I’ve Seen Things
About the T shirt
Steve Harris (Bluebutter) explains his inspiration and shows us how he made sci-fi Tshirt ‘I’ve Seen Things’
I have always loved the 1982 movie Blade Runner. It is cinematically and conceptually stunning material by Ridley Scott. Since the second Installment of this movie is currently in the works, I decided to pay tribute to the first movie.
I love the scene where the Nexus 6 Replicant, Roy Batty, is about to die. He sits down with a Dove and speaks about things he has seen in his ‘life’ in the following quote:
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die”. As he dies he releases a dove or white pigeon that he has been holding.
I decided to try and capture this moment by including some pop culture references that directly relate to the movie and are easily recognisable to the audience. Blade Runner is great because it uses a lot of symbolism and metaphors. One of which that I consider to be the most prominent is the Origami Unicorn.
I love designs that are ‘symmetrical’ as I think they sit so nicely on the chest and standout. So I decided to try and capture this from a ‘front view’ of the bird flying up with the wings stretched out. So the first step was to try and find a reference picture that I could use as a reference when doing this. Using Google Image search, I managed to find this cool Pigeon Shot (figure 1).
Illustrator is great when it comes to its Blend option. I had a standard set of brushes (figure two) and blended them to makeup the feathers of the bird. I try to use the least amount of color in my designs as possible, for screen printing reasons, but also for style. I think a minimal palette is quite striking.
For the body of the bird, I decided to make my own brush (figure 3), this way I could draw up the body feathers and then delete the crimson after I was finished. This technique is particularly handy when you want to use a lot of the same thing, like leaves on a tree for example.
After completing some details on the bird including the head and feet, I had the daunting task of drawing up the hands of Roy Batty releasing the bird. Hands are probably one of the hardest things to draw. Because skin is organic, I have found that it is not suitable to use blends. I found a good reference (figure 5) and set it to a high contrast so I could see the line detail on the skin. I then illustrated the hands simply by penning it out in vector.
I wanted to use the Origami Unicorn for this design as it is such a strong symbol and metaphor from Blade Runner. However, I was not sure how to connect it up with the hands and bird. It came to me that the scene has a strong spiritual element to it, and I thought it would be apt to use rosary beads and replace a religious cross with the unicorn. This to me represents the concept that religion is a myth, especially for replicants’ because they are not gods children, despite the fact that this replicant demonstrates a spiritual connection with the universe.
The orange symbol in the middle of the design is the Tyrell Corporation’s logo. Tyrell is the corporation that manufactures the replicants. I felt it was important to ‘stamp’ the design with this logo in direct contrast with the spiritual elements of the design.
The final T shirt design…
Big thanks to Steve for explaining his process. You can find more of his cool T shirts over at Bluebutter
If you are a T shirt designer and want to share your process with our readers like Steve, please get in touch