- 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 lesson, Mark covers the tools and the materials you will use in this course, shows how to design actors’ heads with and without a light box, and reviews top illustrators’ works.
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lesson two, movie poster
entertainment advertising design illustration. We
covered some of the basics like why we're doing these, what our role
in the process is, and
also I introduced a subject for each of you to
come up with that would be
a genre. Is it gonna be horror, is it gonna be comedy,
is it gonna be light romance, is it gonna be crime, whatever.
And then a very loose plot to go with it. It can be a totally
inane, silly plot. It doesn't matter.
I wanted you to select out of the universe of
movie actors a male and
a female lead and not necessary
but probably a good idea, a character actor.
This could be a humorous character, it could be a sinister
character. So that's where I want you to be
now because we're gonna get right into developing
your own concept and your own sample drawings, and even
a sample poster. Okay. So with that
I'm gonna start off today's lesson by
working once more from artists
but primarily how to design the key heads that are gonna go
into a series of posters, maybe 12 compositions altogether
that are two by three. And to do that
I'm gonna use either tracing paper,
freehand, or even a light table.
A portable one like I'll be showing you tonight is
inexpensive, around $60. So don't buy one - if you plan
to do so and you like the procedure, don't go out and buy one
online that's got all the bells and whistles and buttons and
grids, spend $250 and
it's got a glass surface, which is not a nice surface to draw on.
So I just got mine, it's called a light
tracer. And it's by Artograph and it's called a Light
Box. So I used to have, in addition to
my main drafting table, I had a second one which was
entirely a light table, three foot by five foot
and I could do any movement I wanted to of the parts
that make up an illustration like this. Really building an
illustration, not so much just drawing something
like that. And you'll hear more about that in a few minutes when we start.
So thanks for attending the class, I hope you enjoy
learning from the lesson.
is I've placed
a print of Natalie Portman
and I'm gonna design this head in such a way
that I can reuse this head wherever called for,
whenever I need a front view head, whether it's an action figure
or a montage or what have you during this
span of 12 - I'll pick 12 -
concept design drawings.
And I'm using a wax pencil, just a
regular black Prismacolor
PC935. The other pencil
I'll use in conjunction with it is a verithin
which is also made by Prismacolor
and this is black and it's number
747. But I'll do all the heavy lifting -
there won't be much of it because I'll try to keep this very fast - using
the black Prismacolor.
So I'm gonna simplify here.
By the way this is not meant to be a finished drawing, it's supposed to be a useful drawing
to you, nothing more. But I do
wanna keep a good, clear
description of the light and dark pattern.
It's possible that I'll be using this head in
drawings where the lighting is more ambient and not
such a form light as we have here. But even then
I should be able to use this and develop
the head in that kind of lighting
just as easily. I'm not gonna draw much
along the bridge of the nose. We're gonna focus here on the route
of the nose and then here at the
base of the nose.
if I plan - and this
happens - if I plan to do a really tight,
let's say, a black and white or
a color comp drawing toward the end of
however many months we're working on the project,
then I might carry one drawing farther than
all the others. I'll do a little of that on one or
more of these drawings just to show you.
So this is where your good head
drawing comes into play.
We do want to get the form of her head but we also want
to idealize her head.
Find where the lower lip turns
under, generally casts a shadow above the chin.
I put in a lot of short hand
strokes here, such as this oval shape for a highlight
on her lower lip. I don't have to really develop it
very far for my purposes at this stage.
Okay. So I work my way down the vertical axis
just as if I were drawing from life. Drawing from life
is our best teacher.
In the case of our main subject,
which is going to be the actor and the actress
Now my pencil's already
blunt enough, just by doing that, that I'm gonna sharpen it.
We wanna get the muscle overlapping
the eyelid and in our case there's
a delicate rise to that
plane above her upper
When I have two shapes
or more that are nearly the same value
I'm gonna just mass them together
and treat them as though they were one value.
You can lift up your tracing paper
and have a look at what you've drawn.
That's why it's important not to get too heavy weight
of a tracing paper. This is
light weight or at most medium weight.
And it's a smooth surface tracing paper.
