Since I began posting pages I created for a prop Lovecraftian Grimoire, the response I've received has been surprising, to say the least. I've been asked many questions and decided that I would attempt to provide all of the answers for the most common questions all at once, so I may occasionally add to this FAQ over time if I get questions that do not have answers here already. All of these pages can be viewed by clicking here: [link]
Q: Why did you create the Lovecraft Grimoire pages?
A: I was contacted in 2010 by an independent director who was working on a low-budget film inspired by H. P. Lovecraft's writing and who was interested in having me create several prop documents for the film. Much of the work was relatively simple -paper documents, letters and the like. But the big piece was the "spellbook" at the heart of the film. A central plot element, the original plan was to simply use an off-the-shelf book with an old look to it, but I jumped on the opportunity to create the prop myself and created a few pages to demonstrate that the project could be done quickly and result in a much more effective piece for the film. After demonstrating that I could create the pages and do it at a reasonable price, I was given the go-ahead to create the prop and its content. For the most part, I was largely given free reign to create the pages as I saw fit, so I involved myself in the creation of the prop to a far greater extent than was really necessary. A handful of these pages were created specifically for scenes in the film, and as a result I've elected to not include them here, so as to not cause conflicts with the film for which they were created and also because these were generally not as connected to the Mythos as other pages, so I felt it best to exclude them. I'll include information of the film once it is made available to me and I have been given the okay to do so, for anyone who is interested.
Q: What materials were used to create the Grimoire?
A: The prop itself was created with a variety of relatively common and readily available materials. The pages were professionally printed on a high quality stationary-type paper stock and the pages were then aged with a variety of materials. These included lemon juice, coffee, tea, dirt, India ink and water. The printed artwork and calligraphy was traced over by hand in India ink and dried before the pages were aged with the materials mentioned. Other wear was created with wrinkling, sunlight exposure, sandpaper and some liberal burning of the edges.
Q: What went into creating the original Grimoire pages?
A: A lot of work went into the Grimoire prop, with most of that work going into the prop itself. The actual process of creating the artwork was fairly quick. First I prepared thumbnail sketches of the page layouts that I envisioned -originally only numbering fifty or so but eventually expanded as I was requested to create a few simpler pages that were not as visually busy (and thus easier to "read" on film). I jumped around a lot creating the pages in order to stave boredom, but for each page, the process began the same: the initial thumbnail sketch was sketched in full size on a sheet of thick stock white paper, then final lines drawn in and inked. Some of the inking was done with Sharpie pens, though I used these sparingly because of their high bleed, which made lines thicker and less defined. I completed the inks in standard Pigma ink pens and scanned these for printing later. In many cases, the artwork was rendered before any text was considered; certain pages were themed around certain characters/elements from Lovecraft's stories, so I had an idea what text would eventually be there. Additionally, a handful of pages that were filled with loose elements were inked as well and all scanned in. These loose pages were used to create "filler" pages later on, or to spruce up other pages.
Completed pages were then scanned and cleaned up in Adobe Photoshop. Stray lines and such were removed and the contrasts saturated heavily. In some cases, things were centered or re-situated for taste. Pages of loose elements were then used to create additional pages or add flair to pages that were primarily text. These completed pages were then taken to a professional print shop and printed on high-fiber stationary stock that would absorb the aging agents. The prints were aged using a system that began with brushing the pages with water, which was allowed to dry. Aging each page was done carefully and was targeted to simply add "style" to the pages, giving it a correct look without just splattering a mess all over it. To darken the pages, tea or coffee was used, while lemon juice added a yellowish tinge to the pages. Coffee grounds and dirt were often smeared into the paper, while a teabag was used to dab in coloration. Pages were dried in the sun and under sunlamps and, if needed, additional wear was added before the edges of each page was sanded with a piece of fine-grain sandpaper. The dried pages were then further aged by singing the edges of the pages with a candle flame. I avoided the over-burned look that I have seen on many prop pages like these, and used a process where the page edges were singed, then sanded to create brittle edges (not burned cinders) and some discoloration. Several of the insert "leaflet" pages were not so lucky, however and were given a much heavier beating. Some were folded, unfolded, and re-folded, burned heavily and even beaten with a meat tenderizer (though, to be fair, that last one was partly out of frustration)... The final step was to squeeze all the finished pages tightly in a vise for several days between a couple pieces of wood.
