Smashing Magazine 2nd Anniversary poster

Smashing Magazine by James White

I was approached by Vitaly and Sven, the guys behind the mighty Smashing Magazine, to design the poster celebrating the design blog’s second anniversary. I was thrilled to be presented with the opportunity to give something back to the guys who offer constant inspiration to countless designers all over the world.

They are holding a contest to give away 8 hand-signed posters, all you have to do is comment on the 2nd anniversary post.

When I started to jam out some ideas for the Smashing Magazine anniversary poster, I already knew I wanted to do something with a stylized ‘2’ in an effort to keep the concept simple. Before stepping to the computer I always rough things out in sketch form to get a general idea of where I want the elements to land. So, I’ll spend hours on my couch surrounded by art books, video games and CDs as I doodle.

Smashing Magazine by James White

I’ve been researching a lot of retro toy designs recently, and while doodling this little guy popped into my head:

Smashing Magazine by James White

I came across this Fisher Price Little People toy when I was around 8 years old and remember thinking “Hey, his eyebrow and nose looks like a 2.” Not only was the concept personally nostalgic but it also represented part of a face, specifically an eye. Given that Smashing Magazine prides itself on offering visual stimulae to artists worldwide, the concept seemed appropriate. I couldn’t find the actual toy on the web so I recreated it here as closely as I could.

After settling on a basic sketch I moved to Illustrator where I made many color and composition studies as I tried to find an appropriate palette and layout for the poster. I make many of these for every work I do and always keep them on file for future use or reference. Here are a few examples of working with the 2 concept:

Smashing Magazine by James White

Once I have a good idea of the direction the poster is heading in terms of color and composition, I will them move to Photoshop where I bring all of my vector pieces, effects and textures together and build the poster. I opted for a more close-up version of the ‘2’ in an attempt to make the eye and nose more prominent, but not overkill. After things snap into place I’ll add any lighting, color hotspots, flares, highlights, shadows, patterns, etc until I feel things reach a suitable balance.

So with that, happy anniversary Smashing Magazine!






36 responses to “Smashing Magazine 2nd Anniversary poster”

  1. dragoshell Avatar

    Great poster, congrats! I love the retro feeling, the patterns, the light effect… all! Hope to get lucky in that contest :)

  2. Joanne Avatar

    Very Nice! I love the texture in the lower left-hand corner and how it contrasts the polished top half. Great Job!

  3. Paul Avatar

    James, it’s a fantastic graphic, seriously well done on this one.

    Automatically springing to mind are the designs of both BB2 and our very own TV2 here in New Zealand. Many people have played with the 2 form and there are some interesting, silly and great resolutions to these efforts.

    Cheers, and what a lucky bugger to whoever wins one of those.

    Old New Zealand idents

  4. Grant Friedman Avatar

    That’s really awesome! Great work!

  5. Eli Avatar

    It came out absolutely beautiful :) Keep up the great work.

  6. Manuel Avatar

    Great job! Looks great!

  7. Paul Johns Avatar

    Awesome work as always. I hope to one day be as good a designer as you. your work is very inspirational.

    This post contains some nice insight into your workflow, and helps me see how you approach a design. I find that very useful and hope to see more of it in the future.

    I also entered the contest. Good luck to everyone, but especially me. ;)

  8. ferdinand | fudgegraphics Avatar

    i love it. i so want to win.

  9. Lorenzo Toffolo Avatar

    Really nice job you did there.

  10. oolong Avatar

    I’m first time here and I really like your blog. And this poster. I’ll be back ;)

  11. Jerlyn Thomas Avatar

    Really great work!

  12. steve Avatar

    Love the poster. It’s awesome to see your train of thought. Good job man…
    BTW – what font is that in the lower right?

  13. Gareth Wheeler Avatar

    Hi there :)

    Awesome poster design, nothign better than some good old school retro!

    Just wanted to know from a technical point of view, how you would go about creating those small lines inside the 2, its always bugged me how people do it and ive never been able to figure it out!

    Your help would be much appreciated :)

    Nice work


  14. james Avatar

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I very much appreciate the kind words, and good luck to everyone who entered the draw.

    Paul, thanks a lot for the links. Those BB2 logos are awesome.

    Steve, the typeface is called Bookman Swash. It was used quite a lot in 1970s advertising. The version on my poster is slightly altered from the original.

    Gareth, the lines on the 2 were created in Illustrator using the Offset Path option, and then pasted into Photoshop to add the 3D effect.

  15. trocks Avatar

    in the four sketches of the “2”s

    what graph paper and markers are you using?

  16. Horacio Avatar

    nice lines over the “2” !
    love the light beams too ^^
    great work

  17. Jordan Wollman Avatar

    Great work! Very nice design, composition, and Photoshopping.

  18. james Avatar

    Trocks, the sketches here were dressed up in Photoshop for presentation, plus my scanner is currently down. But if you would like to know about my tools, I’m a very standard 0.5mm blueline pencil guy with a Pentel Pocket Brush pen.

  19. loswl Avatar

    Great poster, Cool concept, nice to see the process you go through before getting to the computer, sometimes a struggle for designers but the outcome pays off, keep up the good work :o)

  20. Paul Avatar

    Hey again James.

    Actually I gotta repeat what loswl says. It’s really nice seeing a designer not too precious to show the work in progress. I love to see how people resolve design issues and cheers for the typeface name.

  21. Bhargava Avatar

    wow! amazing poster. love the retro look.

  22. Bart Avatar

    Where did you print the poster?

  23. Foxinni Avatar

    Awe inpiring stuff. The poster looks great. Don’t be affraid to get a liitle deeper into your process. ;)

  24. Joel Avatar

    NIce job man! SOLID!!!

  25. Brady Avatar

    Great work; I’ve been following your web posted work accidentally for quite sometime… As in, I see something that catches my eye, I click on it, and somehow, often enough, it’s your work.
    Again, great job… Really.

  26. james Avatar

    Thanks so much, everyone.

    Bart, I had the posters printed at a local company here in Halifax called Precision Digital. Their work is spot-on every time.

  27. blackshaolinkungfu Avatar

    Magnificent work! I love it!
    Give us tutorial about this work sometime …

  28. puffgirl Avatar

    Really nice! im jealous :P

  29. kategra Avatar

    Can you tell us please what fonts did you used for “Two Smashing Years” !

  30. kyle Avatar

    I just found out a few minutes ago that I am one of the eight winners of your fantastic Smashing Anniversary poster. I can’t wait to get it framed and hung up.

  31. james Avatar

    Kategra, the font is Bookman Swash. I only have the standard version so I added all of the flourishes by hand.

    Kyle, wicked! Congratulations on the win.

  32. Daniel Avatar

    did you created the typefonts as well?

  33. […] really wanted to push a metallic style with this one, something I briefly experimented with on the Smashing Magazine poster I created last year. The 77 design actually stemmed from the freelance I am currently working on, […]

  34. abhilash Avatar

    Nice one :)
    The poster looks awesome. thanks for sharing

  35. Ashton Avatar

    Great work James!It’s a mix of grungy, retro motown feel. It’s an excellent inspiration for your fellow designers.

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