01 March 2011

The secret life of a banner, part 2

Less than a year ago, I made a new banner for a fellow science blogger, Dr. Becca, for her blog Fumbling Towards Tenure Track. I wrote about this process here. I was very happy with the result, and so was Becca.

Yesterday, I learned she needed a new one. She was no longer fumbling towards tenure track; she was going to be on tenure track!

I knew immediately and intuitively what I wanted to do in the banner redesign. I wanted to give a sense of sudden revamp; of someone hastily scraping away the old and putting on the new.  I almost wanted to have paint dripping off the letters. Or maybe a great big stamp coming down with a “thud” on the paper. Either way, something that looked a little imperfect and distressed.

I wanted a stenciled typeface, since stencils are often associated with quick paint jobs. I dug around on Google for “military fonts” and found JJ Stencil Solid, which had the feel I envisioned.

The first pass was okay...

...but there were at least two problems to fix. The texture of the type didn’t match the bars above and below it. And the top bar needed to align with the last “E” better.

On this pass, the text and bars matched better, but “TENURE” wasn’t as legible at a glance as I knew a banner had to be. I did like the thinner bars, too.

Getting closer now. I like the texture more, but “TENURE” still didn’t read as well as it needed to. I finally came up with the idea of erasing the text underneath; not completely, but again with the idea of it looking like someone had quickly taken a scraper or quickly whitewashed the surface to spray paint the new stuff on top.

And here’s the final version:

As you can see in these, I was also experimenting quite a bit with different angles.I settled on this one, a little less extreme than I’d originally envisioned, but I like it better with the bars staying on the image rather than bleeding off it. The colour kept drifting darker, too, in part because that helped make the image legible.

It was a surprise to find that creating something that looked sudden, rushed, and almost slapdash took a lot of fiddling. The letter textures were tricky!

I’m pleased that many of Becca’s commenters seemed to like the new banner, too.

And last, but not least:

Congratulations, Dr. Becca!


Becca said...

Looks awesome, Zen! I always love seeing the magic behind the scenes!

gc said...

As a fan of anything banneresque or logoschmic, "kudos!" I say!