Making of a Monster – Part 1

Today begins my step-by-step tutorial about the making of my poster for The Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles’ Illustration West 59 call for entries poster. Illustration West 59 is SILA’s 59th annual art competition for professional illustrators and students, for which I am serving as Show Chair. The deadline to enter is only a few short weeks away on October 31. (CLICK HERE for entry details.)

As Show Chair, along with choosing my jury and other various administrative tasks, I was asked to create the poster image this year. While the contest is open to entrants from around the globe, SILA is based in Los Angeles, the hub for movie making. With my penchant for drawing monsters, what better way to promote an LA contest than with a monster movie poster!


Painting a happy little monster Bob Ross style!


I love old vintage movie posters, and immediately my mind went to the monster movie posters of the 1950s. In looking on the internet at what had come before, it became evident that the ones I most gravitated to were images of huge monsters with people running in abject terror, usually with a couple in the foreground really showing the emotional distress of such citywide intrusions into their lives.



In picking out my favorites, it dawned on me that most of these great posters were illustrated by the legendary Reynold Brown. Not surprising, I later learned that Reynold had been a professor at Pasadena’s Art Center college where he had been an instructor of one of my judges, famed movie poster artist Drew Struzan! Ah yes, I had chosen to be inspired by the best.

So, to begin with, I sketched a number of thumbnail sketches (little super sketchy drawings just to get some ideas down in a visual way), soon settling on a furry, alien-like octopus breaking through the Los Angeles skyline. Unfortunately, I don’t have my rough rejected ideas to show you, but I CAN show you the drawing I settled on.



After showing it around, I had gotten some feedback that maybe it should be modernized a little to steer away from it looking too fifties. The only trouble is, there are a LOT of people currently in LA who dress in vintage clothes from the ’40s and ’50s as it is, so I was reluctant. As a way to modernize, I did this sketch changing the man’s clothes, and putting tattoos on the figures. Ultimately, I didn’t care for this approach, preferring to keep it more vintage.



By the way, I do my planning sketches in Photoshop on the computer. Working on a Cintiq monitor for drawing, I draw in layers which allows for easy changes to the composition while working through it. This is how I start all my traditional paintings – working it out on the computer first.

The next step is to paint a color comprehensive sketch on the computer. This is a great place to work out issues of color, make changes as necessary, and make sure it is all working before going to the trouble of breaking out actual paint and paper. I will print this out, and keep it on my drafting table as a guide while I work on the final traditional art.



So, come back tomorrow as I show you the first steps of creating this illustration on actual bonafide PAPER! Shocking, isn’t it? Ha!