PROJECT BRIEF: You will conceptualize and design your own “city postcard”. The image should reflect the location selected (landmarks, feel, brand, etc.). Only the front side of the postcard is required; do not invest time and energy into creating a back. The final deliverable will be a photo-quality image that will be: – 4” H x 6” W (1200px x 1800px) – at a resolution of 300 DPI.
For this project, I chose to design a vintage-themed postcard that would reflect the “cheesy” tourist postcards that we see everywhere around the world. Pinterest provided great reference images that I could draw inspiration from.
In terms of locations, I knew that I wouldn’t be going on vacation anywhere in the near future, so I chose to use photos taken from previous years. My original location ideas included several locations in Bulgaria, New York City, Halifax and Niagara Falls – the last two being locations that I designed postcards for.
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia
The first initial designs were based around the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. My travels to the East Coast in 2015 took me to this maritime city, although there wasn’t enough time for my family and I to properly explore the city. One again, I chose to stick with the vintage, faded theme for this design. The following image was the original background image that I had chosen to use.
Eventually, the design created was not one that really spoke to me and I decided to create a different one. Unfortunately, while organizing files on my desktop, both the PSD file and the JPG file were deleted, so there is no visual record of the design that can be shown.
NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario
Moving on from the first version of this project, I focused on my hometown of Niagara Falls as a location. As one of the biggest tourist locations in the world, millions of people travel to see the magnificence that is the Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls. Visitors can be up close and personal with the falls through the Hornblower Cruise boats, an experience that makes you realize just how massive these falls are from below. In the evening, the powerful water is illuminated by coloured lights and the skyline is illuminated by the lights of the Skylon Tower and the Clifton Hill Ferris wheel.
To begin, I selected an image of the Horseshoe Falls that was taken on the deck of a Hornblower Cruise boat. I wanted to showcase the falls from a natural perspective and avoid displaying any tourist attractions.
Originally, I wanted to use a textured overlay that I found on the internet to create a vintage effect, but was unable to do so as it was not my own work. Instead, I duplicated the background layer and applied a noise filter to the duplicated layer while changing its layer mode to “Darken”.
The font choice was a key element to this postcard. As first, I began by attempting to create the bulky and rounded block letters that were on the postcards that I drew inspiration from, but I was experiencing many issues regarding the three-dimensional aspect in Illustrator, so I left it as two-dimensional and added a drop shadow to the text to make it “pop out” from the background. The fonts used were Rechtman (small text) and Inline Grunge (large text). A rising warp was also added to all text elements.
Next up were the colouring adjustments. For the vintage theme, I used two types of adjustment layers – Photo Filter and Colour Lookup. A sepia photo filter was added, in addition to a 3DLUT called “25strip.look”. Both of these layers desaturated the image and produced a faded colour scheme.
To simulate a vintage travel postcard, a border was necessary. I often see these types of postcards having a border that is either white or has some sort of cutting effect on it, such as a zig-zag. I recreated this in Photoshop by creating a rectangle with no fill and a a white stroke, and adding a rippled distortion effect to the rectangle. Two drop shadows were added on this layer to give the impression that the postcard image is darkened around the edges.
Finally, a slight vignette was added to the postcard, which gives it the impression of being vintage.
Overall, I found this project to be an interesting challenge. I had never designed a postcard and found it quite easy to do so, but there were so many factors to keep in mind (images, fonts, colours). While working on this final design, I knew that I wanted to make it as simple as possible while adding creativity to it.
The reasoning behind wanting to focus on the city’s natural aspect was due to an old video clip taken by my father when my parents first visited Niagara Falls in the late 1990s. There were no hotels on the skyline, nor were there many tourist attractions, which meant that the falls were the main reason for tourists to visit. This postcard goes back to the roots of what Niagara Falls really is – simply two waterfalls.