The Six-Shooter

THE SIX-SHOOTER
An old illustration idea gains new life as a concept poster for a short western film.

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Film typography

To Hell with the PreacherThe Cryptozoologist
Custom logotypes for two film projects. Both of these designs started as quick pencil sketches, which were scanned and placed into Adobe Illustrator, where I used them as a guide to begin the process of building the vector shapes of the characters. To Hell with the Preacher is a western genre film, so I was keen to create a handmade style referencing typography of the late 1900’s, as was regularly seen on all forms of signage, printing and advertising. I’ve deliberately incorporated a few unusual adjustments to the letterforms and approached this concept with both a historic and modern outlook to match the storyline of the proposed film.

The Crytozoologist is a documentary style short film, telling the story of a retired man living in the Adelaide Hills, who believes in mysterious creatures, and obsessively strives to locate proof of their existence. My logotype references the many powerfully dramatic advertisements and handbills from the 1800′s and early 1900′s, where promoters used ornate theatrical typography to publicise their attractions to an audience eager to witness remarkable wonders from around the globe. The background image includes a photo taken of a full moon together with multiple texture overlays, and visually captures the hidden and mysterious nature of these curious creatures.

Penniless panhandler

Penniless panhandler

The challenge of life in the Wild West

Finding a steady and successful income, even during the boom years of the Californian gold rush, was not an easy undertaking for those who made the long journey out west to start a new life and hopefully find their fortune. At the time America was suffering from a significant economic recession, which considerably contributed to the number of people desiring a move to find new employment and financial reward.

Unfortunately, many of those who endured and ultimately survived the arduous trek across the dangerous overland trails, found only limited work opportunities, poor living conditions, overwhelmingly addictive and debilitating drugs and vices, and severe competition for work due to the massive migration influx into the region. The city of San Francisco itself rose from a population of only a few hundred during the 1840’s, to over 20,000 by the start of the 1850’s.

Many lost their entire savings simply making the journey westward, were robbed or swindled in the often lawless towns and cities, or were then financially ruined by the high cost of equipment and supplies from unscrupulous merchants who quickly took advantage of the numbers requiring their goods and services. Without striking it rich on the goldfields and possessing very little or no money, many people could not find any available housing or employment, and soon found themselves as homeless and itinerant paupers, forced to panhandle on the street to get through another day. This situation could befall both the relatively rich and the poor, as there was no discrimination regarding bad luck, injustice, crime and corruption. Life in the new frontier proved to be extremely risky and uncertain, and a very tough challenge to survive.

My illustration shows a homeless man, formerly gainfully employed, who still attempts to retain a little self-respect by presenting himself with some decency. He has been inspired by various real and fictional western characters, and was an idea I had struggled with for some time, as I sought to find the correct technique and final composition for such a period portrait. Completed in Photoshop CS5 using a few of my custom brushes.

The Indian Wars

The Indian Wars

Custom typography for The Indian Wars. The vector letterforms and composition were created in Illustrator, with the final textures and effects added in Photoshop. This was a design concept requiring a specific style of hand lettering that I’d had in mind for some time – happily the final outcome is still very close to my original idea, even though a number of changes were made during the design and construction process.

This piece was then used in my book cover design concept, along with an illustration of attacking Indians, which was also created in Photoshop (detail image below).

The Indian Wars book coverIndians!

BANG! – a Western adventure

bad guys with big guns

The American West has long held a fascination for many people – myself included. I’ve lately been reading a lot about exploration expeditions, fur trapping mountain men, cow-towns and cattle barons, pioneers, railroad entrepreneurs, prospectors and miners, cowboys, Indians, and the battles that defined this time and place.

Amongst my reading material has been stories describing the escapades of Billy the Kid, which has inspired the hand lettered illustration piece above. Watching Hell on Wheels has certainly fired the imagination too!