What’s black and white and wed all over?

A couple of friends of mine got married recently, and a few weeks beforehand Sarah (the bride) asked if I would draw an A3 sized picture to be put up outside the reception as a surprise for Tzevai (the groom).  Sarah intended to add some lettering to make a movie style poster.

Sarah and Tzevai are crazy about pandas and so the poster was to include a romantic panda couple and also to have a nautical theme to fit in with the maritime museum wedding venue.

With this in mind I sketched out a few ideas, which you can see below (click to enlarge).

Sarah decided on the last of the three, with a couple of small changes.  The sea was to be blue rather than the green-blue I had chosen and I was asked to have one of the pandas holding a yellow heart-shaped balloon, as there would be some at the reception (balloons, not pandas.  Having said that, I gather at least one panda did attend).

Sarah had a particular art style in mind, a sort of chalky, textured feel with that stencilled look that you sometimes see in magazine illustrations.  You can see the finished artwork below.

I tinkered with the layout for quite a while, basing it somewhat on the Golden Ratio.  This is a mathematical property centred around the value 1.61803 and represented by the Greek letter Phi.  Many people believe that paintings, sculptures, buildings and other objects which are proportioned in a way whereby the ratio between certain dimensions equals this figure have a particularly pleasing look.  Artists like Alphonse Mucha and Dali used it, as well as a lot of Renaissance painters, and buildings like the Parthenon are supposedly proportioned in this way.

It seems like this is something that may be in-built in humans and might account for why we prefer one particular layout of ornaments on a shelf, or one particular layout of furniture in a room to another.  It is claimed that the dimensions of things like televisions, playing cards and certain other everyday objects are based on this ratio, as well as certain things in the natural world.  Some even believe that the faces of people we find particularly beautiful are also proportioned in a way that follows this ratio.  A lot of this is highly debatable, but when laying out the poster I thought, “Hey, it can’t hurt, right?”.

In the picture below you can see a Golden Ratio grid overlaid on the poster.  Areas of the poster that lie roughly on grid lines or intersections supposedly tend to become focal points or feel more aesthetically pleasing, so for that reason the pandas’ heads are on one grid line, the horizon is on another and the sailing boat is on an intersection, with the mast on one of the vertical grid lines.  Also, the pandas and cliff sit roughly in the left hand portion of the three vertical divisions.

If you’re interested, you can read more about the Golden Ratio here (or in stacks of other places all over the web).

Anyway, that’s enough geometry.

The finished poster was sent over to Sarah, so that she could add the lettering.  After some thought, she came up with the final pun-tastic poster shown below.

I really enjoyed working on this, it was nice to do something a bit different from my usual cartoons and sci-fi stuff.  Apparently Tzevai was suitably surprised (hopefully in a good way), so it all worked out quite well.

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Chong!

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