Friday, December 27, 2013

wine labels for home vintners (mean hermit edition)

My "spirited" family is full of home brewers and vintners, a hobby many seem to have inherited from my grandpa. Late in life he developed an interest in making his own alcoholic concoctions; if you knew him, you know this was just one of the quirky and amazing things about him from a field of thousands.

This year my aunt and uncle made both wine and beer, and phoned in to ask me to do a little run of wine labels like I did a while back. I riffed off of the "Mean Old Hermit" sign that has hung on the gate of their rural property since time immemorial. This is what I came up with (the names here have been redacted for privacy):

A Google search turned up an old 1920s (copyright free) image of an old bootlegger simultaneously smoking a pipe, brandishing weapons and holding a liquor bottle. Perfect. I wasn't there to see my aunt and uncle open the package, but they tell me there was much laughter.

To make the two-toned sketched image, I used a very fine-lined drawing tool in Illustrator and, with my pen/stylus and drawing tablet in a separate layer, I drew over the highlights. When I was done, I dropped in the black background and added typography (fonts are 1942 Report, Rustic Regular {from Dover}, and Cavalcade).

Once I'd printed them out on label paper using my ink jet (because the local print shop took five days to return my e-mail), I gilded the 2012 using a gold paint pen and sprayed the labels with Mod Podge acrylic spray. I let them dry and air out for a couple of days before cutting them apart and packaging them up.

A note: I've been told by my aunt that labeling is done according to the year of the grapes, so 2012, not 2013, is the correct vintage in this case. The wine aged for a year before being given out as gifts.

I call the wine "house red" on the labels because the grape vines grow on the front of their house. Not accurate by wine industry standards, but not an issue for their friends and family.

I hope if you're a beginning Adobe Illustrator user, you can make sense of the above description of my process (specifically the part where I sketched over the image highlights). If not, and you're interested in learning more, drop me a note and let me know if I can make things clearer. Please remember to respect my copyrighted work (anything on this blog), but feel free to use any methods as a springboard for your own designs.

And if you want wine or beer labels of your own but don't want to learn a new program to design some, I freelance! Just contact me and I can work you up some wine labels of your very own for a really reasonable rate. Better yet, after an initial design fee, I can even send you digital files for five years worth of dated labels to print from.

Thanks for reading! 

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