Sunday, October 4, 2015

Campfire Storytelling poster


Recently I completed a commission from the fine folks at the Dawson Library in Georgia for their storytelling concert in October of this year. This annual event entails an evening spent outside by a campfire listening to a number of storytellers sharing spooky tales to a young audience. They requested an emphasis on "scary" as their previous years' posters were a bit too "friendly". This presented a wonderful opportunity. Scary, but for a young audience.

The client graciously gave me complete creative freedom to pursue any solution of my choice. In the initial sketches included woodland critters, scared kids, witches, pumpkins and other Halloween characters. All too busy.Finally, I focused on the character from a classic fireside story, the man with the hook hand.To complete the concept, a campfire, a book, and the outdoors were included. The essentials.

This is the initial rough sketch. And like most initial things,
I thought it would be "great" if the character would appear to be reading from a book to the audience (to emphasis the library connection). Too much, and off target. It was distracting the viewer from the fact the man with the hook hand was menacing, and more importantly, looking at you.
This decision was made during the reference photo session with the model. He just seemed more menacing looking directly at you with book by his side.

With some additional reference gathered for the fire, the trees and the moon I transferred the finished composition to the final working surface (Strathmore Bristol series 400 paper) using charcoal and a bit of workable fix to keep in in place to begin the color work. The type was very roughly placed to help with the placement of the moon, that was to be integrated into the final type solution. The final type was done separately and placed digitally into the final painting.

b/w charcoal underpainting
painting in progress

To address the issue that this event was for a young audience it seemed appropriate to create a more playful type solution.
This type was created using a black pastel and done separately from the painting and applied digitally to allow greater freedom in choosing the right colors and position for the final poster.

final art

Through the process of working on the poster, I departed from my reference and eliminated much of the information in the face and jacket of the character to help emphasize just how scary this guy was
and create a focal point around the eyes. Back to that "less is more" thing.

final poster with type in place