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So far John has created 41 blog entries.
15 02, 2013

Creating a Digital Backdrop for Kacey Musgraves

By |February 15th, 2013|Digital Printing, Education, Projects|0 Comments

Many times a client will come to us with an image that they love, but the original file is too small to reproduce at twenty to thirty feet or larger.

Recently we were approached to produce a backdrop for Kacey Musgraves. The image they provided was about ten inches wide and had nowhere near enough data to print a backdrop.

The first step: In the foreground of the image is a huge trailer house that would fall apart if enlarged to the size it needed to be.  In order to have the trailer print well at twenty feet I decided that I needed to illustrate a vector version of the main trailer and the other trailers and buildings in the image.  Vector art is independent of resolution and therefore can reproduce at any size without image quality being lost.


I used the provided photo to sample colors, shadows and textures and created an illustration of the main elements that was visually the same as the photo. I then used stock photography of grass, flowers and digitally hand painted other photo elements to bring the image together and give it a realistic feel.

Even after working on the piece for a day and a half, the end result made me step back for a minute and compare my artwork to the original photo. It was amazing how close the two were. 

You can see the backdrop for yourself as Kacey is opening for Little Big Town on their current tour.

26 07, 2012

Hottest Band in the World Comes to Sew What?

By |July 26th, 2012|Digital Printing, Projects|0 Comments

A few weeks ago I got the call to create a piece of art I had dreamed about doing since I was in grade school. I was a card carrying member of the KISS Army back in eighth grade and being an artist, the ultimate assignment would obviously be to create something for the band. The call came in that they wanted a new drum riser piece for the new tour with Motley Crue.

After my head stopped spinning, I quickly went to work looking for a reference that showed detail of the two iconic cats that are traditionally on the riser. Scouring the Internet, I was unable to find anything really detailed. I had to draw on my memory of opening the KISS ALIVE II album and seeing the cats image for the first time. I did findsome small images but the details had to be imagined. So I went to work, keeping in mind that I should “Let go” and not worry about the exact details of what had been done in the past, but instead concentrate on capturing the attitude and feel. The cats faces were the first graphic elements to be done, then I moved on the bodies and explosion at the bottom.

The new version is a combination of a few different versions, structurally, from a historical content standpoint. The cats are covered in a completely unique animal stripe pattern that I developed for this project, printed on a metallic gold material, appliqued to black fabric and outfitted with lighted eyes. It’s all KISS!

There are some great photos of it on Flickr – check it out!

7 06, 2012

Font Conversion and Embedded Images

By |June 7th, 2012|Education|1 Comment

Lots of designers like to use Adobe Illustrator to create graphics for digital printing. Personally, I love to work in Illustrator. The files tend to be very small, they resize (ie: scale up) usually without a problem, and they print beautifully. I have, however, run into a common problem with some of the .eps, .ai and .pdf files I’ve received lately so I thought it might be a good time to pass along a tip. One thing you should know is that we don’t print directly from a .pdf file. It’s ok to send them, but we will be converting them to a file that we can use.  Depending on the file complexity and/or number of files you need printed, this could add cost to your project. This said, when laying out your artwork, there are two very important things to remember.  First, embed your images if you’re using photos or other raster files. Linked images all need to be embedded before they go to press, so if you do it before you send it, it helps reduce graphic time on our end and could save you money. Second, always remember to convert your fonts to outlines. We have thousands of fonts, but not every font, and converting fonts to outlines helps eliminate or reduce the possibility that your art will shift, change or have conflicts.

31 05, 2012

Understanding Real Resolution

By |May 31st, 2012|Digital Printing, Education|0 Comments

If you’ve been working digitally for any amount of time, you know the importance of going to press with images that are the best quality, with the highest resolution and crispness you can achieve. It only stands to reason that the better the art is when it gets ripped for press, the better your end result will be. Lately, I’ve seen images come across my desk that appear to have been altered from what can only be described as postage stamp-sized images. This is typically because the image was originally created for use on a website (which typically requires smaller images for faster web page loading).  I know many tips and tricks in Photoshop that can help get more than would be normally allowed from any particular image, but even the best Photoshop magicians can’t make a postage stamp sized image look good on a 20′ x 40′ backdrop.

If you’re having trouble estimating if your image is big enough or has enough data, here’s what the numbers mean when you’re looking at the file size info.  The rule of thumb on the internet and out of a digital camera is 72ppi. This said, if you’re looking at the data size of your image and it says , for instance, that the image is 7200x 3600, it’s letting you know that your image is 10″ wide and 5″ tall.  This image would be a bit small to go to press at 20′ x 40′. The best advice I can give you is to either use a professional designer who deals in large format on a regular basis, or give us a call at the start of the project and we’ll go over the required specs so that you’re empowered when you start the design process with your favorite designer.  Of course, if you don’t have a favorite designer, we are always available to manage the project from start to finish, including creating a custom artwork file, printing it, and sewing the finished digital backdrop.

17 05, 2012

Do you UV?

By |May 17th, 2012|Digital Printing, Education, Products, Projects|0 Comments

Every artist wants to give their fans a night to remember when they come out to see their show. Visual impact and the element of surprise are two key aspects in the recipe for a concert that will be a night to remember. Something that we can do that many people don’t think about is add UV graphics or text to your backdrop. As you may know, UV is only visible when the graphics are hit with a special UV light. One of the most elaborate uses of this technology is the recent backdrop we did for country singer Eric Church. After digitally illustrating a forty foot concrete wall and adding a distressed version of his logo to the graphic, we created a second set of graphics in a graffiti-inspired, “tagged” theme that appeared across the entire surface as if the concrete wall had been spray painted. The result was jaw dropping as the graffiti seemed to magically appear across the backdrop when hit with the UV light.