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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Fiend Streets

In an effort to push the limits of my rudimentary graphic design skills, I sat down today to design a faux-retro poster for a fake 80s teen hoodlum drama. I shot the original black and white photos during the photography module of our grade eight industrial arts class, added film grain and tinted the colour and the rest is all in the fonts.

My goal here was to evoke the grunge of 70s exploitation films with some of the pastel-coloured glam of the 80s. Maybe I should have used baby-blue and pink tints for the photos, but red and yellow seem more lurid and violent.


"Who Watches The Jeffers?" said...

'70s and '80s graphic arts production was all by hand. Think that with the exception of a couple of video screens, all of the effects in Blade Runner including models, text, mattes, logo-work, etc. were all hand-made! Photoshop is quite good at simulating a lot of it, but to get the full effect you have to do an end-run around Photoshop automation. Drop shadows would either have been solid or painted in with an airbrush. In the '80s, solid drop shadows were often complementary or split-comp colour to the main font. Fonts would have been xerographed and cut and pasted by hand. That's why you see so many crazy '80s fonts: the artist was trying to come up with something vivid, but also something that could be laid out in a hurry.

The photos too might be xerographed so that they could be posterized, hence the posterize filter in Photoshop. Threshold simulates xerography in Photoshop. For that matter, it's not likely you would have more than 256 colours - instead of adding noise, cut out the extra colours and posterize. The images would also have been hand-tinted. Depending on the budget, the tint might be custom or it might be based on the cheapest ink available to the printer.

Your workflow would be to first create each element and print it out. Then cut out everything and assemble on your board. Then paste. Then erase cutlines (liquid paper works well, or white acrylic paint). Then paint in by hand or airbrush the details that might have been covered up by an element (such as filling in the enclosed letters of a font). Then apply masks and/or friskets to the the stuff you want protected (frisket is like liquid masking tape, or Inverse Select in Photoshop). Then apply your tint (either paint or coloured acetate) and airbrush your dropshadows. If using acetate, that would be the last step, as paint won't stick to acetate, but acetate sticks to paint. We'll see how you are doing in a couple of weeks.

About a month ago, I found a used handbook for print graphics circa 1985. The whole thing was about how to create graphic arts and layouts by hand. Stuff that would take a team a week to do by hand a contemporary artist can accomplish with a mouse click. The book was hilarious and horrifying at the same time. Now I wish I had picked it up. I'll go back and see if it's still for sale.

Earl J. Woods said...

It's easy to forget what a labour intensive process graphic design used to be. I remember well how much time it took to lay out our high school yearbooks, and even then we had an Apple Lisa to help. I wasn't a terribly accomplished layout artist, so I delegated that responsibility to those with greater skill. But I do remember those blue grids and using orange wax markers to map out the boxes where art and text would go!