- Lesson details
In this unique course, Mark Westermoe, the creator of feature film posters for blockbusters like Braveheart, Total Recall, and Home Alone, teaches you how to design a movie poster. This course will teach you how to go from developing ideas for your poster with thumbnail sketches, through preliminary drawings, all the way through to a finished poster. Mark will cover the business side of designing movie posters, including how to get into this rewarding field of work. You will also learn the history of advertising illustration, and learn many insider tricks and finishing techniques.
In this last lesson, Mark demonstrates his approach to a hand-painted movie poster finish which is a combination of an airbrush, a wax pencil, acrylic paint, and floetrol. He will give you a sequence of painting and drawing that will lead to a finished poster.
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is going to be how to approach
a hand painted
movie poster finish. It'll differ from the last
lesson because we used the gray tone paper, here we'll be using
the white ground and
a combination of airbrush and
wax pencil and
acrylic paint from the tube
using a matte medium or floetrol with brushes.
I won't be able to finish in the time that we've got,
a couple hours, but I can at least give you
a look and an arrangement
and a sequence of
painting and drawing that will yield a finished poster.
So for the head that I'm doing, which is
a life sized head, it might take, you know, quite a few
hours to do it but
at least I'll touch on that here and
like I say the logic behind it and the tools you're gonna need
to pull it off with and how to use them.
So if you get a chance to practice
this like any and all of the other lessons, then I'm sure you'll
really grow. At least you'll learn how to use an airbrush in
combination with other tools effectively.
So with that, let's go ahead and
I'll get started for you.
photograph that's quite blurry, not very good
at all, which sometimes is what you get. So that's nice, it'll
teach use a thing or two. And based on that I did a drawing.
I projected that drawing onto
a surface that I prepared. So I just
like to show you the drawing, the photo references and
the surface and talk a little bit about about how to prepare it and
what extra materials you need. Alright. So here's
our photograph. It's not good at all.
It's very blurry. Here's a black and white print
that I had made of it because I prefer
to use my color from black and white and not be
mislead by the false color of most photos.
I did, here is a photocopy of it,
and I try to - this is
actually a subject that I'm gonna be painting a portrait in oil of.
So when you're doing portraits you try to idealize
so I minimized some of the forms that
are less than ideal and those that are I
enhanced. Now this drawing
is then projected onto my surface
for the painting. I've done finished
movie posters that are about 39 inches by 53 inches,
they're huge. And tonight I'm just gonna use
something that's maybe about 10 by
14. So it's manageable. But the head, you'll see
when you project it, sometimes it's better
to project the drawing than the head itself. In fact almost
always is. But different projectors take different
sized images. They just don't have a big enough copy board
for some. So I simply reduced that
drawing to several different levels and
chose the one, this one, that fit the projector best.
The projector I used is really
inexpensive, $60 maybe at most, and it's just called
an Artograph Tracer.
It's a horizontal projector. Let me show
you how Norman Rockwell did his finishes.
This, by the way, is a fantastic book. Rockwell on Rockwell.
It was actually printed
also under the name how I make a picture.
And Norman Rockwell always
did his drawings from the photos that he shot
and then he would project them
onto his canvas or whatever surface he's using. Here
you can see a balopticon, which is way out of production but was a
fantastic projector, I've used it. And like my
projector it projects horizontally. There are
projectors that project vertically as well. So
he's got his drawing and he's projecting it now
and then he'll move on from there, do the stages
necessary to do a complete finish. By the way
here you can see. Here's his photo reference
you can see he designs the head
just like we did for our movie poster comps and just like I did
in the case that I'm gonna demonstrate tonight.
I figure if it's good enough for Norman Rockwell it should be
good enough for you guys
I can show you one or two finished posters that are done
precisely in this technique.
You can do something that looks absolutely photographic
I prefer something more -
let's find a good example here.
There are so many good
examples I didn't really tab one but here's one,
just two heads and pretty simple background.
These are all done using the approach
I'm gonna do tonight.
So are these.
I think this is probably the most glorious
example of the technique that I'm gonna do tonight.
Drew Struzan for the movie Sahara.
And you can see that he did a really tight color comp before he did the finish.
there are a few examples. It's a routine
approach to do finished movie posters.
I don't recommend it for portraits
for instance. It somehow just doesn't quite look right.
