Archive for the ‘Behind the Tentacles’ Category

Working in phases

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Here at Squamous Studios, we appreciate insanity in all its forms; insanity gives us insight that we may not normally possess, and it gives us an excuse to drool on ourselves or smear ice cream on the cat.

However, sometimes madness doesn’t help. Sometimes, ya gotta be a little more organized. Like when you’re putting a massive tome like 7th edition together. Thus, i’ve broken down the process into 4 distinct phases:

Phase I: Getting the basic text laid out, formatting charts, inserting the basic page decoration, and so on. The skeleton and meat of the book is getting done at this phase. All the text for all various chapters are completed at this point, including all the boxed text bits, tables, diagrams, and so on. These are not, as of yet, incorporated into the main pages.

Phase II: Dropping in the artwork, and moving all the elements around so that everything flows together (boxed texts, tables, sidebars, and the like).

Phase III: Final tweaks and corrections. Admittedly, i will often start Phase III whilst i’m doing I and II; exporting a pdf, and seeing how things are looking in general. But this final phase is when all the fiddling and adjusting and fine tuning happens. Whether it’s corrections in the text, or scooting an art element over a few pixels, forcing a paragraph break in a header, or whathaveyou.

Phase IV: The final front pages go in (title page, ToC), the index is built out, and (according to Mike Mason) the ants take over.

So where are we at now? More than half way through Phase I. I’m staring at roughly 320 pages of book. Yikes! This guy is going to be massive. Phase I always takes the longest, with Phase II going much more quickly.

One last thing- on the Kickstarter page, a couple of layout examples were posted there. I definitely appreciate the positive comments; thanks! I do feel compelled to point out that those examples are a bit old at this point, and many of the criticisms brought up have already been addressed. Trust me, the book looks even better at this point. 🙂

I’m going to try to get some more up to date examples mocked up soon…

Take /that/, tables!

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

I’m sure the multitudinous members of my audience will be happy to know that i finally figured out how to slay the tables importing dragon. It took me a bit, but here’s what i ended up doing:

1) I copied the original table from the manuscript file, created a new doc in Word, and pasted it there.

2) I then created a new document in InDesign.

3) Created a text content box, and hit Command+D to Place the Word doc containing just the table into the box.

4) Lastly, i copied that box/table and placed it in the main book.

And that worked. A bit of a work-around from being able to import/place it directly into the book, but hey, now it’s in there.

Continuing on the subject of tables, i’ve been creating a bunch of others in the core rule book as they come up; Damage Bonus charts, Income levels, etc. And at first, i was doing them in simple black and white. Which is, frankly, boring to look at. I had to remind myself that i’m working in color…so why not, in the spirit of the game, make them ichor green and white?  And thus, they now are. 🙂

Oh, and one tip that i discovered with resizing the cells of tables- you can move your cursor over a table grid, and drag them, but that resizes all of the cells. But you can also Shift+drag, and that will resize only that one row/column. Very handy!

Learning a couple of tricks with InDesign

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

As i chug through the initial layout of CoC 7th edition, there’s a couple handy tricks i’ve taught myself (remember, InDesign experts- i’m a self-taught guy who’s still figuring things out as i go sometimes):

1) Grouping. Since i’m handling a LOT of boxed text elements in some of the chapters, i’ve quickly learned how valuable grouping is when it comes to handling those elements. Select ’em all, do a Command+G, and bam! Easy to select and drag and drop. And editing them is so much easier, without worrying about screwing up the formatting.

2) Saving boxed text elements in Master Pages. This trick comes with a possible pit trap if you’re not careful. Basically what i did was create a master page set, and dump copies of commonly used elements like boxed texts and the like there. What it does help with is ensuring that you’re using common formatting and fitting; you can copy something from these master pages and not have to worry about fiddling with them individually so much (of course, you still have to take care of putting the right text, resizing the box appropriately, etc.

But one thing i discovered with this method (the pit trap i mentioned) is that if you make a format change, because the element is on a Master Page, it will change all of the elements that you’re using throughout the book. This has fucked me up more than once, and i’ve had to go back and fix a bunch of headers because i made one little change somewhere else. Ooops.

Also: tables suck. Importing tables suck more.

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

I’m happy to announce that Golden Goblin Press first release, The Island of Ignorance, is in the can, and is now available for order! Anyone who wishes to grab the pdf version can buy it now from GGP’s website…or you can wait a little while longer for the dead tree version.

Plus, i’ve finished my first book for Montag Press, M Against M by Declan Tan. It’s not up on Montag’s site yet, but should be soon. Once i hear that it’s out and available, i’ll definitely post about it here. But you can always check Montag’s site by going here.