Some people like to use
velum for instance, which is a heavier weight surface,
takes a little more of a beating if you're gonna be drawing a lot of
detail or dark values. I
don't really feel the need to use it in a case like this
I do have an instance or two later on in the course
where I'll demonstrate the use of velum but
it's not necessary for this stage in the drawing.
Never make the highlight
too large. It
looks false and amateur.
Okay here we have simple form lighting, you can see
the light coming from the right and so the forehead, the cheek,
the jaw, they turn into shadow.
But let's not overemphasize that, especially
in this case a woman's head.
Now why not just draw this free hand?
And in each sketch by the way -
well yeah there are some cases, especially if you have figures in the
middle distance or beyond, maybe action figures running
what have you. But here
it's much faster just to go ahead
and design them using a tool
that is you know what you're doing and you practice
glamorizing for instance is pretty much foolproof.
You know you have a deadline
and it's a little like if you
take your car to a mechanic and they have to get up
under the car when you arrive and
they're still working on it, you'll notice that they're using a hydraulic
life. I'm sure
it doesn't surprise you and it certainly wouldn't
cause any anxiety, you would probably be
more concerned if you had
four guys standing underneath it holding your automobile up.
It's a little like that.
before Norman Rockwell and after were -
whether they're doing quick work or longer
studies and illustrations -
they've used projectors throughout the 20th century.
Give a photograph
to somebody that has no background in drawing heads
and ask them to produce a nice drawing on a tracing paper or
run a projector, good luck.
You can't just trace, you always have to design.
I moved in close there because
I wanted to design the other ear. All I have
is the ear on the other side to go from.
neck is not gonna be that important because
you're gonna be either using the head as is
or you're gonna be using the head
as you attach it to a figure
or at least a torso.
If I took this drawing by itself and I
photocopied it or I scanned it, printed it out,
I could do so at a darker value, whatever.
And I don't even have to fill in my light and dark pattern. Perhaps
for clarity's purpose I'll just do it around the eye.
These are small shapes so I just pulled out a verithin pencil.
And the verithin pencil wax also
but it's a harder wax, it holds its shape very
well and it's really useful in areas of
smaller detail, such as separation of fingers
or the eyes,
edges on certain delicate passages.
I'm not sloppy
and I don't hurry. All that does
destroy the careful shapes you've designed
we don't want that.
Good. Nice and glamorous.
Nice sweep to her hair. I don't fill in the other ear,
that can be done, you know, in the process.
Now I'm gonna do a drawing next to it of Blythe Danner
and although she's now
a generation older, she's still elegant, even
glamorous. And if that's what we're trying to bring out
than that's what I have to have on my mind while I draw it.
my teacher, he obtained a Balopticon
used obviously, they don't make those. It was the same kind that
Norman Rockwell used and
once we had worded a certain level in our drawing skills
he allowed us to use the projector. But not
until we had done so. I've taken a class
many times and passed out photographs and tracing
paper and asked the students to do their best drawing.
You have 45 minutes or an hour and a half
whatever it is. And the ones who had studied head drawing
did really well. The ones who didn't, they didn't really have a
clue where to take the drawing. Art directors know this. if
you didn't use such a vehicle
as a tracing paper
or a light table,
you know, and now you're up against a situation
where the deadline is even more strict and nervous
making for the art director, they're actually
gonna wonder what are you doing with my time, with my money, with my
deadline. You didn't even bother to use
tracing paper, you didn't even bother to use
a light table? What do you think you're doing
just like you would say to your auto mechanic, why?
Why do you have these four strong guys when you could just have
a lift. So bear that in mind.
You're in it for meeting the deadline
oh and by the way for the money. Anything
you can do to speed up your operation
well only makes sense to do so.
Here, this is a smaller image. The head scale is much
smaller so I'm starting right off with the verithin pencil.
It's a finer pencil, gets closer shapes.
Just a smart choice.
Doesn't tend to go as dark right away or as quickly
but that can easily be
emphasized by going back over it later with prismacolor or another
layer of verithin. Either way
this lighting is different from the
first one. It's more a front lighting or ambient
So I still just focus on the shapes themselves.
When I draw them I have to remember what they
represent. It's not just a matter of the eyes and the -
It's a matter of the big structures of the head.
And those are the cranium,
the facial mass, and the jaw. If I
get those in the right position, overlapping
each other appropriately, well then
the features will work out.
