Monday, February 3, 2014

Of Versions and Revisions

I mentioned this design earlier as an example of how following the Rider-Waite-Smith iteration of the deck was not working for me. In fact it may have been my own impatience that was causing me trouble.

My first whack at this card was both very similar to what you see and very different. I won't go into the specific details, but I was unhappy with the original design even as I emailed it to my friend Carrie Paris for her opinion. Before she had a chance to respond I ripped all the elements out of the Photoshop file, determined to start all over again in a completely different direction.

Of course, no sooner had I done that when Carrie got back to me. She actually liked it. Looking at it through her eyes, I could see that the individual elements were not the problem... the problem was in the way that they were assembled. 

I had thrown away everything, including the figures, so I had to start over again from scratch... and this was a blessing. Sometimes an idea is right, but in practice it doesn't work out the way you intended. I redesigned this from the bottom up, using the same figures... and somehow, this time, it snapped into focus for me. Instead of seating Buster on the ground, I set him on an elephant ball. Instead of using different buckets (all shot from different angles) I multiplied just one. Here's the biggest change: instead of placing the figures into a flat background, I tried a little bit harder and placed them in what I hope is a more dimensional space.

Whether it is or whether it isn't... trust me, it's better than what I did for the first version. 

I am a lazy, lazy man who does not believe in doing any more work than he has to -- but when something isn't right, I won't stop until it is. Thank goodness that Carrie saw something in the original design, because I would have completely scrapped it. On my second run through, I think that I got it right. 

Just FYI -- yes, that's Buster Keaton sitting on the elephant ball. Buster is one of my favorite people of All Time and if you have not seen his movies -- we live in an age of Marvels in the sense that all of his movies are readily available: please do track him down. The prints offered up by Kino Video are the best. 

Among the Great Heritage Film Comedians, Buster is almost alone in that he never made a movie that touched in any way upon the Circus... and yet, the spirit of his movies is more circusish than anything done by the other comedians who actually used the circus as a plot device.

Sherlock, Jr. is Buster's best movie, imitated by many. Start there. Chaplin is often sighted as the greatest comic of the silents, but Keaton was better in many ways. Chaplin was a comic of the stage, deriving all of his experience from the theater. Keaton was purely a movie comic, who understood the medium way down deep in his bones.

-- Freder