The finished pages were bound together with a staple gun into a leather and cardboard cover and a leather-strap tie fixed to the leather so the book could be tied closed. I outsourced the creation of the leather cover, so I can't provide much information on the creation of that piece other than to say that it was leather-covered with a few (intentionally) crude designs tooled into its surface and looked marvelous. It did, however, look a little too "new", so I scrubbed at it a bit with sandpaper and an emery board, then rubbed a light coat of oil into the surface.
Q: So, these are not the original Grimoire pages?
A: No, they are digital re-creations of the original pages, created by using the original artwork elements, which are still in my possession. In a sense, the original pages themselves (those used in the actual prop) are digital reproductions of these same elements. The original elements were created with transparent backgrounds, so that the print was rendered alone on the paper that would then be aged through the labored process described above. The finished pages were directly assembled into the prop, so I have chosen instead to create "virtually aged" pages for display on the internet (and publication).
Q: How did you go about re-creating the Grimoire pages?
A: To re-create the pages for DeviantArt, I scanned the original artwork and sketches, cleaned them digitally (which consisted primarily of erasing stray marks, correcting contrasts, etc), then combined them with stock aged paper backgrounds (some of which are original scans from pieces in my possession and others sourced from DA). A few finishing touches were then added to each piece as needed. All digital work was done in Adobe Photoshop.
Q: Where is the original Grimoire prop?
A: The original prop itself is still in the possession of the director. It will likely remain in his possession after filming is completed assuming that a) it is not destroyed during production and b) that I cannot talk him out of it after production has completed. I'm a horror fan and would love to have the screen-used prop for my collection (even if owning a screen-used prop that I created myself seems somehow less impressive than, say, a couple of wooden dowel rods from the set of Forbidden Planet or something).
Q: What language(s) are the pages written in?
A: The Grimoire pages feature a variety of languages, including Greek, Arabic, Hebrew and English, in addition to Eldritch languages from Lovecraft's stories. The text font is derived from an in-temple script used by certain Thelemite groups. I do not have information on the extent of it's use or much background on it's origins. I chose to use this particular script because of my familiarity with it. Since there was a large amount of text and calligraphy is not a strong point, it made sense to me to rely on this script rather than any of the "Eldritch/Aklo" scripts that circulate among fans. The language beneath the script is primarily English (rendered with the Thelemite script rather than the English one). The choice to use this script came with its own difficulties, primarily because the alphabet lacked certain letters, such as "Q" and "Z", so I created characters by modifying another symbol to stand in for these letters. The alphabet also featured numerous "double-letter" signs that stood for particular sounds, such as "ch", "th" and "ll". I used these intermittently, depending on my mood or the space allotted for a specific piece of text.
Additional alphabet characters were created by myself, primarily inspired by the script found in the Necronomicon featured in the Evil Dead films. These characters have no particular meaning and are purely aesthetic.
Q: Is there any substance to the text or is it just gibberish?
A: The text is all drawn from Lovecraft sources, from writings by HPL and his contemporaries to some culled from Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu games (though, for copyright reasons, only the Lovecraft material was verbatim translated into the text of the Grimoire). In other cases, I created text on my own, again, inspired by Lovecraft's original material. The only exceptions here are the "Evil Dead-style" characters, which are purely aesthetic and inspired by the text found in the Necronomicon Ex Mortis from Evil Dead, as well as the characters of the Hebrew alphabet.
Q: Can I get a translation of the text in the pages?
A: No. I've considered for some time the possibility of providing translations for the pages, but have ultimately decided that, since a great part of the impact of the pages is in their foreign, unexplained feel, adding translations to the pages will only serve to take away some of that mystery.
Q: C'mon. I'll keep it a secret. Can you give me the translation?
A: Again, sorry, but no. Anyone who is really interested in translating these pages however, should look towards a certain couple of pages that could be used as "keys" for translation - "The Table of Accursed Names" and "Shub-Niggurath". Those with a good deal of knowledge of the Mythos should be able to use these two pages to find a means to translate most of the others.
Q: Who created the content in the pages?
