Hello GoMediaZine/Arsenal blog readers! Simon here with a new step-by-step tutorial. We will be leveraging the contents of our brand new Crest of Arms vector pack to create a poster for the release of PWR.CLRS’ first, self-titled, album. We’ll talk about inspiration, layout exploration, and execution.
Our framework for the tutorial is that we’ve been contracted to create a poster for up and coming musical act PWR.CLRS. The experimental musician is based in Cleveland, and produces a mix of hard-hitting electronic beats, distorted guitars, and spoken word surrealistic poetry. He’s releasing his first record, and needs to let the masses know about the fun night ahead. As we’re pressed for time, we’ll be leveraging the library of visual assets provided by the vector set to speed up our design process.
Gathering some inspiration, and putting a concept together
The inspiration from this piece came from three different sources: the vector pack itself, a superb portrait bathed in neon, and wide array of album art examples.
The vector pack features a lot of clean cut, precisely drawn shapes, with careful highlights, shadows, and ornaments. The elements that immediately jumped at me were the shield shapes (actual shield, circular patterned version), the stalks, and some of the oval frames. Although all the elements are exquisitely drawn, their complex highlight and shading made them hard to mix with other elements. We’ll look at techniques to remove some of the fluff.
The next bits of inspiration came from two photos available from the wonderful collections over at Unsplash. The first photo is this striking night portrait, taken by Alex Iby. I knew rapidly this would become my centerpiece element.
The second photo that helped to shape the piece was this other portrait, taken by Jay Clark. The slogan on this gentleman’s shirt was the key to the band name. I started with TRVE.COLORS, which morphed to PWR.CLRS (Power Colors).
Lastly, the amazing library of album art through the ages hosted at Fonts In Use proved good jump-starting material.
With the elements in hand, it became clear that the shield shapes would support, and frame, our neon portrait. A dark background featuring white text would make for increased contrast. Some additional visual elements (stalks), sprinkled with some textures would tie the whole piece together.
Additionally, we’re locating this era-defining performance at the Phantasy Nightclub in Cleveland (Lakewood), OH. The Phantasy is a special place:
“Nine Inch Nails debuted at the Phantasy. The Ramones, Iggy Pop, the Pogues, the Damned, the Psychedelic Furs, the Cramps, Motorhead and the B-52s all played there. The Phantasy was also fertile soil for Cleveland’s ascending 1970s and 1980s music scenes (…)”
(via this old news article)
Let’s set a date of February 28th for the performance, and indicate that tickets are available everywhere.
A few technical notes and reminders
We are going to use both Photoshop and Illustrator for this piece. Photoshop is were 99.9% of the work will happen, but Illustrator will be necessary for opening the pack’s files, and to customize the vector elements themselves.
We are going to work extensively with textures. It’s a good time to remind you guys of a few base rules, and processes:
- Don’t know what a clipped layer is? Glad you asked! This means that the layer is only visible/applies to the layer directly below it. You can very quickly do this by holding ALT down on your keyboard and clicking between the two layers. Here’s a quick demonstration.
- Every time we’ll work with textures, we’ll follow this simple process: place as smart object, sharpen1, desaturate, enhance contrast with levels, and modify the blending mode.
- Placing the textures as smart objects, and using adjustment layers to tweak them, allows us to stick to a non-destructive workflow. We’ve explored in depth the numerous pros and few cons of such a workflow in this past tutorial: “How to Use Textures The Right Way.”
Notes: 1 – accessed through the Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen menu.
With this in place, it’s time to get started!
We’re working with an 18″x24″ canvas. I made mine 18.5″x24.5″, in order to work in some bleed area. I’m at 300 ppi, and using RGB, as some of the texture magic happening in the finishing touches rests on it.
Next, we’ll use the automatic guide tool (View > New guide layout) to create a grid to align our elements on. We’ll be using four columns, and eight rows. The margins are set at .25″, so the inside of our outer guides will be our 18″x24″ canvas.
Main elements: the portrait
If you haven’t yet, grab Alex’ portrait over at Unsplash.
Let’s place it as a smart object in our document. It’s sized at 22.5% of its original height and width, and its center is located at X: 9.25″, and Y: 13″.
Next, we need to change the color of the background to #231f20 (a rough equivalent to CMYK rich black).
Main elements: the vectors
It’s time to grab the assets we’ll need from the vector pack. Let’s start by opening it in Illustrator. All of the ones we’re interested in are on that first artboard. I’ve highlighted them in red:
- The shield
- The “circular patterned” shield
- The wheat stalks
- The oval “toothed” frame
Let’s start by copying all of these in a new, empty Illustrator document to remove some of the clutter out of the way. I suggest a sheet that is at least 8.5″x11″, and in RGB color mode (to match the PSD document). A dark background (#231f20 for instance) will also help us to see our modifications to the assets more clearly.
Next up: to copy and paste these four assets to the empty Illustrator document.
Prepping the shield
The main change we need to make is to remove all the fluff from that main shield shape. All the shading do-dads have to go. The fastest solution is to ungroup the asset (Right click > Ungroup), to manually select all of the extra elements by hand, and to erase them.
At that point, we’re left with this neat, thick, white shield.
Next, we simply have to paste it in our Photoshop document, as a smart object. It’ll be sized 425% of its original size, and its center placed at X: 9.25″, and Y: 12.25″.
Once in place, this is what our layer stack looks like: the background, the smart object photo, and the smart object shield.
Masking the image using the shield
One of Photoshop many useful features is the ability to click on a layer thumbnail, and to load its content as a selection. Let’s click on the shield layer thumbnail while pressing the CTRL (PC) or CMD (Mac) keys to load it as our selection.
From there, with the photo smart object highlighted in the layer palette, we can simply click on the Add layer mask shortcut at the bottom of the palette to start the masking.
Et voilà, we have a mask in place. It isn’t showing/hiding the right thing yet, but we’ll get there shortly.
If we click on the layer mask thumbnail and press ALT/OPTION at the same time, we can have access to, and edit, its content. We’ll start by inverting the image, so it shows the proper thing.
Better, but we also need to mask the photo past the edges of the mask.
Let’s go back to our mask view (click + ALT/OPTION), and paint the outer side of the shield edge in black as well to hide the rest of our portrait.
If you use the paint bucket to quickly fill the area, remember to use a solid paintbrush to clean the seams.
And with that work done, the photo is properly masked!
A bit of extra depth
In order to give the shield around the photo a bit more visual presence, we are going to give some extra layer styles to simulate a real thickness. First, a thick stroke. It’ll be 35 pixels thick, and has the same color as the background (#231f20).
Next, a strong drop shadow, for the illusion of depth. Note the darker color used (#202020).
The result is a satisfactory illusion of depth and layers.
The circular shield
Time to add the “oval patterned” shield in the mix. After heading back to Illustrator, let’s change its color to pure white (#ffffff), then paste it as a smart object into our Photoshop document behind the photo layer.
