- Start Reading
- Under the Influence
- Take Part
Regular readers will have noticed the redesign of the blog links on the left sidebar of this site. As I mentioned in Character exposition in blogfic pt. 2, part of the advice I was given by the panel on my transfer Viva was that the cartoony nature of the icons was incongruous with the otherwise colour co-ordinated and quite dark and ominous design of the site, and of course they were right. The character icons are very important, as I explained. They’re part of the exposition of the whole BI story. But they belong on the character blogs, which is where they remain and occasionally change according to story events, as I’d planned. Here, what was missing was a sense of where the stories were taking place. Just the avatars and names weren’t really enough, and I hope that the new images place the characters more firmly in their environments as well as tying in better with the ambience and colour scheme of the site. I’ve enjoyed doing this. I’ve never been able to draw well, but I love messing about with colourisation and effects on Paint Shop Pro, though finding the right royalty-free no-attribution images to mess with is a bit tedious. In future, I might try and take my own photos. Many thanks to Helen Newall, a recent addition to my supervisory team, for her help and advice on this!
The character blogs have also had elements of redesign. Mei changed her Avatar background as a subtle sign that Jack didn’t get to decide where she belonged, and she changed the picture banner on her blog shortly after the first isolation period ended. It’s of students fetching buckets of water from Weiming Lake (meaning the Nameless Lake) on Peking University campus, again painted beautifully by Lia Segar and cut into letterbox views by me. Here’s the full image:
I quite like using changes of avatar and blog design as part of the narrative, as it’s an element that’s only going to work and be noticeable to those reading in real time. To anybody starting from the beginning, the characters will appear to have these avatars throughout. It’s a device specific not only to the medium but to the real-time serialisation. That said, I’ll be able to replicate it in the printed copy and the ebook, which will both contain effectively static copies of each entry. Each alternative format gains and loses something.
In addition to the changes on Mei’s blog, we’ve seen Ash’s daughter change his avatar back to the chicken for him, and he doesn’t seem too bothered. We’ve also seen Elaine change her hair colour twice so far. Look out for other changes of avatar and blog design in the near future.