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Inside the Front Cover

Inside the Front Cover

When I heard that Fig Leaf Software was writing this book, my first question was, “Cool! Who’s doing the book cover?” Needless to say, I was extremely stoked when I had the chance to submit designs. Major thanks to my Creative Director, Tom Pizer, for promoting my abilities. I am honored to have done my first book cover for New Riders. I use Flash 5 nearly every day, for hours on end. How rewarding was it for me to design a book cover for a book devoted to it? I can tell you…extremely.

Gathering Process

Taking inspiration from my daily commute to work, I began to think about how programming Flash applications reminds me of metro transit: a metro ticket takes you on a physical ride; a Flash movie takes you on an interactive journey. I used my metro ticket as the basis for this book’s cover. Then I collected and scanned additional movie ticket stubs and receipts. I created a Photoshop file to hold these images, placing each in a separate layer so I could easily copy it into the final design. I also scanned photos of water, sky, and beaches to use for added texture. I gathered scenes from all of the places I’ve been, finally choosing an ocean shore scene from my hometown of Virginia Beach.

Creating the Image

My two major images are a DC metro ticket and a Virginia Beach shore scene filtered with a horizontal motion blur. The original size of the beach photo is smaller than the cover design, but it is used as a textured background so loss of detail isn’t an issue. I had to scan the metro ticket at a high resolution to preserve its detail and clarity as the foreground image, which is twice its original size.

The metro card had little color to it—mostly just red and white. To add some color and interest to the card, I lowered the opacity of the Metro card layer and brought the beach photo into the underlying layer. The text “Metro” was changed to “Macro” and blurred to give it the same level of focus as the rest of the card. Next, I got rid of the metro card’s magnetic strip, replacing it with a red band and applying more text with masks. The Airbrush tool with custom brushes added scratches, nicks, and marks, making the card look scuffed and battered. I used Illustrator to make the various grids, copying them into Photoshop as pixels.

The next phase was to import my ticket stubs and receipts into the main design, layer by layer. I like to apply filter modes one at a time and combine each modified layer into a compound effect, although this can make for a large file. Through process of elimination, I narrowed roughly 50 layers down to around 25. In the end, I used my favorite technique: taking different color screens and running them through blending modes, separately as well as combined, to find the right look. I settled on an orange screen with an Overlay blending mode.

About the Artist

Doug Clarke is Art Director for Fig Leaf Software’s Interactive Media. When he’s not working for “the FIG,” Doug spends his time painting and illustrating. Doug posts his work in illustration, animation, sound, and design on his personal site, www.liquidmethod.com.

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