Wedding Art: Saving the Date

Save the Date for Martin and Rachel's wedding

Front of two-color Save the Date design

A former co-worker who was also formerly not engaged has since been proposed to and ecstatically accepted. She then proceeded to message me and inquire about digi designing some invitations for the impending nuptials. I was married on January 17th, 2010… and I’m now 8 months removed from one of the greatest and also most draining moments of my life. We did A LOT… and by that I mean we designed and printed the Save the Dates (postcard and stickers), the invitations (3 postcards, reply postcard and pouch), the table settings and cards, the menu cards, the thank you cards, the DVD packaging for our wedding video, and finally the website. Over the next week or so, I will share insight and details into the inspiration, design, and production of our wedding materials, starting today with the SAVE THE DATE.

The Save the Date is a unique animal. It has the luxury of being “not the invitation” and so some artistic liberties can be taken… to a point. The Save the Date should first and foremost let the person who opens it know the proper details (who and when) of the prospective wedding. Once that mission is accomplished, the Save the Date (notice I will not abbreviate) has the freedom to be a bit fun and experimental, while giving a glimpse to those “saving the date” of the engaged couple’s character.

b/w uncropped vector heads

b/w uncropped vector illustrations of heads

The design started with two vector based self-portraits created with my WACOM tablet and Intuos pen: one of me and one of my wife. My style involves taking elements of photographs, whether it be highlights or shadows to create a realistic illustration of faces. In this particular case, I used the shadows of the photo to create a line art caricature with varying degrees of thickness. Once the full scale head was created with a majority of the facial features established, I tackled the hair/facial hair. Our wedding was scheduled for the dead of winter… something we embraced and so it was determined that I would have a beard for the ceremony.

close up of vector beard illustration

close up of vector beard illustration

In illustration, facial hair and hair can’t be short changed. If you are going to make them realistic… you have to go all the way. And that involves a lot of controlled scribbling. The pencil tool in Adobe Illustrator is one of my favorites, but it can also be very frustrating. Drawing a line too close to a previous line that is still highlighted will result in a mutant line that looks nothing like you want it to, or the new line obliterates the first line completely. In this situation, I made a series (100s) of strokes with the pen in varying places, always returning back to add a new line to a neglected area until the whole thing began to look like hair. This took at least 10-15 minutes of just striking at my Wacom tablet, digitally growing facial hair on my illustration. For the most part, I’m happy with the result, but you can notice I cut corners in some areas by drawing long and looping lines.

the back of the save the date

the back of the save the date

The back of the card consisted of our logo, a Jane Austin typeface along with some wintry debris, and the rest of our Save the Date information in Footlight. The texture around the edges that frames the information is simply barren forestry converted to vector abstractness by the lovable “Live Trace.” I’ve been accused of using this method to create a majority of my work, so when I can get away with using it to create a simple effect I find it all the more satisfying.

compilation of save the dates, stickers and envelopes

everything thrown together at Liberties Parcel

The design eventually made its way into Photoshop, as most of my vector illustrations do. I paste in as a Smart Object, so any of the designs can be re-sized without loss of quality. I had four separate layers for the front design: two faces sans-glasses, and then two sets of glasses. The faces were color-overlay navy and the glasses were color-overlay eggplant to go with our wedding palette. The back design was navy with only the date and web address as color-overlay eggplant. I fiddled with a silvery gray background to get an idea of what the final output would look like, but the final print was color on white.

numbered calendar stickers

The final element of the Save the Dates was the numbered stickers. I had come up with an idea of making numbered stickers for our guests to apply to the calendar so they would a) not forget about the wedding b) have a better idea of how close or far away the final date was. That way they could book a hotel, get their suit or dress dry cleaned, purchase an item from the registery… etc. The type face for the numbers is Cooper Black, with a severe bleed. The sticker paper was purchased at Office Depot and came with a completely useless Microsoft Word template. The colors are from our wedding palette with slight twists and variations on the original scheme.

animated calendar

numbered calendar stickers in action

Save the Dates were printed by Liberties Parcel on paper provided by Casa Papel, both in Northern Liberties.

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