Friday, February 22, 2013

Making of a Toons On Tap Poster - Session 24: Beetlejuice

Back in school, my animation teacher Joe Sherman taught me how to kern type.  It blew my mind.

Nowadays, I'll fiddle with the spacing between letters at any opportunity.  I'll kern when doing logo design.  I'll kern when making a birthday card for my dad.  I'll even kern when typing an application to Harvey's.  However, I look back at the last poster I made and there was such a wide gap between the "h" and "a" in Charlie that I could have moonwalked through it.

For the Beetlejuice poster, I decided, the text shall be spectacular.

Text is usually the weakest element of every Toons On Tap poster.  Unless Jeremy or I are outright plagiarizing Kanye West, we barely know how to choose a typeface.

My apologies to Mr. West.
I borrowed a copy of Design Elements, Typography Fundamentals from my nearest library and got to work.

To begin, I decided to recreate the title and tagline of the Beetlejuice movie poster.  I placed two restrictions on myself: 1) don't Google "Beetlejuice font", and 2) stick to fonts I already had in FontBook.

The original
First, I attempted the title without reading the typography book.  Since I made it at 4 a.m., I thought it was flawless.

First attempt

Of course, I opened the book and learned I didn't know why "&" represents "and".  (It is a ligature of "et"- the Latin word for and.)  Time for round two.

The biggest mistake I made in my first attempt was stretching a squat font vertically rather than using a more versatile typeface.   If possible, I wanted only one typeface throughout the whole poster, with changes in size and boldness.  My second big mistake was using a font with a high thick-to-thin stroke contrast.  The "N" and "A" especially look too thin to resemble the original.

Next, I went through my serif fonts and found three that fit the bill: the "J" ends with a terminal, the stroke contrast is medium, the serifs are wedge shaped, and the serifs are bilateral (on both sides).

I decided on the font superfamily Arno Pro.  Back in elementary school, having the options bold and italic lead to hours of tweaking in WordPerfect.  Now, I get to play with "caption" and "italic caption" and "semibold italic caption".  It's nuts.

Toons On Tap looked like this in Arno Pro:

Forgetting what I just learned about not stretching type, I did just that:

Next, I studied the tilt and position of the letters in the Beetlejuice title.  Before, I had assumed the letters were much more tilted then they were.

I rasterized my text, and one by one tilted and positioned the letters.

In the tagline, I noted that every word was capitalized.  Using different font styles, I created slighter bolder, slightly larger, capitals on each word.

To further the movie poster feel, I included the models' names.

The final image

Unlike my first attempt, I decided against adding a rough look to the text.  Jeremy had coloured the art in a very clean, cartoony style.  The text, we decided, should also be clean.  

In the end, I have no idea whether my first attempt and final image look noticeably different.  If the team and I end up doing an American Psycho night (we've wanted to for a while), I know I'll be the one comparing nearly identical business cards.

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