Be Mine…All Four of You, Please?!

When I saw this assignment, a belated Valentine’s Day card that was mysteriously left at Black Widow Agency came to mind. I mean, the wording is just beautiful, so it is worth sharing! The assignment “Noir Valentines” states:

In honor of the convergence of Friday the 13th, St. Valentine’s Day and Noir106, and inspired by The Nitrate Diva, here’s a new assignment to try: Design a Noir Valentine card. Incorporate images and quotes from film noir, the noir-er the better.

This assignment is worth 2 points.

This card is crafted with so much care that Edie, Sylvia, Margaret, and I have just been dying to figure out who it is from! The noir qualities are quite impressive! All that we have come up with, however,  is that it was made on a computer, with the text overlaying a giant ace card that was most likely copied from Google Images. I will even suggest that it was made in Microsoft Word, because I recognize the font and the way it was created. We even went as far as to research the saying that our Secret Admirer put in quotations: “better than a deck with six aces”. However, all that we can surmise from this saying is that the sender is a fan of the movie “Brute Force”, which proves nothing because none of us recognize a connection. For now, I will take it as a nice gesture… at least I hope it is! When you work in the business that my associates and I do, you don’t get too many nice gestures, so you have to be skeptical of everything. The woman’s features on the card keep drawing my attention, though,  because they kind of resemble someone I know, but I can’t quite place the face. For some reason, this really worries me. Something just doesn’t seem right, and BWA will get to the bottom of it eventually. But for the meantime, I will just enjoy the only Valentine’s Day card that I received this year.

Noir Valentine

Jewel out.

Give Me Your Money! Seriously…Here’s an Invoice.

After viewing the video this week, I thought that the “Design an Invoice” assignment would be perfect for the work that Julia James does for women who are verbally abused by their degrading husbands. She has to get paid for her services, so an invoice is crucial. The prompt states:

Create an invoice for a transaction that has happened in a film, TV series, etc. For example, Boba fett’s invoice to Jabba the Hutt for capturing Han Solo.

This assignment is worth 3 points.

To make this assignment a collaborative character one, I had to search for a female character who is single, but has had a husband in the past who died. I asked Twitter because it has been so helpful in the past, but unfortunately, I did not receive any responses.  Upon my search of character dossiers, I found Victoire Absinthe, who was fabricated by one of my creative peers on their website, FATALE. Victoire’s husband died in a “rainstorm of bullets”, and she was supposedly heart-broken. However, I twisted the story by making her heartbreak fake, as she really hired my character to kill her husband, due to his degrading words and because he treated her like property. Julia lives to bring justice to these men, because of the way her father treated her mother. She is more than willing to dispose of them, in order to help poorly treated women.

The items and tasks that Julia must invoice for vary by client, but for the most part they consist of surveillance, a meal of some sort, a disguise, travel, removal of the husband, and burial. Although it was a bit expensive for Julia to complete the job for Victoire, as laid out in the invoice below, she said that Julia is a lifesaver, and that she will be forever in her debt!

I created this particular invoice by using a Microsoft Word template. I changed the theme colors of the template to appear darker and more serious than the original. I also changed a few of the items in the charts because, for example, this kind of business cannot be federally taxed so there would be no Tax I.D. or additional tax payment. Therefore, I added categories such as “Payment Method” and “Deposit”. I also included a name for Julia’s business, which is Woman’s Best Friend. It has a double meaning, as her nickname, “Jewel”, relates to the common phrase, “Diamonds (or jewels) are a girl’s best friend”. Also, the job that she completes for these women really does make her their best friend because she rids them of a horrible man in their lives. My final touch to this invoice was to add a logo for her business. If dogs are considered “man’s best friend”, cats can surely be considered “woman’s best friend”. Plus, the addition of a noir cat is always relevant when it comes to dark and mysterious businesses like this one!

Invoice Photo

1, 2, 3, 4…Guess What Movie These Icons Stand For!

Upon suggestion by the professors in the weekly post, I chose to complete the “One Story/ Four Icons” assignment. I liked the challenge of breaking down a movie into its basic parts and assigning four icons to represent the story. The prompt specifically states:

This idea was first suggested by Tom Woodward and has been a long standing popular ds106 assignment. The assignment is to reduce a movie, story, or event into its basic elements, then take those visuals and reduce them further to simple icons, four of them. Write your blog post up but do not give away the answer, let people guess! The challenge is to find the icons that suggest the story, but do not make it so easy. For icons a great resource is The Noun Project.

