Homemade TP Overview of a Social Commentary Graphic

This isn’t a full description of how to create your own graphic like this. This write up came later in the creation process so only a few screen shots and notes were kept. This is more of an overview of how I worked on this project.

Like most projects this began with a basic idea, more of idea of a social commentary cartoon, like I used to do for the Farmer City/LeRoy Journal. I kept hearing of the lack of TP and how people were purchasing cart loads of it at a time, basically hoarding it. Instead of just doing a drawing I’ve been looking to do a graphic design project. I felt this would have a much bigger and better impact through a photo image.

The graphic design idea behind this project was to create this design with a quick turnaround from idea to implementation of the graphic. The graphic took about 4-5 hours to complete from original sketch, photos and final design. I went through three versions of this till I got the one I liked, each having various changes to it.

I used the programmer’s mentality of if you’re going to fail, fail fast. I used it in a slightly different way in this project as I found that early in the project there was some things I would have preferred to have done differently at the beginning, which included a couple of re shoots of the tree to use for the roll and overlapping piece.

I like to take the photos myself this way I won’t have to deal with copyright issues. Sometimes looking through online photos whether from a free or paid service usually takes a large amount of time to go through and decide which one is ‘perfect’. Since this project needed speed, and I had the equipment and the trees; I did it myself to save time and give a restriction to the project. Giving myself this restriction limited me to only choose from about 15 photos instead of an unlimited amount.

The photography of the project

Even though the final output for this image was going to be web based only I wanted to keep the quality has high as possible for when it got down to the final it would still have the best quality. The photos were taken with a Nikon D-3300 with the basic lens 18-55; used the macro and the portrait settings to decide which gave a better look later. A cell phone wouldn’t have the quality I needed for those pics; due to the bathroom photo would be in a lower light, this would cause more fuzz in the photo, I would need the RAW function of the camera to get the best color and quality of that shot.

Graphic Design Section

Lassoing of the bark to get the bottom edges of the TP.
Lassoing of the bark to get the bottom edges of the TP.

With all the photos taken, I went through all the various tree photos. I went with the shot that looked the best quality but with a texture that looked the roughest. The roughness was the one that has nice deep cracks and pieces of bark shooting out. Tree is currently shedding old bark, which helps give that contrast to a softness normally associated with TP.

roll of TP

In Photoshop I used the magic wand to cut out a large section of the photo. Careful to get parts that would look like they would stay together when broken off. Helping to give the TP even more of a homemade look to it.

To help come up with the sizing of the TP I copied out the roll of the image to it’s own layer. This helped me to set the correct size, shadowing, and rough shape for the homemade roll of TP.

To help keep the shading right I went into the tree bark and used the burn tool, set to highlights. The burn tool helps to darken the highlighted area giving it a better match to the TP roll. I then added some shadowing to the bottom and around some of the ridges to help match the rest of the image.

Then added the outer sheet that is slightly hanging over using the previous techniques above. I changed this from the heavy fold over in the original image (see bottom of post) it made it look ‘fake’ since the bark shouldn’t be that soft to wrap like that. I mostly lasso and burning. Added a layer drop shadow to the main roll to get the shadow under the roll.

When I got to the point I though it looked good enough I added the wording and branded the image with my website. The branding to the website helps if the image would get shared around, by branding your images people may see it and come to your site. This helps with SEO and possible of getting new clients/customers. I used a sans-serif font in white since most of the background is dark. Put a layer style border around the text of black to help it pop out some and not fade into the background in the light areas.

The original ‘bad’ version of the graphic.

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