Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Walk in 1875 St. Louis Colors!

Here's some more behind-the-scenes process stuff from my work on A Walk in 1875 St. Louis, still showing at the Missouri History Museum. Compton and Dry's incredible 1875 map, Pictorial St. Louis, wasn't printed in color (although Cameron over at Distilled History is apparently working on that), so I wanted to slather color all over my complementary drawings. I needed to add additional layers of sensory information, especially SMELL. 1875 St. Louis really stunk.

Schaeffer’s Soap and Candle Works, near Lucas Place at Washington and 20th streets, one of the smelliest places in town. 
Inspiration for my color palette was this 1875 lithograph advertising a short-lived Boston area brewery. I liked how the bright red brick and sudsy gold typography (beer and brick sure to important motifs in my drawings also) sat atop dusty brown streets and miasmatic skies. I eyedropper-ed accordingly:

I also tested how the colors would work with the variety of textured paper backgrounds I wanted to use:

Roughed them into my thumbnail sketches for each image:

And started to apply them to my black 'n white ink drawings.

Note that there was no green (or purple) in my palette, which would've normally been the go-to stink color.

I was forced to push yellow and gray to their aromatic extremes.

Big shout-outs to Novachrome, the printer we used for printing the large-format illustrations. Here were some of the swatches we looked at for matching colors:

Here's how they looked on strips of the final wallcoverings during installation, which turned out beautiful.

And here's the full-sized 15' foot wall.

Stay tuned for more walks through A Walk in 1875 St. Louis!