Monday, November 23, 2015

I designed the 2016 International Nerdlesque Festival poster!

Happy to announce that I'm doing the art for The 2nd International Nerdlesque Festival this April 1st and 2nd in NYC! I had so much fun at the 1st one two years ago that I offered to do the artwork for the next Fest- and here I am! The last festival had so many amazing performances, I was thoroughly impressed. I highly suggest that if you are a fan of pop culture, nerdy stuff and sexy burlesque performances you should def come out to this show! I will also be vending at the festival both nights, so if you come out be sure to swing by my table and check out all my pinup goodies! 

The final versions:
Friday 4/1/15 at Webster Hall
Saturday 4/2/15 at Le Poisson Rouge
Progress pics:

My inspiration for the flyer came from 80's arcade art. I've been a fan of this type of art all my life, a good chunk of my adolescence was spent at the local arcades they had in the Maryland suburbs.

Some of the art I collected for inspiration.
I tried to break down the elements of my favorite pieces- limited palettes, rounded borders and starbursts were definitely takeaways. Even still I would love to do more artwork in this style. I think it's criminally under appreciated nowadays- there's such a masterful incorporation of stripes and geometric shapes. Total retro-futristic stuff going on. Love it. I still have so much to learn about harnessing it's aesthetic for my own work.

My initial sketch. I knew right off the bat that I wanted a Statue of Liberty figure with a burlesquey/sci-fi spin- adding a bubble helmet, torch scepter and upgrading her stone tablet to a electronic one.

After I got my initial sketch down, I scan it into Photoshop and adjust proportions and posing. I then lighten all my linework to a non-photo blue, and print out the sketch on bristol or card stock copy paper. I then start a second more refined drawing on top of the blue lined sketch, refining my linework and starting to focus on the fine details like her hair, face, and the flow of the dress. The benefit of the blue lined printout under the drawing is that it's eraser-proof, so it's almost like an analog save. There have been too many times in my history of drawing where I thought I should erased something and do it better, only to find out that the version I drew 2-3 erases ago was perfect and I should have just left it alone. When I draw I use a 2H pencil for my layouts (the H stands for hard, it gives a lighter line on the paper) and then go back in to details with an HB pencil (which is somewhat darker, the B stands for bold).

After I have my pencils where I want them, I take a sheet of vellum and tape it over top of my pencils so I can start inking. I tend to always use Micron pens- I've used them since high school and they're one of my favorite brands. They're easy to get ahold of and reasonably priced, plus it's just what I'm used to working in. 

Left- inks right after scanning, Right- inks after cleanup

After I finish inking I scan Space Princess Statue of Liberty into my computer, usually at 300-400 dpi and open her up in Photoshop. Make sure she's whatever size you need her to be- for this poster I will be working in 11x17". Here I start to clean up the linework- erasing any screw ups I may have made on the actual inks and use the Level Tool (Ctrl + L) to bump up the contrast so the lines are more clear. I also go in with the Dodge (set to Highlights at 20% exposure) and Burn (set to Shadows at 50% exposure) tools to eliminate any shadows from scanning the vellum and to darken any fine lines that were starting to grey out. Once I get my line work clear enough, I go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold to make the linework all a sharp, solid black. This may require some adjustments of the slider bar and you may even need to go back yet again and color in some lines that have gaps in them. Once I feel happy with my inks I start my coloring process.

**Depending on how tight my deadline is- I may go even further with cleaning up my inks by importing them over to Illustrator and vectorizing them, then individually adjusting each Bézier curve with the Pen tool. I actually have a segment on how I do this here on Natalie Kin's It's a Draw! video tutorial series. However be warned, it can easily add at least another day to your work and I only suggest it for very clean, open, graphic drawings free of any textures like hatching, stippling, etc.

Wee! Coloring time! So now that our inks are all pretty and sleek and flat black, I start making my layers for coloring. For such a simple palette, I only really worked in about 10 layers for the figure, which I laid out in this GIF:

One of these days I'll break down my coloring methods even further, but that's a progress blog post for another day.

Now for the HARD PART.

After I got my figure and my palette sorted I started sketching out in Photoshop what I want the actual poster to look like. At the time I didn't have all the information of where the Festival was being held, or when, or any of that good stuff, so I concentrated on the upper 2/3rds of the poster. This is usually how I lay out all of my posters- scribbling in an inordinate amount of layers, squashing and stretching elements to make them fit in various spots. I have to laugh when people think the hardest part of the poster for me is drawing the main figure, when drawing cute girls is (for me, at least) second nature at this point. It's actually all the typography, design elements and general composition that drive me to beat my head against the wall.

Then I start designing my type! For this part, I open up Illustrator and start looking at fonts (of which my husband and I have about 26,000…). I eventually settled on using two that reflected the retro sci-fi feel I was going for and started building my elements and configuring them into something that starts to resemble my initial poster sketch. (This is a good article on combining fonts.) I tend to build my posters in Photoshop rather than entirely in Illustrator, which people like my husband find mind boggling, but it's what I'm most comfortable in and I feel it's more organic. Plus I'm more familiar with making things look how I want to in Photoshop versus Illustrator. I still however import the elements and type I built from Illustrator- I NEVER use the type tool in Photoshop. It's bush league. You can't scale, kern or properly space your type without it looking like ass. So you shouldn't either, so please do yourself a favor and learn how to use Illustrator if you're going to be dealing with type.

After a couple of days of arranging, then staring, then rearranging, then staring some more I finally got my poster to look like the design I had in my brain and was super pleased with the result. These two last pics are of the early draft before I got all of the proper info- which you can see at the top of this entry. I hope that if you're in the NYC area you'll come by for what is going to be a super fun and amazing show. I went to the first one and was thoroughly impressed (hence why I wanted to be part of the next one!)

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