A: All artwork in the pages was created by myself specifically for this project. In a couple of cases, artwork was inspired by the artwork of others, while most are just interpretations of the generally accepted "appearance" of Lovecraft's creatures. Of the text, I'd say I wrote approximately 5-10%, while Lovecraft would be attributed with 60-70% and other Mythos writers (primarily August Derleth) could be attributed with the remainder. For the digital pages, I relied on stock for the paper background; some of these were from personal stocks I've created for this project, while a couple of others were sourced from DA's stock resources. The final versions of these pages, which will be compiled for publication, will not use sourced stock. I'm in the process currently of preparing these pieces for print and replacing the sourced stock with pieces from my collection. Consider them place-holders. Some elements of the Mythos originate with Chaosium's excellent Call of Cthulhu role playing game, such as the Yellow Sign and Elder Sign and are generally accepted as canon to the Mythos.
Q: What references were used for the pages?
A: Aside from my various collections of Lovecraft's stories and Call of Cthulhu game manuals (published by Chaosium), screenshots of the prop Necronomicon Ex Mortis from The Evil Dead and a few other aesthetic references (such as the Voynich Manuscript), I referenced numerous occult volumes in my personal library. These included texts like "The Grimoire of Armadel", "Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia", "Book 4" by Aleister Crowley (which includes the classic "Magick in Theory and Practice"), The Greater and Lesser Keys of Solomon, "The Egyptian Book of the Dead" and various others. Most of these were referenced merely for various signs and elements of the design, while some passages from the Egyptian Book of the Dead were directly incorporated into the text, occasionally with modifications. This is the only reference work outside of the Mythos that text was directly culled from.
Q: What inspired the aesthetic look of the pages?
A: The visual look of the entire collection was inspired by a handful of sources, including the Necronomicon from the Evil Dead films, the Voynich Manuscript, the Bayeux Tapestry, and medieval illuminated manuscripts. Additional inspiration came from the Grail Diary from the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusades, though this particular inspiration was more general (influential) rather than visual. The Necronomicon Ex Mortis inspired the "bestiary" sections of the Grimoire, the medical cross-sections and the like (which were also inspired by Gray's Anatomy -the medical reference, not the television series). The Voynich Manuscript, a remarkable text, was the spiritual guide for much of the text, presenting a mystery, a strange occult and scientific theme, and a strange, indecipherable language.
Q: Can I print these pages for use in my home gaming session?
A: Indeed, so long as they are produced for personal home use; commercial reproduction or use is prohibited. As a Lovecraft fan and a "retired" gamer, I'd love to hear about it if you do use them.
Q: Can I use these pages in my film project?
A: As a general rule, no. However, I'm always open to providing special permissions under the right circumstances, so if you are interested in using these pages in your film project, contact me in advance with details and I'll consider it. If you are interested in pages that are customized for your project, again, please contact me.
Q: Can I make these pages available on my website?
A: Again, as a general rule, no. However, I'm always open to providing special permissions under the right circumstances, so if you are interested in featuring these pages elsewhere, contact me in advance with details and I'll consider it.
Q: Can I alter the pages in any way or reproduce elements of them elsewhere?
A: No. I've provided these pages for Lovecraft fans to enjoy. If you are interested in customized versions of these pages, contact me directly with your inquiry. Otherwise, I do not permit any alteration to or reproduction of these pages.
Q: Can I make a suggestion?
A: No. Not trying to be mean, but this is a project that has been well underway now for two years. I've done my best to produce what my vision of the Necronomicon would be and omit elements that I dislike or feel are too common, too overdone, or too generic. I'm always happy to hear thoughts on the pages, but I doubt I'll be posting a suggestion box.
Q: I would like a print of a specific page in a specific size or format. How do I get this?
A: Contact me directly with details for information.
Q: How many pages total were created?
A: The original Grimoire consisted of approximately seventy pages. I say approximately because I created a handful of insert "leaflet" pages that were intended to be randomly inserted between pages, either straight or folded, in addition to the main pages. Due to the response I've received to the pages, I've been creating new ones to bring the total number to around 200.
Q: I've seen mention of the pages being compiled for publication. Where can I find more information on this or purchase a copy?
A: In late 2012 I decided that I would prepare the Grimoire pages I had already created for publication as a limited print-run volume that would be independently published. I also decided around this time to create new pages, largely based on the supportive responses I've received from people on DeviantArt to the pages that I've already made available. Currently, publication is planned for late 2013/early 2014. Pre-orders will be accepted around this time as well.