The eyes, the nose, the lips.
We have a few things, a bag or two under the eye
but we're not gonna over emphasize them.
Don't bother with the nostrils, just get the turning
under of the nose.
The likeness is important but remember
who made the movie are well
aware which characters they are drawing.
you don't have to obsess on the absolute
spot of portrait likeness. If, however,
it's later in the drawing series than yes
there comes a time when you have to do that. In the
meantime, you have to have a likeness that's strong enough.
Not unless the figure is
far, far, far in the distance. You have to have one that's strong
enough so that the actress
or actor and their agent
are gonna be happy with it. It's
not gonna be a crooked nose or something.
That if everything else in the concept is well
designed and really possible to make a great poster
well you don't want them to see
that likeness and then that becomes all they
you want them to be happy enough with it and then
move through it.
The drawings you're gonna do are gonna
probably include some of the - well the three main
approaches, strategies to selling a movie.
One for the American, one of the European, and one for the Asian
market. More than one for each in fact.
Depending on the
movie, you may not even be involved in likenesses at all.
But I think for your samples it's
a very good idea because it shows, among other things
that you can carry a likeness.
There are plenty of people who draw the figure very
well but they spoil it by drawing a very
poor heads. And you don't want to be one of those.
They're all kinds of reasons for an art directors concept.
There are, for instance, some movies
they want to cover the idea before
they produce it to the company. But
they really are hoping that's not the one they select.
And remember with Air America
getting arrangements for DC Three within
the photoshoot is a bit complicated. So they
didn't really care if those ideas were unimpressive
to the movie production company. They'll kinda
tell you in advance, you know, this is my favorite one, this is my
favorite one and this is the one we want you to work on to make it the best.
This is the one we wanna actually print for the movie
That's not to say you deliberately mess up your work on
one that they don't - they're not really keen on doing.
But then, you know, you might really wanna push it
nice on some of the ones that they really hope to do.
I used this light weight
paper so I can see what I'm drawing and
also what I'm drawing from beneath it. Heavyweight doesn't
give you that option.
Drawing and simplifying
clothing is also very important.
So we need to know how to indicate
at the very least lapels
Don't draw this pearl by pearl, it's too much,
every here and there.
I'll make it plain that these are separate, individual pearls
but I keep it simple.
Okay what do we do if the hair.
Try to discern the turnings,
the waves of the hair, the rhythms of the hair.
They're not only gonna make for a better drawing but
they'll help you actually design and construct the hair.
Remember now, when we see the sides of the
hair at the silhouette, we tend to get
a hard edge. When we see
the ends of the hair, we tend to get a soft
edge. So there's a little bit of
short hand that we can use
just to get the hair's basics.
And again you don't have to copy the hair
every plane by every plane
you just wanna get the gist of it.
I'm using a
bit of a chisel point on my pencil lead.
So if you can see a close up here, if you notice
it's not evenly straight, there's a point on the
and there's foot on the bottom and there's a plane in between
so I can actually get soft and hard edges
using the same pencil and not even
actually bothering to sharpen it.
Just mass the shadow on
her neck into the shadow over her
and then up into the shadow beneath the
canopy of her hair.
I will show you tonight
how to take one or two of these designed heads
and draw them - once you've done your first
design, drawing them for a particular
sketch or comp, it becomes even
faster. In fact, three times as fast.
I'm just picking that number out of a hat, it
could be four times as fast or three times
but just so much faster.
Now if you wanted to enhance that a little bit,
to deepen it a little bit
you could just sharpen up.
So I just dropped my pencil and it broke on the floor
but I sharpened it really fast and in doing so
I made sure that the lead went directly into
the sharpener. Not at an angle. That will cause the pencil to break
and on a deadline that's not a good thing. It might jam
your eraser - I'm sorry, your sharpener -
it might cause the pencil not to come around in time for you to succeed in
getting this done expeditiously so be careful
about the little things, they do matter.
Now here we
are, here's the drawing.
It doesn't matter, I could take it off at this stage
and just show you
either on the plastic surface
of the light box or
on a padding with about 20-25 sheets
over and over again in this series.
