Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Pajama Game!

Hello Folks!

Apologies for the long delay between posts.. But over the past couple weeks, I've been busy with a freelance illustration job, which fell fortuitously into my lap..
A friend of the family, has a wife that is a member of a theatre group that performs here in Scarborough. She'd recently won the lead role in their upcoming production of: 'THE PAJAMA GAME'. And he thought it'd be a nice gesture to commission a poster recreation, to celebrate the event..
He provided me some of the required Photo Reference. And a rather poor JPEG of the movie poster, which he found online. It was so gauzy, I couldn't see what was going on.. So I dug around downstairs & found (fortunately!) an old MOVIE LIFE mag from October 1957, that had not only a full-page ad for the Doris Day film.. But also some great color ref, for the actual pajamas..
Originally, the client had asked for an authentic Broadway poster recreation, based on the original play. But felt that a recreated movie poster ,would work better as a "gift". So, that's the direction we went..
Amongst the photos he lent me, I found a nice headshot of his wife, that was perfect for the Doris Day pose.. But he also wanted EIGHT other cast member profiles, featured off to one side?! Oi-Vey, that was gonna be a whole other conundrum!
Luckily, their theatre group: 'Spotlight Musical Productions' has an excellent website.. With a number of terrific 'Photo Gallery' pages from past shows.. I was able to dig thru those & find a few other suitable shots, to fill out the rest of the image..
The initial deadline was excruciatingly tight.. He wanted the finished poster completed & printed, so he could present it at the After Party (April 26th) of the closing show.. That only gave me about 5 full days, to get it done.
By Friday evening, I knew I'd never make the deadline.. I suggested working towards just getting the central figure of his wife (as "Babe") done. And then getting a single Poster composited & printed with all of the other elements blocked-in, so that he could show off what the final product would look like? It was the best compromise I could think of..
So at about 11pm, I drove like a madman to a downtown Kinko's -- got it printed at full size (14" x 22"!).. And raced back to the 'Fairvew Library Theatre' in Scarborough, where they'd just begun breaking down the sets backstage..
I think I impressed my client with my personal hand-delivered shipment, just past the Witching Hour! hah
To my great relief, he was very satisfied with the results.. And now that the show's deadline was past, I'd be able to finish the rest of the Poster, at a much more relaxed pace!
Initially, I thought I could save some time by using the scanned-in pajama top, for my final image. Which is why you see "Babe" (above) in 3 disjointed parts? I was gonna composite those onto the pajama top, thru Photoshop.. But the chunky halftones were simply too distracting & looked out-of-place with everything else. So I went back, and drew up a whole new tunic..

All of the color work was done, using a combination of Pantone markers and pencil crayons.. Mostly Col-Erase pencils, actually.. Which tend to go down on the page a bit smoother..
I had met the client's wife (Teresa) before.. So, I knew instinctively what she looked like. That makes drawing a person, so much easier!
I had no such help, with the other 8 character heads.. And they proved a much tougher challenge. Especially, with the limited number of good photos I was able to glean from the theatre group's webpages!
I'm sure a few of these folks, are gonna be appalled by their likenesses?.. Sorry, gang! I did the best I could, given the circumstances..
Here's a JPEG showing their progress..
I thought the final assembly of the image would be easy? Not so!
The text pieces were okay.. Most of it achieved, using Pagemaker and/or Photoshop. "The Pajama Game" masthead was hand-done & that took a wee bit longer.. The initial printout was also showing that my Yellows were all skewed too "Green". So for the Final Image, I went back & changed them to a richer hue..
In hindsight, it seems like I spent oodles of time simply "compositing" things to the BG.. I dropped in some small figures along the baseline, directly from the cleaned-up scans from my vintage poster ad. And then used Photoshop's cloning tool to create a nice "soft" edge transition, around all of the main character elements.. Hopefully these bits of extra attention will pay off, once the File is taken to the printers? We'll see..

Well, that's how the whole thing came together.. Hope I didn't bore you too much with all of my Process Talk? All in all, I really enjoyed working on this Job. And I hope that I get a few more like it, in the future..

TTY'all Laterz!


Kieron O'Gorman said...

Hey Rich!

Great stuff! I bet the lady was very pleased!

On another note, I lost your e-mail. Can you send to me? If you don't have my e-mail just go to my website:



Rich Dannys said...

Thanks, Kieron!
Yeah, she was happy-- or so her husband sez.. You always hope you've made her "cute" enough, with these types of jobs. And apparently I succeeded, in this instance..

I've probably still got your e-mail in my "Out" log.. I'll do some digging around for it. And if I can't find it, I'll go to your website..

Dominic Bugatto said...

Nicely done Rich , you really captured the feel of the vintage genre.

CaveMatt said...

Really cool man! Nice likeness and yeah I gotta thing about vintage posters so way cool on that too. Seems like a fun gig.

Rich Dannys said...

Dom & Matt --
Thanks, guys!

Having a template for what the
original poster looked like, really helped me a lot..

It was still tough to find quality solutions for all of the different Fonts, etc. I tried to get them as close as possible, and still remain true the vintage "look" behind the thing.
If I'd had more time, I probably would've handlettered everything.. Oh, well.

Clive said...

Lovely poster, Rich.

Anonymous said...

Nice poster. Who is the mistery lady?


Rich Dannys said...

You'd probably remember her, Spyrunner.. "Teresa Cahais" is the mystery lady. She married a man named Rob Brouwer. Hence the Teresa-Cahais abbreviation, appearing in bold letters at the top of the Cast list..

Anonymous said...

Hey Rich!

Thanks for the blog comments.

Glad to see you're throwing your hat into the blog arena too.

Your work is lookin' as good as ever,

Hope everything's going good with you. Gonna be at Comic Con this year? Shoot me an e-mail and let me know what you've been up to lately when you get a chance.