything that Scott holds dear. Scott fights hard to live a normal life and for a few short years is able to do so. However, as time passes “The Dark Man” consumes each and every part of his life, from his sanity to the love of his life and in the end this evil aberration consumes Scott as well. This story contains graphic depictions of demonic possession, domestic abuse, spousal abuse, child abuse, murder, death and suicide.

 THE ISLAND

  • On a small island off the Carolina coast, there lives a beautiful woman whose life is marred by grief and tragedy. Her world is dark and loveless. Her marriage is miserable and the pain of losing her only child has almost destroyed her. Her pain is as real as the ocean that surrounds her and she has long made peace with the idea of committing suicide. And then a chance encounter with an uninspired writer turns romantic and although she’s married, she allows this stranger to swept her off her feet and into his arms with promises of a Summer she will never forget. For a time, their affair is a whirlwind of sex, wine, and cocaine. A life of excitement and pleasure await them at every turn and their secret affair is all consuming. As they share their darkest secrets she lets slip the fact that her husband is the island’s cocaine kingpin. He is a shrewd, evil man with illegal resources and no weaknesses. Once he learns of their affair he swears revenge and they are suddenly in great danger. As more and more details of the affair emerge, her husband’s contempt boils into a rage he cannot contain. They know their disappearance would be nothing more than passing gossip and the question is not IF he will seek his revenge but WHEN and, as she knows far too well, his actions will destroy everything and completely.

THE PUPPET MASTER

  • On a south-eastern Virginia farm, a dirt-water, back-woods rendition of fundamentalist Christianity dares to rear its ugly head. Heavily influenced by a little red book–based solely on a deep misunderstanding of basic religion and Biblical principle–written by a mysterious missionary, one believer’s brain is being cooked. He uses his Bible with the little red book to terrorize his family in the name of religion and stews in a vat of ignorance and superstition from which springs forth a most unholy doctrine. He’d totally inflict his insidious beliefs on his family were it not for his wife, who would stand for none of it. She’s ready to protect her children from what she believes is her husband’s religious insanity. And then the puppet master appears. Revealed as the author of the red book, he arrives with extensive plans to build a network of churches based on the dictates of his little red book. The farm is sold and the family reluctantly moves from Virginia to North Carolina where the first church is to be built. It is here that the shellacking begins. The church attracts its fair share of attention, however, nobody hangs around for long as the church evolves from great hope and possibility to empty pews and bankruptcy.

TIM KASK Interview with DARLENE, May 2016

This interview first appeared in Tim Kask’s blog: DRAGON GRUMBLES on May 17, 2016:


DARLENE, best known for her iconic work in illustrating AD&D (1E) and the Greyhawk maps, and I go back a long way together. Even before TSR was buying her art, I was buying it for Dragon Magazine. We share many interests and it was with great delight that I found out about her involvement with this unusual system and that she was “back with us” in the gaming field. 

For the remainder of this piece, we will only use initials—less typing. Tim Kask

TK: So, D, what have you been up to lately?

D: I’ve been up to my share of mischief. But what I have on my mind to talk about today is my artistic contribution to a (virtually) new 336-page hard-back fantasy role playing game published last December, 2015.

TK: So tell us…

D: The book is called Mythos Arcanum and its game system was inspired by old school D&D.

TK: I have skimmed it, mainly to see all the gorgeous art; what makes this different from all of the other clones?

D: The author, Joe Aragon juxtaposes modern day rules with allegorical content. It’s different from older fantasy role playing games in that, during the course of the game, it encourages players to explore meaningful self-reflection with their characters. The first concept behind this game is to have fun. Joe Aragon simply broadens the basic package of fun with a new, mind-expanding component. By allowing philosophical queries of illusion and reality to surface, Mythos Arcanum becomes a gateway for young minds to explore the nature of reality.

Q: How did you first get involved with the project and the author?

D: Joe sorta courted me…

TK: “Courted?”

D: (laughing) In a chivalric sense and only as an artist. I have never personally met Joe Aragon. He contacted me around 2010 via email asking me to create a logo for his company, Mythos Arcanum Games Imagined (MAGI), which I did. After that, he persistently raised the possibility of me creating interior illustrations for his book. We e-mailed back and forth for a spell. At the time, I was closed to that possibility and tried to communicate my reluctance to return to RPG illustration. Joe pointed out that my endeavors in fantasy illustration were not just relegated to the past. He indicated that a lot of people would welcome seeing new RPG art from me.

