Produce a poster (297mm x 420mm) that celebrates a colour of your choice. Work only with your chosen colour, its complementary colour and black and white. You can
include text, collages, illustrations and photographs. Use black and white to help establish a range of tints and shades with your chosen colour.
Defining a Theme for the Poster
For this assignment, I chose to celebrate the colour green. Green makes me think of being away on holiday and I am always at my most content when outdoors enjoying nature.
I started by doing some analysis of what the colour green meant to me:
I also investigated what the colour green might mean to others and asked some friends to share what they thought of when they thought of green – with some interesting and quite varied results!
- Countryside, food (vegetables), fertility, plenty, lusciousness, verdant, earthy, success, calmness, restive, nature working as it should – health, vitality, balance.
- Grass, vegetation, school uniforms – hassle and stress, responsibility.
- Pestilence, farms, money, ecology, ‘eat-your-greens – nagging, brocolli, sea-sickness, nausea, spring, envy, the Green Party – preaching.
I decided that I would explore creating a poster that celebrated the colour green in the context of the countryside, possibly combining green rolling hills with wild hedgerow plants. I am very inspired by the work of Angie Lewin who makes beautiful prints of stylised wild plants and flowers, often in the context of the landscape where the plants can be found.
I continued my research by looking at illustrations of landscapes and wild flowers on Pinterest and collected ideas here.
I then began trying out some ideas for the poster using thumbnail sketches. (I worked on this while on holiday where I had limited access to coloured pens!)
Reviewing the Ideas
I reviewed my ideas for the poster designs with my husband and decided on three to take forward.
Poster Version 1
In this poster, my aim was to combine rolling hills, disappearing into the distance, with hedgerow plants in the foreground. I decided to do this as an illustration using Adobe Illustrator.
I started by seeking out and photographing different hedgrow plants to get some ideas for plant shapes:
I studied the shapes of the plants and began to sketch simple shapes that I could replicate in Illustrator:
For some of my more complex shapes, I sketched the plant out first on paper…
..and then drew over them in Illustrator using the pen tool to create a black outline of the plants:
For other simpler plant shapes, I drew them directly in Illustrator:
I then created the poster in Illustrator and started by creating swatches for the different shades of green I wanted to use. I started with quite a bright ‘grass’ green and used Illustrator’s Colour Guide to create a range of tints and shades for this colour (5 steps for each). I used Adobe Colour to help me identify a complementary colour for the base colour of green.
I began creating the ‘rolling hills’ background for the poster using the pencil tool to create the hill shapes. I used a gradient fill to colour the hills and tried to give a sense of distance by using lighter colours for the more distant hills. I made the nearest hill a dark green and then placed the leaves and flowers I had drawn in the foreground, colouring them with a mid-green so that they clearly stood out against the dark hill behind.
I experimented a lot with the different tints and shades and tried some different methods of creating the background:
In my final poster, I felt that the sky needed some additional interest, so I added a sun which I based on the way the sun was represented in old Japanese prints.
Poster Version 2
In this poster, I decided to do something different from my original thumbnail sketch as I wanted to try something a bit more abstract.
I started by creating a textured background for the poster. I used a roller to paint black ink onto sheets of A4 paper which I scanned into digital files.
I then used Photoshop to layer some of these images onto a light green background, changing the opacity and blend modes to give a green-grey textured background.
Next, I picked some leaves and grasses from the side of a nearby road and pressed them under heavy books for several days to make them flat. I then painted them with black ink and made prints, which I scanned in as digital files.
I used the ‘trace’ function in Illustrator to create vector images from the scans. I recoloured the plants and grasses using the same colour palette as for Poster 1 and then arranged a selection of the plants onto the poster background. I coloured the clover flowers the complimentary shade of dark pink.
Finally, I added a verse from the poem ‘Meet me in the Green Glen’ by John Clare.
Poster Version 3
In this version of the poster, I wanted to revisit the idea of rolling hills with hedgerow plants in the foreground, but this time incorporating text into the image. I also wanted to give the poster a more ‘hand-painted’ feel.
I started by sketching some ideas for the layout of the poster and then recreated the design in Illustrator.
I used the same colour palette that I used in the other two posters.
I used dry brushes to give the outlines of the hills a more hand-painted feel and also to add some variation in the tones of the colours of the hills.
I reused the images of the hedgerow plants that I had created for poster 1.
Finally, I added text along paths that followed the contours of the hills. The text is the first verse of the poem ‘Meet me in the Green Glen’ by John Clare.
Final Selected Poster
I reviewed the final posters again with my husband and we decided on Poster 3 as the final selected poster for this assignment. We felt it was the most visually interesting and the ‘hand-painted’ shading effect gave a good sense of depth to the image. The variations in tints and shades has the effect of making this poster feel quite ‘colourful’ even though the colour palette is actually quite limited.
Thoughts on this Assignment
I enjoyed working on this assignment as it really gave me an opportunity to experiment with Adobe Illustrator. The posters themselves took a long time to complete as I was having to learn a lot of new skills along the way.
In terms of creating the posters, I actually found one of the hardest tasks was deciding on the background for the posters, especially for poster 2 which I required a lot of trial and error before I decided on a background. Finding a background that was visually interesting, gave enough contrast to distinguish it from the other elements in the poster, but wasn’t too distracting, was quite difficult!
I also found it very difficult on all the posters to know where to place the dark pink complementary colour. The pink immediately demands attention. I tried a number of approaches, making the sky pink on Poster 1, making the text pink, trying to make green and pink gradients, none of which worked. In the end I opted to use just a very small amount of pink in all the posters by making the clover flower heads pink, as this was their natural colour. In the first poster, I positioned them in a diagonal across the poster, opposite to the sun and while flowers of the cow parsley, hopefully to draw the eye across and down the poster.
In Poster 2, I wanted the plant silhouettes to be more dominant than the poem, so I positioned them in the top left diagonal of the poster and the text at the bottom right. The clover flowers draw the eye across from the plant silhouettes down to the verse.
In Poster 3, the verse is the most important element. The pink clover flowers are just small points of visual interest which the viewer will see after they have read the text.