So I've got a photograph of Daniel
Craig seen from the front. I'm gonna
work with tracing paper over the lighter version
but if I had one the same
or darker as in this case, I would set it
aside so that I can actually see what I'm drawing
a little bit better. Before I do it I'm gonna
show you a little trick. This is white -
this is a white Prismacolor pencil.
If I use it to bring out some of the
areas which are a little bit difficult to read
just like I'm doing here on the eyebrow
or maybe I'll do it a little bit on the white of the eye.
Even though this will change the value
relationships a bit, I still have a photo on my left
to keep me honest.
And at the same time I'm always designing so
I'm drawing right on the photo and ideally
I'm improving the photo.
So notice I'm using some
counterpoint here at the wing of the nose
so it's nice and clear when I drop the tracing paper.
So I don't know if it will come across on the camera
too well but you'll notice this side is clearer than
this side. I'm gonna push that a little bit too.
There's the side plane of the
nose meeting the front plane of the face
I wanna make sure I get those in the right place here
if the philtrum or the pillars
of the lips, part of the obicularis
oculi - I'm sorry the obicularis oris muscle.
Here is the muzzle turning
back behind the tooth cylinder.
underplane of the mouth above the
If I wanna make sure I've got a clear reading on
the actual head, not just the
head melting into the neck, then I can do this.
And here's the neck overlapping his collar.
I'm pushing pretty hard on this white pencil
so don't be afraid to keep sharpening it.
This will not help
you if you're working on the
light table because this is an opaque white
and the print is transparent
and so it comes through the light table. This on the other
hand would not. So this is for occasions
when you are using tracing paper
and no light shining
I'm still thinking of drawing the planes.
None of that has changed.
will not go down very well if the pencil is dull.
It needs to be sharp.
The reason you'll be using up a lot of pencils
is not because of the amount that you're -
amount of pigment you're laying down on the page, it's really because of
Now I'll take a black Prismacolor
and bring things out into even stronger relief.
And this also gives me the
to design the head and features.
So I'm doing some of my work right here.
There's the cast shadow, I can mass it with the form
shadow at the bottom of his nose.
I can do this if I like, picking up the nostril cavity.
I'm emphasizing where the form shadow turns here.
You see how much of the drawing is carried by the light and dark
And for the most part don't even have to fill it in.
So have a look, notice
how much clearer things are
in the drawing as opposed to the photo it's based on.
Having done that
now I'll go back and
create my template, which is this.
I can also look as
I go. If this becomes unclear, for instance the width
right here at the base of the top of the nose,
I can look at the photograph and that may help me - it will help me
quite a bit.
This is a really useful
approach on any head that is
muddy in terms of the lighting or
the reproduction. You can go
back in as I just showed and you can actually
design the head on tracing
I find this far better than just drawing directly
from the head, the photo.
I find where the form of the lower lid
turns away from the light. And that's what I indicate
right there. To do it I usually use a
double or a triple line because
it's generally a rounded edge.
Rounded form with a soft edge that is.
are the simple, basic things I'm looking for.
facial mass, jaw.
If you don't get those in the right place then the features and
small details will not do it for you.
This is a somewhat faster version than what I
demonstrated with the male head - or with the female head
rather, Natalie Portman, on that
light table. I just want to give you an example of what you have
to do. So you have to do
four or five
different angles on the head. You might have to shoot one or have a
reference where he's looking over his shoulder for instance.
Oftentimes you won't be able to find that in the
normal search places such as the stores that sell
movie stills or the internet,
In which case you'll have to either make it up
yourself, based on the information you do have on the actor,
or you'll have to shoot
a friend or a production assistant
or somebody like that in a pose like that.
And that would have to be, as a rule at least,
it would have to be a male with some
similar facial structure, age,
etc. It can be done. You can
do that with a female head, vice versa.
But it's just much more challenging.
So what I'll do here
is take a slip of paper
and put it underneath this head
and while looking at the photo
to my left, I'll just make this graphic
so that it will print easily, legibly,
for my use in
the series of drawings.
It's almost as
though we have him before us and
we did a drawing with
just using a dark
construction paper and a light construction paper
on which you glue the dark shapes.
That's how simple,
that's how graphic I'm being in this quick
design of an actor's
To practice this
you don't have to have a celebrity or an actors head,
you can use any head
but just try to treat it
in this simplified manner.
