Thursday, March 28, 2013

Delicious fun

A few months ago, I was asked by Sharon Butler, a local bakery owner, to create a postcard for the bakery's 30th anniversary. The Bonbonerie is not just any Cincinnati bakery. It is one of the best. In fact, it was just won the top spot for best bakery, best dessert and best wedding cake in Cincinnati CityBeat's annual "Best of ..." issue.

In addition to its wonderful basked goods, the bakery, cafe, and tea room are infused with a sense of whimsy. Colorful art. Fun collections of cake stands, tea pots, and more. Mismatched furniture. It's cozy, yet hip.

Sharon wanted the postcard to show two girls. "Tiny bakers" is what she called them. After scouring my archive, I turned up the wonderful photo above ... and went to town. I could have made physical collages, but there were digital techniques I wanted to try. And I had to create more than one card, to give them a choice, which meant duplicating the original photo.

Well, I got carried away. To say the least. I ended up developing a series of 4 postcards.

Each card featured the girls from the antique photo. But Sharon thought they looked like sisters, which she and her co-owner Mary Pat Pace are not. She hit on the idea of subbing the heads with childhood pictures of her and Mary Pat. We ran into immediate problems. The first photos - 1950s era snapshots - were too blurry. The second photos - school pictures - were better. But in Sharon's photo, she was too old (5th grade).  After much tweaking, Sharon's photo (she's on the left) was in printable shape.    

I pulled images from my archive to add to the cards. And experimented with various filters and layering styles in Photoshop. For example, on the cakes behind them, above, I used color overlays, gradient overlays and pattern overlays. I hadn't used any of these in a long time and it gave me a much clearer understanding of how a lot of the digital collage work I've been seeing is accomplished, especially greeting cards.

I also played with type, learning how to manipulate it and add drop-shadow effects - though I still have a long way to go. And I messed around with the various ways to transform images in order to make them the desired shape. The party hats and horns, for example, were resized and skewed.  

For the final postcard, I dropped out the original background and substituted the pattern from the bakery's box - which I had scanned - for it. It became vivid wallpaper. I had also scanned the bakery business card and took the logo to make a "sign" on the wall, as well as pins on the girls' dresses. Then, I slipped the card into Sharon's hand. Later, she requested that I turn the card into an invitation. So, I went back in and erased the original type, substituting the text she wanted.

In addition to becoming a postcard, the final design was made into a poster in a few different sizes. This one is at the entrance to the bakery, with others hanging inside, as well as in the cafe. Kinda fun to walk up and see my work!