This is my interim piece before i plunge into another ‘poster project’ – since i haven’t decided which one to do yet.

I’ve always held a fascination for World War II history and have long thought about doing a piece showcasing its top political and military leaders.

So, here ‘s the first set.  I’m calling the piece BRASS and will feature them as if they actually posed for this project (re Kingdom Come covers by Alex Ross). I used the LIFE logo for background as a tribute to the magazine that captured in photos that singular moment in our collective history.

Hope you like it.



Step 3 … and I’m done!

So, here it is finally. It took me a while  -10 years before I got the courage to pick up my pencil again, and then some more after that (another 5 months) to complete the piece. Uninterrupted drawing for 2 hours a day doesn’t really get you far in terms of building momentum but I had my day job to think about, so that was the best I could do.

For those of you just ‘tuning in’, I chose this for my first piece for one simple reason –it’s a great film, period.

The story about a unit of black soldiers during the American Civil War and the young colonel from a patrician, abolitionist family who was  given the job of training and leading them into battle.  It’s one of the best war films ever made, and one whose perfect ensemble cast is matched only by its resounding film score.

Matthew Broderick – Col. Robert Gould Shaw
Denzel Washington – Private Silas Trip
Morgan Freeman – Sergeant Major John Rawlins
Andre Braugher – Corporal Thomas Searles
Jihmi Kennedy – Private Jupiter Sharts
Cary Elwes – Maj. Cabot Forbes
John Finn – Sergeant Major Mulcahy

The director, Edward Zwick, went on to make a slew of other good movies (Legends of the Fall, The Last Samurai, and Blood Diamond) but I think this was his best work.  Also, 2009 marked the 20th anniversary of the film’s theatrical release so I thought that a commemorative poster was just appropriate.

In terms of the PROCESS: I deviated a bit from my original comp after I realized that too much background detail would only distract attention from the piece’s central characters. Once I had the comp down, I transferred the layout to the board (Bainbridge 2200) using traditional 6H then 3B graphite. Given that I haven’t practiced in a while, I was forced to experiment with colored pencil over poster color, and vice versa. Needless to say, this created some problems and even made me think of abandoning the whole project altogether at one point. Of course, airbrush acrylic would have solved all this but that’s another story. Also, I chose not to cover the initial board with gesso which, in hindsight, I probably should have done.

I chose to use a limited palate for this piece primarily because I wanted the overall tone to come across as muted and dark –evocative of the time. I started on Denzel’s profile first, followed by Morgan Freeman,  then Andre Braugher, the two tent-pole drawings (John Finn & Cary Elwes), Jimhi Kennedy, and Matthew Broderick last.


At this point, I have to say that the hardest part of the whole piece was coloring Broderick’s face. The light is behind him to the left and, for some reason, I never quite got the right mix of gold/yellow/orange to define the lighted  vs shaded areas that my 6-yr. old son came to call this part of the piece –coloring the ‘difficult skin’.

I chose the background scenes randomly from a wide selection of screen-shots from the film because, again, I didn’t want it to detract from the central characters. I also decided to anchor the whole piece with a symbol and for this I chose the Civil War Infantry officer’s hat insignia of the horn around the number 54 –you can see this emblem on the hat of Col. Shaw in full gear (apologies for any historic inaccuracies in relation to this).

To bring the whole piece together I used the outline of a soldier’s face –one I borrowed from Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

I then transferred the whole piece to Photoshop CS2 where I spent over a month (!) cleaning and tightening it up.

Hope you like it.

more of 2.5

freeman_eyesThis is my last post before the  final finished piece.

At the rate i’m going (2h/day give or take), i should be done by July 15th. I’ll try to whittle it down to one piece per month for the next one (any ideas?)

Since i’m using colored pencils, the hard part here was figuring out the right combination of shades for the tonal skin colors -this ate up a lot of time (help airbrush!). Also, notice that the colors are toned down/muted and less evenly spread out as opposed to if i had used acrylic airbrush. But, that’s ok -i’m going for the gritty feel here. These two still need some firming up and some more highlights but you get the idea.

Let me know what you think.

final comp2

Step 2.5

denzel_partDecided to do the final comp in colored pencils rather than airbrush acrylic. Although i would have preferred to color using BOTH, I’m still not comfortable w/ the latter (never used it before). Wonder if there are any good online tutorials for this. Feel free to dump on my coloring technique (remember, i haven’t done this in over 10 years) …

sample_color copy

Step 2

So, i tried doing the individual elements of the piece ‘free-hand’ coz that’s what i’m used to. Problem was, i bought a really cheap illustration board w/ like half a layer of drawing paper on it so when i needed to make some erasures (from lack of practice), i literally bore a hole through the whole board!.  So, i went out and bought a better one (Bainbridge 2200, textured and cold-pressed) and then proceeded to do what any artist, “pressed for time, and wanting to move on to the next piece” would do, i lightly traced using 6H Graphite.

Glory_rough comp

(There’s a case for you right there: FREE-HAND vs TRACING).

sample With the tracing done, i went ahead and did the dark/shadowed areas of each individual section of the montage first using 3B Graphite. I’m still doing that now (see sample at left). I’ll post the final comp when done.

And then we color!

Step 1

I haven’t drawn a piece this big in over 10 years and, quite frankly, am a little daunted by the task, not to mention rusty. But what the heck, i have to start somewhere. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the film’s release, so i’m doing it as a tribute to that and because i’m a very big fan of traditional (hand-drawn) movie poster art.

So anyway, i start by collecting reference photos for the piece. Since there are only so many that you can download off the internet, i decided to scan  the whole movie using VLC media player, then took screen shots of the scenes i thought i could use.




Glory mock-up

I then used Photoshop to crop and clean up the images that i wanted, then proceeded to play with my design and composition. Keeping in mind what inspired me to do the piece in the first place, i want the finished poster to evoke that same shared sense of awe, brotherhood and courage that the film espoused. Once i had the comp i liked, i did a ‘mock-up’ on 9 x 12″ drawing paper using (Faber-Castel) 3B graphite pencil.

And that’s it for step 1.