Blue Moon

I just realized this post could have been very timely had I posted it the night of the blue moon. However I wasn’t thinking about that, so you’ll get this post now.

I had the pleasure of designing a t-shirt for my high school marching band this year (I also did it last year – I’ll have to find those images for another entry). The theme for their show is “Shadows” and it features “A Night on Bald Mountain”. I watched the Fantasia animated clip for that tune and had a pretty complicated idea in mind involving demons and witches and skeletons. Since I’m a lazy bum I didn’t do much to flesh out the idea, which worked out to my favor, because the band director wanted something involving the moon. They have a backdrop for the field of a giant moon and clouds, so he wanted that idea to translate to the t-shirt.

I figured the idea would be super easy, and I’d whip something out in no time. Not the case my friends. I struggled for a bit before landing on a concept.

First I tried using a photograph of the moon and clouds, and I tooled around with it in Photoshop, but my digital skills are limited and I was frustrated with the results:

Mind you, this is the inverted image because it would be white ink printed on a black t-shirt. I spent way too much time trying to make it work, it was so uninspired. I was also concerned about how well the image would print on a t-shirt, because there are a lot of gray tones in that image that might not come through in a one color print (I took a screenprinting class in college so I have a little bit of experience with setting up silkscreens).

I was also unhappy that I used a photograph. It felt like cheating. I am an illustrator, so anything I do that isn’t drawn out doesn’t feel authentic to me. Cue design disaster number two:

Granted, this isn’t terrible, but I knew the image wasn’t going to translate too well to the screenprinting process. Plus there was no narrative – just a moon and some clouds. I didn’t like this either, but at least I got some practice with Photoshop brushes.
Finally inspiration struck! I was looking at pictures of full moons and I really liked the effect of shadows of objects in front of the moon. It was a really nice framing device. Once I came up with that concept, the rough sketch came out easy peasy.
Visual inspiration.
This is the final result for the front of the t-shirt. I was very happy I was able to add a slightly creepy narrative to the illustration and figure out a way to “ground” the moon.
Here’s the back:

Whew. That was a wordy post. Next time I’ll just post doodles of kittens or something.

Oh yes, one more tidbit of information: all of the images for this shirt were drawn with my Wacom tablet. I almost always scan in a sketch and work on top of it, but this time I drew on blank layers in Photoshop while looking at my sketch. I saved a lot of time by cutting out that middle step. Perhaps I will start doodling on my tablet more often.