Q: Why should I be interested in obtaining a copy of the book?
A: Aside from having a handful of exclusive pieces that will not be uploaded to DeviantArt, the book will have a limited print run, with each copy being hand-signed and numbered by myself and featuring full-color reproductions of the pages on high quality stock. These will not feature my watermark signature on the pages, unlike those found on DA, for those who may find that sort of thing distracting. It should be a beautiful addition to the shelf of any Lovecraft fan or role-playing gamer out there. Also, there is the undying gratitude from me that you will receive for purchasing a copy.
Q: Can you create custom pages in the same style as the Grimoire pages?
A: Indeed. Contact me directly with inquiries for more information. Costs vary depending on content and size, as well as the desired format of the finished piece.
Q: Where can I find a font face like that used in the Grimoire?
A: Nowhere. I've found no font using this script and have not heard of one either. In the future, I may look into creating one (once I learn how to, for one, and if there is enough interest to warrant the amount of work involved). If you are skilled in font-craft and would like to take a stab at this, send me a note and samples (or links to samples) of your work and we can move ahead from there.
Q: Can you be commissioned to create a replica of the Grimoire prop?
A: Indeed I could, but the cost of such a reproduction may be prohibitively expensive for most. For information, please contact me directly (serious inquiries only, please). I always try to do what I can to make commissions work in a fashion that makes everyone happy, so... feel free, again, to contact me directly.
Q: How long did it take to create the pages?
A: On average, a single page from the original prop took about 20 hours of work, approximately, while the digital versions were created from completed artwork and done digitally, requiring only a few hours of work per page.
Q: What are the "Easter Eggs" hidden among the pages for and why are they there?
A: To avoid boredom, I hid little things in a few of the pages -usually graphic in-jokes that amused me. I could not, honestly, bring myself to mucking with the text, so I kept the "jokes" to the visual side of things. As a result, things found their way into the Grimoire that are quite far removed from Lovecraft; some of these include:
-The logo of the Borg race from Star Trek: The Next Generation, which appears as an Eldritch thing on one page.
-A reinterpretation of two of the pages from the Necronomicon Ex Mortis from Evil Dead.
-The Konami Code.
-A Cthulhu-esque take on the Hydra logo from Marvel Comics.
Q: Did you notice that your pages resemble (insert title here)...?
A: One of the goals I had when I started this project was to create a Lovecraft-style/Lovecraft-feeling Grimoire that didn't look like others I'd seen on the internet or published as "occult" works. While I enjoyed a great deal of the pages I'd seen, most of these -to me, at least- lacked something that felt Lovecraftian to me or incorporated elements that were so far removed from the Mythos that the effect was lost. As a result, I would not say that any other pages on the internet or elsewhere served to influence the general aesthetic look of the project. Any resemblance between these pages or others, unless noted, is purely coincidental or the work of copycats.
Q: Is there a legitimate occult aspect to these pages?
A: The simple answer would be "no", the less simple answer would be "yes and no". Since these pages are simply homages to the fictional Mythos created by H. P. Lovecraft, their entire contents should be, first and foremost, considered fiction. However, I incorporated numerous elements from legitimate occult sources, though these were "translated" to fit into the Lovecraftian aesthetic -as did Lovecraft himself. Scholars with greater qualifications than I have gone into the religious archetypes and elements that underlay the entire Mythos, so you can find out more about that elsewhere if you are so inclined. For those who are worried about "devil worship" or what-have-you, all I can say is to sing a line from the theme song to one of my favorite television shows, Mystery Science Theater 3000: "Repeat to yourself: 'It's just a show, I should really just relax'". On a personal note, while I'm not one to tell people how to raise their children, I'd say that if you're really worried about little Bobby conjuring demons in his bedroom, the single most important and effective thing you can do as a parent is spend time with him -not crusade against the games, books or television shows that little Bobby seems to enjoy. To quote Sir Paul McCartney: "The love you make is equal to the love you take."
In closing, I'd like to thank
whose questions were a large part in shaping this FAQ. Special accolades to Panhead13, who undertook the daunting task of translating these pages... now, THAT is a compliment. I'd like to thank everyone else who enjoyed these pages, and I'd like to thank Mr. Lovecraft.