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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Splintered History of Wood

Design by Nate Salciccioli

Designer Nate Salciccioli sent this in, and once I found out there was a good deal of hand crafting involved, I decided to share it with you all. Moral of the story? Sometimes it's a good idea to turn off the computer (well, mostly: see Nate's description of the process below) and pick up the wood burner.


"The initial idea was to burn the titles all on a solid piece of wood, so we went out to the Hardware store, and picked up the kit, as well as some cheap wooden baseboards to burn on. I had created the type layout digitally, and then used graphite transfer to ‘trace’ the type onto the wood. First attempts proved unsuccessful, as I tried to burn the type too small (it’s difficult to get too much detail with the somewhat clumsy metal instrument). In the end I burned the large words on separate pieces of wood, and scanned them all afterwards. The small words (e.g. ‘History of’ and ‘belt sander races’) had to be created in photoshop, as the type is too fine to be burned with the tools I had. All in all, the burning process took about 2 hours, the Photoshop work, about 4 (cleaning up some of the edges, etc).

The funniest thing about this project was that I burned this all INSIDE, it being less than 30 degrees out of doors. The result was the whole studio smelled like a lumber mill on fire, which was actually kind of fun. How my coworkers felt about it was vocalized with mixed reviews; some loved it, others sulkily breathing in the fumes."

Thanks for the background details, Nate.

12 comments:

JRG said...

Great work Nate! I was one of the workers in the studio who favored the burnt lumber mill. It is always interesting when the design process takes on a life outside the visual.

Ian Shimkoviak said...

Cool. Seems like a lot of work for something that could have been achieved digitally just as well.

A great, solid cover either way, so bravo and at least it was fun to do it. God forbid they change the subtitle and add an author and decide to get a "testimonial" on there...

Happy burning...

Joseph said...

Ian: if some of the Photoshopped tattoos I've seen on covers are any indication, it might well be worth burning some wood. Oy, that sounds sorta funny...

the7000club said...

i don't understand all the extra time spent actually burning wood; that effect seems easy enough to recreate digitally.

JRG said...

Sometimes you need to at least try something (even if it fails) that uses a different process. In terms of efficiency this may not always be the best idea, but in terms of creativity and originality, it can be very crucial to at least the individual. We as designers are always concerned with the outcome, but would the designer have been able to land on this solution if he had been working all digitally (maybe, maybe not). There is no reason to criticize one's process if the final product is well done. Do what you need to do for yourself, if others criticize your process that is for them to deal with.

Tal said...

I do like the variation in tone within the letters. That's something that was probably easily achieved by actually burning, rather than faked digitally. Great font choices. And I love how "History of" is so tiny and yet reads so well because it's wedged between the giant "A Splintered" and "Wood".

Angela said...

I'm a bit biased here because I love wood. I like the smell of it, burning or not, the look of it, the feel of it. Anyway, from a design standpoint I agree with jrg. Maybe Nate could have acheived this look digitally maybe not. Point is he went for it and came out with a well conceived and nicely executed cover. I can't wait to see the actual book!

ian shimkoviak said...

burnin wood.

Gregory said...

I am all for analog design experimentation if time allows. There are many variations and possibilities that will manifest only in the physical world.

That said, I think it's kind funny how this particular result looks a little too perfect...

nate s. said...

We cleaned up the edges of the larger words to read better, so not all the burning is completely as originally scanned. Perhaps, in light of this conversation, it would have been advantageous to leave more of the mistakes in.

Color and contrast were edited after the initial scanning as well.

kfinkler said...

I like this cover - despite the fact that I'm saturated with 'faux wood' printed stuff. And really, any time you can burn stuff in the office...

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