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Project Requirements
Four-color standard CD cover, to be built according to measurements taken from an actual product. In addition to the back/sides section, the front insert must have at least three folding panels.

Client Name and Description
The producers of Critical Fault: The Movie--in an alternate dimension, my pet project not only became a real novel, but was made into a highly-acclaimed sci-fi movie with cutting-edge special effects. Like every movie nowadays, the soundtrack would be available for purchase very shortly after the movie was released. Because the Critical Fault fanbase is so huge and fanatical, the producers decided to create a limited-edition version of the soundtrack that is sold as a box set of three CDs and contains unused bonus tracks. Because the movie includes deep introspection and character development in addition to flashy eye candy, the designs must contain a combination of futuristic and profound elements.

Client's Objective
To sell limited edition soundtrack sets to people who are fans of the book or movie; in this case, the ideal would be to capture the essence of the movie in the packaging so that the CDs would immediately recall the feeling of the film.

Target Audience
People who have seen and love the Critical Fault movie. These would likely be males and females from late teens to mid-forties (because the movie would have an R rating), middle class or higher (because limited-edition anything is never cheap), who enjoy sci-fi action and drama movies. Chances are high that more males than females would be targeted, as the movie's plot hinges heavily on combat.

How My Solution Works
To explain the reasons why I designed this particular piece as I did, I first have to discuss a little background on the story and the intent of the limited-edition soundtrack. The box set would have contained three discs total, each of them packaged in an individual jewel case. One of the plotlines that CF concerns itself with is the war between two armies of machines--the Artisans, who value natural life and creativity, and the Logic Forces, who value rationality and facts. Each of the two discs of the normal soundtrack were designed along the same lines as one of the two armies in question. These two, plus a third bonus CD, would be contained in a box that would itself have the track listing, bar code, and other important information on its exterior. Because these current designs were made only to be sold boxed, the covers were more decorative in nature than those of standard albums.

This is the first design in the series of three, and was made to represent the Artisans. A large part of their aesthetic sense involves the elegant blending of natural forms and systems (like those found in animals and humans) with mechanical principles, producing organic programming and machines that have startling resemblances to living beings.

Red was chosen as the main identifying color for this album because the limited edition set was to be referred to as the "RGB Edition," with one of those three colors assigned to each cover. "R" (red) is the first hue in the acronym.

The back cover and side panels are therefore unified by the color red. On both the side panels and the title panel on the front insert, strong, black Impact text was used to create a heavy, technological feel whose powerful impression is increased by the field of extremely bright red. The back cover is vaguely Oriental due to the orderly scale-patterned banner dividing the space and the swimming blue carp set over top of it. The banner and the carp were both made in Illustrator, thus producing the sharp-edged, mechanical feel. To contrast with this, an old watercolor painting of a bird wing (torn off at the shoulder) was used to make the carp fly. The ripped edges of the wing indicate how the machines' creators are trying to attach biological principles to artificial beings, with more or less success. The pose of the winged carp was made in imitation of the Christian dove of the Holy Spirit, as it is often shown descending from Heaven; this ties into the Artisans' sacred duty, which is the preservation of the old Earth environment at all costs.

The outer part of the front insert is decorated with a hand-drawn picture of a mobile artillary unit in the shape of a cheetah. The die-cut line around the front part of the image overlaps the title panel so that the text is somewhat indistinct; while this was stylistically risky, I felt that it was acceptable because of the nature of the series (boxed) and because the die-hard fans would recognize the distinct style of the cheetah image and wouldn't be bothered by liberties taken with the design in this way. A green circuit pattern was placed behind the picture to help it stand out from the red title section more. This background fades away towards the back of the robot to provide a clean, calm area where additional details about the songs used on the CD can be written. To fill up the remaining panel of this side, I combined three images to produce a half-fish, half-computer chip image on a pale circuit background; this was yet another reference to the combination of nature and technology.

The inside of the front insert was created to represent information flowing through an Artisan network in a very stylized fashion. The central series of boxes represents the software that systematically scans all the data for viruses and the like; in this army, the thoughts and emotions of sentient beings are also considered to be part of the overall "network" of interactions between people and machines (who are often very similar in this group). For this reason, fragments of unrelated song lyrics and quotes are scattered across the gradiated background instead of more traditional computer data, serving as a pattern. The largest central box holds the lyrics of the only vocal song on this album, which represents the mind of the character Kaze. Kaze's mental hardware was incorrectly configured when he was created, causing a host of unfixable glitches and bugs in his mind. Because of these errors, he is perceived as dangerous by all other members of the group and is usually isolated from everyone. This is represented here by the containment programs that are moving to surround the "corrupted file" of Kaze's thoughts.

The angled lines moving into the central area indicate the connectors of the two computer-chip formations to either side. These are labelled with taxonomic classifications of real animals on one side and constellation names on the other; constellation names are often used to label different types of units in both armies. The card shown on the left is less complicated because it's on the back of the die-cut panel, so very little of it is actually showing. Assorted animal images were combined in a mechanical frame and overlaid with typed words as a pattern.

The computer chip to the right was the most intricate piece of Photoshop art created for this project. The image on the lower half was part of a screenshot of a diagnostic or design program depicting the workings of a similar expansion card. The text on the toolbar tabs at the bottom was altered using a very similar font (OCRA, I believe); instead of program commands, they now bear words such as "Joy," "Sorrow," "Justice," and "Love." This was intended to show the attributes that the Artisans consider to be most important in their mechanical designs, as they replace more traditional design commands. Up above, the design fades into the real product, which shines like gold. More text editing produced the "Genki Drive" ("genki" suggests well-being in Japanese), while each of the large, rectangular modules on the card had been turned into a window that reveals the eye of an animal. This was a reference to the idea that "the eye is the mirror of the soul," suggesting mechanical items and entities who have been equipped with the souls of animals.

Programs Used
Photoshop 6.0 (image editing), Illustrator 9.0.

All site graphics and designs on these pages are copyright 2002 to J.M.Bondzeleske (ebondrake at hotmail-dot-com) and may not be reproduced or distributed without my consent. However, I do not claim ownership of photos or placed art used in parts of these designs, unless stated otherwise--they were collected via clip art and Internet searches.