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America by Train

I had a feeling I wanted something with a mid-century flair - I was tempted to do something modern to have the style juxtapose against the topic, but I wasn't really sold on that idea. Doing my mind map helped clarify what I wanted to do:

What's more perfectly retro than seeing America by train! Having settled on that, it was just a matter of picking what attractions I wanted to feature. I figured it would be best to do as wide of a mix of types of places to visit via train - national parks, cities, and coasts.

I had trouble narrowing down my colors - I looked at the colors in the WPA National Parks posters from the 1930's and 1940's, and picked from there. I came to eight, but really wonder if I should try and go with fewer still:

I would ideally like to narrow them down even more, but I found as I started making my badges, I really struggled to limit my palette.

I originally designed these to be standalone pieces, and my first versions were therefore designed to be larger and more detailed. Then I had a breakthrough - what if I used these in conjunction with a map of Amtrak's system to tie them all together? I'll start on the map next, but in the mean time I started shrinking down and refining them. The first step was shifting to a format that would work well as map markers. And thus, I ended up with these:

Very much looking forward to feedback and critiques!

UPDATE 9/13/14:

First off, updated color palette:

The last dark purple was, as pointed out, too dark - it was overpowering. In addition to lightening this quite a bit (and, I think, tying it better to the light purple), I scaled back the usage quite a bit. I also tried to make the banners a little more balanced looking.

One thing that really crystalized for me was the idea that these illustrations should be - hypothetically - windows from each train. The illustrations aren't always accurate, but this helped me create what I think is a cohesive use of perspective and layout. I think I've been able to build interesting visual differences while still keeping them consistent, stylistically.

Here are the updated badges (note: the initials on each one will act as a key when put into place on the full map these are intended for):

I think these work a lot better, but I'm excited for more critiques and feedback!

UPDATE 9/13/14: COLOR!

So, I went through and did some more and what I kept realizing was how consistently flat they looked - and not in the good way. I was struggling to create depth and variation.

So I created a new color palette, with more saturation and higher contrast:

Fewer shades, more variation. I think it works pretty well?

As usual, looking forward to feedback!

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