Alright what I did
I bought hot press illustration board
or the closest substitute for it that I could get where I live
in Claremont. It seems like the whole San Gabriel Valley east
of Pasadena just doesn't have any art stores except
a couple that are more craft stores. So I wound up getting
Canson white paper, the brightest white that I could get.
And it's unfortunately too thin so
in this case which I'll use just for a scratch sheet you can
see it bubbled over a little.
Then I got foam core for the back.
Don't get the thinnest foam core it won't help you.
But you don't need the thickest for something this size. Then I took
spray adhesive and I sprayed the
back of the illustration board and I
sprayed the front
or back, depending on how you view it, one side
of the foam core. And
I gave a liberal amount of adhesive and I always
wear a mask and goggles. Don't wanna get that in your eyes
or inhale it. Then you just like
closing a book, you take one and put it on top of the
other and with paper towels you
tamp it down really nicely and then you take
artists tape or painters tape and give yourself
a margin like so. And having done that
you take a mixture in a bowl like this
just a water bowl
you don't need this much for something as small as these
and then you add white acrylic gesso to it.
I prefer liquitex acrylic gesso
but there are others. You put it on
with a - I didn't bring it, I thought I did -
but it's called a Japan brush. It's very soft
and you put your strokes - the first
of all the consistency of your mixture should be like milk. The gesso
with the water. Then you brush it on diagonally.
I don't care which direction but not parallel to the
page, that's horrible. And then
you take a hair dryer and set it on a high setting and blow it dry
because you have to give it a second coat.
This time the diagonal should run counter to the first one, but
not at right angles to it, that's also deadly.
The texture is gonna partially come through in most cases and if
it does, you don't want something that looks static.
Then you blow dry that. That should be enough.
And you see here how it's gone over the edges of the
blue tape. You can kinda see the consistency of it too.
Not too thick.
If it's too thick your drawing and painting will be grainy, if it's too thin
your pencils that we're gonna use won't adhere
to it, they'll just slip right off.
So now it's dry. At that point
that's when I mount it for projection purposes and as I
described then I project my drawing on
to the board that I just created. I keep a second one
at hand just as a scratch sheet. This will test the
color. This will text the consistency, etc.
I'm gonna be using airbrush
liquid paint, this is by Golden.
I think it's one of the best, there are others. And
I'm gonna be using also hand brush work
and so for that
I have a little bit of acrylic
paint. And for that I just use it from the tube.
There are a number of good companies for this but
just don't get the cheapest student grade. This is pretty
inexpensive and this is liquitex basics. I have things that are like
$5 for a tube so it's hard to beat that.
I also brought some acetate
which is a clear plastic. You can get it in a roll, which you
shouldn't. Or you can get it in a pad, which is
preferable. If you get it in a roll it will always curl.
But in a pad it will stay flat. And you can
use this, cut it with a razorblade or scissors and you can use it to
create masks or what have you. Another thing you can use
is very simple, just a three by five or a five by seven
index card but I have
other materials here I can substitute for it if I don't get those.
Alright so I'm gonna start off blowing with
the airbrush an ambient tone for the flesh tones of his head.
I talked about this last session. The head is more
yellow in the forehead and is more
ruddy or red through the face.
And then the jaw is more gray.
Now that doesn't mean it's yellow and red and gray. I'm just
talking about the color leaning toward those.
So with my airbrush I'm going to test the
pressure. So we have a pressure regulator
and I like my pressure to be less
than 32 but for the overall airbrushing that might work.
This is at a very low setting, I think this is
15 or something like that
so I'll probably turn it up for the purposes of starting.
Let me talk about the pallet we're gonna use here.
This is a butchers tray pallet and you see two
paper towels. So I'll take each paper towel,
fold it once.
This is what you should also
do if you're doing color comps. Just
fold it once and then immerse
it in water.
And then set it
at the side, two sides of the
butcher tray pallet, like this.
One on my left - I'm
right handed - and one on the top.
That leaves everything else on this palette for
mixing. Okay so it looks like this.
You put your paint here and this leaves
this area for mixing. You do it with acrylic, you can mix right on
top of it. Not with oil but with acrylic.
Or watercolor. So I'll set that aside for the moment.
Actually I'll put it here. Since I'm right handed I put it on my right
side. Alright. For starters I'm not gonna use any
tubed acrylic, I'm not even gonna use the palette I just showed you.
I'll take the air brush,
I'll put plenty of water in it,
and I'll put some color
I'll use a
tube of golden liquid acrylic paint.
