It’s been a while since I updated this, but life intruded. Still, as they say, “the reports of my death were greatly exaggerated”, and I am still here and designing.
For this blog I’m going to talk about another old poster of mine I did for the history study association UHSK of Utrecht University. This poster was for one of the themed parties this association organizes, and this time around they chose the theme “Sprookjesbos”, which means Fairytale Forest – specifically it refers to the famed Fairytale Forest that has formed one of the main attractions of Dutch theme park the Efteling since it opened in 1952. Readers of this blog will know this same park also provided the theme for the association lustrum of 2011- it just forms a huge part of a Dutch childhood, what can I say…
Anyway, as usual they needed this poster in a hurry. Since my first year, myself and fellow chairmen of the imaging committee have worked to get the time the other committees have to commission a poster up to a few weeks, but at this time we rarely had more than a few days’ notice before they wanted it printed and posted. Luckily this poster consists of elements I already had lying around from other projects that I could throw together quickly to form the final design.
The forest element is formed by trees I designed a year or so earlier to form part of an illustration for a short story I wrote (and never finished) that have since formed part of many of my illustrations. They are a convenient vector element to reuse. In this case I have taken them from yet another artwork of mine, a drawing of a dirt road running out of a forest and down to the sea which has been a persistent vision of mine over the years but that I can’t seem to locate. They’ve been dressed with leaves for that design, and I’m not sure I even bothered to redress the trees. I did, however change the colours around to have them form part of a night scene. The bark effect I copied from the artwork I did, but I achieved this by overlaying a gradient with this texture onto the solid shape of the tree underneath, adding some depth to the otherwise featureless trunks.
The cauldron and rays I originally designed as part of a series of dancing girls, but once the lady had been removed this same magic cauldron would serve perfectly as an undefined magical element in this forest. Other than a golden glow and some fairy dust, I really don’t know what it is supposed to be, but hey, it looks good, and they wanted the poster immediately…
To bind all these elements together I overlaid a few basic gradient layers with layer effects. There’s a black vignette with a burn effect laid over the hole to burn out the outside edges of the forest and have the darkness intrude. This then contributed to the brightness of the next effect layer, a golden radial gradient growing transparent towards the edges with a dodge effect overlaid. By putting this glow only over the background trees, while the foreground trees are burned out I could create some depth to the image. Finally the background is a simple dark blue to black gradient, with only the golden cauldron glow and the trees providing the warmth of this image.
The next step was adding the text. As usual, I believe in the power of the correct font, so I paid attention to using the ‘correct’ ones. For the title I wanted to use a beautiful but readable German gothic or ‘Fraktur’ script, probably because I was influenced by the Brothers Grimm’s editing of German folk tales. For this part I used a font called Rothenburg (named after the beautifully preserved German medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber – which, incidentally, I visited in 2006), and it really is all you see here.
Then, for the rest of the information I decided to use the font the Efteling used themselves for their posters. In secondary school my maths teacher used to have an 80s vintage Efteling poster for a roller coaster in his classroom, and remembering this I looked up what font this series of posters used. This turned out to be an extended version of good old Helvetica, however, as I didn’t have access to that yet at this point I used a clone from one of my WordPerfect CD-roms called Swiss721, which serves admirably.
At this point I wasn’t in the habit of actually visiting every event I made a poster for, but I recall that this party was a great opportunity for everyone to come up with creative costume ideas. I hope my ambiguous poster design served as a blank canvas for people to project their own imagination on!