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For a "wall of crazy" I want as a prop in an upcoming horror game I need some quite a few newspaper articles. What tools and techniques can I use to create them?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The classic model for a news story is:

¶ 0: headline. 1 sentence to grab reader attention. Large text, bolded. Usually 3x size of body text.
¶ 0: Byline. Who wrote it and/or what wire service sent it.
¶ 1: precis. A one paragraph overview of the most important bits. Usually 3-6 sentences.
¶ 2+: Basic story. Adds basic supports. Each sentence from ¶1 usually gets expanded to a full paragraph, sometimes 2, tho occasionally 3+, or even occasionally two sentences from ¶1 in a single paragraph
¶ X+: Commentary. Optional. If commentary is included, whether the author's or quotes, it follows the basic story.
¶ End: Reference and notes, if needed.

The Extended story format: ¶ 0: headline. 1 sentence to grab reader attention. Large text, bolded. Usually 3x size of body text.
¶ 0: Byline. Who wrote it and/or what wire service sent it.
¶ 1: precis. A one paragraph overview of the most important bits. Usually 2-6 sentences.
¶ 2+: Basic story. Actually, it's a short restatement/overview/paraphrase from the various substories' precis paragraphs.
§1: substory 1. One of the ¶1 sentences turned into a full blown story; a precis, and 2-6 paragraphs of details, plus possibly a few paragraphs of commentary...
§2+ additional sections each formatted like §1.
§End: Usually, a couple bits of opinion paragraphs, some odd bits, and/or references.

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One way that I’ve used is to take real newspapers from the time period, and replace one or two articles (in a separate layer, of course). Find a nearby font, and use the tools of your graphic editing program to age the new text to match the old text.

I used GIMP to great effect in a time-travel adventure using the “pick” tool. The basic steps were:

  • Import newspaper scan into GIMP.
  • Find some blank space near the article you want to replace, and copy as much of the blank space as you can.
  • Open a new layer. Paste the blank space over the article as many times as necessary to erase it.
  • There are crease lines that should be going into that blank space. Find some lines in the original, copy them, paste them to the new layer, and rotate them as needed.
  • Find the closest font you can for the headline. In my case, it looked like the original used Metro Sans. Futura was a good substitute.
  • Find the closest font you can for the text. Times is a good bet.
  • Adjust font size & spacing to match.
  • Fade text by adjusting text layer opacity (this allows the “real” newspaper blank space that you copied to show through the “ink”).
  • Age text with Pick at “5%, repeat 1”.

There are probably as many ways to age/paperize graphic images as there are people trying it, but that worked very well for me.

Oh, and I found the newspaper pages I wanted to use in an online retrospective of the events the player characters were revisiting.

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WhatTheFont! is an invaluable resource when you want to match a font. –  SevenSidedDie Oct 10 '10 at 16:03

You might want to try and google "old newspaper generator". ;)

I ran a quick search myself and the best solution I've found (in about five minutes, wasn't a thorough exploration) is http://www.fodey.com/generators/newspaper/snippet.asp where you just have to insert a title for your newspaper, a date for your "publication" and the text for your article for the site to generate a downloadable image (with a preview.)

Hope this helps (if not the site itself, then perhaps the idea.)

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Check out the free fonts at the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. They are exceptionally good. Really great for period prop ephemera. Also: 1920's newspaper ingredients.

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For my Cthulhu scenarios, I take a suitable old newspaper article and change some appropriate words.

For example: I wanted a handout about a meteor landing in Scotland. Using Google, I searched for letters to the London Times about astronomical phenomena. I found something about Mars being particularly bright one night and changed the details, so it referred to a shooting star.

The advantage is that you keep all the strange turns of phrase. The Times letter, for example, had the wonderful phrase "It would have gladdened the hearts of the farmers", which stayed in my handout.

To lay it out, I usually just place it in a single column and Times New Roman font. I'll sometimes cut around it, so it appears just as a single column of text. (This is a quick and dirty method: Jerry's advice on layout is better).

Here's Wikipedia's list of online newspaper archives. I've done similar things with ecclesiastical letters, fairytales and scientific reports.

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