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Graphic Design Product - Death Valley National Park


Death Valley National Park

By: Megan C.



The first step in creating this product was to figure out what I wanted to accomplish with my graphic design piece. After much deliberation, I settled with a throwback to the old travel posters for different National Parks, my favorite one being Death Valley, California.

Next, I did a couple of rough sketches in my personal sketchbook, I wanted something that would relate to the aesthetic of the park. Cow skulls are popular symbols of the west, and skulls in general are good at representing “death”.

For step three I came up with my color palette. I wanted to keep it simple by sticking with 4 earth tones. I chose a white, two medium tans, and a dark brown. These colors would provide the contrast needed to draw attention to certain elements within the design.

Next, I opened Adobe Photoshop CC, made a new document that was 9”x 9” and used a relatively high pixel count for good resolution in print.

I made a new layer, keeping the white background layer, and used my Wacom Bamboo Create tablet to draw the cow skull. I used a 45 pixel circle brush with pressure sensitivity enabled and the lighter of the two tan colors for the outline of the skull.

After that, I made a new layer under the skull layer and changed the setting of my brush to color based on the pressure sensitivity. This allowed me to color in the skull with shade, while still keeping the graphic feel.

Step seven involved deciding on a background. Using a combination of the dark tan and the eraser end of my stylus, I drew a flowing shape that would provide a sense of movement and guide the viewer’s eyes from the skull to the title area.

Once satisfied with the layout, I took my eraser tool again and cut accents into both the skull design and the background. This provided a way to make the piece feel more coherent by incorporating negative space in with the main design.

Finally it was time to add the title. I used the dark brown from my palette to provide contrast from the rest of the piece. The main title was done with Baskerville Bold, and the “National Park” bit in Baskerville regular. I wanted to use a western theme font, but in practice it just made the piece look busier than I would have liked. Baskerville was classic enough and provided a good feel for the atmosphere I was hoping to achieve.

The final step was the thin border, I used the rectangle tool to add a simple dark brown border that would tie the dark brown of the title to the rest of the piece and add coherence.