Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Ballad of Piggotty Wood - iPad Edition

The Ballad of Piggotty Wood book cover
"Little Badger Joe lives in Piggotty Wood, once a wondrous world now ruled by an evil queen. Life is harsh, fearful and ugly. Yet Joe's grandmother tells childhood tales of carefree times before the heartless queen's reign. Piggotty Wood was beautiful. Life was rich and rewarding. The seasons passed happily as a tranquil dream. Those days of freedom seem forever lost.
Then one day, as Joe's father passes by a gigantic ancient oak, it suddenly, terrifyingly roars to life, demanding little Joe be brought to its roots in apparent sacrifice. Father bravely refuses, but when Grandmother is kidnapped instead, a terrifying set of events are triggered which change Piggotty Wood, and Little Badger Joe, forever."

Link to book on iTunes store HERE.

The Ballad of Piggotty Wood is a tongue in cheek, but affectionate look at the kind of stories I enjoyed when I was young. Such tales were dark, atmospheric, quirky and more often than not, created by the Grimms, Ladybird Books or British legends Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin (check out Charlie Brooker's tribute.) One of my favourite comments so far comes from my brother, who said it feels 'somewhere between Terry Gilliam and J.K. Rowling,' both of whom can definitely be counted as influences.
First released as a physical book through Blurb in 2009, this version features updated and all new illustrations. The second edition is currently exclusively available for the iPad at the iBooks store. You can download a free sample by clicking the link above. As if that wasn't enough, here's a tasty trailer...

If for any reason you cannot see the trailer please view it at YouTube.
Or you can download a full quality version in three sizes here: 1080, 720, 480.

Snippets on the Making of...
The trailer was created with Apple's brilliant motion graphics software, Motion.
This was the first time I'd used it, and Motion's interface designers made it so intuitive, I rarely needed to dip into the manual. The same can be said for GarageBand which was used to write the theme tune.
My good friends, ex band mate Chris Yeamans and fellow ArtRage users Nick Harris and Byron Callas kept me straight with all kinds of great advice.

Piggotty Wood Icon
What started as a simple way to practice 2D illustration is fast becoming a whole universe of adventure for both the characters and myself. When Apple released iBooks Author, I only ever had one candidate in mind for an initial foray into digital books. The first edition received such a great reception I jumped at the chance to take it in a new and exciting direction. An important part of this version is support for Apple's built in Accessibility functions. You can easily set the iPad to use three finger gestures for Zoom, which is a great way to enlarge text or home in on illustration details. The same gestures control VoiceOver, which provides audio descriptions of each illustration. It will also narrate the story, depending on which part of the screen is touched. The rate at which VoiceOver speaks is also adjustable and in this case, I found slowing the speech rate down from the default more suitable for Piggotty Wood.

Pages 4 and 5 of Piggotty Wood without the text.

Most illustrators will tell you an image is never really finished, so when the reformatting process forced me to start tweaking, I soon realised pretty much all of them would get a makeover. Because the new dimensions only allowed one verse per page, I also needed to paint a few completely new ones. The iBooks' side-scrolling nature steered me to create large panoramic paintings in places, some of which span five pages. For me, this scene continuation gives the iBooks version a more immersive quality.

Page Selection Screen

Mac and PC standalone versions are also in early development, but until then thank you for your continued support, and I hope you enjoy Piggotty Wood on your iPad as much as I enjoyed making it! Click on images to zoom.