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!