This assignment is worth 2 points.

I will continue to narrate my process for this particular assignment, but I will not give away the answer to my four-icon riddle. There were two separate tasks that I faced with this assignment. The first was to choose a movie that could be represented by only four icons. Although it is key to not make the movie easy to guess, it is also crucial to ensure that it is somewhat possible. The second task was to decide which four icons to convey the story. Each task was challenging in its own capacity. By utilizing The Noun Project, I searched for icons using exact keywords to portray my chosen movie’s storyline. These keywords included: “arts”, “dancing”, “love”, and “ghetto”, but that is the only information you are getting from me! Once I downloaded the four icons, I placed them into Photoshop on one canvas. I put them side-by-side and cropped the white space around them to form one rectangular picture, like the one in the example. Take a look at the four icons, and see if you can guess the movie that they represent!

1 Story 4 Icons

Peek-A-Boo DS106… I See You!

I began my search for design assignments by trying to find one worth 4+ stars, as required this week. I sorted the assignments by star value and looked at all of the 4-star assignments first and found the perfect one! The “Create Your Own DS106 Wallpaper!” seemed like an ideal way to relay my understanding of the class, as a whole with the noir theme, and test my newly found Photoshop skills. The prompt states:

It’s time to show your love for DS106!  Create your very own personal DS106 wallpaper using your favorite image editing software.  Try to be creative and inventive with your wallpaper and put your editing skills to this test.  Feel free to borrow pieces of pre-existing wallpapers to build your own, just make sure that your final product is something new and unique.  Using GIMP or Photoshop is recommended, but you’re welcome to use any program of your choosing.  If you get stuck, feel free to check out my tutorial below.

This assignment is worth 4 points.

This particular assignment took the most amount of time and effort. However, it is also the most rewarding assignment I have completed. I honestly have never felt more proud of myself during the creation of a digital assignment. When deciding what to do for a wallpaper, I threw around a bunch of ideas. Two examples included overlaying noir images on a digital booklet to incorporate both aspects of the class and putting the words “DS106″ on a bullet being shot out of a gun. However, when thinking about all of our past assignments, the image of Venetian blinds kept reoccurring in my mind. Whether they were causing shadows or someone was peering through them, blinds are common in almost every noir piece we have viewed this semester. Therefore, I developed the idea of a wallpaper depicting someone peeking through a dark set of blinds into a dark, noir scene. I found a scene on Google Images that represents the classic outside cityscape with slick streets, tall buildings, fog, and street lights.



Over top of this lay, I laid down another picture, from Google Images, showing the hand of someone peeking through blinds. I lined up the two photos, so that when I erased the section of the top photo to reveal the bottom photo, it would show the scene I desired.


Using the polygon lasso tool, I outlined the middle black section and cut it out. By doing this, it revealed the noir cityscape. The next task was to incorporate the phrase, “DS106″, into the photo. I chose a partially transparent look so that the scene could still be shown beneath, but so that the words were the priority. I picked a green color to enhance the eeriness of the wallpaper. Check it out and feel free to make it your background! :)

DS106 Wallpaper copy



My Dearest Valentine…

I struggled finding a third assignment to contribute to my six stars of character design assignments this week. However, after much searching, I decided on “The Best Way To Spread Cheer Is Making Cards For All To See”. With Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought that the sexy and sultry “Jewel” would definitely have someone to send a card to, especially as a result of her secondary job. The prompt states:

Make a card for someone through an online design program.

This assignment is worth 2 points.

When designing this card, I immediately decided to make it a Valentine’s Day card to one of Julia’s client’s husbands. As previously stated in other assignments, Julia sets up separate meetings with the husbands, in order to seduce and manipulate them. Considering that all of the women that she takes on as clients are in degrading relationships with their husbands, “Jewel” stops at nothing to rid her clients of these men. She uses her seduction techniques to draw these men in and figure out what makes them tick. By doing this, she can eventually execute her plan to “get rid” of them. “Jewel” would not be a Femme Fatale if a card that seems innocent on the surface did not have a darker purpose behind it. In this card, she uses a typical love poem to invite one of the husbands to meet her by a dock.