So we're starting with the basics at this point in the class.
we'll be doing facial expressions
difficult head angles
and naturally body poses
and to the limited degree that we hope
to have to do this, we will also work
any photography that
you need to use.
Just try to be
become easy and fluent
in putting down flat tones.
The print I'm working
over and the print to my left are both somewhat
darker than what you would ideally want.
but you don't always get those choices either.
If you're lucky enough
to get the art director
to give you a head photo for your actor.
If it's too dark or too light
you can say let's go ahead and change that but
there is a deadline and so
you have to be aware of that. Okay so
there's just a simple rendition of that head
I'll take it off and we can see what it looks like.
I could do a perfect likeness
or I could spend more time on it but
for our purposes it's not important.
We have a serviceable head that we can
use throughout the series of drawings.
And it just looks as simple as that.
one more male head but it's not really a leading man
at this point. It's gonna be a John Malkovich head
which is here. And you can
see it's quite dark on your screen.
But I'm going to place it on the light table and that will
change everything. So
with all of its advantages,
one of the great advantages is with a light box
that you can actually lighten up your reference
and see it better.
You see how
organized you have to be because every little step you take -
remember we're talking about a series of 12 drawings
that you probably have a couple days to do.
So even little things like taping paper, all of this,
if you're not organized it will suck up all of your time.
And if you miss your deadlines, well that's
obviously a problem.
Now the next one I do
I'll think about this for a second, maybe I'll do one
on the light table using just regular photocopy
or printer bond white paper. Here's
what we have in a dark print.
It's really dark and difficult to do
even on a light table. So this is a more
It's more high key as you can see here.
Now what if we didn't have any tracing paper?
That's a little bit
difficult to see using regular bond.
How about this?
Also difficult. So
this is why we keep tracing paper around.
So I'm gonna tape the tracing paper over the reference photo.
Remember you're not gonna have an assistant
in real life, at least if you're working in house,
it puts even more of a premium
on your ability to keep organized.
I've had assistants work with me on jobs, I've mentioned this before.
If I have more than two live jobs at the same time
or three sometimes if they're simpler,
I will see if the client has time
for me to call up one of my advanced students in particular
and pay them to do research such as looking things up
online or in my day just doing it out of a flat file with -
not a flat file but a large file cabinet
with my picture file in it.
And those people had an opportunity
to learn the whole process and actually
most of them went on to do this work.
I have an illustrator
I haven't spent much time with him in recent years but
when I first started to teach this
in addition to
figure drawing, he
was so pleased that I was doing the figure drawing classes
and he thought that was a great thing for everybody.
But he did on the side, he took me aside and said just don't
teach our techniques, don't teach our processes
because that's like gold, that tells you how to
to take somebody who's a really good draftsman or designer
or composer and then translate that into using it
to make money. Naturally I disregarded the advice
no compunction about it at all because
I knew just how much work there was available out there for people
who could do this. There's what we call
an elastic demand. If there are more people out there
who can do this then more will be hired.
And there is a demand.
Okay. So let's go over this head of
I'm gonna start off with a verithin in this case. We're gonna go over
a little bit finer with this.
There are all kinds of looks by the way
to these kinds of jobs.
Wholly different approaches that at some point
I will show you. I've shown you a couple already but
even more radically different, one to another.
just as popular among the design studios
and the production studios.
There's a strong vertical to this nose
and the nose to the pillars of the lips and then to the side of the jaw
and here. So I'm actually finding
a visual theme and I'm gonna try to
hold to that theme.
It will help throughout the whole -
knit the whole drawing together and have a much
more interesting sense of design to it.
Again, try to think of
an adjective, a mood,
an attitude, even a story
when you're drawing your heads.
If you've got the plot of the movie then you're already more than halfway
there but sometimes
there are characters that are ambiguous in some very
good movies. And not so good movies too
sometimes but at least
always get yourself engaged in what you're drawing.
Don't just go into autopilot because you can.
No you want to be
And here we are talking about techniques
that can speed up not a single drawing
but a sequence of drawings. That's the purpose here.
In the beginning stage of a series of a dozen sketches
you might start ringing your hands and saying geez
look how far I've gotten, it's just four or five
heads and I've already used up an hour and a half.
