Making of a Monster – Part 7

Okay, the traditional art is now all completed with paint and pencil on paper. But that doesn’t mean the poster is quite finished yet. We still have some digital tools to use to see this frightfest to completion.

What good is a monster movie poster without the words on it to say what we’re selling? What we are selling is the Illustration West 59 art competition open to professionals and students put on by the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles. So let’s make sure that is known!

To that end, I scan the painting into the computer where I will add some design elements in Photoshop. Remember my original color comp? Here it is again to remind you of where this piece is headed.



Originally I had intended for the “movie” title to be diagonal at the top right corner of the poster as a counter balance to the “Beware of the Deadline Monster” subtitle. Then the “Call for Entries” line would be at the very bottom. Those graphic design elements of the text areas needed to be created first, so I drew the ragged black bars in Photoshop and filled in the flat color to prepare the way for my text designer.



Once those elements were in place, I sent the above image to my pal Andy Heckathorne to create some vintage looking text for me. Andy is an illustrator and graphic designer from Pennsylvania who is much more adept at text design than I. (Check out his website HERE!) Our paths first crossed, ironically, at a national high school art competition when we were both seniors – he won first place, I won second. So all these years later, how appropriate that we got to collaborate on a professional art competition poster.

After a few back and forth attempts as we conceived of the text, as well as some editorial changes to what the text would say, Andy came up with this:



You know how sometimes you get stuck on an idea that you thought was creatively brilliant, but maybe it wasn’t? I must admit, it took me a while to let it sink in that the main headline should go horizontally across the top instead of diagonally. That was Andy’s idea. I had set the stage with that space up there, but ultimately, putting the text diagonally meant that the words would have had to be much smaller. After Andy kind of insisted this was the way to go, he was totally right.

Now that the text was complete, there was one last step I wanted to do to give this a vintagey feel. Dots. Old school posters sometimes would have a heavy dot pattern on them that derived from the way art had to be printed. I still wanted the details of the art to be seen, but some controlled dot patterns could be cool.

To achieve this, I purchased a plug-in for Photoshop called Mr. Retro. The software has all kinds of vintage poster looks it can help create with customizable sliders. I played around with lots of options, most of which took away all the hard work I had put into the details of the illustration. Really, I just needed dots.



After experimenting just with dots, I ended up running the art through the filter twice. I wanted big dots in the sky, and smaller dots on the characters and type.



I didn’t want dots everywhere, either. Since they were created on new layers, I was able to go in and erase dots selectively wherever they were not wanted as you can see below.



While I liked how the little dots handled the woman’s face, they didn’t look as good on the man, so those were erased from him.



Of course, it was fun getting dots on the SILA logo, which I manipulated a little by giving the eyeball a pupil like the monster has in his eyes.



So, all together, the final image looks like this…


Click on the art to see it larger (if you dare!)


Well, there you have it – the creation of a Los Angeles based art competition poster in which a monster is ravaging the city of Los Angeles. Good times.

If you are an illustrator yourself, I hope you will consider ENTERING THE CONTEST. The deadline for entries is at the end of this month – OCTOBER 31ST!!! I’ve assembled an amazing panel of judges who will be looking at your work – folks like Abrams Books editor Charles Kochman, MAD Magazine Art Director Suzy Hutchinson, and illustrators Jason Seiler, Mike Mignola, Justin Gerard, Kadir Nelson, C.F. Payne, and Drew Struzan!

In fact, I’ve been conducting interviews with my judges which are being published on the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles website, so CHECK THEM OUT!

Good luck to all who enter!