Sunday, 23 March 2014

Play | Poster design: Becketts Ringar

Model: Marie Brottemsmo, all photography: Veslemøy Furuseth

I've done a number of poster for the student theatre company Immaturus in Bergen, Norway. I joined them when I was a student and was cast in the role of a mentally challenged boy. That's right. Perhaps not surprisingly, I let that be my one contribution as an actor, was on Immaturus's board and artistic board for a while, and, when the call came for someone to design a poster for a play, tried my hand at that. And that's how I got into print design. This is a making-of of a poster I did for them last autumn.

The play: 'Becketts Ringar' (Beckett's Rings) — a series of shorter pieces inspired by Samuel Beckett played out partly inside, partly in the streets of Bergen. The poster shows the main protagonist, 'A,' in an urban setting. As usual, we started off with a photo shoot, making this my basis for the poster:

The first thing I did was to cover up her ear tattoo with a few brush strokes in Photoshop. To make it look more natural I painted a few strands of hair back over the strokes and added a bit of noise. I didn't need to be super accurate, though (as you can see), as the final product would have a grainy, black-and-white look.

The next challenge were the sunglasses. There were three problems: they showed our reflection, there were drops of rain on them (this was in Bergen), and it would look really good if they reflected a city-scape.

So I created new sunglass lenses from scratch. I masked out the original lenses, added her de-sunglassified eyes from another picture underneath this layer, added a black-to-transparent gradient to mimic her own sunglasses, and added a shot of a Bergen street. To make this look natural, I gave each lens the same reflection but slightly shifted, and spherised them (puffed them up) just a little bit, because lenses are convex. Additionally, they were made partially transparent to show her eyes. To top it off, I added an Inner Shadow to recreate the slight shadow cast by the rims.

Right, happy with that. But I wanted the whole thing to look sharper. High Pass is great for this. Merge everything into one layer, copy this, and (for this image) I used a 2 pixel radius High Pass, which looks like this:

Well, that's very grey. Yes, but that's the idea. By setting this layer' blend mode to Overlay, the darker and lighter areas interact with the underlying layer (the original image) and make it appear sharper. Look at the slight difference below:

The left side (High Pass layer) looks sharper. Especially the eye, reflected buildings, and lips.

To introduce more of an urban feel, I flanked her with two buildings. Unwanted elements were masked out and the images' blend modes set to Color Dodge.

Now for the black and white: an Adjustment Layer of Black & White set to High Contrast Blue Filter to bring out as much detail as possible, and to create a more interesting black and white image. This way, orange (the opposite of blue on a colour wheel) will be darkened, making for a grittier-looking skin and (in this case) more contrast in the hair. The result is much more dramatic, especcially with the rain drops in the air:

I wanted more contrast, though, so I used Levels make it pop a little more. I also painted in some black in the lower part of the image to make the text I was going to add more visible:

For the final part, I moved to InDesign and added logos and the lettering. Arial Bold, all capitals, in yellow and white, although at first I tried cyan and purple (intelligently shot down by the artistic board of Immaturus). In the end, the combination of gritty black with white and bold yellow created a simple yet distinct look. Final result:

In addition, I created a booklet with information on the play, cast and crew etc. for the theatre goers, as well as some other PR stuff such as a Facebook cover photo and a banner for Det Akademisk Kvarter, where it was performed:

Thank you, come again!

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