Monday, 29 September 2014

More Signwriting - Superhero Backdrop.

A short while ago at a recent Outcast VW Club meeting I got chatting to a fellow club member, Steve Cook who owns a photographic company called 'Swale Photography'. 
Steve was saying that he was attending a superhero convention and that he would like a backdrop for members of the public to stand in front of while they have their photo taken. Steve asked if I could produce something to help him out, and of course I said I could. We discussed what sort of design he wanted on the backdrop and Steve said he would like to have superhero 'action words' such as, KAPOW and UGGH!. Steve asked if I could produce the backdrop with the action words around the outside so that when a person, or a couple stood in front of the backdrop, (usually in some sort of superhero costume) the action words could still be seen. We also discussed what he would like the backdrop to be made out of, and I said that I had some 3 foot x 2 foot white foam boards in stock, which would be ideal as they are lightweight and easy to transport around. Steve asked if I could produce a backdrop using 4 boards, so that the backdrop would be approximately 6 foot x 4 foot, but they would need to be separate and it would be have to be able to fix together quite easily once Steve got to the superhero venue, as he hasn't got room to transport a 6' x 4' sheet of foam board. You can check out Swale Photography face book page here:!/pages/Swale-Photography/541550572560994

Steve gave me a very detailed drawing, to scale
which showed the layout of the 'action words'
on the backdrop..! Seriously though, although
this scribbled drawing was his design, Steve did
explain in detail what he was looking for, so there
wasn't really any need for a drawing.

Foam board is an excellent product that I like
to work with. It is 33" x 24", lightweight and
durable, and ideal for numerous projects such
temporary as signs.

Steve supplied a list of 14 'action words' that
he would like applied to the board. I always
like to draw the word in pencil before I start
painting. This is so I can make sure everything
looks OK and also make sure the positioning
of the word is where I want it to be before the 
paint starts to go on.

Before drawing each action word, I thought 
about how each particular word sounded and
how that sound would look. For example 'Zap'
is a short sharp sounding word, therefore I
imagined it to look bold, and easy to read.
Here the first coat of acrylic has gone on,
the only drawback with using foam board is
that if your using acrylic paint then every word 
will need 2 coats.

The first of 14 action words finished. When
deciding what colours to use on the back drop,
I decided to keep it simple and only use 4
different colours, red, blue, green and gold.

Remember I was talking about how I imagined
the sounds of words would look, and I said
that 'zap' sounded a short bold word, where as
 'swoosh' sounded like a long sweeping word.

The 3rd word drawn out and painted. On the
drawing Steve provided he had 3 words on
top left board, and 4 words on the top right
hand board. I thought as most photo's will
have the head and shoulders of the person
or couple in line with the top boards, this is
where I thought the most action words
should be.

The top left hand board is finished. Spacing of
the words on the first board is always tricky as
you have nothing to relate to, no other wording
to gauge where the words would look best,
however I'm quite pleased with the outcome.

After several more evenings of drawing and
painting, the top right hand board was finished.

Both top boards placed together so I can get
a look at what it looks like so far. I think the
words are spaced out enough to allow a person
or couple to stand in front so that the action words
should still be able to seen.

Starting the bottom right hand board, you can
see how opaque the acrylic is, as it goes onto
the foam board. Each word needed 2 coats,
which was very time consuming.

The bottom right hand board finished. I think
using just the four colours works well on this

Again, once the 3rd board was finished and
had dried, a quick mock up on the floor just
to see what it looks like. I'm liking it so far.
I think the different font styles suit this super-
hero backdrop perfectly, it looks as though
it could have come straight out of an early
Marvel comic.

Pencil drawing on the last board. Once I was
happy with the outline and position of the word
it would be time, once again to start painting.

By drawing the words out in pencil before I
start to paint, and as every word needed two
coats of acrylic paint it was a very time
consuming project, but still enjoyable.

Final mock up of the four boards. All I have to
do now is figure out some way of fixing all the
boards together. Steve will need to transport
the boards separately as he doesn't have a
lot of space. So whatever way of joining the
boards I decide upon needs to be simple
enough to easily put together at the super-
hero event.

I had several attempts in joining the boards,
including, velcro. hinges and picture hooks
but they all left a gap of 2-3mm between the
boards, which looked terrible. After a few
day's thinking about the problem I decided
I needed some 'H' trim in white plastic (to
match the board) with 6mm channels so the
 board could slip into the 'H' trim and be held
secure. Only one problem, does such a thing
exist? If so, where do I get it from? After
visiting numerous D.I.Y. stores all I could find
was this white trim. It's not quite what I was
looking for as the back support was not as high
as the front, meaning the support on the short
side would not be as good as the high side.

The back of the back drop doesn't look very
pretty but then this side isn't going to be seen.
I used 'gaffer' tape to hold the board in the
plastic channel. I will secure 3 of the 4 plastic
channels so Steve can transport the boards
easily. All he needs to do then is insert the
boards into the channels and tape them up.
The 4th piece of channel (top middle) will
simply slide into position after all the other
3 boards are in place.

Talking to Steve, he didn't know if he had a
wall to hang the backdrop on, so I decided
to tape these picture hooks on the back.
That way, if he has a wall he can use drawing
pins to hang the backdrop, or if not he could
feed some string through the picture hooks
and hang the backdrop from somewhere.
The foam board is so light, using gaffer tape
will easily be enough to hold the weight.

How the finished back drop looks. The white
plastic trim is not quite the same colour as
the board, but then again there will be a person
or a couple standing in front so most of the trim
will not be seen.  The only thing I'm not happy
with is the plastic trim, as it more of a 'T' shape
rather than an 'H' there is not as much support
on the front of the board. This means the top
boards lean forward slightly, although this small
problem shouldn't matter as I assume Steve will
be taking photo's from straight on, in front of the
back drop so this shouldn't be seen.

So that was my latest project. Overall a very
enjoyable piece of work although it was quite
time consuming. I hope Steve likes it and hope
that it generates Steve plenty of work by the
public having their photo taken standing
in front of the backdrop.

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