Thursday, January 31, 2013

FINAL Black Pirate Update

 We are thrilled to finally conclude our Black Pirate series! At the end of the last update we were almost finished with airbrushing. The last section that Aaron was going to work on was the ocean.

Pictured: This was the last photo from the previous update on Black Pirate.

 The ocean is one of the most complicated areas because of all of the different hues of green and blue, fortunately we had a decent reference for this poster. Gabe and Aaron started off by masking for the greener section of the water. I asked Gabe to give me a ballpark estimate about how many masks this poster got. He had to think back over the past two years, but felt that this poster probably had about 50 different masks all told.

Pictured: The brown paper protects the rest of the poster from the airbrush over-spray, while Gabe has opened up the green area of the ocean from the acetate covering the rest of the poster that doesn't have brown paper on it.

Pictured: Aaron beginning to airbrush the green part of the ocean.

Pictured: In our video blog Aaron explains that it is easier to start out with a lighter color and then go darker then to start out dark and try to make it lighter, so here he is beginning with a yellow paint. You can see Aaron talking about airbrushing in this video on YouTube:

 This poster has been at Poster Mountain for several years waiting for conservation and then when it was finally linen backed it was put on the back burner in restoration because it was almost a complete overhaul. Finishing this section of ocean was somewhat dramatic for us because it meant that the end to this project was finally in sight.

Pictured: And here is the finished section of the ocean.

I'm deliberately not showing you the last section of the ocean after it was completed to build up some drama. (Like this poster needed anymore?) Once the rest of the ocean had been airbrushed it was time for the poster to go to Melissa for detailing. What Melissa was working on with this poster were all of the small cracks not blended in during airbrushing and recreating tiny details that make a good poster. 

Pictured: Melissa detailing, the last step for Black Pirate.

Pictured: The ocean and the ship were two areas that got intricate airbrushing, but the trunk was too detailed to get a lot of airbrushing, so Melissa spent a lot of time finishing it off.

She also spent part of the time modulating some of the airbrushing with watercolor pigment to recreate the look of a  lithograph because one of the beautiful things about lithos is how soft and subtle the shading can be. Airbrushing itself can be soft as well, but because of the masks needed to shield other areas from over-spray sometimes the edges can be very abrupt. In order to accomplish this look Melissa softened the harsher lines of the airbrushing with watercolor pencils.

Pictured: Because of the tape needed to cover the blue grey area of the boot, the black lines are very harsh, so Melissa is using a watercolor pencil to create the softer lines you would seen in a lithograph.

Here is another example of blending to recreate the look of a lithograph. For some of the smaller areas, airbrushing just wasn't feasible, so Melissa filled those in by hand. For this particular area of the trunk that Douglas Fairbanks is sitting on she begins with an orange base and then stipples black over the top to match it to the surrounding area. And unlike most of our other projects there weren't just a few places like this, but miniscule details all over the poster that got the same attention.

Pictured: Melissa layering in the orange pigment with a water color pencil.

Pictured: Stippling in black over the top of the orange to blend it with the surrounding area.

Melissa spent days working on this. She would work on it for a few hours and then her eyes would need a rest and she would work on something else for a while before going back to this. However, the end result is well worth the time and effort that everyone on staff put into this project.

 And just in case you forgot what this project started as here are some pictures to remind you. This poster started out glued to a board and had to be taken off that board in pieces.

Pictured: This was the condition that Black Pirate was originally in.

When Lindsay and John removed it, they did their best to remove it in large portions, but because glue is not paper's best friend this was not always possible and it came off in a multitude of smaller pieces that they put back together like the worlds most difficult puzzle.

Pictured: Here is part of the poster during the demounting process. Look back through the other Black Pirate posts to see more pictures.

Pictured: These were some of the largest pieces of the poster that they were reassembling after it was demounted.

This was the definition of a collaboration between the entire Poster Mountain family to pull this one off and we are proud of the results and happy to have concluded the project.
It should be noted that several crucial steps in our process have been omitted. If you have any questions please contact us via email at or by phone at 818.882.1214. Also check out our websites: and Please feel free to leave comments or questions on the blog!

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