TK: Wasn’t I telling you that very thing?

D: Yes, you were. You pointed out that people still remembered me even though I was out of the loop for 30 years. Many fans honor the Greyhawk maps as classics and still relate to my illustrations as integral and formative to their early gaming experiences.

Tim, it’s due to your prodding as much as Joe’s that we are even having this conversation today. You have a leading role in my return to the RPG fantasy scene. That’s why I thought you’d appreciate hearing about my new RPG endeavor.

TK: I do. Continue.

D: Initially, I refused Joe as I had not done any serious illustration work for over 25 years. With a full time job, I felt I did not have the time. Then there’s the fact that monetary compensation for RPG interior art in the industry is notoriously low–at least compared to rates in the real world.

TK: What made you finally decide to work with Joe?

D: I relented after I finally grokked (Oooh, a Heinlein reference) Joe Aragon’s innovative concept behind his new game system. In Mythos Arcanum, Joe Aragon improves upon an issue that has never been satisfactorily addressed in RPG game settings. Consequences exist for the taking of life. Joe calls it, “philosophical role-playing” and explains it like this:

“In a standard fantasy role-playing game, a knight might kill a group of bandits. For this, he is awarded treasure and experience points. In Mythos Arcanum, in that same situation, the knight might have to face up to that what he’s doing constitutes murder and that killing the bandits may not be the right thing to do.”

As in real life, it does not matter if the unfortunate man who met his demise was a thief or murderer. Nothing ever condones the taking of life. The laws of karma are in full play.

TK: There have been a few occasions when thinking about our whole genre that I have been somewhat appalled by how casually we shrug off all the killing. I then remind myself that it is all make-believe. This game seems to be a lot less blasé about that.

D: The moral lesson (of there being consequences for ones choices and actions) is a vital lesson to learn deeply in today’s world–especially in the case of young players. So yes, I could easily devote my time and energy to produce something worthy and beautiful for the next generation of table top gamers. All could benefit from knowing some key life lessons.

Oh, yes–another reason I’m on board regards the game’s take regarding the nature of good and evil. He writes this about the issue (page 106): “The intended spirit of Mythos Arcanum is purposely designed to portray the universal struggle of good vs evil. Various archetypal character classes are created as symbols of these principles in order to play out scenarios of good versus evil in a medieval fantasy setting. As the heroes fight against monsters of darkness and villains with selfish agendas, they explore various fantasy realms of the imagination. It is assumed the players will play the side of good or at least neutral as they strive against the ever-present and destructive agents of evil, destruction and darkness. This is not a game to indulge an individual’s attraction to those things both dark and sinister… There are many other game systems designed for such endeavors.”

That’s why I think this is a fantastic RPG system to introduce to young people and why I went the extra mile.

TK: I have a slight issue with his characterization of other games indulging attraction to the sinister, but I still find the premise refreshing. On another note, you mentioned being worried about starting back up with doing illustrations. How did that go?

D:  Well, I got off to a very shaky start. That was five years ago. I was the opposite of prolific. I think I astounded Joe with my snail pace, averaging about one illustration every moon cycle. Since I had not touched pen to paper in years, it took me a while to get acclimated enough to find my groove. Once I finished the art, I scanned it. Usually, this is the final step, but I found it was but the first. Dogged by the perfectionist within me, I found myself “cleaning up” imperfections on the scanned electronic version. I’d readjust the proportions of figures, alter backgrounds and props, re-crop, re-define, and sharpen the lines.

TK: So you like using the computer.

D: Like it? My computer is more than an artistic tool. I love the fact that I can zoom in really close without straining my eyes physically. The best part is the computer’s ability to “undo” strokes–which is impossible with ink on paper.

Also, with the computer, I can contribute a lot more detail. In a piece of art, I love to balance richly textured areas with non-detailed areas. I seem to use the mouse in the same way I use a pen.

TK: Wait a moment–you don’t use a stylus? Don’t all computer artists use those?

D: Apparently not. I never invested in a stylus. I forget the reason. I simply learned to use what was at hand to work with. Every dot and every line equals one mouse click. It’s no different than the pointillist technique I did during the day, and takes about as long.