Meanwhile, i’ve been making headway with the design for CoC 7th edition. It’s slow going at the moment, as i still have to wait for art and text assets to come in, but i’ve completed chapter 3, which is the Call of Cthulhu short story itself. I’ve also been working on more card art for Feed the Shoggoth, and that continues to chug along. Funny how some pieces get reworked as they do. One card, “Horde of Penguins”, is an in-joke, making a reference to the story “At the Mountains of Madness”. Obviously, shoggoths and blind albino penguins aren’t going to get along well. At all. (in the game, using the “Horde of Penguins” card allows the player to move the shoggoth a certain number of spaces in any direction; the shoggoth just wants to get the hell away of those penguins).

It makes sense to me, anyway.




When i originally drew the art, they were normal looking penguins. But in the story, they appear as blind, albino penguins. So i’ve taken this opportunity to go back and make sure they’re the right kind of penguins. Gotta get my in-jokes right!

Lastly, i updated my portfolio with the latest books that i’ve designed; four more this year! There’s actually another Cthulhu fiction anthology (with added sci-fi!!) in Chaosium’s print queue, but it hasn’t come out yet: Eldritch Chrome. I guess that’ll be in 2014.

Spreading the tentacles out

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Just a quick update that i’ve added a couple of new links to the “Friendlies” section. David Grilla is the new artist on the Gaslight project, complementing work already done by John Snyder and Adam Denton (two other people who’s web pages i need to get…). And Dean Engelhardt joins the list of sacrifices people who are lending a hand to Gaslight- Dean is doing some amazing work with the handouts, as well as his fabulous character sheet. Welcome, both!

Can it be, an update on the site itself?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Yes, it can! I’ve finally cleaned up the joint to the point where it isn’t embarrassing to show off, and i’ve created a portfolio gallery to show off my publishing credits to date. Just click on the Portfolio link in the right nav, under “Pages”. Or you can click here instead.

In the near future, i plan on creating another gallery that will contain examples of my work itself, but for now, this will suffice.


Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Well, some good news and bad news on the art front. I’ve recently seen more art sketches from the other artist, and they look absolutely great- Gaslight is going to have some fantastic artwork in it.

Bad news is that the other artist had disaster befall him in the form of the horrendous heatwave taking out his computer and backups…which resulted in the loss of a bunch of his artwork.  Which means that Gaslight may be delayed a bit. *sigh* It happens sometimes, unfortunately; the same exact data loss crippled Secrets of San Francisco for months on end, hence forcing that book into almost vaporware status. Funny, i put together that book, too. Hmmm….

Obviously, it’s a bet of a mess around here at the moment.

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

I was attempting to do some reformatting of the title page graphics and such, but obviously it needs more work. I think a major overhaul is in order, but i’m going to need some help with it- i’m not much of a coder, but i can tell there’s some code-wrangling i’m going to need to do to get the site the way i want it.

At any rate, i fired off the CD for the BRP Magic Book to Chaosium this week, and have been making more tweaks to Arrius Lurco while Tom and his crew go over it for mistakes and corrections. I also talked to Scott at Pagan, and amoung other things, i pitched him my (Altered) Resonance scenario, which he is very keen on. So all i have to do is polish it off (which should take about a month or so), and send it off to him. Woot.

I’ve also started working on Project: Top Hat some more, which at this stage of the game, is really herding all the text together. I’m dealing with different editions of stuff, plus some brand new text that was written specifically for the new edition, so i’m getting a lot of practice with OCR. Not exactly fun fun, but it’s grunt work that’s gotta get done before anything else with the book design happens.

It’s those last few inches

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

There’s been more back-and-forth with the Magic Book in the past couple of weeks…a new list of corrections came in, which i attacked with verve, then kicked back a list to the editor of questions i had…meanwhile, the artist is *this* close to having his last to pieces done.

Meanwhile Arrrrrrius “i’m not a pirate!” Lurconomicus continues apace. I finished the first, big layout pass of all the scenarios, and now i’m going back to do the introduction, which is rather a huge section. And i taught myself something new; i can now mess with paragraph rules to the point that i can create those grey separators in charts. I know, total layout nerdness, and i’m sure anyone reading this with a hint of pro training would probably point and laugh at the fact that i didn’t know how to previously, but dammit, i figured it out. Let me have my little victory, dammit.

Oh, and lastly, i finally updated the “About” page here. I really need to get cracking on the gallery next.

*grumble grumble*

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Quark, why do you have to be so stupid? All i want to do is delete two pages from the middle of the book. Why do you fucking insist on blowing up the whole layout when i do that? I know i’m running v6.5, but that’s not excuse for crap like this.

I so cannot wait to be done with the BRP Magic Book so i never have to touch Quark again.