Alright. So here we are, if you wanna have a look at this
air brush. I got plenty of water and
now I'm just gonna put a few drops of color
take a brush and stir it up.
Now that's yellow ochre
so it's quite yellow.
I can neutralize that slightly by putting in
what's the compliment
of yellow? Well, violet. So let's put in
Just a drop or two because it has a high tinting
Well that's for sure.
A little too much violet so I'll dump some of the water out.
some more back in.
And then add back
some more yellow ochre.
Let's see how that works.
That looks alright.
Let's test it.
That's still quite yellow, let me put
a little more violet back in.
This may seem tedious but this
is how you do it. There's a little bit of a
back and forth process
and that is pretty much what happens when you
mix color, not matter what kind of color it is.
Oh that's a better color. Okay.
So let's just put it down.
Make sure you don't get it too
wet in any area.
While I'm at it,
it's a purple really not a violet, and purple leans
toward red. So
I might as well start putting some in this area too.
A towel won't work,
it has to be kleenex. There's a box in the
I'm gonna paint a dark background on this anyway so
I don't care if it - if the overblow of the airbrush carries
into the background.
Kleenex always good to have on hand.
And the paper
towels do not substitute for Kleenex usually.
if you don't have Kleenex on hand
you can use paper towel but it really is a poor substitute
for Kleenex. I really
strongly recommend that you keep Kleenex or another brand of facial tissue
I'm using the double
action quality of the airbrush by pushing down and pulling back.
Pushing down and pulling back rather than just
turning it on and blasting it everywhere.
That will cause it to
often times at least
to pool up.
But the way there are other
kinds of effects that you can get using kleenex or paper towels.
We're probably not gonna get too much of that this evening but
they're just really important have on hand.
Now just before the form
the shadow turns, the half tone
get a little darker.
So I'm gonna go ahead and play on that.
I'm still gonna gray the
jaw later but for now
I'm just gonna draw with the airbrushes.
I think many people
would not use the airbrush if they get this particular one,
they're gonna find out that it's pretty simple.
It's not as challenging as they might assume.
Well like any medium it depends on
good drawing. that's a
constant whether you're doing pastels or oils or
airbrush or computer. This is a constant
drawing, your drawing is what's gonna be the strength
or the weakness of the work.
Giving a little more over here on the far side of the head
since it's angled away to the source.
If this were gonna be a rendering from start to finish using
just the airbrush, I'd have to be more careful.
Although we will be using acrylic
right out of the tube as we paint and
model the form, you don't wanna do that with the
airbrush. Tubed acrylics will have
a strong tendency to clog
the mechanism and then you can waist a lot of time
and it's not really fun. Going back in, cleaning it from
scratch and, you know,
Now one of the things
that I should have brought but I did not
that you can use, again I mentioned a hair dryer.
You don't want to be delayed waiting for things to dry.
So that's why we use that.
I may not
use it this evening, I'm only gonna do part of this anyway but
you would wanna have it in general
if you're gonna use airbrush.
I mentioned that I prefer to use my own
color. I model the
form based on the black and white
the colors based on my own
decisions. And the reason is
that anything from a magazine for
instance if you're practicing it's gonna be -
color is gonna be false. However nice the
photograph appears, it's not true color anyway.
And if it's from a photograph, the color is also gonna be
I'll say what I do is I'll pull out
a head painting by Norman Rockwell
or any number of
other really great draftsman
and I will look at the color they used and
steal it. Just
go for the similar colors you know in similar places.
Nothing wrong with that.
Let's pause for a moment with the airbrush
and let's see
I'll take a large brush and let's paint
the dark background.
paint the dark background.
Let's see if I
got - there we are. Black is the operative color here.
I'm just taking some of the liquid black, putting it
in the corner of my palette.
Sometimes it helps to
wet the canvas -
sorry I use that generically, this is not a canvas -
to wet the board. Like a wet on wet
process in a watercolor painting. And then come back in with
the black on top of that.
I'm using a soft filbert brush.
I can use the front or the side.
If you do use
should bear something in mind.
You're gonna wanna use hot
press not cold press illustration board.
Cold press is kinda
toothy. Hot press is very, very
since you're gonna be painting over it with the gesso anyway
it's preferable to have the smooth, not
the cold press but the hot press.
I would get the heaviest
hot press, you don't want the board to be too flimsy.
Well I think you can really see
the difference and the impact of
the black makes.