TK: Let me get this straight; you’re saying that all of your art in this gorgeous book was done using just a mouse? Including this one that looks like a woodcut?

Animal Friendship

Animal Friendship

D: Good eye! And I mean that in more ways than one. (Happy your eye operation was successful)…    Yes, I opted to preserve the mystique of something from yesterday-year. It was not hard because I seem to naturally drift towards doing a woodcut effect anyway.

TK: Wow, D–The book is profusely illustrated.

D: This was the result of a successful 2014 fall Kickstarter campaign. One of the stretch goals was to have me fill in the gaps. I am not the only illustrator. Between everyone, every monster, racial type, and character class is fully illustrated. Jim Holloway created the cover art and about 27 of the interior illustrations. The other artists who contributed are Rowena Aitken, Vaggelis Ntousakis, Laura Siadak and Martin Siesto. So all of a sudden, I had a bunch of illustrations to complete in addition to the book’s design.

TK: How many illustrations did you do?

D: Officially, I created 52 illustrations of various sizes. But while I was designing the book, I thought it would be neat if the Herb Lore section could appear like an old Herbological Guide Book. So I gifted the project with 34 small spot illustrations of plants. Simply to delight the reader, I also created 17 symbolic emblems in the Deity section to fill it out. I think these special little touches entice the imagination. So to answer your question, I did over 100 new illustrations for this book.

Q: Isn’t doing all this detailed work time consuming?

D: Very. But if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well, don’t you think? The successful Kickstarter helped to free me from the 20th century notion that “time is money.” In that world, it makes no economic sense not to declare a piece of art finished as quickly as possible. That doesn’t work for me.

Time is art. That’s my new paradigm. I added detail because I love the richness of juxtaposing different textures. Besides, I consider the time I devote on my illustrations to be a gift to my fans.  Locked into my work is the spiritual substance of my artistic focus, beneficence and devoted presence which can be felt through the images. Sensitive players can touch Joe’s strange and beautiful World of Rocheron within Mythos Arcanum.

TK: You mentioned designing the book?

D:  Before I came on board with the project, around 2011, the book was technically ready to go to press. However, the previous layout person made all the customary mistakes novices always make when they attempt to design a publication. Even if space is dear, people must avoid starting a new section in the middle of the second column of a left hand page. Equally bad is splitting up graphs and text so that a page has to be turned to glean important information.

Amateurs at design also tend to be horrorvacuists (having a fear of white space) so they are compelled to fill up every available area of every page. Unfortunately, this practice produces uninviting walls of text which are a chore to read (decipher). The alternative is to sculpt the white space to improve the reading experience. That’s why I urged Joe to reconsider publishing the book as it was.

TK: And you improved upon this?

D: Absolutely. I wanted the design for Mythos Arcanum to be the best the industry has yet seen.

I took a tremendous amount of care with the design of each page. Stylistically, I adopted the use of a medieval canon as the underlying grid design for the book. This resulted in a healthy amount of marginal white space bordering each page. A page’s superior readability depends on the correct interplay of positive and negative elements and shapes. When plenty of white space surrounds the text, readability always improves. Studies show, when something is more easily read, comprehend is improved.

The medieval layout template created for Mythos Arcanum is phi-inspired.

The medieval layout template created for Mythos Arcanum.

Another important thing about text columns most beginners don’t understand is the optimum ratio between the size of the font to the length of a line of text it’s set in. The optimal line to character ratio is between 50-60 characters, including spaces. That’s why 12-point type set solid in a one-column format is so difficult to read. The eye too easily loses its place when jumping down to catch the next line. The space between lines should be two points above the point size.

TK: Page breaks are sensible. There is an index. Information appears to be easy to find. The illustrations all seem to make sense in conjunction with the text.

D: Superior design never calls attention to itself. To serve the meaning of the text so that information is more accessible, great design steps away from the limelight… It’s neutral, invisible, subtle and unassuming.

TK: I can tell this subject is near and dear to your heart, but moving on…

What final things would you like your fans to know?

D: I went the extra mile in this book for my fans. I wanted to acknowledge and give something back to them for all their support throughout the years. I also wanted to pay it forward to the future generations of table-top gamers. Thus did I place all my time, effort, sincerity, and breath of creation into what I once considered to be my one final RPG project, my swan song.

