How we do it: design and tracing

(No photos for this one, sorry)

All the banners we’ve done to date have first been designed on computer, largely in Photoshop. The ones produced for the 2005 season were all developed over the winter 2004-05 offseason, frequently with the two of us sending each other mockups during early Saturday morning English Premier League games. (It helped that neither of our favorite EPL teams exactly played many games worth watching that season). I’ve gotten awfully adept at tracing the Nike Total 90 jersey template onto cartoon characters using just an index finger on a laptop trackpad. Once the final designs were settled, however, we were still left with the question of how to get the designs onto the fabric.

The Cartman banner was done freehand, and that was simple enough to do. But the banners we’d just run up all required specific fonts or relatively complex illustrations. Magpie came real close to investing in an opaque projector, until another friend of ours volunteered the space and overhead projectors available at his school classroom on the weekends. All we had to do was print the banner designs onto transparencies, tack the finished fabric onto the walls, and we were set. We used Sharpie markers to trace the designs, because chalk outlines would’ve rubbed off before we got the chance to paint them. The fabric had also all been cut and finished to match the proportions of the banner designs…mostly. Turned out that the Gorillaz one was a bit too large, so we just added a second tagger at the end of the banner.

Since sewing and tracing are the least exciting steps in banner construction, we did them in batches–everything sewn at once, then everything traced at once. Since the facilities we were using for tracing required a trip to Maine, it was important we get as much done in one step as possible. It was easy enough to handle painting as time, weather, and space permitted, although we probably would’ve gotten the larger banners done sooner had my driveway not been covered in snow well into March. We’ve done one more sewing and tracing run recently, and for the next round it’s likely we won’t have the same classroom setup available. If that’s the case, we may just skip the printed transparency step and just run everything through an LCD projector. Admittedly, it’s a pretty fancy setup for goofy signs to hang at soccer games, but when you’re as obsessive about design detail as we are, it’s worth the hassle.

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