There are a lot of options for an online card design program, as my research revealed. However, none were as accessible or as easy to use as Avery. I was able to do all of the editing on the website, including the choice of a Valentine’s Day card template, the choice of font, and the message written in the card. Avery even offered the option to add shapes to the card, so I put a partially transparent heart surrounding the inside message. On the outside, the card seems like a typical expression of love to one’s valentine. However, on the inside, it is manipulative and dark. This description is much like “Jewel” herself: pretty and innocent on the outside and manipulative and dark on the inside. This assignment allowed me to add depth to “Jewel’s” character, by giving insight into her seduction techniques.

Front Cover
Front Cover
Inside Message
Inside Message

James… Julia James

As part of the twelve stars required for design assignments this week, six needed to be devoted to our noir characters. Considering the nature and profession of my character, “Jewel”, the “Create your own business card” assignment was ideal. The assignment states:

We’re reaching a time in our lives where where professionalism is key. Use photoshop to create your own business card to advertise who you are.

This assignment is worth 2 points.

Rather than focusing on my own professionalism, I decided to focus on my character’s. As stated in her character dossier, Julia works for her dad’s and his friend’s law firm, as a legal secretary. The firm, James & Allman, is headquartered in Chicago. In addition to Julia’s work phone number for her day job, she also has an alternative number. This number is for her job away from her job. She tells her clients and their husbands to call that number, so as not to intermingle her two jobs. Julia is especially fond of her company’s motto: “Going the extra mile to protect you…”. She feels that her secondary job does just that. She goes out of her way to help women in degrading relationships, so they will not end up like her mother before the divorce. Although Julia may not be fond of the company itself, since her father is a partner and she was only hired for a “pretty face”, she takes its motto to heart.

I created “Jewel’s” business card using Photoshop. Considering that it was my first time using the software, I struggled quite a bit with simple tasks, such as inserting text and shapes. However, after doing thorough research and watching several tutorials, I finally gained a basic understanding of how this program works. I set the background to black, inserted individual horizontal text boxes for each line of type, and then inserted two star shapes beneath the text layers, to symbolize Julia’s Hollywood star-like beauty. Although these tasks may seem simple to a Photoshop connoisseur, they took me several hours. I especially focused on the color scheme of the business card. I incorporated all of the colors associated with “Jewel” in her description. The bright red of her hair, the dark black of her pencil skirt, and the crystal blue of her eyes. The final product is something that I am very proud of, as it symbolizes my first experience with Photoshop and represents “Jewel” in an ideal way.

Jewel Business Card

Freeze…Let Me See Your Gym Membership Card!

When searching for additional assignments to contribute to the six stars of design assignments devoted to “Jewel”, I seized the opportunity to present a new side of her through the “Let’s See Some ID” prompt. It states:

Create some form of ID for a fictional character that seems believable, knowing your character’s environment or circumstances.

Use an existing template such as a credit card or library card from a found source and modify it as needed in your favorite graphical editor.

This assignment is worth 2 points.

I initially considered making “Jewel” a driver’s license, a library card (since she is in a book club), or even a company ID card for the law firm she works for during the day. However, those sides of “Jewel” have been shown before in various other assignments. So, I decided to touch on an aspect of her life that does not get much recognition in the noir world. As a Femme Fatale, “Jewel’s” appearance is key to her job. She cannot possibly maintain her flawless look without working out. A gym membership card reveals this side of her perfectly.

The process began by heeding the advice of the assignment creator and finding an existing template for a gym membership card. I put the photo into Photoshop and, using the brush tool, covered the template words that I wanted to replace with white coloring.  Then, I used horizontal text boxes to fill in a gym name (“Hard Body Gym”), her name (James, Julia), and a fabricated member ID number. I took to Google again to search for a picture that represents my mental image of the sultry Julia James. In order to achieve her key features, I researched “red- headed woman with blue eyes” and found the perfect woman to be “Jewel”. I opened the photo of her in the program and placed it on top of the template in the rectangle designated for a photo of the gym member. This assignment allows me to share a new side of “Jewel” with readers, away from her dark, noir-style life.

Jewel Gym ID Card