Sidekick Books Advent Calendar / by Matthew Haigh


This Christmas Sidekick Books created an unfolding digital pamphlet in the form of an advent calendar. Each day a window was opened to reveal only part of a poem, as if it were being glimpsed through a peephole. One of my poems was chosen for day 10, and you can see it here.

Seeing as this was a bit of a visual experiment, I thought it might be nice to explain a bit about how I made it. The poem by its nature is quite ambiguous I suppose, because the window format means only a bit of the whole is seen and so it's largely open to interpretation. The gist in my mind was either a figure glimpsed through the misty glass of a shower door by unknown and admiring eyes (or the eyes of a Psycho-esque assailant) or perhaps the shower glass itself is getting in a lather over this laid bare body. 

I started with the text below - a square window cut from a larger piece, which had to be strategically placed in order to catch some sense of meaning, otherwise you'd just end up with a load of "and", "then," "if" and punctuation and so on. So this was the starting point:


The first thing to do was to give the type the appearance of being behind misty glass. In Photoshop, I predictably used the blur tool just to soften up the text a bit. Then I created a layer using a soft grey tone, turned the opacity down to about 50% and laid this over the top. The next stage was where the real work came in - crafting each of the little droplets of moisture running down the glass. I'm no Photoshop expert, so to do this I followed this brilliant guide. I ended up with this:


From here it was a case of cropping the image down to the bare bones of the type, so that it would fit the template window given by the editors (I'm not sure I got this bit exactly right as my window looks distinctly smaller than everyone else's on the calendar!). And there you have it - steamy shower poetry behind steamy glass. Merry Christmas!