21 01 2012

What a crazy week. One, I produce this bad boy with the NFC Divisional Game in mind. What happens? Freakin’ craziest football game I’ve ever seen. Almost immediately after, I get a text from my editor asking if I’m going to build something for the NFC Title Game. Well, of course I am. Theeennn, the Giants beat the Packers and the game is going to be hosted here!?!? What the F?! That development flipped the script a bit and then I knew I had to build something bigger and bolder because it’s been forever since the (read:my) Niners were in the NFC Title Game. Here’s the end product. Click for a (much) larger view.

I used Alex Smith last week as my anchor. I decided to switch up for the NFC title game and use linebacker Patrick Willis. Dude is a beast. But first, my original idea was to get some original artwork for the anchor and I recruited my BFAM McWendell Roth to draw something I could use. Dude has got some major talent and it’s always great to be original with these things. We chatted it up and he agreed. With him onboard, I got to doodling a bit to see what elements I wanted in the graphic. Here’s the original sketch.

Those circle things on the left? That is supposed to be McWendell’s artwork. As you can see, it didn’t turn out that way. Time is an enemy on these things. On top of doing reporter work, building a graphic of this size is time consuming. Unfortunately, while Mac got my drift on the concept I wanted, the size wasn’t ever discussed. Thus, when Tuesday rolled around, I still had nothing — by the time Wednesday rolled around and Mac sent me a better idea of the size, I tinkered with it and realized it wasn’t going to work. I knew Mac would do an awesome job and I knew I could use and highlight his work in a better way (more on that later).

So, Patrick Willis. How do you make Patrick Willis bigger and cooler. Here’s the original image that I used for as my inspiration. I had other photos of his, and played with those a bit. But I realized that it wasn’t going to work. As a designer, I consider myself very much a problem solver. And not having a picture big enough was a problem.

After talking to Mac and seeing some of his inspirations, we decided to go in the ‘water color’ route. I thought, ‘great.’ I’ve always done the splattered look. It’s like, my style now. Playing with something a little different was fun, but it’s also a little intimidating. I can do the splatter thing well. Never done the water color thing. Anyways, I went about my process like I always do. Mostly trial and (plenty of) error(s).

Before all this, I’d be remised not to mention the information gathering process. Once I had an idea of what I wanted IN the graphic, it’s a matter of gathering as much USEFUL (and useless too, why not?) information as possible. I tracked down playoff histories, old photos, statistics, listens to a ton of sports talk radio to gather an idea of how I thought the game will play out … it’s a lot of work. But it’s important. Making graphics is just like writing a good article. It’s storytelling, but visually. That’s the beauty of the process. I now consider myself an expert in all things Niners vs. Giants.

Then I went about recycling old ideas and trying to make them better. The football field? An old idea, but I didn’t like how I had the perspective before, so I distorted it a lot more this time around … the ‘Advantage Bar’? An old idea. The timeline(ish) on the bottom? Old idea. So is the route to the left. The Facebook input? Old. Pie chart from an online poll? You guessed it.

While all this going, Mac is working on his art. Come Thursday afternoon, I get an email with it attached. It’s great. Original. And he captured the idea that I wanted. He stuck with the watercolor theme. And after a night’s sleep, it was time to design a FRONT PAGE spot. Those are fun and required with July! graphics. I’m not going to post the file Mac sent me. Don’t want people stealing it. But, I will post my front page ideas. I wanted to give my editor, Jon Mays, options. Here are a couple:


I was hoping and prayin’ that we’d be able to use one of the vertical ones. I felt going in that with the more squared approach, we’d be squeezing the text on the right too much. But as are all things at the Daily Journal, it’s about space and utilizing it to the best of our abilities. Mac is The Man. We’ve worked together in the past and I hope we continue to do so in the future. Here’s what his work looks like on the front page of the Daily Journal.

Let’s see, it’s late and I’m thinking whether I left anything out. No. That about covers it. I don’t want to jinx anything, BUT, IF … well, let’s wait until Sunday. Gosh, I hope the Niners win.




One response

22 01 2012
hugh wilson

outstanding article. where can i get those prints.

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