Everyone changes in The Village: a #prisoner106 design assignment

The Village library is full of some entertaining and suspenseful reads.  It’s important to have hobbies and materials that keep our minds busy.  We recently had several donations of “I Can Read” books all from different Community members.

Cataloging new arrivals in The Village library

Cataloging new arrivals in The Village library


I picked up The Schizoid Man and thumbed through it.  I’ll add it to the collection despite the worn and torn book cover.

I Can Read MoviesBeggars can’t be choosers, amirite?

How I did it:

Several Village dwellers created some impressive book covers from scratch.  I took the “creative edit approach” as The Village psychiatrist calls it.

I wanted to capture the essence of Rover as well as the lava lamps that appear throughout The Prisoner.  I found a Creative Commons licensed lava lamp photo (thanks Anderaz) through Photo Pin.  I imported that into GIMP and erased everything but the three bubbles.  I think my next steps involved playing around with greyscale, contrast, the invert tool, and maybe some other things.  I took a few screenshots, but couldn’t really tell you the order I did things:

Tinkering with contrast

Tinkering with contrast


Tinkering with grayscale


Tinkering with invert


Tinkering with brightness and contrast

After the lava lamp/Rover was all set, I downloaded Mitch’s War Games cover and proceeded with my “creative edits,” which I now feel kind of lame about, because the book cover is copyrighted.  I supposed I could argue that it all falls within Fair Use, but still….

My creative edits included:  change the book number from 15 to 2, changing the copyright date from 1964 to 1967 (when The Prisoner) came out, changing the book cover image (obviously) and the text.  It would behoove me create my own book cover, because I could benefit from experimenting with different effects and brushes and other tools available to master image manipulators.



Wish you were here!: a #Prisoner106 design assignment

Design Week in The Village kept me busy.  I took on the Postcards from a Magical Place (#363) assignment.  If I followed directions, I would’ve designed both the front AND back of a postcard.  I only designed the front.  Why design the back of a postcard from The Village when there is no outgoing mail here?

The Village is truly a magical place though.  I did my best to capture the majesty of the mountains, our inspired chess games, and our ever-present sentinel, Rover.

Village postcard

Greetings from The Village

This version isn’t fit for The Village store, but some progress was made.  “The Village” doesn’t pop as much as I would like.  Actually, none of the text does, but that’s something to fix later.  Perhaps something like this:

vintage postcard

vintage postcard

I used the Seaside Resort font for the smaller text and found the Vacation Postcard font for “The Village.”  However, I quickly discovered that I couldn’t fill that text with an image as I explained in this post.

Only the outline of the text would fill with the image

Only the outline of the text would fill with the image

A more experienced GIMP/PhotoShop user may know how to get around the problem.  I couldn’t make it work despite the good suggestions left in the previous blog post.

This is what I did (I think):

1.  I opened the image of the chess scene

2.  I added the “Greetings from” and “Be seeing you” text layers and moved those around as needed.

3.  I added “The Villlage” text layer and rotated the text by going to layer > transform > rotate > arbitrary rotation.  I used -15 as the angle.

4.  I followed the steps in the “How to Create a Vintage Postcard in GIMP” tutorial for blurring “The Village” text in order to get a nice 3D effect.  I duplicated “The Village” text and then added a blur filter to the duplicated layer.  Activate the copy/duplicate and select filter > blur > motion blur.  I used a length of 20 and an angle of 205.

3Dtext_pcardKeep making copies of the blurred layer until you have a nice 3D effect.  Then hide all but your blurred text layers.  When these are the only layers visible, right click them and select “merge visible layers.”

You can also select colors for your main text and the blurred text layer so that you can tell the two apart.

merge_visible5.  Add the image that should appear within your text.  Add an alpha channel to this image by right clicking the layer.

6.  Right click your main text layer.  Click “alpha to selection”

7.  Turn off your main text layer.

8.  Activate the image layer.  You’re now ready to delete everything outside of the text.  Go to Select > invert and then go to Edit > Cut.

(The screenshots below aren’t part of my actual project, which is why you don’t see all of the layers I had)


Though the final product isn’t what I envisioned, I ended up learning a lot about GIMP.  Again, this “How to Create a Vintage Postcard in GIMP” Youtube tutorial was extremely helpful in the process.

I also found an easy explanation for adding image to text here.

