Thursday, July 4, 2013

Ideas Can Come from Strange Circumstances

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Ideas really can come from unexpected sources. The inspiration for this advertising piece, which I designed for a local garden center, illustrates this fact well. When I was a very young boy (I must have been about 10 years old) I visited my Aunt Diane and Uncle John and I heard my uncle relate a funny set of circumstances which greeted them in their kitchen upon their return home from a trip. It seems one of their potted plants (a cactus) somehow managed to escape from it’s pot on the window sill. It then leaped over the kitchen sink and crawled to the middle of the kitchen floor where they found it, desiccated and dead. I was very perplexed by this and asked him how such a thing could happen. He responded, in his characteristically humorous fashion, that instead of a green thumb my aunt has a BLACK THUMB OF DEATH! Her plants don't wait to be killed; they commit suicide.

I still chuckle at that story to this day. In fact, the whole set of circumstances made such an impact on me that I was able to draw inspiration from it for this ad, which is meant to be a branding piece to run in Rochester Magazine (the local, upscale, glossy mag). Here is how I created it:

This thumb accompanies the logo in all of the advertising for this garden center. I wanted to play up the green thumb concept by comparing it to it's opposite.

 I found a good stock photo of a child in a Grim Reaper costume. All I need from this is the hood.

Positioning the hood over the thumb, I illustrated some more fabric to the bottom and I began making some color changes to the thumb.

Adjusting the Hue/Saturation sliders in Photoshop, a change the lively green color to a less lively blue.

Then I made it even less lively by giving it a much darker tonal value.

Next, around the bottom of the hood and around the thumb, I painted in some shadows being cast by the hood.

If you follow my blog, you may remember the stormy sky I created for this piece (you can read about it here).

Seeing no need to re-create-the-wheel, I simply picked up the sky and lightning from that ad and, with a little adjustment and rearrangement, used it for the background of the Black Thumb. I also added a skull face and a scythe. Oooooh, scary!

This is the final composited Photoshop image. If you look closely, you will see that I also painted in some lighter highlights to the hood/cloak to give it more definition. All it needs is the text and the logo to deliver the message.

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