To December 4, 1927 to be precise!
Well, also to a few months ago when I was working on Radium Girls. Radium Girls is about the realization that radium can give you cancer, and the resulting law suits and media frenzy surrounding a few girls from Orange New Jersey who worked in a watch dial factory and got sick from the radium paint.
Did you catch the words media frenzy? In 1927 that means NEWSPAPERS! YAY!
With very little experience doing period work for the 20’s, and no experience with photoshop (MS Paint is as far as I go with photo manipulation) creating newspapers which would be credible as from 1927, with 5 separate headlines and 2 different mastheads was a challenge.
(Un)luckily I had InDesign at my disposal as a student, which no doubt would have expedited the process immensely if I had known how to use it. Instead, I wasted a few days dinking around on it before giving up and resorting to my good ‘ole mainstays in photo manipulation and graphics design.
MS Word and the snipping tool.
Fancy, I know right? But it really does work. I’ve used it in the past, and actually used it a few times for other graphics on the show, like this.
Yes. Text boxes and the snipping tool. But it works! Here are some pictures of the process I went through- unfortunately I don’t have a tutorial, but I think some of the stuff I ended up with is really cool.
These two are ads from 1927 which I got at possibly the best website ever, copy-pasted into the newspapers after creating a template out of text boxes. The last one’s an obituary from the time- within two weeks or so of December 4, 1927. I tried to keep it as accurate as possible, even though no one will ever read it.
This is a picture (snip) of my headline, which was actually me typing everything into a text box in word and modifying it by “snipping” it and re-inserting it into the document as an image, and stretching it a bit to make the font more like what I wanted it to look like. I did this for most of the headlines and a lot of the ads, because I later had to make sure my sizing fit the dimensions I needed. I’ll talk about that in a minute.
This is the image that I finally printed out. I didn’t save any of the unfinished work, because it wasn’t as important at the time as the final product, so I don’t have pictures of any of that. Sorry! About halfway through I realized I needed to make them newspaper sized. So I took the dimensions and modified everything, which was fine because it was mostly images and a narrative of the Radium Girls story which I copy pasted over and over and over again into the text boxes for the “stories” in the paper. (size 3 font- teeny on a regular page. Completely normal when printed large-size)
Anyway, so once everything was the right size and shape, I took the file and printed it on a plotting printer- a large scale printer intended mostly for lighting plots and set designs. I ended up printing them on just regular paper, because I didn’t have time to come up with newspaper print paper- which they sell at pretty much any art supply store in large pads. Looking back that would be the biggest change I would make in my process. Nevertheless, I did account for the difference in shade of the paper, and so shaded my image using the fill button on MS Word, and it worked out pretty well.
…and a back view of the printing job. Yes, we cut them out with scissors by hand. If I had access to a paper cutter, I would definitely do that next time.
This one was my favorite headline. Half the front page, one word. Very effective.
To fill the newspapers, so that they weren’t just one page, I spent some time digging through modern newspapers which were the right dimensions (NY Times was the paper I had the most success with) and finding pages without a “tell”, pages without large graphics or color of any kind, pages with a lot of little writing. I took those pages, pasted one to the backside of my front pages (which were unfortunately the bleach white color of the printer paper), and the added two or three to the middle to add bulk.
Voila! I ended up with a pretty little stack of believable, custom newspapers from December 4, 1927. I’m really proud of how they turned out, especially because I don’t have any background in graphic design, and am mildly computer illiterate.