Monday, April 6, 2009

Tonight We're Gonna Print Signs Like It's 1984

Well, episode 8 is going swimmingly, with our iTunes feature and some great feedback from our YouTube fans. Time to talk about some of the work that went into the show. Robb's already been posting some wicked cool music from this episode, so today I am going to show you some classic Neo Amish literature and signage.

First of all, do you remember this?

If you do, you should enjoy today's tale. Print Shop (no one ever called it THE Print Shop) was a revelation in the early age of personal computers, especially for a type-loving kid like me. I could make signs and banners and greeting cards on the Apple IIe! No more messing around with hand-drawn stuff! (That's not really true in my case... I still made hand-drawn posters, but I won't get into all that here.)

Print Shop's output would, today, be laughable,with it's extremely low resolution and reliance on dot matrix printers. But it was a great program at the time. I loved it. So of course, since the Neo Amish could use no technology created after 1984, I wanted to make sure their flyer and bake sale signs looked like they were printed with Print Shop (or something similar) on a dot matrix printer whose ribbon was very well worn.

Creating retro computer printouts is rather hard. First of all, the font could not be all laser-printy smooth, but had to be pixelated. To do that in Photoshop meant creating a bitmap document, 11" x 8.5" at 72dpi. In this mode, it's just like working in an old graphics program. Type would not be re-editable once I'd laid it down. It was draggable once after being created, so I could do some rudimentary layout. Moving it afterward meant cutting out the text using a marquee or lasso tool and dragging it along with its white background. Does this all sound familiar?

Though I did not have the Print Shop font, I chose fonts that looked like they might have come bundled with Print Shop: Times and Galleria. Amelia BT was used in the Neo Amish logo, which Robb designed. (He did not realize he got the N backwards until much later. I hand't brought it because I thought he'd done it on purpose. It was perfect that way!)

After the layout was done, I spent a few hours in the Hall of Trial and Error. Here, I was trying to get a dot matrix look, including some pixels, ink smear, and the stripes where the ribbon was wearing out. I applied three different layers to get something that would hopefully pass muster on screen. Here's an enlarged detail, best showing the smear. Click the image to see it full-size.

Here, then, is the entire Neo Amish flyer, fresh from the Image Writer! Click on the pics to see them full size. (1984's full size is not as terrifyingly huge as today's full size.)

The front:

The back:

I didn't spend as much time writing this flyer as I had the ABSRD flyer for episode 7, but I can assure you that all typos were created on purpose. I was very happy to bring back the original, full term "douche bag," progenitor of today's popular "douche."

The flyers we used in the show had the NA logo taped into place, like it was just easier to paste the logo onto the flyer and Xerox the whole thing. But we did use the pixelated logo for the bake sale signs. Mostly out of laziness.

Ah, yes! The bake sale! Here's where the dot matrix printer ribbon mess could really shine. Most signs had both a Times and a Galleria version. Here's a sample. Again, click them to see them full size.

So there you have it! Can you just feel the authenticity? I'm sure someone from one of those font archaeology sites would have many nits to pick. If so, leave a comment. I love font archeology sites. I'd put a link here so you could visit one, but I seem to have lost them all...

Thanks for reading, and be sure to watch the exciting conclusion to episode 8 next Monday!


Robb said...

Couldn't we have just kept pretending that I made the "N" backwards on purpose? Man, you're such a PBJ! ...Or so I'm guessing, I don't really know what that is. ...I mean other than the sandwich.

And it's amazing how much work you put in on those! We should've shown them in the episode more. Like a full minute close-up on each.

Then again, this is pretty much the same way we treat the music. A whole lot of effort for something that doesn't get noticed very much.

But you can't say that we're not happily obsessive!

AubidadedBallad said...
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