I'm not painting right up to the edge because I might wanna
feather out that edge with the color of his hair later on.
And that's difficult to put on top of black but I could
do it into the black. That's the thinking
here. And with this painting you're gonna get
a really nice forearm,
a nice - almost like a white matter surrounding it
because we masked it off you see
And if you do it right
the paint won't slip or
get beneath the
So it'll stay pure white
all around the picture. A really nice
Up against the edge
of his hair, I'm almost using a dry brush
type of a
application to get the
softness of it, some of the texture.
This is not paint by numbers, I look all the way around
the whole painting when I do this.
And you see oh I skip around sometimes, I don't just finished one area, finish
another, finish another. That is paint by
I'm cleaning the water because
the black will spoil the
water if I want fresh, pure color
it's not what I want to mix it with.
Okay let's now
go ahead and gray
the jaw. And for this
what have we got?
Ultramarine blue, perfect.
So I'll add some of the ultramarine
into the present mix in the airbrush cup.
We'll need to
mix that up and probably put a little more water into it.
So I've added several
drops of the ultramarine blue.
Orange is the
compliment of blue so I'll take a little bit of that
and put maybe one drop in this so it doesn't go
too blue or too violet.
Let's see how that works.
It probably has a little too much of an effect
so I'll go back to the blue.
Put a couple of drops in it.
Turning a little violet so now I'm gonna put
a little yellow in it,
which is the compliment of violet.
So that will help neutralize that color a little bit.
I dunno let's see how it looks.
Still kinda violet so let me put
some more blue in it.
You see how important it is to have a scratch sheet.
How are you gonna
know if you don't test it?
Okay we're gonna go ahead and try it out.
Anywhere where there might be facial hair.
also, it's going to be
overlapping and your eye will
see the two colors mingling with each other.
How about the hair? Well let's see.
I'm gonna dump that.
And now I'm gonna pick up just the yellow ochre.
I'm sorry not the yellow ochre - let's
yeah I guess we'll do that, let's put a little more yellow on the forehead.
Notice it also mingles with the color beneath it.
You know, this yellowish area also has some red
and gray and this reddish area also has some yellow
and gray. So it's like a tapestry of colors.
across the nose and the ears
on the cheeks.
Okay. Now what we're gonna
do is with a paintbrush
start painting in the shadows on the
So I'm just mixing up some ultramarine blue
with orange. Then I'm gonna use
a product called floetrol.
This is the same as what they call matte medium at the art stores
but it's a lot cheaper at the hardware stores so
It's gonna extend the paint
and it'll allow you to model it a little bit more.
So it's just for use with
acrylics. Not for anything else. I supposed you could
use it for watercolor but really
it's just for this. So what we'll -
we're gonna do,
first off we'll test it
and it's a little bit too orange still so I'm gonna put more
blue into it. Remember of course, blue is the compliment
of orange. So this should neutralize
to a greater or lesser extent
the orange color.
And that's okay now.
Alright. So let's look carefully
at our light and dark pattern
and start to paint it in.
Beginning at the core
right here, of the form shadow.
Don't worry about the edge
it's gonna be a little bit hard than it will be
but for now that's okay.
At this stage - and actually throughout -
but really here - it's quite
important that you be careful not to do what we call
lose the drawing. You know you put in the time
to do an effective drawing
and if you're careless you
can ruin it, put the shapes in the wrong places,
or make them too long or too wide or too short.
So don't let that happen. You'll notice
that there's a little bit of bushiness to this that was retained
even after it dries. Don't let that bother you
because with the airbrush we can
overblow that with paint and that won't be
an issue at all.
He has blue eyes so I'm not
gonna go into the irises
with my dark pattern until I mix up the proper color for them.
So for now it may look
a little weird but I'll leave them blank.
For this work I'm just using a brush known as a
round. You might think of it as a
the pointy type brush. It's known as a round
because if you did a cross section of it it would be cylindrical
and hence the name round.
It's pretty good for working these areas.
All the brushes I'm using this evening are
I don't use sable or other animal
For one thing they're very expensive.
But the synthetics work really well.
Okay so he's got blue eyes.
Not gonna use blue straight out of the bottle
or the tube. Instead I'm going to
a little bit also
really thin that
out down to like a watercolor.
There's a little bit of a yellowish
cast to his white shirt.
Let's mix up something there. I'm just using
yellow ochre and
dome of the shadow color that I used
on the head.
it might look like this.