Make it a-MAZE-ing: a Prisoner106 adventure

Like Bill, I opted to try out the maze design assignment.  After reading the assignment details, I knew I wanted to do something with the Village map.

Map of the Village.  Also available in colour.

Map of the Village. Also available in colour.

I printed out a couple of copies thinking I might hand draw a maze.  That could still happen.  We’ll see.  The option of doing something by hand appeals, but the carrying out the idea is never as easy as the idea itself seems.  But that’s also the case for digital work.

I looked around online for some maze generators.  The first result lead me to a defunct maze generator.  I wondered if there was a way to create a maze in GIMP, so I asked The General the Internet.  Turns out, GIMP has a maze filter.

Finding the maze filter

Finding the maze filter

Lucky day!

Of course making this maze wasn’t as easy as slapping a maze layer on top of an image and calling it a day.

This is what I did:

1.  I opened a new GIMP project and imported my map image.  I then went to Filters > Render > Pattern > Maze

2,  You’ll then have the option to play around with some settings.

Settings for the maze filter in GIMP

Settings for the maze filter in GIMP

Note:  A small pixel width and height is hard on the eyes.

Once the maze was generated, I could no longer see the Village map.  Apparently the maze filter overwrites any active layers.  I figured I could use some transparency tools to see both the maze and the map.  I once again consulted The General and found this handy GIMP tutorial on layer masks.

I followed the steps in the tutorial and came out with these:

See.  The maze is hard on the eyes

First iteration.  See. The maze is hard on the eyes

Second iteration.

Second iteration.  Worse than the first?

I’m very meh about the results truth be told, but I did enjoy using the masks, which should come in handy in the future. I’m shipping this project even though it’s underwhelming.

If I find I’m need some meditative exercise, I may just pull out a pen and get to work on a hand drawn maze.



Spoiler Alert: A story in four icons

Here’s a four icon telling of “It’s Your Funeral.”

"It's Your Funeral" in four icons

“It’s Your Funeral” in four icons (scroll down for credits)

In this episode, we learn a few things:

(1) No. 6 is very active.

(2) Kosho looks AWESOME!  This is exercise I fully support.

(3) No. 6 demonstrates some really human characteristics in this episode.  He seems almost vulnerable, no?  He buys sweets for the woman who blew through all of her work credits.  He wants to help the blonde by reasoning with her watchmaker father.

Sure, sure.  He says that he wants to prevent the unimaginable punishment torture that will befall the Community, but is that really the only motivator?

No. 6 sure does seem to empathize with No. 2 this time around.

Double No. 2s

Is No. 6 starting to relate to his fellow Community members?

Other great things from this episode:

(1) The rad pink jackets:

Pink jackets. A change.

(2)  The stylish smoking jacket and hipster glasses:

Quite the fashionista

Quite the fashionista

The images are from The Noun Project.

                                                                   woman – Simon Child   .   bomb – Edward Boatman   .   medallion – Creative Stall   .   helicopter Pham Thi Dieu Linh

1 story / 4 icons

Last year I recommended Zone One for the upper school’s 2012-13 summer reading list.

cover of Zone One

Zone One cover

It did not reappear on the 2013-14 reading list.

“The kids didn’t like it,” I heard.  “Not enough zombies,” they said.  “It’s a thinking wo/man’s zombie novel.”

An owl on barbed wire. Srsly?


I don’t know what to say.  Kids these days.

I’ve been thinking about Zone One even before I realized it was pulled from the summer reading list.   I’ll probably buy my own copy to have on hand just because it’s full of things I want to consider again.  I’d like to have time to study it and annotate it.  To call Colson Whitehead’s Zone One a zombie novel, is a disservice to this book, which beautifully captures a trifecta of nostalgia, wanting, and loss.

Zone One is set a few years after the outbreak of a plague that turns the majority of the world’s population into flesh-eating zombies.  Time has passed, survivors reside in camps with names like “Happy Acres” and “Bubbling Brooks,”  militaries have regrouped, and provisional governments have seeded themselves through the world.

“Mark Spitz,” a character who prides himself on his mediocracy, guides readers through his memories of Last Night, his experiences in the wasteland, the rebranding of survival, and the rebooting of Lower Manhattan.  It’s an insightful, witty, heartbreaking novel.  It’s an existential kick in the balls guts.

To honor Zone One, I created this 4 icon challenge.

Zone One in 4 icons

Zone One in 4 icons

The iPod (designer unknown) plays prominently (I think) into Mark Spitz’s Last Night story.  The zombie (by designer Stephen Peluso)….  well, that’s obvious.  The city (by designer Juan Pablo Bravo) represents the primary setting–Manhattan.  The swimmer (designer unknown) is Mark Spitz.

All images are from The Noun Project.



Conform to the norm

Conform to the norm bumber sticker

Follow the Leader

A single purpose.  A single norm.  A single approach.  A single entity of people.  A single virtue.  A single morality.  A single frame of reference.  A single philosophy of government.

“The State” sounds like an awful place to live.  The above bumper sticker would probably land you in some work camp too.  I don’t think they have a sense of humor there.  The state’s doctors are also super creepy, and their creepiness has nothing to do with their faces.  Did you notice how touchy feely doctor was with his patients and nurses?

Doctor from 'Eye of the Beholder'

Touchy feely doctor

The ghettos for the disfigured can’t be too bad.  Mr. Smith looks healthy and handsome.  I’m sure Janet Tyler will be just fine.

Mr. Smith and Ms. Tyler

Mr. Smith and Ms. Tyler

I stayed up way too late watching “Eye of the Beholder” (S2E6).  I’m pretty sure it’s one of the definitive episodes.  I don’t remember seeing the episode before, but it’s made its way into my collection of pop culture references at some point or another.  I wasn’t shocked by the big reveal.  I did thoroughly enjoy how the episode was directed though.  I loved how the faces of the “normals” were hidden in the shadows, behind props, or behind each other.

But on to the bumper sticker.

I used GIMP.  And a little bit of Photoshop.  I found a picture of “the leader” and opened it in Photoshop.  I applied the film grain artistic filters to it.  I wasn’t quite sure where I was going to go with this project, so I just exported the image as a .jpg to work with later.  I created several layers in GIMP.  Probably more than I needed.

Gimp screenshot

Gimp screenshot

I created and placed a black box.  I opened up the .jpg that I altered in Photoshop and placed that.  Then I created a layer of text.  I changed the color of the text when necessary so that it would show up on the white and black parts of the bumper sticker.  The ‘m’ in ‘norm’ was hard to see over the image, so I ended up going into the text layer, selecting the area around the ‘m’ and then filling it in with white.

I think that’s all there was to it.



Collector’s Item: Talky Tina Trading Card

I got up early this morning to catch up on some DS106zone readings.  Inspired by some great projects like Andy Forgrave’s DS106zone trading card, I decided that the laundry could wait.  It’s time to attempt some art, dammit.

At 5:30 this morning, the project seemed very doable.  Most of the tutorial made sense.  It seemed easy.  It didn’t go as well as I thought it would, but that’s ok.  That’s how it goes sometimes.

Things that stumped me:

1.  My image of Talky Tina was small, so I spent time trying to figure out how to make her fit in the hole in the trading card.  I’m still not proficient in GIMP (or PhotoShop), so I’m still trying to wrap my head around the differences between layers and images and why things like ‘layer to image size,’ ‘layer to boundary size,’ ‘scale layer,’ etc. wouldn’t work for me.  After much failed experimentation, I discovered that the scale tool (tools > transform tools > scale) was all I needed.  Easy enough and intuitive once I knew it existed.  I really need to sit down with a GIMP or PhotoShop manual.  I think it would save me a lot of time in the end.

2.  I also had trouble editing the text from Andy’s template.  After some frustration and swearing, I discovered that I probably couldn’t edit the text, because it was a .psd file and I was in GIMP.  I am an idiot.  No matter.  I opened the template in PhotoShop and edited the necessary text.  I then saved the template, which was now a Talky Tina card and moved back into GIMP.  After all, I had spent all of that time trying to figure out how to scale Tina to fit in the card.  I didn’t want to grope my way around PhotoShop trying to solve the same problem.

3.  Oh, and I wasn’t sure how to make Tina sit comfy and snug behind the DS106zone logo.

trying to solve a GIMP problem

Gimp conundrum

I ended up just erasing part of the Tina layer, which is why it looks a little rough.  I feel like there’s a more professional way though.

Anyhoo….  Here’s my Talky Tina trading card.

Talky Tina trading card

I’ll trade you my Talky Tina for your Alien Woman

It’ll do.