Thursday, June 10, 2010

HZ #14 (15) Coffee

With the HOWiezine having been on hiatus for awhile, I had plenty of time to mull over a concept for the covers. Initially I had a list of ideas, which then got narrowed down to 3 concepts. The first two involved photography, and the third involved chalkboard art. Photography would have been the easy route to go, so instead I decided to challenge myself by taking on drawing (not my strong suite) in a new medium. I liked the idea of using chalkboard art, because chalkboard signs are a popular form of signage in coffee shops, restaurants, and even some grocers.

Since I have never experimented with chalkboard signs before, I did a bit of research to find out if there were any tricks, tips or specific art tools that would make the process easier. I found that, taking the size of scale into consideration, that using pastel pencils would be the easiest way to get the lines and detail I wanted. Another option was to buy water soluble paint markers, as they can clean up edges nice and make hand drawn lettering much easier. Unfortunately, buying the exact amount of colors I was going to need for rendering the drawing, wasn't exactly cost effective for my budget. I found a set of 24 pastel pencils which gave me a good range to work with, so I settled on those. I used a old chalkboard I have had since my childhood, and masked off a 14"x14" area for the drawing. This made drawing easier, and I was easily able to scale down the size to the 7"x7" requirements later on.

I was pretty well set on the table, chair, window, cat, and mug of coffee, and wood paneling on the bottom of the walls. The top area of the wall is what I changed several times. I experimented with different colors, but found the neutral colors stood out the best on the surface of the chalkboard. The other area I struggled with was, what to put on the wall, above the table? Should I draw a few funky looking pieces of art, like you might see in a coffee shop? Or put in another window? Or even a light fixture? In the end, I decided leaving room for a simple sign, (coffee shop style of course!) was the best and most accommodating option for the 'zine title/number as well. Plus, it also allowed the natural surface of the chalkboard to be visible and really enhance the sign itself. Basically, this was a classic example of, "less is more." Had I decided to go another route, I think it would have been too far busy, and overcomplicated my original idea.

Click on the photos to view the full images on Flickr.

HZ14/15 Coffee

This first picture is what the finished drawing looked like on the chalkboard. I found that using the blue painters tape allowed me not only a clean edge, but a place to rest my wrist while working on the drawing. Not that I didn't have a accidental smudge here and there...whoops! I found it easy to work around the drawing by rotating the blackboard and leaning it up against a wall while I worked. I did attempt to do the letting by hand, but it proved a bit too difficult to get the letterforms as solid as I wanted. So I put the pastels aside, photographed the chalkboard (ok, so "technically" some photography was involved), and added it in on the computer.

This is what the end result looked like, after the type was added and the color was ever so slightly adjusted.

HZ#14/15 Coffee

As for the interior pages, I had found two quotes I wanted to use. I knew that I wanted to do the drawings on brown paper bags, for a few reasons. The first was that I couldn't bring myself to erase the cover off the chalkboard yet! The second was the paper offered a nice, neutral and gritty service to work on, which captured the color really well. When it came time to draw, I was a little unsure of what I wanted to do. Once again, I found myself over thinking the drawing(s). After a few failed attempts, I decided to use a single coffee mug for the one, which looked a little like the mug from the cover.

As for the other, I decided to toss in a little humor, and play off the graphic of a slippery road sign. This gave in to the notion that sometimes a person just can't wait to break out of the office to grab a coffee. Since this is a HOWiezine, and the HOW Design Conference was coming up, I thought I'd also add a little thought bubble to the driver with the words, "HOW or bust!"

I used a white paint marker for the steam on the mug page, and for the thought bubble on the car page, which wound up being more visibly solid than using a white pastel. Once the drawings were done, both pages were scanned and the type was added in digitally as well.

HZ#14/15 Coffee

HZ#14/15 Coffee