Many Happy Returns: The Book

Many Happy Returns

Many Happy Returns

I made the basic image for this book in GIMP a few days ago, using a clip from the “Many Happy Returns” episode of The Prisoner (near the end). Most of the text I created in Word, converted to pdf, and opened as layers, positioned and sized, and anchored (or merged). I do this because I still haven’t figured out why GIMP doesn’t correctly display the Village font. The quote under the title refers to the ease of reading the text, as well as the lack of dialogue in the episode.

Once I made the book cover, I realized how flat it looked. It needed work to look more realistic. To get a more three-dimensional look, I took a photo of a handy book with mostly plain white cover (it was The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog) sitting on my desk. The angle allows a slight view of page edges, but I needed to adjust my image to fit on the book. It was easy enough with the Perspective tool, grabbing and moving the corners to match the corners of the underlying book. I then used the Smudge tool to rough up the edges just a little bit.

First try, too flat!

First try, too flat!

After all this, I thought the cover still looked too fresh and unused. So, I used the free select tool to isolate the book, and found under Effects->Distorts->Video the ability to make a surface of small dots, simulating a paperback cover printing process.

Overall, this was a good exercise in learning. Not only did I try some tools in GIMP, but I had to think about design. Of course, I used the Village font, but how about placement of the wording, cropping of the picture, etc? I had accidently left a blue line near the bottom (from my media player), but I took advantage of that to put a publisher’s name in the same color just above.

If I were to start over, I would not use a photo cover, but would go for a more minimalist look. But, if I remember right, TV shows and movies often had spin-off novelizations, and they often used photos from the original productions for the covers. It is a good marketing design (if not artistic) so the interested consumer identifies the tie-in.

By the way, no author is credited on the cover. It was probably written by a team of hack writers working from the original script, piece work, no royalties.

Prisoner Number 6 in a Maze

Thanks to my True Friend Talky Tina, I’ve been prompted to make a maze. I would really rather make a labyrinth, and may do so later. But for now, I made a GIFfy Maze.

Prisoner106 in a Maze

Prisoner106 in a Maze

As you can see, Number 6 is at the center of this maze. If this was a real labyrinth, the Minotaur would be there. Can you find the secret entrance? (hint: it’s near the top) Can you trace the path through the Giffy Maze to have a secret meet-up with Number 6?

I made this maze by using an online maze generator at I selected options for a round maze of suitable size, and saved each of the six I made as a png. Note: you could save these as pdf files to print out and solve; plus, you can choose A4 or A3 sizes if you are European or letter or legal sizes if you are American. It was a simple matter to open these mazes as layers in GIMP. But I had to put Number 6 in the middle. I opened a previous picture of mine (the one where he looks like Chairman Mao (which I think means “Number One” in Mandarin)), but had to crop it to a circle and make extra stuff transparent so it didn’t show up. Then I had to duplicate that five times and merge all the pictures into the center of the six mazes. And export as a GIF.

Really quite simple, but that’s because I already knew stuff about making GIFs with GIMPs.

This also reminds me of how life is in The Prisoner. Number 2 always goes about trying to find the way to Number 6 and the INFORMATION he has hidden away in the maze of his amazing brain. And he is always right there in the center of things.

Animated The Prisoner Comic Book Cover

For my first project in Design Week, I chose to animate the comic book cover of Jack Kirby’s draft of The Prisoner. It is a Design Assignment (number 306) and worth an unbelievable four credit units.


My main method was to create duplicate layers, erase the text in the speech bubble, and add text. I also selected the head with the free select tool, flipped it, and anchored it back. I touched up a little bit with the pencil to close gaps created by rotating.

If I were to do it over (and I might), I would just have a background layer, with the speech cloud blank, and a right-facing head. Then I could use smaller layers for the wording and the flipped head. This would save file size.

Also, if this were to be a draft of a real cover, color would need to be added.

Badges assignment

ScottLo recently expressed the desire to be compensated for his fine work with a badge for his webpage. I found that there is a badge assignment!

ScottLo Badge of Radio

ScottLo Badge of Radio

And I thought that everyone in the ds106zone should have a badge.

For all ds106zone participants

For all ds106zone participants

I found a website that makes all kinds of badges, with tools to modify quite a bit. Plus they are gifs, so I used Gimp for animation. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Will you make more badges for everyone?

Reading : Revolutionary

Che Guevara reads

Reading : Revolutionary

che reading bilingual

Lectura : Revolucionario

For Design Assignment 1089, we are challenged to create a poster featuring a famous person with a book. I have chosen to use Cuban revolutionary themed books (image on flickr cc by Bert van der Lingen) paired with a classic poster image of Che Guevara (image on flickr cc by Doug Wheller). I know that Che was a brutal prison administrator, overseeing the execution of political prisoners, and other mean things. But his image is iconic as a representation of Revolution. Perhaps Malcolm X would make a great image also, since he actually read and advanced his revolution while in prison.

I used Gimp to merge the two images together. For the text, I selected the Bookman Old Style font, because I like it and it is bookish.

This image is part of my personal history, also. I went to high school in a suburb of Miami, and was friends with many whose family had fled Cuba after the Revolution. The use of Che’s and Fidel’s image in the ’60s movements in the USA was somewhat of a contradiction for us.