TK: And now?

D: I’m sticking around. I’m staying.

TK:  OK D, it’s time for your plug. How may people obtain a copy?

D: First, I wish to be very clear. The copies I am offering are among those I already purchased from the author. The copies he may have available on his website are not a part of this offer. Since I am selling these books as collector’s items, purchases will directly benefit me as the artist.

In exchange for their purchase, people will be getting something special from me. For each book sold, I’ll create a special bookplate (ex libris) to be placed into the book, personalized with the name of the purchaser specially lettered by me. I would also affix my signature to the plate, making this a signed copy. Viola! Instant collector’s item!

TK: I get it.

D: I believe collector’s items are worth more if they remain in their original packaging. Therefore, each book sold would remain shrink wrapped. Each ex libris I personally create will be shipped in the same package as the book. I will spring for priority mail within the continental United States.

Mythos Arcanum cover back cover design, June 2015by DARLENE

Mythos Arcanum cover back cover design, June 2015 by DARLENE

Interested parties can send a $100 check made payable to: Darlene to P.O. Box 877, Mount Gilead, NC 27396

She can now accept credit cards on her darlenetheartist.com web site.  This is the link to the payment part of the site

TK: Thanks, btw, for my signed and personalized copy of the book.

D: My pleasure.

There you have it, fans of Darlene’s work.


You can email her at darlene@darlenetheartist.com

 

Entering the Creative Zone

I’d not thought much about it before. But now I can identify the main reason I like creating art and graphics. It’s the gift of being able to enter into “the Zone…”

Recently, I was working on the computer creating a representation of a strawberry plant. As I was manipulating the pixels, this is what was going through my mind: “leaf, leaf, leaf, leaf, curve, curve, up, up, smooth, deepen green, add more yellow, contrast, no, lighter, stem, smooth the arc…” When I worked on the blooms, as I blended colors and shapes, I also imagined smelling their fragrance. This is the moment I suddenly “woke up” from my reverie and became conscious that I was in the state of DOING, not thinking—I was totally engaged in the moment, becoming fully engrossed within my creative endeavor. That’s when I grasped just how much I give myself over to this trance-like process.

After much consideration, I think “Entering the Zone” is a form of active meditation, a means of exercising the intuition (as opposed to the intellect). Whatever it’s called, I believe any artistic thing created with intent retains the artist’s energetic signature and it seems to have a lasting effect. To me, this comprises a sacred act. To impart to one’s art the qualities of what is aesthetically pleasing is special. I’m becoming more aware of how noticeable this energetic residue is to others.

The only other person I know who talked openly about “the Zone” was the cousin of a friend, an Indiana University professor of some renowned in computer language. At the time, a couple of large Texas corporations were courting him to work for them and offered three times his teaching salary. When I asked him why he stayed, he said that whenever he teaches, when he speaks he goes to a place where the words easily pour out of him. He enjoys being on the threshold so much that he would not trade the feeling of being in the Zone for anything. He’d really miss out if he simply worked at a desk all day.

Becoming consciously aware of the value of creating while in the Zone also means taking responsibility for the energy I impart. With Kathleen’s book, I was “there,” in timeless time during the entire creative process–open to Spirit and able to indulge my intuitive nature. Nothing‘s left to chance. Symbolic content was also streaming in. Deciding to illustrate her book using appropriate symbols served to contribute another layer of meaning to Kathleen’s book.

Well, something must have clicked just right because of the book’s phenomenal success just within the first few weeks of being electronically published. Even though the Kindle version has been available for two years, the book has been blessed with unprecedented sales. Maybe it is simply Kathleen’s time to shine. In this case, I’m glad to have been a catalyst. But maybe, just maybe, the energetic is a powerful factor in its success.

But there is a downside of being in the Zone. And that is it can become physically detrimental over the long haul. For the sake of one’s vision, every twenty minutes you are supposed to look up and re-focus the eyes at something in the distance. But all too often, I’ll be submerged for hours. Once I “come up for air,” I have to make a point of standing up and walking around.

One miscellaneous comment: when I am in the creative Zone, the cat loves to sit on my lap. It’s as if he is riding the creative wave with me. Perhaps he might even be actively accommodating it.