It’ll be sized at 550% of its original size, and positioned with its center at X: 9.25″, and Y: 12.25″. Additionally, we’ll change its blending mode to screen, to interact more with texture elements later.
The circular, “toothy” frame
This little one needs to be adapted a bit.
First, its color needs to be changed to all white.
Next, it needs to be pasted as a smart object between the photo, and the main shield shape. It’ll be sized at 950% of its original size, and positioned at X: 9.25″, and Y: 12.03″.
After changing its blending mode to overlay, we get a neat secondary frame effect in place around the portrait, highlighting the face even more.
Last vector element: the wheat stalks
This last one is the finishing touch of the vector assets. It frames the overall piece, and also gives it a visual anchor within the canvas. We first need to head back to Illustrator to change their color to pure white.
Next, we’ll paste it as a smart object right above our background layer. We’ll size it at 1000% of its original size. Its blending mode will be overlay @ 50% opacity, and its center is at X: 9.25″, and Y: 12.3″.
And all of our elements are in place! Next, we need to talk text.
Copy copy copy
The copy for the poster will be straight to the point: the name of the act, the occasion we’re summoning people to show up for, the location/date line, and the ticketing information. All spelled out, we have:
- RECORD RELEASE PARTY
- PHANTASY NIGHTCLUB • CLEVELAND • FEB. 28TH
- TICKETS AVAILABLE WHERE TICKETS ARE SOLD
The typeface we’ll use for our poster is a free one, and comes from the League of Moveable Type. It’s called Orbitron, and has been designed by Matt McInerney. It’ll be the one used for all of our text elements.
PWR.CLRS is typed at 150 points tall, centered. Its center is located at X: 9.33″, and Y: 2.40″. Note that the kerning is set to optical.
RECORD RELEASE PARTY is typed at 60 points tall, centered. Its center is located at X: 9.22″, and Y: 21.94″. The kerning is set to optical as well.
Next, PHANTASY NIGHTCLUB • CLEVELAND • FEB. 28TH / TICKETS AVAILABLE WHERE TICKETS ARE SOLD are all part of the same text object. The “/” indicates a line break. It’s written 30 points tall, and placed at X: 9.25″, and Y: 23.21″. The kerning is set to optical as well.
And with that, all of our text elements are in place. Here’s a look at how our layers are organized up to now. Note the new Background layer group, to separate its elements from the rest.
Time for textures!
Now that everything is all well organized, it’s time to add textures. If you looked at some of my past tutorials, you already know that I LOVE textures. They help us to give substance, depth, and, well, texture, to very clean digital shapes. Luckily for us, the Arsenal has quite the library.
First up, the text
In order for the text to be more worn out, we’ll be using a texture from the Vintage Organic Noise Texture Pack. The texture in question is gma_tex_herbal-organic_09.jpg.
Remember how we used click+ALT/OPTION to edit the content of the shield’s layer mask earlier? Well it turns out that we can do much more than using brushes and the paint bucket when doing that. We can also paste the content of a texture file in that layer mask. Depending on the texture, it can make for a very rapid, and efficient way to give things a worn out aspect.
Let’s start by opening the texture in Photoshop, and copying the content of the file (CTRL/CMD+A to select everything, CTRL/CMD+C to copy).
Then, let’s add a layer mask to the Text layer group.
By clicking+ALT/OPTION on the layer mask thumbnail, we have access to that pristine layer mask’s content.
By pressing CTRL/CMD+V, we can paste the texture at the center of the layer.
In order to cover the whole piece, we’ll rotate the texture clockwise 90°, and size it up to 220%.
From there, in order to soften the intensity of the texture, we’ll use levels (CTRL/CMD+L) to fade the texture some.
The result is this beautifully, organically worn text.
Next, the background. We’ll be using a painterly texture from the Brush Stroke Textures, Volume 02 pack. It’s brush-strokes-textures-volume-02-004-sbh.jpg.
Let’s place it dead center right above the background layer, sized at 105% so it covers the whole background.
Remember the technical notes from earlier? Don’t forget to sharpen the texture smart object (Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen).
After using a clipped hue/saturation to desaturate the texture layer, we’ll be using a clipped levels adjustment layer to enhance its contrast.
Lastly for the background, we just need to change the blending mode to soft light @ 35% opacity for our effect.
With that our background is fully textured. Time to move on to texturing the piece as a whole, to tie everything together.
Texturing the full piece
The first texture we’ll use for the piece as a whole is from the Vintage Organic Noise Texture Pack again. It’s gma_tex_herbal-organic_07.jpg.
We’ll place that texture centered in the frame, and rotate it counterclockwise 90°.
It’s sized up to cover the whole piece, at 55%.
After sharpening the texture, we can simply change its blending mode to color burn @ 35% opacity. There’s no need to desaturate it, as it’s already a black and white texture.
In order to add some highlight at the top of the poster, we’ll then add gma_tex_herbal-organic_03.jpg in the piece.
This one is rotated 90° clockwise, and also sized up at 55% to cover the whole piece.
After sharpening, we can change its blending mode to soft light @ 25% opacity.
To add a hair of film noise, we’ll use GoMediaArsenal_FilmNoise_05.jpg from the film texture pack.
This texture needs to be rotated clockwise 90°, and sized up 2100% to fill the whole piece.
Once we have used a clipped hue/saturation layer to desaturate the texture, we need a clipped levels adjustment layer to enhance the texture’s details.
With that done, we just need to change the texture’s blending mode to screen @ 35% opacity.
With that, we’re almost done. Here are what our layers should look like at this stage:
The last bit of stuff we need to do to this poster to wrap things up is to add a little bit of a halftone effect. Let’s start by making a merged copy of all the layers so far, by using the keyboard shortcut CTRL/CMD+SHIFT+ALT/OPTION+E. This will create a new layer at the top of our stack.
Let’s rename it to Halftones.
After that, we have to turn it into a smart object. With the layer highlighted, head to Filter > Convert for smart filters.
With that done, we can head to Filter > Pixelate > Color halftone. Note the value of the Max. Radius, up to 10, from the default value of 8.
The cool thing with smart filters is that the layer has a blending mode, and the filter itself has one as well. What that means is that we can make the effect even more subtle and believable. Let’s start by assigning the halftone filter a blending mode of overlay @ 100% opacity. To do this, let’s double click on the double arrow icon on the right-hand side of the layer thumbnail.
We then get access to this drop down menu to choose the blending mode.
From there, we can change the blending mode of the layer itself to lighter color @ 35% opacity.
If everything went according to plan, this is what the layer stack should look like.
Additionally, here are a couple of detail shots @ 100% zoom.
And here are some close-ups:
And finally a full view of the final piece:
Wrapping things up
Phew, that was a long one! I hope that you enjoyed following along the tutorial as much as I enjoyed creating it, and that your outcome matches the goals you set for yourself before diving in. Did I leave anything unclear? Any suggestions? Don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below! I’ll be happy to help.
The Crest of Arm vector pack is now available! Go grab it! If you already have, I hope you enjoy it, and that this tutorial gave you a sense of what you’ll be able to accomplish with it.
And on that note, I’ll see you next time. Cheers!
You’ve been asking for tips on poster layout design and we’re here to help. Today, we’ll be using a sampling of inspiring posters to show you how to design your own.
Great Poster Design Tips:
Recently, we received an email from a Go Media friend asking a simple, yet incredibly complicated question: “What are the qualities of a good poster design?”
And while we’ve done many a blog post about posters that inspire us, we haven’t covered why they have done such a great job of doing so.
So today we are going to do our best to answer that question – as simply as possible.
As we all may know, a poster’s job is often three-fold; it serves to advertise and communicate information while acting as a piece of artwork.
A great poster communicates a message clearly.
Of those three tasks, the poster absolutely must deliver a message as clear as a bell, so that it is as digestible in as little time as possible.
To accomplish this, make sure your poster flows well to do that:
- make sure it is easy to read from a distance
- grabs the viewer’s attention with a main image or headline, then
- answers the questions who, what, when, where and how and
- leaves the least important details to the fine print
A great poster is simple.
In order to communicate your message, your poster should be relatively simple. If you bombard them with too much information, they’ll leave overwhelmed.
- Less is more.
- Let it breathe! Leave enough white space so that the viewer can absorb the information.
- Choose complimentary color palettes
A great poster captures your attention.
When designing your poster, certain elements will capture the attention of your viewer above others. These include playing with:
Bold and/or playful typefaces
Bold color palettes
A monochromatic theme
A great poster motivates your viewer to take action.
Many posters serve to advertise shows, concerts, movies or other events. Your goal is to entice the viewer to respond to your art in some way, shape or form – by making a call, hitting up a website or heading to a show. Can you think of an out-of-the-box way for them to take action immediately, such as with a coupon code, QR code or by enticing them to enroll or sign up by a certain date for some wonderful reason?
A great poster knows where to call home.
When designing, it’s vital to keep in mind where it will call home. If it will exist in one environment only, you can cater its size and color to that environment. If not, make your choices understanding that this poster could live almost anywhere. Picture it both living in a dark dingy club or a on a bright red gallery wall.
A great poster starts a conversation with your viewer.
Most folks are on the move when they encounter a poster. If it’s clever in concept, they will be more likely to take time to interact with it. So, take the time to start a conversation with your viewer. Evoke an emotion in them. Make them laugh, think. Take them on a journey – if only for a moment.
A great poster is just plain lovely.
Yes, posters serve to communicate and call your viewer to take action, but they also serve as pieces of artwork. This only helps to reinforce their message. Enjoy the process!
Follow us on Pinterest for more posters we love!
100+ Poster Design Inspiration
Hey designers, want way more inspiration? Attend our all-inclusive soul-fulfilling three-day design retreat, WMC: Off-The-Grid, this October 5 – 7th. To learn more, head to wmcfest.com.
Every Wednesday, we scour the web for the best in inspiration from designers killing it at their craft. Please enjoy this incredible art and join us on Pinterest, where we’re dedicated to collecting our own work, as well as the work of those we most admire.
Today, our focus is poster design inspiration. For more, check out our past posts, including:
Click on each poster for more information >>
Which poster was your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below!
Specialization in Graphic Design
As entrepreneurs, we often have lofty goals. We want to be all, do all, achieve all. However, when we concentrate on fulfilling everyone’s needs, instead of becoming experts at our craft, we need to take a step back. Though we all may have a variety of skill sets, we should ask ourselves: What is it that I do best? Where do I shine? What can I bring to the table to truly impact my client’s business?
Narrowing your client focus can give you an edge over your competition in our increasingly competitive market. This is also a unique way to brand yourself and a way to begin to develop a unique personal style that clients will come to recognize and seek out.
We sat down with Gary Irwin, founder and creative director of the boutique design agency, Variant, who has found that specializing has been the key to growing his firm organically. Irwin’s particular client focus is the independent film industry and finds him spending the majority of his day partnering with distributors and filmmakers to create one-of-a-kind posters, packaging, and digital art. Concentrating on this market also fulfills both of his passions: filmmaking and graphic design. Win, win.
Ready to narrow your focus? Here are some tips to set you up for success, paired with Gary’s wisdom.
Decide where your efforts will be concentrated
If you’re ready to narrow your scope, take time to focus on where you’ve had past success and where your passions lead you. Do the majority of your clients come to you for packaging design versus hand lettering? What creative endeavors do you find yourself engaging in outside of work?
With over 15 years of design experience and leadership under his belt, Irwin found it a no-brainer to put all of his energy into the independent film world and specialize in what he did best. “I just knew,” he said, “this was my path, and I was ready to take the leap.” Variant was born.
Once you’ve made the decision to specialize, set up camp and get to work, but proceed knowing there will be hurdles to jump from the start. The unique challenge of choosing to narrow your focus is building a solid client base from a smaller playing field and selecting projects from a tiny portion of your portfolio.
As Irwin notes of his decision to specialize, “Knowing you want to do it and actually doing it are two different things. I think one of the most intimidating aspects of specializing in a particular offering is getting started. But while it’s challenging to get into the rotation and get your name out there (I went through a lot of stress early on, I still do), the rewards of becoming a go-to creative in a particular vertical market are ten-fold.”
Create your mission statement and follow through
Once you’ve established your focus, it’s always a good idea to take the time to sit down and ask yourself some foundational questions to plot out what’s to be a successful journey. For example, why did you get into design and why are you in this business? Who are your favorite clients and why do you love working for them? What is your mission? Your vision? Your purpose?
Irwin carved out a mission statement to keep himself on track. “What I didn’t want to do was constantly hustle without moving towards something, so I spent a lot of time early on crafting my philosophy and launched Variant with a very specific mission statement.” In this statement, Irwin addressed his passion to work on key art for independent film, his drive to constantly improve his craft and his desire to narrow in on his vertical market.
Create great work and the clients will come
Though your initial road to landing clients once you’ve narrowed your focus may be bumpy, hard work, hustle and great work are always best. Have patience while you build your portfolio with examples of the work you want to do. Concentrate on making sure it’s the best it can be.
“Creating compelling work is my mantra. The work helps get the bigger fish to come. It will start to snowball into the attention you’re looking for. Use all of your typical marketing methods, of course. Blast as many people as possible. But the constant is making sure your work is solid,” Irwin suggests.
Constantly hone your craft
As you work on narrowing your focus, the clients will come and in turn, you’ll find an easier time identifying them. With more work will come more opportunity to become better at what you love to do.
“Because of a narrow focus, I know the market. I know who my customers are and I know how to find them, Irwin reports. “This has helped me tremendously in getting my name out there.”
“On a personal side, this is what I enjoy doing the most. I get to become an expert at what I love to do and it helps me stay sharp. Everything comes back to Variant moving forward in becoming the best at what we do.”
Thanks to Gary of Variant Creative for all of the great information he provided us in this post! Learn more about the work he does by visiting his official site, or get social with him over at Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter.
Tutorial: Building a brutalist conference poster with Jason Carne’s Texture Lot One (Free Poster Mockup Included)
Conference Poster Tutorial
Hello there! It’s Simon on this end of the keyboard. I’m very happy to make my return to the Zine with a poster design tutorial, that will explore the possibilities offered by Jason Carne’s Texture Lot One. The tutorial will have us explore texture use tips and tricks, but also customized black and white conversion, large scale sharpening, type pairing, layout building, and more.
I’ll be using Photoshop CC for the tutorial, but any version of Photoshop past CS3 should be fine. Note also that I’m working on a Windows-based system, but other than visual appearance and slightly different keyboard shortcuts, that will not have any impact on the process we’ll go through.
Introducing Jason Carne’s Texture Lot One
As the hero shot image tells us, the set contains 30 “finely crafted” textures, that will help us to give a wide array of artifacts to our flat, digital art. They come from a multitude of source material: burlap, cork board, a scratched cutting board, stone, and more.
The textures come in the form of high resolution, black and white textures.
The level of detail is superb, and gives us plenty to leverage to add substance to our compositions.
And one more for the road, just because we can.
Let’s talk some more about the piece we’re putting together here. It’s a poster for a (fake) architecture lecture, focusing on Cleveland’s brutalist landmarks.
What is brutalism? Glad you asked:
Brutalist architecture is a movement in architecture that flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, descending from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century. The term originates from the French word for “raw” in the term used by Le Corbusier to describe his choice of material béton brut (raw concrete). British architectural critic Reyner Banham adapted the term into “brutalism” (originally “New Brutalism”) to identify the emerging style.
So, what does a brutalist building look like? There’s this amazing Tumblr called F**k yeah brutalism out there, and it’ll help me to answer that question:
(Education Wing, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, 1971 -Marcel Breuer & Associates – via)
(State Historical Center, Columbus, Ohio, 1970 – Ireland and Associates – via)
There is something monolithic, synthetic, and minimalistic at times.
Now, why choose Cleveland as the focal point of the fake lecture? It happens that Cleveland has its share of brutalist buildings. A 2007 article from the Plain Dealer lists the major local representative landmarks of the movement: Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College Metro Campus, Cleveland Justice Center Complex, Crawford Hall (Case Western Reserve University), and more.
Assembling the free assets needed
It happens that there is a CC-licensed image of the Cleveland Ameritrust Building, one of these major landmarks, available on Flickr for us to use as the base of our poster. We’ll need to grab the biggest size available (4028 x 2704 pixels), through the all sizes page.
Got it all? Then it’s time to get started!
Preparing our Photoshop document
We’ll use is a “standard” 18″x24″ canvas for our piece. For the readers outside of the USA, feel free to use an A3 format. Note the fact that we’re using an RGB document, as some of the filters we’ll use require that color space to function.
Next, we need to setup a grid. It’ll help us when building the composition. First, we’ll leverage Adobe CC’s New guide layout functionality to build a six columns by 8 rows main grid (View > New guide layout).
The result is a grid based on squares of 3″x3″.
The next set of guides are going to help us establish the boundaries of the center column. We need vertical guides at 4.5″, and at 13.5″.
Finally, we need horizontal guides at 11.5″, and at 12.5″.
And with that, our document is ready to go. It’s time to get started for real.
The first thing we need to do is give a solid color to our background layer. It’s going to be the base for the effects we’ll build up through the tutorial. We’ll be using a very light gray, #ededed. If we were using pure white, the contrasts would be too strong, and some of the texture effects we’ll apply later would be “washed out.”
Next, we need to place the photo in our composition. We’ll place the photo as a smart object, in order to maintain a lossless workflow. It will also guarantee us access to the untouched original file. To do so, we have to use File > Place (or File >Place embedded in Photoshop CC), and navigate to the photo file.
Once the image is included in our file, we will give it its final positioning and size using the absolute positioning tools at our disposal. The center point of the image should be at X: 2.55″, and Y: 26″. The image is scaled up to 125%.
With that done, we need to sharpen the smart object, since we scaled it up. We’ll use the high pass filter for that. The Zine archive features a short article about the technique already. Let’s start by duplicating the smart object.
Next, we need to run the high pass filter (Filter > Other > High pass). We’ll use a radius of 100 pixels.
The result doesn’t look like much. To obtain the desired effect, we need to change the copy’s blending mode to soft light @ 100% opacity.
Next, we are going to clip the copy to the original layer (CTRL/CMD+ALT/OPTION+G). This contains the high pass effect to the layer it’s clipped on.
With that done, we can change the blending mode of the original layer to multiply @ 100% opacity. This will make the photo adopt the soft gray we’ve used as background color as its main color once we’ve converted it to black and white.
Black and white adjustments
Desaturating a picture IS NOT a proper way to convert it to black and white. We are going to use a black and white adjustment layer for that. The preset we’ll use is called blue filter. Cyan, blue, and magenta hues in the original image will be light, while greens, yellows, and reds will be untouched or dark. For a higher contrast, the greens, yellows, and reds could be purposefully set to darker (using a negative value in the sliders).
The next step is a curve adjustment layer, set to the lighter preset. This allows us to soften the black and white conversion.
Finally, a levels adjustment layer allows us to push the contrast up.
It’s time for some layer organization.
A hint of texture
We are going to add one of Jason’s textures above the background. It will help us to generate a subtle grain effect. The texture is Corkscrewed – Light.
It’s placed centered in our canvas, rotated of 90°, and scaled up to 225%.
After converting the texture layer to a smart object (Filter > Convert for smart filters), and sharpening the texture (Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen), we can change its blending mode to soft light @ 75% opacity.
That texture concludes our work on the background. Before switching gears and attacking the content columns, here’s a look at our layers so far.
Setting up the columns backgrounds
Back when we set up the grid, we created a set of special guides that we’ll now use to delimit central column for our text. The column is split in two parts, one with a red background, and one with an almost-black background.
Let’s start with the almost black. It sits at the bottom half of the canvas. Here’s the area we have to delimit.
After creating a new layer, we need to fill it with a very dark gray, #040404.
Finally, the blending mode of that layer should be multiply @ 98% opacity. This will allow us to bring a hint of translucency in the shape.
The next shape will be its pendant at the top of the composition, and will be filled with a very bright red, #eb1d1d.
The blending mode of that layer should be multiply @ 50% opacity.
The shape’s translucency is too high (we need to remember that it will be the background to text later on). In order to address this, we’ll duplicate the layer, and change the blending mode of that copy to normal @ 50% opacity.
A quick note about layers, as we’re about to add type elements in there. Here’s what they should be organized into. The background elements have their layer group, and each half column elements have their dedicated layer group. From there, it’ll be easy to add the type in the proper group, so everything stays organized.
It’s time to talk about typography
As announced at the beginning, we’ll be using two type families: League Spartan Bold, and League Gothic.
The main title
The main title reads “CLEVELAND / BRUTALIST / LANDMARKS,” and is set in all caps League Spartan Bold, colored in #ededed, that is 48 points tall, and with tracking set to 250. Each line is its own text object, and they are aligned to the grid lines within the column.
In order to further ground the title element, we are going to add horizontal dividers underneath each line of text. The dividers will be colored in #ededed, and measure 6″x0.125″. The dividers are positioned underneath each text line, 0.125″ under the text line. We’ll use shape layers to generate the dividers.
And here’s what the layers look like.
We are not creating a proper conference poster if we don’t add the secondary information like the lecturer’s name, a date, a location, and a URL. The information is broken down as follows:
“NOVEMBER 20TH 2015 AT 07.30 PM / CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART / A LECTURE BY DR RYAN G. BRAVIN / www.clevelandart.org”
The individual type objects are aligned in a similar fashion as before, on the grid lines. “NOVEMBER 20TH 2015 AT 07.30 PM” is set in League Gothic Condensed Regular, that is 72 points tall, colored in #ededed, and with kerning set to optical.
“CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART” is set in League Gothic Regular, that is colored in #ededed, that is 60 points tall, and with kerning set to optical.
“A LECTURE BY DR RYAN G. BRAVIN” is set in #ededed colored League Gothic Condensed Regular, that is 72 points tall, and with kerning set to optical.
Finally, the URL to the site of the Cleveland Museum of Art, www.clevelandart.org, is set in #ededed colored League Spartan Bold, that is 24 points tall. The text object is located at X: 9″, and Y: 22.8″.
Here’s what the layer organization looks like:
And with our type in place, our piece is almost complete.
Now, it’s time to layer some more textures to polish the piece!
Textures and artifacts
Here’s a theory: one of the motivations to add textures to our work is to help us to add depth to our digital art, and to break away from their flat, clean, and precise origins. At this point in the process, the photo is pretty gritty, but the type above it is very clean. Adding more textures will allow us to weather that type and the column backgrounds.
The first texture we’ll add is PackingFoam.
It’s placed centered in the composition, rotated 90° clockwise, and scaled to 55%.
After sharpening the texture (Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen), we can change the blending mode to screen @ 15% opacity.
The next texture is the freebie we grabbed at the beginning, BB_AntiqueEnvelope_04.jpg.
It’s placed at X: 18″, and Y: 19.9″, rotated 90° counterclockwise, and scaled up to 1,150%.
After sharpening, we’ll use a clipped hue/saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the texture.
A clipped levels adjustment layer will help us to enhance the texture further.
Blending mode: soft light @ 35% opacity.
The next texture is from Jason’s set, and is called Corkboard.
It’s placed centered in the composition, rotated 90° clockwise, and scaled to 55%.
After sharpening, the blending mode should be changed to soft light @ 25% opacity.
The texture levels are coming together nicely. We’ve added grain, light noise, and small artifacts to the piece with a few layers of substance. Let’s have a look at the layers before the ultimate polishing touches.
Lossless vignette effect
There is a way to create a lossless vignette effect in Photoshop, thanks to shape layers. The first step is to draw an ellipse that fits the canvas. It should be colored in #040404.
Next, we need to use one of the tools accessible via the direct selection tool (A), in the toolbar. It will allow us to display the ellipse inverted, getting closer to the vignette. Once the active tool is the direct selection tool, we need to change the path operation button‘s setting to subtract front shape.
The result is a very sharp edged ellipse, almost ready to be a vignette.
Next, through the layer’s properties panel, we need to feather the layer mask to 350 pixels. This creates the fuzzy edge for the vignette.
Finally, the blending mode for the vignette can be switched to soft light @ 50% opacity.
Last but not least: halftones
The last piece of the puzzle is a halftone effect. First step, to create a merged copy of the piece so far. We’ll use the CTRL/CMD+ALT/OPTION+SHIFT+E shortcut for that. It’ll create a layer containing a merged copy of the piece so far. I called it Halftones.
Once the layer is generated, it needs to be converted to a smart object.
After resetting the color palette to default (D), we’ll use the filter gallery’s halftone effect (Filter > Filter Gallery > Sketch > Halftone pattern). We’re using a size value of 8, and a contrast value of 50.
Then, we need to change the effect’s blending mode to soft light @ 100% opacity.
After that, we can change the layer’s blending mode to soft light @ 50% opacity.
And our piece is now done! Here’s a look at our final layer stack.
Wrapping things up
Phew, that was a long tutorial! I hope that you enjoyed it, learned a few tricks here and there, and that your outcome matches the goals you had at the beginning.
Did I leave anything unclear? Any suggestions? Don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below! I’ll be happy to help out.
Mockup your poster using the free sample below from our Poster Mockup Templates Pack and please share your work with us in the comments, by tweeting at us at @go_media, or sharing them on our Facebook page.
Free Download: Free Poster PSD Sample from Go Media
If you already purchased Jason’s texture set, I hope you enjoy them, and that this tutorial gave you a sense of what you’ll be able to accomplish with them. If not, go grab them while they’re hot!
And on that note, that’s it for me! Until next time, cheers!
Time taken: 1 hour 10 mins
Difficulty: Beginner to mid-level
Resources used: Blobs font
The assigned project was to create cool and fun gig poster prints for a student union nightclub event – a big campus shindig before the kids go back for the holidays. Out of ideas and inspiration, I thought I’d raid my sketchbook for inspiration – something that I often do when faced with designer’s block. I happened upon a couple of doodles and sketches that I figured would be ideal for a winter, holiday design with a bit of an edge to it.
A few character sketches that I figured would make fine subject matter –
The doodle that gave me the main idea for the piece –
After scanning the sketched page, I brought the first sketch into Photoshop .
I cropped the scan, selecting the character I wanted to use.
I painted out the unwanted areas, cleaning up any loose pixels. Using the (⌘M, Ctrl M) curve function, I created contrast and more consistent blacks, while whitening the negative space.
I opened up the doodle sketch in Photoshop and repeated the curve clean up of the scanned image (⌘M, Ctrl M). I then created a new work path (path menu, new path) and pathed out with the pen tool (Option-click + P, Alt-click + P) the specific area I wanted to use.
After selecting the chosen path layer (path menu, make selection, “0” feathering) I cut and pasted this path into my original scanned layer.
After joining the two sketches into one file, I applied a darken mode (layers menu) on my overlapping layer. I then used the eraser tool to notch out some of the pixels to join the two sketches together.
To prepare the sketch for Illustrator, it was important to close off any open pixels.
Choosing the brush tool, I meticulously closed off any open areas. Once this was completed, I merged all layers (⌘E, Ctrl E)
The next step was to bring the cleaned-up file into Illustrator. After creating a new file in Illustrator, I pasted the sketch image into my workspace and using the live trace function (choose “image trace” in head menu) I chose the “3 colors” setting. I chose this because although it picks up the odd gray areas in a black and white image, it recognizes details that default tracing often ignores. In this sketch that was highly–contrasted, it generated a pretty even and solid image result and it wasn’t difficult to tidy up the odd grey path at a later stage anyway.
(It should be noted, that the live trace feature doesn’t work with all sketches and it’s sometimes better to path out the sketch, this particular sketch happened to be pretty “loose” and “sketchy” in appearance anyway, so it lends itself to live tracing, plus I made sure that it was correctly prepped for live trace in Photoshop.)
Once the sketch had finished tracing, I expanded the object and fill (object, expand, expand appearance).
Once the file had been expanded, I went into the image with my Direct Selection Tool (A) and deleted the background white and inner-white areas (for the purposes of this tutorial, I have illustrated this using a grey background).
After taking out all unwanted white areas, the sketch was ready for more detailed clean-up. The image actually required little clean-up. There were a couple of paths that needed closing and merging but no need for anything super-accurate due to the sketchy nature of the artwork. To clean up the missing line-work on this sketch, I used my favorite brush the “blob brush” to replace any incomplete and broken lines with clean black lines.
With all paths closed, it was easy to select areas with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and fill with a specific Pantone color (swatches, open swatch library, color books, Pantone + CMYK Coated).
Upon completion of the character coloring process, I created a new layer and drew a rectangle (M).
Using the eraser tool (Shift+E) and choosing a rounded shape, I notched out the rectangle to give it a “snowy” look.
This is a very easy trick to do and creates a nice illustrative effect.
To add some snowdrops to the design, I selected my blob brush with a left- angled brush.
After adding some snowflakes, I went into the blob brush again, and selected the opposite brush angle and added the rest of the snowflake effect.
Getting to this stage of the design gave me a better idea of how I could integrate the copy. I think in design there’s often a “natural order” when it comes to composition and by trying things out, opportunities for copy placement often arise naturally and without meticulous planning.
Having seen the design evolve, I also saw an opportunity to add some dynamic copy without having to resort to simply picking a font from a hat! So, I went back to the drawing board and sketched out some copy elements to place into the design.
After scanning the design into Photoshop, I repeated the curve adjustment process to prep them for bringing into Illustrator.
I brought the copy sections into Illustrator and live-traced each one, expanding and removing the white areas.
I added color to the copy-shape paths and roughly re-sized it to fit the space, then repeated this process with the other copy elements
I planned this design to include copy in the central area of the composition. After discovering the perfect font online called “Blobs”, I drew a simple curve shape with my pen tool (P) to add copy along the path.
Using the “type on a path” tool in the pen tool sub-menu, I added copy to the path.
After laying the central copy down, I used the pen tool to draw simple triangle shapes as word-dividers.
The copy was working out well, but I wanted the copy to fit the design shape better.
Using the free distort tool in the head menu (effect, distort and transform, free distort) I added distortion to the copy segments – expanding the appearance after each distortion (object, expand, expand appearance).
I repeated this process with other copy areas.
Once the main copy areas were finished, one of the final design touches was to add footer copy with social media info.
After creating the footer copy in white, using the Blob font, I copied and pasted the green rectangle shape I created earlier, transforming the scale and shape.
With the design almost complete, I just needed to add the club’s logo to my design.
The design was complete.
A quick checklist I always make sure I do before taking the illustrator file to large format print:
- Ensure that my artwork/artboard is cropped specifically sized for my poster requirements with plenty of bleed clearance around the edges between edge and artwork
- Convert all font elements into shapes (object, expand, expand/fill)
- Ensure all paths I want spot-colored are attributed a specific Pantone color (swatches, open swatch library, color books, choose swatch color specific to your printers requirements)
How the finished and printed poster design, printed for Roland DGA, looked.
Share your designs with us on our Flickr Pool Showcase and as always, feel free to leave any comments and questions below!
Hello, again! In Thoughts Behind the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 6 Poster, I went over my process of researching, note taking, and inspiration hunting for the creation of this year’s event poster. Welcome to part II, in which I will go through my steps of making the poster, from sketches to the final design.
Before I start drawing, I need to be aware of what I’m visually aiming for. This year’s Cleveland design fest is slightly more upscale than the previous ones, yet it will still carry that grassroots, inspiration-driven, draw-lots-of-cool-shit feel. I must ensure this is visually represented. Therefore, the illustration should be ornate, but not so decorative that the fest is mistaken as uninvitingly sophisticated and elitist. It is a premier event, but an warm, inviting one that emphasizes inspiration and community. Okay, I’ve figured out the personality of the poster, now onto picturing the subject matter. An astral-projected, cosmic, robot Buddha is not an something I admittedly imagine everyday (and maybe I should). So it is difficult to envision what something like this would look like all at once (especially since the subject is mechanized). In figuring this all out bit by bit, I chose to start with the head.
Buddhist imagery shows this deity with a divine crown, prayer beads, and multiple faces, so I decided to utilize those elements. At first, I was thinking of having its face look like something from Transformers or Gundam, but then settled on a monitor-esque head. This works better in my aim to reference technology and the computer. You’ll notice that I only drew half of the face. Drawing perfect symmetry can an absolute pain, so to speed up the process (and not lose my mind obsessing over perfection), I sketched the one half, flipped, and merged it with the other in Photoshop. Once you have drawn the one side, you also have the other completed, resulting in complete and symmetrical form. (Two birds, one stone.)
With the head and torso drawn, I then illustrated the arm(s) and lower portion of the figure. I also added this adorning, flowing fabric to help imply the Buddha’s divinity and presence as a cosmic entity.
Depicting the rest of the leg and hand was next. Take note that I am drawing, scanning, and then drawing more of the figure. Again, I do this to maintain symmetry while it also it allows me to hone in on specific parts, yet make steady progress. When tasks are broken down into smaller, unintimidating steps, a lot can be accomplished.
Bam! The sketch of the main body is now done.
Because I’m depicting a robot subject, I want the line work to be clean and uniform. Therefore, the figure is then re-illustrated in Adobe Illustrator. Hello, pen tool (my best friend).
The line work made in Illustrator is printed out so I can draw on half of the first set of arms. I’m not sure yet what specific art tools I want to include in the hands, so I only draw the handles. Things can always be edited – added in or taken out.
On the right (faintly shown), is the copied, flipped, and aligned half of the first set of arms, completing the left and right side of the first set of arms. Art tools are drawn in on both sides. The left side shows the beginning of the SECOND set of arms.
The last set of arms is finished off with the art tools drawn into the hands. Our tiny, yet powerful artist is also depicted.
Back in Illustrator, the omnipotent force of creativity is completed. Floating outside of the artboard are some extra paths and shapes, un-outlined and editable (just incase). The cosmic robot Buddha is the star of the show, therefore most of the work is now done. The artboard is changed to the size of the poster, a green background is placed in, the color of our small heroic artist is changed to make him or her stand out, and the deity of artistic brilliance is set to a celestial gold (same gold of the “6” in this year’s WMC logo).
Add a little ornamentation, the type, and it’s done!
There you have it, a step-by-step on how the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 6 poster was created. So buy your tickets and get ready to talk about art stuff and designy things, all while high-fiving and being inspired! Can’t wait to see you all at this year’s WMC Fest!
I had the honor of designing the poster for this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest. For those who do not know, I am a recent addition to the Cleveland Graphic firm, Go Media and WMC Team, and when I started in February, I thought I would be working alongside the other designers in creating the promotional material for WMC. Nope. Instead: “It’s all you. We’re excited to see what you come up with.” Entrusting me with such important work had me both fired up and terrified. With the event poster being one of the first things needed done, I hit the ground running. One thought continuously played in my head: This poster needs to kick some serious ass.
Like with any design problem, starting with research is a good idea. I dug up the past WMC Fest promotional material, taking notes on aesthetic similarities and differences with each year. I also needed to understand the overall “feel” of the event, so I decided to chat with Chris, Aaron and Carly to receive some insight. The three of them wonderfully shared their past experiences at WMC, what it meant to them, as well as their opinions on this year’s event and the new changes it’s undergoing.
(Please excuse random doodles.)
With Jeff Finley stepping down, Heather Sakai stepping up, and a new venue ready to go, this year’s fest is bound to be a little different. With this in mind, I wanted to create a design that heralded the debut of Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Six. Yes, we are stepping up our game with a more sophisticated location. And yes, we are aiming to make WMC Fest more dynamic and inclusive by featuring creatives who are not necessarily just designers or illustrators. But above all, it is our every intention to preserve the tradition of being that grassroots-originated, premier art and design conference, focusing on community, encouraging others and defying the hand that is dealt.
I now had a more defined problem: What can I create that announces this year’s exciting changes, yet stays true to the WMC’s punk rock beginnings and foundational principles of inspiring and enabling the creative mind?
Because WMC Fest has a strong history of featuring illustration, I wanted the poster to pay tribute to that tradition by having it be detailed and illustrative, a piece that the viewer could spend time with. After perusing the internet, searching for inspiration from gig posters (which illustration has a heavy presence in) and anything related to design conferences, I arrived to the idea of using the image of Buddha.
More specifically the Thousand-Armed Buddha. According to Buddhist texts, this deity embodies the compassion of all Buddhas, having a crazy amount of arms to reach out to all sentient beings whom are in need of aid. From this I liked the imagery of multiple hands holding art tools, representing immense creative power. Also, the themes of compassion and helping others are parallel with WMC Fest’s philosophies of being a force of inspiration, support and encouragement.
Alright, cool, now I have a concept to work from. However, I did not want to lazily replicate (and bastardize) such a sacred figure by just depicting Buddha holding some paint brushes and pencils. I instead wanted to take that idea and expand upon it, resulting in a poster that is original and true to the WMC spirit. So I began to think about the term “Weapon of Mass Creation” and what it meant to me. For many of you who don’t know me or have not seen my work, galvanizing encouragement and invincible optimism have been major themes of my art. I am in love with the archetype of the “small” conquering the overwhelmingly “big.” (This concept was translated into large paintings I created in 2013 – The Power of Smallness.) I believe that being a Weapon of Mass Creation, specifically the concept of defying the hand that is dealt, very much relates to the universal experience of feeling inadequate, yet growing, pushing through, and achieving all that is enormous. Great! Another piece was added to the puzzle: the depiction of the seemingly small artist releasing the magnificently colossal creative drive that is within. So what would that look like?
An astral-projected, cosmic, robot Buddha (boy, that’s a mouthful). Of course.
(Robot reference photos)
Yes, a cosmic robot Buddha. But why the portrayal as a robot? There are several reasons, however the most honest one is that I freakin’ love robots. They’re super rad. But a more justifiable reason is that I wanted it to reference the computer and technology, which have had revolutionizing roles in art and design. The robot subject also works quite well for an illustrative poster – lots of lines detailing its mechanized form. Lastly, the notion of robots has strong ties with childhood (especially in the ‘80s and ‘90s) and the youthful imagination. They are the tools in taking on huge challenges – “I’ll just get into my super powerful, giant robot to fight the bad guy.” Perhaps we lose some of that wide-eyed, wonder-filled, childlike drive when we get older. But that does not mean it is completely gone.
So get ready to revive that drive and celebrate imagination at this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest!
Continue reading “Creating the WMC Fest 6 Poster” tomorrow to see the steps of how this year’s event poster was created.
Free Poster Mockup PSD Included!
Here at Go Media, we are obsessed with poster design, because – one, it’s in our blood. (We’ve been designing concert and rave posters since the ’90’s.) Two, we’re die-hard illustrators at heart and three, it’s just all sorts of fun.
We hope you enjoy our newest collection of poster inspirations and that this post inspires you to create your own.
When inspiration hits, here’s a free Go Media Poster Photoshop Mockup Template to show off your work upon. Not a Photoshop user? Mock up your work on a free poster mockup on our site, MockupEverything.com. Go make us proud!
Here’s your download >> Poster Mockup Template (6) from arsenal.gomedia.us
Click on each poster to be taken to its source, and be sure to follow us on Pinterest for non-stop inspiration goodness!
Show us what you’re made of! Link us to your poster designs in the comments section below!
One Good Reason poster designed by Go Media
Gig Poster Designs
As you may well know, we love a good gig poster design here at Go Media.
Our designers know the keys to eye-catching, clear, crisp poster designs. We love to create, but we also appreciate great design when we see it.
Below you’ll find some most excellent gig posters we found over gigposters.com. A huge shout-out to Clay Hayes, founder of the site, for maintaining such an inspirational site!
Click on each image to be taken to the poster on gigposters.com.
Poster Contest from our friends at the National Poster Retrospecticus
Let’s talk for a minute about how much I love John Boilard, Producer of the National Poster Retrospecticus, a traveling show of over 300 hand-printed posters coming to Cleveland for this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Festival.
No, I haven’t met him yet, but I’m already smitten.
Because all signs are pointing to this: John is as passionate about WMC Fest as the crew here at Go Media. And that’s pretty darn kick-ass if you ask me.
You see, in the weeks leading up to the Fest, John has been nothing but enthusiastic. He’s gone above and beyond to share everything he can about his poster show with us here on the ‘Zine. As the editor, that makes my heart go pitter pat.
Look! There’s More!
Guess what, my friends.
John is here with the treat of all treats, if you asked me.
The National Poster Retrospecticus Poster Contest
To celebrate the National Poster Retrospecticus coming into town August 15 – 17, John has kindly offered up three sets of posters to you, my dear readers.
How do you win? It’s easy. Simply comment down at the bottom of the post and let us know why you’re dying to attend this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Festival.
Three winners will be chosen at random on Monday, August 11.
I recommend that you come back and see if you’ve won, just in case my Facebook message gets sent to your other folder, or such nonsense. Good luck everyone!
