Teaching and doing digital history.

I Fear I’ll Hate These Damn Dolls Before The End

I’ve accomplished 3 minor victories, and now, the weekend is over, which means my ever-growing project to-do list is going to have to wait until Wednesday. Still, I am very pleased with myself. Not everything is how I’d like it and I can’t for the life of me figure out pop-up positioning, but I’ll get to that in due time. (If any of you have figured out how to position a popup over a specific point, let me know. Laura, I think you were wrestling with popup footnotes, yes?)

Anyway, here are my victories, minor though they may seem:

  1. Blood Spatter: Lest you think you cannot download special Photoshop brushes specifically to create blood spatter prints, I assure you, you can. You can, and I did. I tried every combination and shade of red that I could think of, but I finally have some blood spatter that is enough to hint at crime and yet not so much that you worry you’ve made your way to a horror site (at least that is my hope.)
  2. Dissolving Header Into Background: I tried to make my header fade into the background. And I tried. And I tried. I learned 10 interesting and new effects, like making ragged edges using a layer mask, and eating away at the image so that it looks like critters chewed on it. No, really. But alas, none were really the effect I was looking for. Finally, I figured out how to fade an image into a transparent background and my header now does this.
  3. Image Maps/Popup Image Details: And last, but certainly not least, I turned a wide shot of a Nutshell into an image map and created 5 hotspots that pop a detail image and some text. It’s very much work in progress as there are no indicator points to tell the user where to hover to see the detail; the hotspot is pretty far away from where I actually want it; and there’s no explanatory text anywhere, but it works.

All of the above can be seen here. Please remember, this is my sandbox. I’m not quite done building out my castle.

I feel like I just climbed Everest.

Here is my challenge and if anyone has ideas on a solution, your next latte is on me. I placed my image, carefully measured out where the hotspots should be and coded them accordingly in my CSS (with coordinates on the x-y- axes). Furthermore, I used Dreamweaver’s handy little drag and drop placing function and put them Exactly. Where. I. Want. Them. And yet when I upload, they are still out of place. I have a feeling that I need to reset something to zero so that the browser doesn’t override my settings, but I can’t figure it out. Any help you might have would be greatly appreciated.

Additionally, I’d like to use bigger images, but then I run the risk of expanding my site beyond the 14-16-words-per-line sweet spot to which we must all strive. What do you think? Should I go bigger and run the risk of having longer sentences?


  1. I got nuthin on your first question, but on your second: I think the images are the bread and butter of your site and should be emphasized. I have noticed you have dense _looking_ text. Have you thought about loosening the text or changing the font? Try a font that’s rounder with more space between characters, and then add in subtle spacing between words. Maybe go up one or two points in font size. Then you could expand your image and still hit the sweet spot.

    • Thanks Zayna, I agree with you. I have to redo my CSS for the final anyway and I’ll expand the width of the page and then I can play with bigger images!

  2. Things look like they are in place for me….

    I’m taking a wild stab in the dark here, but perhaps simply clearing your cache might do the trick. You appear to be a Firefox devotee: Firefox (on the Menu) – Preferences – Privacy – clear your recent history – hit the “down arrow” to select just your cache

    I also have an Add-On called “Toolbar Buttons,” which gives me a TON of extra buttons…including a reload button that does not tap into the stored content in the browser cache (it pretty much clears the cache for the page). I’ve found it handy in viewing adjustments of my work in Firefox. I have it both on my Mac at home and my PC at work.

    • Thanks Laura, I am pretty religious about clearing my cache. It appears that the hotspot moves depending on the monitor I’m on, too, which is bizarre. I’ll have to troubleshoot when I have some time to really play with it.

      The tool bar extension is really neat, thanks! I’ll have to put that on every machine.

  3. Erin, this is great stuff. You downloaded bloodspatter brushes? Frances Lee would give you an honorary fez, girlfriend! You’ve done a crapload of work, on a completely original idea. If I didn’t like you so much, I might want to stab you in a jealous rage. The photographs you took are excellent, and they are the key to making this website, well, make toast. I love the idea of the rollover pop-up; and it actually makes me think of Frances, and her instructions to pull that cord on the diorama to see the hidden clue. I know how much work this is, and how challenging it is. Your skill is so far and away from mine, all I can do is encourage you to keep at it. I think tightly focusing on a few of the nutshells instead of a broad overview of them was such a smart way to deal with the subject. It’s going to engross your audience, give them a thrill, and pique their interest, maybe so much that they call the Baltimore Medical Examiner and ask for a viewing.

    • erinbush says:

      Ha, that’s exactly what I was thinking when I was doing this.. pull the cord, see the creepy lipstick on the back of the pillow used to smother the poor doll. I did find an article talking about her and the reporter described her as “favoring Queen Anne-style hats.” It was very funny. I’ll have some images of her on the final site, so you can see, I think she is wearing a hat in every one.

      Thank you for the kind words, I am so close to it, I’ve lost all perspective.

  4. all I can say is ..looks great. Good for you. I love what you’ve done!

  5. Beautiful work! Because the site is so dependent upon images to tell the story you should not be afraid to make them larger. To compensate, you could either make the text larger (giving you more latitude with fonts) or you could change your column width (for more than once column) so that it is layed out more like a lurid tabloid.


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