Typography Class: Book Design Tips

If I was still teaching first year Indiana University graphics students (after declaring Graphics as their major at IU), I could use the following examples to demonstrate some basic graphic design typographical tweaks and tenets.

Each page of a book should be inviting to the reader. Every unit of text must relate to every other unit and be in harmony while maintaining its typographical distinction. It’s a balance. For instance, the 2-page spread I’m using as an example (created for Kathleen Wiley’s first book, “NEW LIFE: Symbolic Meditations on the Birth of Christ Within,”) perfectly illustrates this. Each chapter’s beginning page has six separate elements to juggle. I managed this by sculpting the white space.

New-Life-spread-loThe first five sections within each chapter have centered text. First, I bunched the three uppermost elements together at the top as a unit because they appear together on the Table of Contents page. As the purpose of the first three lines is informational, I used the easily readable Gill Sans font family: light for the Chapter number (a), bold face for the chapter title (b) and regular to note the scripture.

The next section (4) is Kathleen’s first voice–her insightful commentary about the meaning of a particular biblical passage. I set it using Garamond Italic type and centered it. Usually, centered text in italics is difficult to read. I used italics anyway because I wanted the reader to slow down. I balanced readability issues by increasing the font size and leading and carefully manipulating the collective shape of the text by making sure each line ended with a noun or a strong word. I carefully removed hyphenations and eliminated widowed text (one word at the end of the paragraph taking up an entire line.)

Section (5) is the scripture associated with each chapter. I significantly indented the text block on both sides, making the biblical passages similar in feel to how they usually appear in context. Because it was of the same serif type family as Kathleen’s commentary above, I just used Garamond’s regular text font. I also wanted it to be significantly different from the major text font.

In her major commentary section (6), Kathleen is in a more analytical mode. That’s why I changed the typeface back to the sans serif, Gill Sans, and split the text into a two column format. The tone is different, more intellectually removed from the subject, but contemplative. To set off each chapter head so as to give the eye a focus, I inset a decorative initial capital letter within the first paragraph of text. The major text continued in its two column format until Kathleen’s ideas were complete. To signify the end of the major text, I placed Kathleen’s iconic key lock.

The last section, chapter (7), is “Inner Reflections,” the chapters’ quiet Call to Action.

Although this final section may appear to be centered because of the title, the type is in fact justified left, ragged right. I used Gill Sans Light and indented it within a thin-bordered box to make it easily found for those who wish to quickly refer to the meditation.

Even with all these typographic rules in place, no two spreads appear alike. Each thought is a visual an expression unto itself, yet contributes to the harmony of the book as a whole

Two Publications, Side by Side

Two books designed by Darlene in 2015.

Two books designed by Darlene in 2015.

This week in the mail,  I separately received physical copies of both books I designed in 2015 for two different authors and the subjects could not be more different from each other.

The first book project, a behemoth 336-page hardcover, “Mythos Arcanum” (written by Joe Aragon, published by MAGI), was completed and signed off by me during the summer of 2015. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, I created the lion’s share of the illustrations. I am surprised at the amount of time it took for the actual printed product to appear. MAGI took the route of having a traditional print run.

I started my second book design, “NEW LIFE: Symbolic Meditations on the Birth of Christ Within” (written by Kathleen Wiley and published by Soulful Living, Inc.), immediately after the first book was put to bed. I spot-illustrated this 98-page soft cover with line art of different birds and signed off on Kathleen’s book last week. Then I prepared the book for publication through a digital vendor and it took only about a week to become available. That’s how I received physical copies of both books in the same week. The difference in the time factor astounds me.

When looking at each title, side by side, it is difficult to believe they have anything in common. Yet I designed both books to conform to the principles of the phi ratio. Now, the first edition of Kathleen’s book had already been publicly available for two years. But a good friend of ours (who had helped me proof read Mythos Arcanum) recommended to her friend Kathleen that she consider having her book redesigned by me, using the golden mean.

When I first contacted Kathleen, mid-August 2015, about a possible re-design, I wrote: “To most people, in and of itself, a page of words is just a page of words. Anyone, even those without an aesthetic sense, can create perfectly reasonable page presentations from templates. But there is no life, no sparkle or soul to an uninviting wall of words. When the eyes get tired, reading becomes a chore and comprehension suffers. To rest the eyes, the book gets put down, producing an unconscious psychological resistance. It’s harder for the reader to resume. Without a compelling incentive, the book may never get picked up again. And that is sad, for both reader and author.

