The Belfast City Print is the most recent city print design. The process of these prints is not so simple and straight forward, there is so much research that goes into each one. We thought it was the perfect time to hear the process behind the finished piece.
Here is an interview with Michael describing his process on this design.
What made you decide to choose Belfast for your next city print?
I’ve completed many other city prints using this process and each time I share the images on Instagram. When a follower, Aidan, saw another print, he recommended that I complete a Belfast design. That is where the idea for a Belfast city print came from. It has always been my intention to cover all locations in the Great Britain and Ireland. Completing the first design for Northern Ireland has been a great step. The person who requested it got involved and gave me so much in-depth information which was a fantastic help.
So how did you start the process of the Belfast City Print?
I discussed different locations in Belfast with Aidan and also a friend, Richard, who is from Belfast. We worked together to create the initial list of content.
The next stage was to produce a rough lay out drawing in pencil on an A2 sheet. I placed each element on the paper to see how it fit together.
How did you choose the places you feature on the design?
I really took lead from Richard and Aidan. Initially we had such a long list that everything couldn’t be included. I sent them both a compiled list of ideas, and they gave me their advice on what should be included and what could potentially be omitted.
When creating a design, I always try to get a good selection of items to include, which gives a broad selection to cover the whole city. I look at city landmarks, music, people, iconic places of interest and anything that could stand out as a focus on that particular city or place.
There may be 10-20 landmarks. I then narrow these down to ensure there is a balance of information across the whole design. This makes it appeal to anyone who may live or have a connection with Belfast.
How do you start the design?
With each design there is always the initial pencil drawing, that is what I started with for this Belfast City Print. I then continued to develop the design in pencil adding more detail to each section. This includes turning some of the lettering into 3D or adding some texture to give more style, which is exactly what has been completed throughout this Belfast design.
I also now start to look at the illustrations which are added in amongst the typography. I already have the basic drawing from the rough pencil drawing and this is when I started to add more detail to each building or each element to make sure the whole design is balanced and flows nicely, of course, ensuring the buildings are totally recognisable.
The design builds up in layers with the rough pencil first, followed by the more detailed pencil drawing.
How do you work out what goes where?
I try to spread each item out, for example landmarks tend to have an illustration, such as the cranes in Belfast and so I like to distribute them throughout the design rather than all in one location. I do the same with each group, so for example if there are four song lyrics, they won’t all be placed together either.
Once I’m happy with the pencil drawing, I then start to work with pen. I begin by outlining everything in black pen and then start to fill in sections to make solid black areas or add other types of detail. This is all to balance the page and I make sure there is a similar style on the opposite of the design, for example if there is solid black writing at the top right, then I will balance this and do the same on the bottom left.
I almost squint at the page at that stage to make sure it is fully balanced, and the dark sections are evenly distributed.
You use drawings in amongst your design, how do you come up with these?
Illustrations come mainly from the buildings chosen for the design. These take a little more time to get perfect as I look at several different photos of each building to gain different perspectives. I find as many different images as possible to create a drawing to ensure the building is fully recognisable. I often play around with perspective to give more depth, some are slightly warped to make them pop out of the finished image.
Are the illustrations planned prior to starting the design?
No, they are formed whilst the whole design takes place. The illustrations may be effected by the text, for example, buildings could be behind type etc and so the illustrations aren’t designed until the rough layout is first completed.
What is your favourite part of the Belfast City Print?
My favourite part of this design are the Samson and Goliath Wolff Cranes. They dominate the skyline in Belfast and are fantastic engineering accomplishments.
What do you hope people will like about the design?
I really hope the design sparks memories of happy times people have spent in the city. The fact that every person will prefer different parts of the design for different reasons is what I thoroughly enjoy. I love that it will draw on nostalgia and be a talking point for everyone who sees it.
Take a look at the design and the options available here