Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wings Over Antarctica

The history of this blog is intimately tied to my love for H.P. Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness". Most of the early material was based on a desire to bring that story to life, ultimately culminating in the "Dyer Materials" prop set. Along the way I produced my first product in September of 2008, the original "Wings Over Antarctica" expedition patch.

Saying it was a quick and dirty effort would be kind. The rather generic plane based on the DC-3 is a glaring anachronism and the layout is what you would expect from an amateur just getting familiar with Adobe Illustrator. On the bright side, the outline of Antarctica is consistent with what was known in the late 20s.

A few months later the second version of the "Wings Over Antarctica" design debuted.

This was a definite improvement. The font was a weighted version of Futura released in 1927. The generic DC-3 knockoff was replaced by the Dornier Do-J "Wal" flying boat based on a reference in S.T. Joshi's extensively footnoted version of "At the Mountains of Madness" in "The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft". It's a visually interesting aircraft and it's reinforced hull could easily handle landing on water, ice, or snow.

All in all, the second iteration was a pretty well designed and historically accurate effort.

Except it wasn't.

As much as I like it there are two problems with the second version of the patch, and the design as a whole. The first is the lack of separation between the black outline of the Dornier Wal and the dark blue background of the design. On a computer screen it looks fine. In real life it's muddy.

The actual patch shouldn't have come out nearly as well as it did, but I was saved by a quirk of the manufacturing process. An embroidered patch isn't just a flat representation of the original artwork, but a three dimensional reproduction. The threads used to recreate the design are physically raised from the backing cloth and have a perceivable texture caused by the orientation of the threads. More importantly, the threads get polished as they move through the high speed sewing machine. Because of that they're reflective and produce highlights along the edges of the raised design elements. That effect saved the patch.

The second problem with the design is the primary reason I'm writing this.

Put simply, there's no possible way the Dornier Wal was the plane used by the Miskatonic Antarctic expedition.

More about that tomorrow.


Alex Kaeda said...

Are you hinting at a new prop project?

Pardon me for being hopeful....

Propnomicon said...

@ Alex Kaeda

It will be new in the sense that the Wal is getting replaced in the next version of the Antarctic expedition logo and patch design.

I know that's probably going to bother some people, so I want to explain why it's being done. It's not a revision I'm making lightly, or an example of change for it's own sake.

Unfortunately, it also means I need to revise some other items, like the expedition photos, that relied on the Wal being the plane in ATMOM.

James Floyd Kelly (Jim) said...

Doesn't matter... I'm in for a new project, especially if you update the other items, not just the patch.

Jason McKittrick said...

Very excited! I missed out on the last one so I'm definitely in for this one!

Phil said...

As someone whos decided to redo an entire project because I used the wrong type of screws, I can sympathize. But I still think you're beign too hard on yourself in your text. I still think those early patches look great.

Don't suppose there are any plans for another round of Alumni pins?

Propnomicon said...

@ James Floyd Kelly

Thank you for the kind words. I'll be updating everything with the new logo once it's finished.

@ Jason McKittrick

Oh, don't you worry. If I have my way you're going to be intimately involved in the next project. Bwahahahaha!

@ Phil

I'm definitely planning on doing another run of the University stuff.

Mike Cosgrave said...

Wrong plane, eh. Told you those planar travel rituals were tricky!

jarkko teppo said...

Brilliant! I missed the previous batch(es ?) and at least to me the earlier versions look really nice.

Can't wait for the new one :)

Jason McKittrick said...

Whatever it is, I'm in!

Tim said...

I would buy the HELL out of that cloth patch!

Jheurf Dodson said...

Are you still selling them? Otherwise could I get the image to do my own?