In which I plot out what it took to make a Scum of the Earth design, in a vain effort to make what I do for fun seem like work…
Last weekend, a friend of mine, Scum of the Earth’s own Scapegoat (aka the talented Jamie Garvey), asked me if I wanted in on helping make a tee for the group, riffing off Wes Craven’s classic The Hills Have Eyes. The title would be “The ‘Ville Has Eyes” (The ‘Ville being Gainesville, FL, home-base for Scum of the Earth), a big pic of Michael Berryman and the tagline from the film’s poster, “A nice American Family. They didn’t want to kill. But they didn’t want to die.” (Which I managed to get wrong right off the bat, as you’ll see). I love poster/shirt design, especially those that use text as a standout feature, so I was psyched to take a crack at it.
I’m a big fan of big, chunky, ultra-thick font (Impact, Haettenschweiler), but I knew with such a copy-heavy design I’d need to utilize more vertical space, so I decided to go with a long, thin, handwritten font for the title and mix in some blockier, uniform stencil type for the tag line in order to break up the design and differentiate the copy elements. I sat down and cranked out a few layout sketches.
Some embarrassingly bad layout sketches.
The title became more and more vertically stretched and by page two of sketching I hit on the idea of splitting the design into upper and lower elements. That would allow for two different colors on the copy and split the floating head into a more interesting element.
I’d been thinking in pretty horizontal/vertical terms until I saw a Spanish poster for The Hills Have Eyes that contained a pretty awesome diagonal panel element (you can see I thought about straight-up swiping the poster design in the above center pic).
Splitting the design diagonally let the vertically stretched title become more interesting by letting it “climb” and more elegant juxtaposition of a creepy Michael Berryman hiding just around the corner of a rolling hill while evoking classic horror characters such as Schreck’s Nosferatu and Lugosi’s Dracula. By page three I had pretty much settled on the layout, squeezing it to make it even more vertical. and having the head break the plane of the background. Cleaned it up and sent it off to Jamie to see what he thought; he liked it and from there on out, it was a matter of hopping on the computer and massaging out the design.
First, I started out with an illustration of Berryman and getting the initial layout right. Since I’d hammered out the design on paper, the computer work became a matter of throwing everything together and working on the text elements. I ran through a few fonts and decided on notfon1234′s Skinny as the base of the title, Tyler Fink’s Blackout for the band name and punksnotdead’s Punk’s Not Dead for the tag line.
Right off the bat, I got the tag line wrong (it’s “They didn’t…But they didn’t…”). I didn’t like the way the tag font muddied up the top of the design and Scum of the Earth seemed to lay on the top without counter-balancing any of the rest of the layout. I fixed those problems by switching the tag font to Pennyzine’s Fear of a Punk Planet and adjusting the band name to condense it and put a little bit more weight on the right side of the layout, which had the added benefit of adding more movement to the layout of the copy. I also sculpted the Skinny title font to bring it more in line with my initial sketch. Jamie asked if I could make the title pop a little bit more, since the long line of (almost) uniformly skinny text might be hard to read after printing, so I adjusted the line weight to separate the words and keep them from looking like an indistinct stand of trees.
So, that’s that. A little trip from start to finish of a design. Check out Scum of the Earth’s Facebook page for some great music and updates from the band.