Monday, April 27, 2009

The Land Down Under

I've been fooling around with some possible designs for another Miskatonic patch, this time for the 1935 expedition to Australia from "The Shadow Out of Time". So far, I haven't had much luck coming up with something I like. I know I don't want to use a silhouette of Australia, or, god forbid, a kangaroo, but beyond that I'm not feeling very inspired.

It's bright! The lines and concentric circles are a stylized version of the aboriginal symbols for a journey and campsite, while the stars are the Southern Cross found on the Australian flag. I think this depiction is a little too modern.

Same design, slightly different color scheme. A step up, but that's not saying much.

I like the colors, but I think the use of the rough version of the travel and campsite symbols doesn't quite work.

Now we're getting somewhere. Ayer's Rock is a natural symbol for Australia, and the two-color cutout presentation is consistent with period advertising graphics. The latin Ab Aeterno, "From the beginning of time", gives a nod to the expedition's mission to explore ancient ruins, as well as serving up a bit of meta-irony to anyone familiar with the story.

The lettering looks better thanks to a few tweaks, but I don't think using the "campsite" symbol in a rising sun motif works. I really like the buffed-up Ayer's Rock.

I'm liking this, although I have some doubts about the reverse-arch effect on the latin motto.

It still needs work, but I think I'm on the right track. In addition to figuring out the final graphics I also have to decide on the titling. Should it be the "Australian Expedition", or the "Peaslee-Boyle Expedition", or the "Great Sandy Desert Expedition"?

Your thoughts, as always, are appreciated.


BeatricCaldwell said...

If the patch is from the 1930s, it would've been screened on felt or leather, right? Or embroidered a la boy scout sash patches. It seems to me that the embroidery technology of the time wouldn't support the detail of your design (the second one reminds me of shuttle mission patches -- love it!).

Speaking of shuttle mission patches, I imagine all those expedition patches to be the same way -- some devoted person with an artistic bend cobbling together a patch. Perhaps you should add a more hand-drawn element (for example, here's a 1935 Coast Guard patch

Looking good! I love seeing your design iterations.

Propnomicon said...

Modern-style full surface embroidered patches were certainly do-able in the 30's, but the cost would have been astronomical.

Realistically, I worry more about reproducing period art styles and making an attractive design than the drawbacks of period technology. The likelihood of an expedition in the 30's having a custom-designed patch is pretty slim to begin with, so I have to admit my dedication to realism does have limits.

Outside of that, it's difficult to decide how to make a psuedo-vintage design that's attractive to modern eyes without crossing the line into a purely modern look. The first few iterations relied on abstraction a bit too much, but I think the last one is getting there. It still needs something, but I think I'm getting closer to something I, and hopefully my customers, can be happy with.

Andrew Tagg said...

As I was reading the article I was thinking to myself it should include Uluru. My wife and I are emigrating to Oz later in the year and I will certainly have to get a couple. Perhaps you can make some stickers simliar to the vintage luggae labels you blogged about earlier so I can put them on my trunk?

Unknown said...

I really like incorporating the "campsite" glyph, but I agree that it doesn't quite work as a rising sun motif. Perhaps it would work with a bit more subtlety. Have you tried concentric silver circles rather than a single inner border (as in your last design)? Or perhaps alternating shades of blue--sort of a breaking dawn as opposed to a rising sun?

I don't think it's the reverse-arch itself that bothers me in the last design, but that the typeface seems to be a bit "star treky" to me (even though it doesn't in the border or without the arch in the other designs). Perhaps it's slight angles of the crossbars imposed by the arching...

And while I personally prefer "Peaslee-Boyle Expedition" as it seems to me more scientificky, "Australian Expedition" would maintain continuity with your previous patch(es) and sort of engender the feeling of a set, or series...

Propnomicon said...

@ Andrew

If and when I go forward with having the patch made I'll also have a sticker made. I love little paper doodads like that.

@ Scott

Aha! It wasn't until you mentioned the similarity to the Trek font that I realized that's probably one of the reasons it's been bothering me.

I might try using the stylized journey/campsite symbols in place of the Southern Cross design. I like how the bold Ayer's Rock, or Uluru as Andrew pointed out, looks, so I don't think I need the stars to drive home the "Look! Australia!" idea.

Doc Atomic said...

I like where you're going with this one. I agree that Ayer's rock provides a wonderful, iconic, mysterious, powerful central image. And personally, I sort of like the Southern Cross -- it hints at deeper mysteries from far off places (REALLY far off places), and even sort of looks like an abstracted question mark... levels upon levels.

I guess my only two negative comments would be that the area above Ayers Rock feels weirdly empty, even with the stars. Granted, the outback is a pretty empty place, and this might be made to work to the patch's advantage, but right now it's too much of a void. (Compare it to your Antarctica patch -- the details fill the space really well!)

And second, I think that the details on Ayers Rock need to be abstracted just a bit more to capture the time period. Again, referencing the shadows on the plane from the earlier patch, I think more slab-like areas of black might move it backwards a decade or two.

Just thinking out loud...

Oh, and for what it's worth... I rather like "Peaslee-Boyle Expedition." It just has a bit more character.

All in all, though, you seem to be on the right track, and I look forward to seeing the results when you've finished them!