The 1980s was a fertile time for fantasy movies, delivering classics such as The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Willow and Ridley Scott’s excellent Legend in 1985. A film with a much darker edge than your average family fare thanks to Ridley Scott‘s gothic fairy-tale visuals, superb character design (and performance from Tim Curry as The Lord of Darkness) and some pretty adult themes. Remove creepy Tom Cruise from the equation and you have an almost perfect film. It’s certainly up there with my best of the 80s, and a poster illustration that i’ve been working on for quite some time now can finally see the light…
…And I hope you like it. Below is a shot of my original inked illustration of The Lord of Darkness, drawn first in blue pencil and inked with brush (black indian ink, a Windsor and Newton Series 7 #2 brush and Bristol Board for those who might be interested). I must have drawn this character 3 or 4 times before I hit upon a version I liked, abandoning my entire original concept in favour of a cleaner, horizontal design.
The following gallery offers a look at some of the key steps in the creation of the poster, particularly the adding of tonal values to the main character and a look at the abandoned concept drawings. In this first design I was attempting to go for a classic approach, similar to the poster work typical of the 80s, and in particular that of the brilliant artist Drew Struzan. What quickly became clear was; 1 – that I didn’t have anywhere near the flair that Drew has for this kind of work, and 2 – that I didn’t much like my design. The version that I inked up felt far too busy and heavy in the blacks for my taste, so I set about a new arrangement using many of the same elements, but in a cleaner design which presented a clear division of light and dark, the prominent theme throughout the film. Then conceptually it all fell into place and i’m extremely happy with the final result. I could have kept on working at my original design, (looking back I think should have kept it a pencil drawing and left the black inks out of it) but when you feel that something isn’t working there’s nothing wrong with putting the brakes on and re-evaluating what you’ve done so far. I hope you’ll agree that I took the right course.