By the way
I may not have mentioned this but I did the projection
of the drawing using a black Prismacolor
wax pencil. Try to keep it
Anywhere else I can use that color
It's real simple to
intermingle the colors
So kind of make watercolors
out of you. Don't ever be afraid of putting down
I'm putting in some of my dark
darkest accents now.
Let's start darkening what
we've been doing. And for starters
I will use the
the lower part of his
So we've really gonna quite a bit grayer in the jaw.
let's go more yellow on the forehead.
Now let's put in
some almost pinkish tone
in the middle of his head.
What do we have?
Okay I used some naphthol red
light. It's pretty high tinting
Just cleaning up the airbrush a little bit.
I'm gonna use it now too.
I'll turn up the pressure and I'll use
it in lieu of
hair dryer and I'll just
push straight down.
I'm gonna sharpen up a few Prismacolor pencils that'll be useful
for me now.
So we can go
back now and start to
modify the form where it turns from light into
shadow. Or even any half tones
that we wanna show.
It's pretty important to keep the pencil sharp when you do this.
And you can start to model
form. Primarily going light
on top of dark.
But you can work the edges along the shadow as I
illustrated a moment ago.
So you can -
I hope you can see how you can chisel the form.
We're not confined to using
pencils to do this. We can blow over it with the
air brush, make it look even more realistic.
We can also
use the paintbrush, the floetrol, and tubes of acrylic
paint. All three of those
are combined to create the finished art.
And let's follow the form
here, along the cheekbone.
let's give you an example of that.
But you'll notice
I'm kind of weaving the color together, almost like a tapestry.
I'll have some red that I'm suing in a gray area and some gray
that I'm using in a red area.
So no part of the illustration becomes
So I could go
farther and farther I would of course if this were going to be
a finished illustration but this kinda gives you
an overview of some of the things you can do
with color and
with good drawing and with edges.
remember when it comes to color, it's less
important than value.
Remember that color has three properties:
value, specific hue like red versus
green versus yellow,
and it has intensity
how bright or brilliant is the color that you're using.
Of those three, value is
is far more important than the others so
don't obsess too much
on you specific color. If you get the
value right and you don't do too strong of an
intensity, then it's going to work
for you. But if you
the values are off then it will
fall apart guaranteed.
So there isn't enough time, we've had about
two hours to do this but
you can see the approach and how we can
eventually build it toward a finish. I could take this
airbrush set very high now
but I could take it and
turn the pressure regulator down a lot.
And just do a couple of spots and then
that should suffice
So you can
continue to extend this process, just as long as
you want. You can use the airbrush to neutralize
colors or to raise the intensity
rid of some of the edges that are
too choppy. You can get rid of those
choppy edges a little bit with this airbrush
Now if I were to go farther
and finish this, one of the things
that I would do is I would neutralize my color a little bit more.
Right now it's very intense. But that's fine, that's
easy to do. I'm just gonna give them
the look at what the thing would look like
if we took off the masking tape.
So it gives you a nice, clean
edge all the way around.
And if this were a finish that would be
appreciated and make it look a lot nicer than otherwise.
you'll notice there's a difference between working on the white
surface versus working on the gray surface.
Get a lot cleaner here
and we can control our color a lot better. But like I say
we still have a very yellowish tone and a red tone
and kind of a gray tone. So if I were to go further
I would kind of mitigate that a little bit, making this
a little less gray, this a little less yellow, working all together.
And obviously this whole shirt area
which is right now just kind of hacked in. That would be refined too
All right so
I don't know if you can see it on that incline
very well but probably, there we go.
there was our reference.
thank you very much, I really, really am honored that
you guys chose to take this class. I hope you do
lessons so you can
take your time but if you go through the process
and create these mock samples
you're gonna be in a position where later on
you can actually do this stuff and make the money that they pay.
So I hope for all of you that that's what happens
and once more, thank you, I'm
really honored you took the class.
from start to finish, come out with 13 by 20
actual print out of a movie poster that
you've done. That would be a really nice thing for your portfolio.
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
29m 36s2. Preparation for Work and Starting Off
18m 18s3. Filling the Background and Adding the Next Layers of Paint
23m 40s4. Painting the Shadows and the Lights with a Paint Brush
22m 51s5. Adding Colors to the Composition
24m 18s6. Rendering the Composition with Color Pencils
38s7. Finishing Your Movie Poster Assignment Instructions