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Alexa Black :: Graphic Artist and Creative Design


Black Bird Creative

This was the most elaborate and untried project I've taken on to date. The "Question" was already pretty ambitious. How to make a practical lava floor look realistic. The easy answer was to start with back-lit plexiglass. But the devil was in the details. ((har-har)) We would need to figure out how to print a realistic lava texture and find a way to diffuse light in specific places, and block it entirely in others. I knew the best way to do this would be to use an opaque white under-layer of ink beneath the print.


But when you're taking a 4" x 8" image and scaling it onto a 4ft x 8ft sheet of material, the stretching of the under-layer's lines began to look like blobs and distorted the final effect. The next question was how to fade out the white so the lines wouldn't be so harsh. White ink does not fade out. There's no ombre that can be done or shift in opacity.


My brain went to screen printing. You can't fade screen printing ink either... The effect is done using halftone dots, like vintage comic books. This creates an optical illusion of fading or a change in opacity. I asked our printers what they thought of the idea and they admitted no one else had ever tried it before. It was difficult to create the halftone pattern small enough to fade things evenly, while keeping the process from distorting everything. 

There was a lot of skepticism, especially as the dots created in the halftone were all about 1/8" in diameter and up close, were very obvious. I had to press that this was an optical illusion and would take effect the further you got away from the print.


For the camera, it worked like a dream! The final effect was two layers of two different texture patterns creating depth and contrast. The scenics then completed the effect with sculpted lava rock and black sand. The lighting guys programed a wave into the LED under lighting to give the overall effect movement. 



Dear Santa

Hell Lava Floor


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