Merry Christmas

Review of “The Digital Dimension” by Andrew

Some of you may remember my first post on the writing blog, which included a review of Bob and the Cyber-Llama by my young friend, Andrew Empedocles. For the unenlightened, the review went as follows:

Dear Joseph,

                 Your Bob and the cyber-llama book was amazing!!!!! Your book was the best book I have ever read!!!!!  Every part is so good, that I don’t even know what my favorite part was!!!!!  I stayed up all night reading it because it was so good.  Please make another book and send it to me.  I’m even making some books that I am going to send to you.

                                                                                     From,

                Andrew

(P.S. I wish that I could put llama emoji’s all over the page, but I don’t know how)

Mr. Empedocles kept his word and cooked up a literary work of grand proportions known as The Digital Dimension.

It is a work of suspense and mystery featuring three adventurers: Trevor, Aaron, and Greyson. The three are real-life friends of the author (I’m sure that, since the book was written, the three of them have graduated from Harvard or created a vaccine to eradicate mesothelioma or something.) Beginning with a prologue, we find Greyson lying in a hospital bed with a splitting head wound.

As he slowly regains consciousness, Greyson is greeted by Trevor and Aaron, who stumble into the hospital wrapped in bandages and covered in bruises and scrapes. Trevor then spins a tale of intrigue and tension and tells Greyson that, after Greyson was knocked out by a well-placed baseball, Trevor and Aaron rented a video game from a suspicious game store. We’ve all rented video games right after hospitalizing our friends, right?

Trevor reveals that, after injuring their friend, he and Aaron were sucked into a strange video game world full of hostile, pixelated bears, thick forests of mystery, and a creature “part monkey part rhinocerous part bear and more things of animals that we couldn’t even understand what it was.”

The Digital Dimension also features a parallel story about a man sent of a variety of daring missions by a mysterious employer. He travels into the digital dimension and explores a dark, Egyptian museum full of death traps. How this fellow’s story ties into the overall tale is a secret I don’t dare reveal.

With the threats of pixelated monkey-rhino creatures, reanimated mummies, and alien invasions looming, Trevor and Aaron must escape the digital dimension before their real world is consumed by chaos. If you’re a fan of adventure books, high-brow literature, or sentences like “the beast punched him to Jupiter”, give The Digital Dimension a read.

But I really couldn’t put it any better than the critic featured on the back of the book:

“A MASTERPIECE! Andrew Empedocles does it again, with a riveting story that keeps you on the edge of your seat right up to the very end! It has all the wit and thrill of Michael Crichton, with the chilling futuristic vision of Arthur C. Clark, rolled together into a brilliant story that will hold you in suspense…and have you laughing milk out your nose. The Digital Dimension is a definite must read.”

-Andrew’s dad

Cover Design

As the rapturous day of Bob and the Pop-Up Book of Destiny‘s glorious release draws ever-closer, I thought I’d give you some insight into one of the more…artistic sides of my writing process: cover design.

Until the release of the next book, I’ll be giving you a step-by-step tour of the cover design process. You’ll get to see the cover as it develops; and your brain will swell with joy as the images dance before your eyes like a thousand tiny elves. Who are hyped up on caffeine.

I’ve always enjoyed drawing cartoons and comics (check out my comic series here), and have been transferring my drawings to the digital world over the past few years. Now I use Photoshop, but believe it or not, I used to rely on Microsoft Paint to produce digital art. Both the Classystrugeon logo and the image of Jeeves on the Bob and the Cyber-Llama cover were done in Paint.

After experimenting with a few different techniques, I’ve finally nailed down a process. First, I draw the image on a white piece of paper and scan it into the computer. So the first version of Pop-Up Book of Destiny‘s cover looked like this:

After the image is scanned, I use the brush tool to trace most of the pencil lines. Not only does this give everything the standard black outline seen in most cartoons and comics, it also allows me to enclose certain areas, which makes coloring much easier.

I also use the selection and movement tools during this step to resize or move certain parts of the image. For example, in the image above, I thought Jeeves’ neck looked a little too short. I moved it straight up and used the Photoshop brush to draw the area in-between.

There are two more steps to designing the cover: basic coloring and shading/detail. I’ll be sure to let you in on the process as the cover comes along!