Poster Brief: To Death With A Smile

For this project, called 'To Death With a Smile', we had to create a poster submission that conveyed death with a sense of humour. There are lots of different ways to respond to this brief, whether it's a typographic approach, illustration or photography. I knew that for this project I wanted to have fun and enjoy the process, so I decided to create A photographic outcome.

The piece shows woman scattering ashes only to find a gust of wind blows all the ashes back towards her, going into her face and all over her clothes. The image was made using a composite of multiple photos, carefully manipulated in Photoshop. The scene shows various elements to convey the narrative a sudden gust of wind, all digitally added to the original photo.

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The original picture shows my friend Hannah posing as if she is scattering ash onto the grass. In Photoshop I then started to add in elements such as the scarf blowing in the wind, the urn, leaves falling from the trees and the clouds of ash. The urn image was taken from the Internet and using masks was edited to look as if she was holding it. To make the scene look as if it was a windy day I manipulated her hair, by messing it up and making it appear more like it was blowing in the wind. To get the cloud of ash to look right, I research a lot of images of ashes being scattered and try to recreate the look using a combination of masked photos and the brush tool. For the heavy stream of ashes coming straight out of the urn, I masked and colour edited a photo of some real ashes being scattered into the sea. I was then able to get the clouds of dust from the Internet that I was able to colour match and adjust the transparency so the scene appeared dustier. Using the brush tool I painted on ash to appear on her face, hair and clothes. I was continually adjusting the colours to match after each change and I was pleased with the outcome and felt it looks believable.

In hindsight I probably should have created a more visually designed outcome that place to my strengths but as Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey said, when you know better, you do better. I enjoyed creating this image and had a lot of fun making it. I did not particularly like the brief due to the strong association with death and although it is not my most substantial piece of work for this course, it makes me and my friends laugh every time we see it, so I am happy with the outcome. It addresses the 'smile' part of the brief in that it makes the image viewer smile and the whole contents of the image derived from an action only performed after someone passes away, so I feel it does address the brief.