Sunday, November 20, 2011

How I Make a Poster

Paper illustration © Kevin Kidney

Earlier this year I was hired to create a promotional campaign for a holiday entertainment company using paper sculpture. I love Christmas and everything about the holidays so I was really excited about this project. Above is a scene that I put together for a poster. People often ask me to show more "behind the scenes" in making and photographing one of my illustrations, so this might be a good time to do it.

The first thing that I do, after talking things over with the client and doodling in my sketch book, is the layout:


A layout is simply my pencil drawings placed in a digital mock up, with a bit of shading and value. I try to figure everything out during this stage so I won't have problems to fix later. For this project, I experimented a bit with colors...


For me personally, choosing colors is the most difficult part of the whole thing.

Once I get the "go ahead" to continue, I start building my image. I had a very specific idea of how I wanted the "Holiday Village" typeface to look, with lots of whimsy and beveled edges:


Every part of the picture, including the lettering, is cut out of colored paper with an x-acto knife and assembled with strong tacky glue. I like to work very clean, so I keep a dampened dishcloth nearby to periodically wipe off my hands and fingers. Dirt, oil or glue will smudge the paper and ruin everything. Grungy is not my style, anyway.


Some of the paper bits are LITTLE and the slightest breeze will send them flying off my table like tiny leaves. I won't tell you how many times I had to search the floor for Santa's eyebrows.


Finally, it's all assembled like a miniature theatrical set, and carefully lit like one, too. It's very important the shadows fall where they're supposed to. This year I bought an excellent new camera that takes hi-def images, so conceivably, I could create artwork for a freeway billboard, if necessary!

I can fudge details in photoshop later (for print work) but I strive to keep that to a minimum. CG imagery is not as exciting to me, and part of the magic of making something look hand-made is to avoid over-polishing it in the computer afterwards.

And that's about all there is to it. Merry Christmas everybody!


25 comments:

Mr. Chicken said...

Wow. I love those in progress photos. Very cool to see the photography setup, too. Thanks for sharing your secrets!

wacky tacky said...

Incredible! Clearly patience is your virtue.

Darren72 said...

Beautiful as always!

Davelandweb said...

Excellent post - love seeing your creative process! What kind of a camera did you get?

Newrush said...

Wow, been waiting for an update and this was sure worth the wait! So cool.

Matt said...

There's something about real paper and shadows that can't be recreated in Photoshop, huh? Beautiful stuff, thanks for sharing!

John Rozum said...

Thanks for the peek behind the scenes. As a fellow cut paper artist, your work has always been a real inspiration. Glad to see I'm not the only one to suffer trying to locate missing essential tiny bits of paper.

Your finished result is spectacular as always.

Chuck Williams said...

Thank you so much for sharing this Kevin!

Your work brings back all the quality and skill of the grand 'ol days of the Disney studio that I'm so fond of.

Congratulations on another winner!

All the best and keep up the great work,
Chuck Williams

Mark Allen Church said...

So lovely...you are inspiring!

Major Pepperidge said...

Beautiful; reminds me of old covers of McCall's or one of those great magazines from the 50's & 60's. I also get a vivid memory of flipping through a 1960's-era book that my mom had (still has!) about paper sculpting, when I first learned about scoring and burnishing paper.

Don Morin said...

I love seeing this step by step process! However it does make me realize how creatively challenged I am... :)

Kevin Eslinger said...

The process and final result is absolutely amazing!

Dan said...

This is amazing!
How have you made the lettering beveled? Have you scored the other side of the card and then folded?

Eric Scales said...

Wow, what a really beautiful piece. And I love that it's not all just glued into place, that it's a more dimensional set than that. Very cool.

Inspired by your work, and Brittany Lee, who also does great paper sculpture, I tried a small piece myself last year. just keeping the pieces of paper clean while handling and gluing is a monumental task.

Mick said...

absolutely lovelly

Progressland said...

Process-oriented posts like this will be very helpful to your future archival staff.

Ray Breg said...

Wow! Amazing work again Kevin. Love the comment about photoshop... you can always see if something is real!

trouble said...

That's so cool. Thanks for sharing your process.

Heather Dixon said...

Wow, this is fabulous

David Elliott said...

Absolutely awesome work!

davidbird said...

Great design and execution Kevin! Thanks for sharing.

Joanie said...

I'm impressed and amazed! Very cute.

Brenda said...

Just wonderful!!

Izzy Moon said...

Thank you for sharing your process. I've marvelled at your work for quite some time, and have wondered how you do it. Your originals are much smaller than I expected. Do you work with magnifiers? Also, I'm curious as to how you put bevels on paper and what type of paper stock you use. This is fascinating to me. I love your artwork and have a few of your limited edition pieces, including the Hatbox Ghost big fig, one of my prized possessions. You're one of my favorite artists, and not just because of your style and choice of subjects. Your passion for all that you do really comes through and your enjoyment is contagious.

ste3ve said...

"That's about all there is to it." Oh yeah, that totally looks easy. ;)