May 2, 2012
UPDATE: Woo! Featured on Kotaku last night! Thanks to everyone for your kind comments and suggestions for what to do with the bottle. I think I’m going to try and auction the bottle off, giving the proceeds to Child’s Play. It seems like the right thing to do. I’ll have more details on that soon…
Also, I’ve got Tidebringer Rum posters in the works. Check ‘em out!
Here’s something that I’ve been working on for a couple months now, and it feels good to finally put it out into the world. May I present a long lost bottle of Admiral Kunkka’s 100 Proof Tidebringer Rum from his private reserve. Smooth, strong, and guaranteed to put fire in your belly.
I’ve made a weird hobby out of video game/real world crossovers. I don’t really know why I wanted to make Admiral Kunkka’s Tidebringer Rum so badly, but I was so in love with the idea that I worked on it pretty much non-stop on a weekend back in March. The design progressed really quickly, starting out as just a quick mock up of the idea and growing into a near-finished state (at least as far as concept is concerned) in about 24 hours.
With the basic elements finished, it was time to go back and produce a high resolution version. For the illustration, I tried to recreate the feeling of an old woodblock or lithograph print. This was probably the hardest part of the whole process, as my figure drawing skills are kind of meh and trying to reproduce that antique etching style was difficult. I also spent an outrageous amount of time hand drawing all the text on the bottle in a rough and loose style to simulate the irregularities of primitive printing methods. It’s hard to see in the finished version because it’s so small, but I think you’d notice if it wasn’t there.
I printed the design out using my boring old laser printer, creasing it and carefully scraping away the toner with sand paper or a finger nail. Then I distressed it using the time honoured tea-bag method several times with varying intensity. It was tough to strike a balance between distress and legibility, and I actually went through a couple of botched labels before I finished one that I liked. At this point, the label looked great, but the bottle itself was far too clean and perfect looking. I ground up some grey artist’s chalk and applied it to the top faces of the bottle using a makeup brush to simulate the dust that would collect after years of sitting on a shelf in storage.
I’ve recently discovered that custom rubber stamps are both relatively cheap to manufacture and excellent at adding an extra level of “authenticity”, so the early designs featured a stamp of approval. But, I really wanted to take this concept to the next level, and a simple 2D rubber stamp wasn’t going to cut it. After doing a bunch of research, I decided to order a custom wax seal stamper and some bottling wax to give it that old fashioned feel. The wax was a real pain to work with and clean up, but I’m happy with how it turned out.
To capture that nautical vibe in the pictures, I picked up twelve feet of 1 inch manilla rope from a nearby sailing supply store and headed down to the lakeshore on a cold April night. Turns out that all the docks were either cement or metal, but I found an old, weathered picnic table that would do just as well. You can see my setup here, including the small flashlight I use to help my camera autofocus in the dark.
And that’s it. I don’t know what to do with the bottle itself, right now it’s on display on my bookshelf, but I’m open to suggestions. Sound off in the comments with your ideas.
Edit: A bunch of people have asked if they can purchase this bottle, or a bottle like it. I don’t have any plans to make more, but I’m looking in to auctioning off the original and donating the proceeds to Child’s Play. Seems like a win/win situation.
For those interested, I’ve also drafted up an 18×24 print version that’s available for pre-order over at the store.
Here’s a few more pictures from the shoot:
And here are some wallpaper sized pictures for y’all: