Nov 19, 2009

Working With The End In Mind: A T-Shirt Design Project

My limited ability to draw doesn't come into play in my line of work very often. But, when it does I try to make the most of the opportunity. I was recently approached by a client to create a 3 color design for their "Washington Mardi Gras" t-shirts. I'd worked on the design 2 years ago and they seemed pleased with it, so I imagine that is why they contacted me to create this one.

The instructions for this new design included using Southwest Louisiana's official mascot, "Gumbo Gator."
Here's the instructions I received from my client.

Now, Gumbo Gator has been around for over 20 years, originally created by a local cartoonist. Gumbo has always had a specific look (when he's not drawn correctly, it's pretty noticeable). My particular style of drawing doesn't match the original cartoonist's, but I knew I'd need to represent Gumbo as close as I possibly could.

The client wanted to see Gumbo standing in a pile of Mardi Gras beads with icons from Washington D.C. in the background covered in more beads. Rather than draw one scene, I felt it would be better to create modular images. Tackling the project this way would allow me to edit the images, moving them and resizing them, just in case the client had edits of their own, plus there's the added bonus of having individual elements to use on other projects, should the need ever arise.

I drew each of the objects in non-photo blue, inked them, scanned them, then brought each one into Photoshop where I created the type of image that the client requested, making sure to go no larger than 12" x 12" (that's the shirt's imprint area), leaving room at the top and bottom for the typographical elements that would come later.

Once I was happy with the new image, I brought it into Adobe Illustrator and did a live-trace of it. I chose 3 specific Pantone colors to work with (purple, yellow & green...for Mardi Gras), since the print needed end up as a 3 color imprint. This would allow the printer separate the colors easily.

I added the typographic elements, then colored the portions of the image that needed it. I made sure that I used purple as my primary color. I applied it to the line work since it was the darkest color. I wanted to add some shading so I used 20% of the purple and yellow. It added depth to the piece, and helped Gumbo to stand out from the details in the background. The shading will appear as halftones on the final printed shirts.

I am very happy with the way this piece turned out. As with most of the projects I work on, I had to squeeze time in between cracks to get it done. Working in a hurry is never a good thing, but you always learn tricks that help you save time in the process. My project timer on this one says that it took about 6 hours (that's drawing & computer time combined). Considering the end result, I'd say that's an acceptable time frame.

As always, thanks for stopping by. Your comments are appreciated.

1 comment:

Matthew Romero said...

Looks awesome!