“I’m telling you this because it’s something you may never have before considered. When done properly, the design aesthetically serves the text. The eye is pleased. The result is happy. Good presentation has power. That is what I offer…

“When I undertake a book project, as I read the text, I can “see” the page take shape in my mind’s eye. Is it channelling or divine inspiration? To use my gift responsibly, I must carefully choose which projects I am to undertake. When Patty first mentioned your book to me, I felt the “rightness” of working with you and thus feel led to work with you. The fact that you recognized the potential of the golden mean proportion also speaks volumes in your favor.”

My passion is to create a thing of beauty. Beauty speaks. Eloquently. With book design, my facility is to create a visual portal through which people may more easily access the depth of the ideas being expressed. It’s like opening a gateway to a different world. Resonance is achieved through the subtle balance of negative (white) space, text, and graphics using correct proportion and placement. It is my gift, my genius.

Its only been a couple of weeks since Kathleen’s second edition has been available and already it has generated some notable buzz. For instance, she showed up at a bookstore in her town and inquired if they were interested in selling the book of a local author. They were so she left some copies behind. Before the day was out (or at least a short time thereafter), the bookstore called and offered to promote her book and do an author signing. They are even willing  for Kathleen to do talks and give classes about her material through the bookstore on a monthly basis. I’d venture to say the book cover design worked in her favor.

It is a joy to see how Kathleen’s star is now rising. I am so pleased to have been an integral part of her success. Kathleen is now anxious for me to begin design work on a second title of hers and I’ve already started.
The publication of Joe Aragon’s book will be officially announced on December 5th, 2015. I trust that Mythos Arcanum will receive similar notoriety albeit from a different audience. Only time will tell. I’ve decided to submit this book to an RPG design competition. Because good design has mostly not been a large consideration within the Role Playing Game industry, I am more than curious to see how well aesthetics can be recognized and honored.

Introducing Sacred Geometry in a Gaming Context

Back in 1990, my late husband taught classes on the beauty of sacred geometry. He believed if one is to come into resonance with the universe, one must be able to accurately visualize the dance of Platonic solids and know how they fit and transform into and out of each other. Coming into congruence with sacred geometrical shapes and knowing how to visualize them at will is great knowledge sought after by those in the know.  In esoteric circles, the novice must appreciate the profound relationship between sacred geometry and the proper creation of a magic circle.

For my husband’s classes, I created all his hand-outs, including ton sacred geometry. For his publications, I created educational illustrations exemplifying the concepts of sacred geometry.

OphanicGeometry01

The above illustration is the first page from our chapter on sacred geometry [“The Ophanic Revelation” (c 2006)].

The classic five Platonic solids are 3-dimensional polygons that have a sequential relationship to one another (known as duals or congruency). Congruency occurs when one polygon–with its unique shape, size and facets–can be transformed into the next polygon simply by changing it’s placement by flipping or rotating them. The five Platonic solids are the tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron. Goethe once wrote, “geometry is frozen music.” What an beautiful way to describe the elegance of these patterns.

Because of my familiarity with sacred geometry, I was fascinated to encounter a client, from the unusual venue of gaming, who was conversant with the Platonic solids. In his text, he addressed the five Platonic solids and supplied an illustration of the same. I wondered to what degree he was acquainted with the forms. In my role as his book’s designer, I expanded on his seed idea. Instead of all the solids appearing at once in a single chapter head, I assigned one geometric solid to each chapter in the book. As there are only five solids, I had to add an additional polygon for chapter six and chose a star-tetrahedron. To pique the interest of the inquisitive, I added a small splice of text revealing the symbolic meaning represented by each Platonic solid.

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Just Finished Designing a Book based on the Golden Mean

How delighted I was to discover a client who genuinely wanted to base the layout of his book, Mythos Arcanum, using the proportions of Phi. Most people are not acquainted with the power of Phi and why it is important. Throughout history Phi has been identified as the golden section, golden mean, golden number, golden ratio, golden cut, and the divine proportion. According to science, Phi represents a canon of Beauty.
What’s so special about Phi? The divine proportion is fractal and arises from the division of a straight line into two segments so that the ratio of the whole Continue reading