Here’s What You Can Win:
Prize 1: National Poster Retrospecticus Full Poster Set
Prize 2: Spring 2014 Set
Prize 3: Little Friends of Printmaking Poster
Best Poster Design
Hey designers, want way more inspiration? Attend our all-inclusive soul-fulfilling three-day design retreat, WMC: Off-The-Grid, this October 5 – 7th. To learn more, head to wmcfest.com.
Need some poster design inspiration? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered some good ones to get your creative juices flowing.
Once you’ve been inspired, head over to Mockup Everything to give your design a go on one of our free mockup templates, like this one:
Make sure to share your work with us!
Hey Designers, make sure to check out our Arsenal Membership, which hooks you up with our huge product library for only $15 per month. Yes, seriously.
A bit of background information
<Fair warning> the post is fairly long (6000+ words), but I deemed it necessary to take the time to meticulously explain the process I went through to re-design this poster. For instance, I took the time to detail my research and mood-board steps, which are often overlooked in tutorials. I also detailed as much as possible my “trial and error” style approach to choosing typefaces, and to constructing typeface arrangements. If you are a seasoned veteran, these extra steps will definitely seem boring, if not frustrating. Just skip them!</fair warning>
For those of you that haven’t been following, we released our 22nd vector set a few weeks ago. Steve Knerem, the artist behind the set’s content, decided to create a rockabilly themed poster to demonstrate the set’s potential. He then proceeded to write a tutorial about it. We said that we would expand a bit on Steve’s tutorial to bring his design to the next level, and to make it a tad more truthful to the rockabilly vibe.
What are we going to do?
First, we’ll be doing some research. There’s plenty to be learned from gig posters of the 1950s and 1960s, in terms of typefaces, composition, color palettes, etc. Our goal will be to identify some design elements and patterns from that era, and to improve Steve’s design based on them with the tools we have available now in the second decade of the XXIst century.
Second, we’ll see how we will recreate the patterns we’re seeing in our research to improve Steve’s original composition, while respecting his original concept. I’m anticipating mostly type work at this stage.
Finally, Steve’s original goal was to work towards a screen printed poster, hence his limited color palette and work primarily in Illustrator. I’m going to show you some of the techniques I use to texture and weather artwork, to make our clean and digital vector art look a tad more analog, and just like if you had pulled the poster out of your parents or grand parents’ attic after all these years. Sounds fun? Then let’s do this!
Research, research, research
Well, the easiest way to search for something these days is to google it. So I went ahead and researched using the following keywords:
Follow the links to see the results I encountered. I was hunting in the first couple links of the web search, as well as in the image search results.
There are already a few things that jump right to my face just by looking at these:
- The vibe difference between the 3 styles (rockabilly, 50s, and 60s) is pretty strong
- The rockabilly posters draw a lot on the Kustom culture
- The crazy gig posters with a bunch of colors and eerie designs started more in the 60s. This probably comes from psychedelic rock starting to be mainstream, printing techniques improving, and full color printing becoming cheaper
- Condensed, bold or extra bold sans-serif are among the most readable typefaces
- And Steve’s poster is even showing up in the search!
A look up-close
Let’s start with the rockabilly search. I ended up also exploring some of the links the web search turned up. There’s a pinterest board in particular called Rockabilly, Greaser, Pin Up, Posters & Art that was pretty rad. Just look at these:
While the Go Johnny go poster is cool, I prefer the Gene Vincent/Eddie Cochran one. This was a rather cheap poster to design and print: I count only 2 colors (black and red), and there’s no custom illustration. The eye gets attracted by the typeface relationships and color variations. One of the ways to add a few graphical elements is to use that star symbol. I see you coming already by saying that there are some other, way cooler looking other pieces on that page. There’s that Coney Island rockabilly festival poster, that Viva Las Vegas poster, and these 2 Social Distortion pieces. Well that’s the whole problem: a lot of the Rockabilly art that we see nowadays is contemporary art with a flair that’s inspired by the culture behind that music, the Kustom culture, etc. And the faithfulness of their emulation of the original design codes of the gig poster artists of the 1950s and 1960s varies greatly. That being said, looking at the typefaces they use, we can still see the affinity for either the hand painted sign type vibe, or the whole Sailor Jerry/tattoo vibe, or the condensed, cheaply printed, sans-serifs I was talking about earlier. Steve’s art matches the Sailor Jerry tattoo vibe pretty well, so that’s definitely a direction we can explore.
A look at the 1950s posters
These have a bit more color, and feature performers portrait. The “vintage diner” style of type seems to come from there. Looks at the BB King or T-Bone Walker type treatments. There are frames and not-quite-accurately-square color rectangles used as supports for content blocks, among other little design elements that immediately make us associate these posters with that era (stars, horizontal dividers, etc.). More to keep in mind.
And here are the 60s! Enter the psychedelic scene… There’s also that cut paper look. These are getting away from the style we’re trying to emulate for sure.
So, it looks like we’re trying to find a happy medium between the boxing style posters of the 1950s and the modern interpretation of the Rockabilly/Kustom/Sailor Jerry approach. We’ll pay a special attention to type, and might modify or add to the borders already put in place by Steve in his original art. Finally, we might give some hierarchy to thew type with some box elements or dividers. And let’s go!
First: the type elements
Here are the type pieces from Steve’s design:
The title features a type midway between western and country. That’s the good part. The main issue I have with it are these pre-made grunge scratches on it.
The band names features some solid options (The Blue Storm, Hail Hail Hellstorm, maybe Jack is coughing), and some less solid ones (Home Grown Heroes, The Billies, Sound of Thunder, Young Turtles, 1950s Alive).
The gig information space is written in that condensed slab serif. I like it, but maybe we can find a more fitting one. And here are type pieces from our references:
I think it’s time to start looking at our typeface collection, at the Lost Type Co-op, and at Dafont.com. Working at Go Media as its perks, as they’ve accumulated a solid type library over the years. But since it’s not the case for everybody, let’s see what we can find before digging into the secret vault here.
The Lost Type Co-op
Lost Type has quite a few candidates: Mission Gothic, Dude, Mission Script, Sullivan, Bemio, Arvil Sans, Oil Can, Outage, Aldine Expanded, Duke, Onramp, and Tightrope. The cool thing is that you can get a personal license (and sometimes even a commercial one!) for these typefaces for free. But you should totally give a few $$$, as these are so amazing.
(Images via Lost Type Co-op and its various contributors – © all rights reserved)
Let’s be honest, Dafont is a place listing cool typefaces but also some very lame ones. That’s why I’m very wary of using that site anymore. But maybe just for today we can find some good surprises. Remember, not all of these are free! Most of these, in fact, are free for personal use only. You’ll need to get in touch with the font creator if you want to use them on a commercial basis. The two categories I focused my searches on are western and retro fonts. And I have quite a list there too. Anderson Four Feather Falls, Anti Hero, Laredo Trail, Pointedly Mad, Regulators, Alpenkreuzer, ARB-218 Big & Blunt, ARB-66 Neon JUN-37, Franklin M54, HFF Sultan of Swat, NPS Signage 1945, Phat Phreddy, Super Retro M54, and Tattoo Ink.