Sorry all, for the long delay between posts here—the holidays (and pre-holiday deadlines) just caught up with me... But, perversely, I'm back with the biggest blog yet—a topic so big it takes two blogs to contain it! So, if you haven't yet, check out Part I over the Criterion Current.
(I'll probably get around to cross-posting it here so, just to have it in the archives, but at the moment I don't feel like uploading all those images over again...)
So... a little backstory on the drawing style used on the Berlin Alexanderplatz cover: this was a style a started drawing in back in college, and haven't really used much since. The idea, originally, was that I would draw just the highlights of a face, then fill in the blacks around that. Here's a couple examples of the earlier incarnation, from my college literary magazine, The Minetta Review:
Listen, there's a reason they call it juvenilia, all right?
But that was a very fun, free form way to draw (or, paint, actually—those are watercolors), mostly initiated by just drawing a shape at random and then deciding if it was a nose or eyebrow or whatever and building a face around it. I'd been thinking about that style around the time I was working on Berlin, because I knew I wanted to try to start hand-drawing some things for the silkscreening class I'd started. Something about the heavy lines and vaguely woodcut-y feel felt like it could work for Berlin, but obviously drawing shapes at random wasn't going to give me any recognizable likenesses, which I knew I would need.
So I cheated a little. I found an image of Franz that I thought might work (a framegrab from episode 1):
Then I adjusted the levels in photoshop and printed it out as a very light yellow, and drew over the top of that in pencil, which helped assure that I got the proportions of Franz's face correct, then filled it in with Sharpie:
There was a lot I didn't like about that drawing, (the hat, the right cheek, the eyes, etc, etc), so after I scanned it in I messed around with it quite a bit. Then I incorporated it into the existing title treatment, like so:
Next came the colors, which were achieved by doing a layer of flat color, then adding a couple layers of watercolor texture and schmutz overtop. Here's what the layers of color look like without the lines:
And then the whole thing came together:
(The weird little gap above the "F" is to accommodate the branding tab, if you were wondering.)
Once that was approved, I wanted to flesh out the rest of the package with drawings in the same style. Since this style is best suited to portraiture, I figured the best way to do that was to focus on other members of the cast. First up was Reinhold, who came very easily and is definitely my favorite of the bunch:
I knew I needed Meize and Eva, two of the most important characters in the film, but it quickly became apparent that this style wasn't as well suited to attractive women—too many thick lines made their faces look misshapen, too few and they didn't match the rest of the drawings. I got away with Meize by showing her in profile and putting the emphasis on her hat, which I think worked, even if many of the stylistic quirks that define the Franz and Reinhold drawings aren't exactly present here:
Eva turned out to be a bigger problem. I tried a few variations before hitting on a pose I liked:
But y'know, "all women wear hats" is a pretty lame cheat. And even once I found that I couldn't quite nail it down—this first take had too much detail in the hair and not enough in the face:
But after much photoshop work I got it to a place that I liked:
I did a drawing I quite liked of Lüders, but grudingly had to admit that he wasn't an important enough character to merit a spot in the packaging:
Poor Mekt, on the other hand, is a very prominent character in the film, but almost everyone who saw the final packaging layout asked me who he was, and when I said "Mekt," the response was almost invariably, "who?" Maybe that's more a reflection on my likeness of him, but I think it works alright...
One of the angels from the epilogue, Franz's canary, and Fassbinder himself rounded out the portraits, and we had ourselves a finished package, and one that I'm really quite proud of.