For my FMP I wanted to create a book that a reader would need explore, coupling that with an adult theme to create a sense of fun yet still tackling a tough topic.
By displaying that in a format similar to a children's book, it would challenge and reward the reader, giving them something to play with.
I toyed with a few different subjects; The Circus, Magic, The Lore of the Sea - I was intrigued why a captain could marry people when women were traditionally not allowed on boats. I eventually settled on the idea of forensics. I was half way through watching Dexter and realised I had no idea if any of what was shown was accurate, so I did a little Googlefu and realised the world of Forensic Science would be perfect as a topic for my FMP.
In preparation for the book I had to familiarise myself with the various disciplines within the Forensic Sciences.
Like most of us, when I thought of Forensic, my mind went to TV shows like ‘Waking the Dead’ ‘CSI’ and ‘Dexter’. All of which treat Forensics as a single subject.
It was important for me to explore the truth behind this idea, and my first step was to see exactly what ‘Forensics’ means and to get a basic grasp on the topics I wanted to cover.
I started with reading, lots and lots of reading. I read overviews meant for jurors to understand evidence given to them, Intro courses for undergrads looking to work in the field and specific books on each subject.
Through talking to professionals in the field and was invited to a day long seminar held by the leading figures in various forensic disciplines, the various talks were accompanied by graphic crime-scene photographs and demonstrations of exactly how the evidence interconnects. This finally gave me a sense of what the forensic sciences mean, not just how they work, but how they allow determined investigators to follow the smallest of leads to uncover some of the most heinous crimes imaginable.
Now I had a list of disciplines I wanted to cover in my book and a rudimentary knowledge in how they work. It was time to get to work on the content of the book.
To get started on the book I needed imagery.
An enduring part of my research was the crime-scene photography used at the seminar I attended. The candid and documentary nature of the photography used was a stark reminder that the subjects were people and the photos themselves were evidence, tools to catch those responsible.
This shaped the way I approached the design work, making it more matter-of-fact and using the imagery to dictate the layout of each page, making some knowingly and purposely awkward to read.
I started with a microscope and jury-rigged a camera in true Blue Peter fashion, card, toilet paper tubes, Blu Tak and elastic bands. This worked surprisingly well and gave me a chance to include an assortment of imagery that I could incorporate into the work.
It was important to stage some crime-scene photographs of my own, both in urban and rural settings. I also found a very convincing recipe for fake blood; golden syrup, cocoa powder, red food dye and thinned down with water.
The format of the book was based on that of a glass microscope slide, meaning my book was very wide for the height. A full spread ended up 800mm x 270mm.
As a book this size would be incredibly heavy, I used sheets steel to create the cover and spine of the book. By using ‘Secret Belgian Binding’ and guarding and reverse guarding each page I was able to have a book of this size without any centre stitching to interrupt the spread.
This was a crucial element for me as I knew I wanted to create a book that would force the user to investigate each topic in a unique way, without being too inaccessible. I also wanted to include as many easter-eggs as I could to reward readers for continuing to explore the book.