The opportunity to tell pieces of the stories of these two men made these assignments two of my favorites.
I used my Photoshop, painting and design skills to create a number of posters while at ESPN. However, these two have always been my favorites. I believe that being able to express the passions of the men themselves, to give the audience a glimpse of their personal stories, is what connects me to these pieces so strongly.
I worked under Bill several times and always found him to be a very likable fellow. When asked if I would do a retirement poster for him, I jumped at the chance. We were able to turn up a handful of photos throughout his career at ESPN. I then married these with his passion for flying, and I was able to put together a nice story:
One of ESPN’s original founders, flying into the sunset over the ESPN campus to pursue whatever adventure would come next in this man’s already amazing life.
I had several headshots of varying quality, all with different lighting, and coloring. I cleaned them up the best I could, adjusted the colors and then went in an hand-painted over them. I wanted them to feel less like photos and more like paintings. Note especially items like highlights and color shifts from the setting sun. I don’t think you can get in close enough to see the details in the repainted eyes.
We wanted Shanny flying off into the sunset, but our campus photo was full daylight. I cropped the campus from its own sky and married it with a stock sunset photo, and then went to work on fine-tuning the colors to deepen the image into an evening view. I then ran some paint filters over both images. Finally, I added the setting sun, and went in and touched up clouds to interact with the headshots.
The airplane was a fairly easy little piece. I created a vector outline of the plane based on some internet reference photos and then brush painted in highlights from the sun.
A year later, I was approached to work on Donato Paternostro’s retirement photo.
While not a “79er”, Danny had been with ESPN from very early on and was retiring after 30 years. Photo reference for him was limited to one low-res photo of him working in his vineyard, a favorite pass time of his.
We worked the story of Danny the wine maker into a poster by creating a custom wine label with Danny, ever hard at work, as the centerpiece.
This was a very tight deadline and I only had the one photo of Danny and no time to try and find more or even repaint this one. The photo was low-res, had lots of JPEG artifacting and was somewhat washed out. I cleaned up the photo the best I could, color adjusted it to make it more rich overall, then ran a light “oil paint” filter over it. At poster size, it looks like a print of a vibrant painting.
For the background, I created a more graphical image of a label wrapped around a bottle, a simple yet fun project in and of itself.
Finally, I digitally hand-painted the grape vine that frames the photo. During my 10 years at ESPN, I only had the opportunity to paint foliage like this twice (the other was on a holiday email). There’s less foliage in sports than one might think.