How am I ever gonna finish? Well the answer is
you take the total time that you've got between
that moment and your deadline
and maybe that's a total of 24 hours,
just pick a number. That means
you've gotta have sleep and time to
eat and probably time to drive
in Los Angeles. So after all that's said
and done, if you sleep for six hours
you might be down to
14 hours instead of 24.
Well you gotta do a dozen drawings.
So you divide 14 by 12
and you come up with
70 minutes each on average.
To make that 70 minutes
into 12 drawings,
you need every tool you've got ready to use. All your
props, you need to have your heads sized,
you need to have worked out your composition
on the format, which is three by two,
and I make a folder for
each one of those drawings and each folder contains
the relevant heads, sized
to whatever scale I need and
any photography of the figure let's say, or made up figure,
and any venue such
as I don't know, the hills of Scotland
the city of Florence,
New York, any cars or vehicles
that need to be included.
And I make a
folder. So I wind up with 12 folders.
and then a 13th folder
that includes my core reference for the actors
and the venues and the accessories.
And I would number each
folder one through 12.
And I would number each of the references that I'm putting in them
folder one through 12. I mean if
some of them aren't gonna be used in every single drawing so
they just would only get the number for the ones that they belong to.
That way everything is perfectly cross
The process of doing a finished illustration and meeting a deadline
is actually similar to this. It's just one
So this is how we organized ourselves as illustrations.
You'll find if you're a layout artist for animation you'll develop your own
means of organizing your work space there too.
But organization cannot be overemphasized.
Remember I'm trying to show you how to translate
good drawing skills into work
that actually pays,
that actually meets a deadline.
You can go ahead and you can just do this without
any notion at all and come up with your own system.
Essentially that's what I had to do.
But if I had someone to show me how
I would have jumped at it.
Here's the underplane of the tooth cylinder above the chin.
This is where the chin turns from its front plane to its side plane
and under plane.
And this is where the
chin actually stops and overlaps the neck.
Clothes should not be rumpled.
Unless the character is supposed to be.
But here no, nice clean, tailored
clothes. Nice, clean
shapes. So many people
will do a very nice head drawing and then just phone in
the rest. Well that's a nice way of destroying
what you've done. So
it's important - we'll have
one of the sessions during this course where I spend
a little extra time specifically on how to design drapery and clothing.
It's one of the reasons why when I teach figure drawing
I have a couple sessions,
maybe more, where there's some drapery, where there's some
design of clothing required.
clothing reveals the figure beneath it,
so if you don't understand the figure drawing itself,
the nude figure, you're probably not gonna succeed very much
with the clothing either. Clothing emphasizes
movement in a figure.
Even in a static figure
it's ultra important.
And so if you're not studying it now, well if you wanna do this
work you better start pretty soon.
we've drawn this.
There are some important half tones if we
want to get across and sell the gesture nicely.
Or the - like here for instance.
The way he's holding his mouth causes
this group of muscles
to pull toward the corner of the lip.
It's difficult to explain that
pose very well until you at least
So I pull this up
from time to time so I can see better what I'm drawing. Here
it's on top of the image and they kind of cloud
the two together. But here I can see it more clearly
as the drawing itself.
Even in cases where you have to do very many -
far more than the number I just quoted you -
I'd still freehand design the
heads. It doesn't necessarily take a lot
less time somewhat and then I can reuse those heads as
well. Okay well we have
the gist now of John Malkovich's head
and it's just the matter of doing this.
I'll lift it off the light table and the reference beneath
on top of it
In the heat of battle I probably
just tear this right off the top. No need in keeping a nice
clean sheet of paper.
But here for your sake
I'll be a little less rough with
what I'm doing.
Peel it off like so.
I don't need the light table on that
now. So I'll look at my reference
on the left while I take my drawing on the right
to a more graphic
finish, completion at least
that I can use and reuse
as needed. You can hold onto that.
I didn't use any
Prismacolor pencil. I could if -
at this point I just used verithin.
I'm always been interested in the complete impression of the head.
So I may be working on the eye and suddenly I see
something that I notice on the corner of the mouth.
And that won't prevent me from switching over and
drawing that. In other words moving from the eye to
the mouth or to the nose.
Actually that keeps
me focused on the whole image
and not its parts.
As important as they are, the big volume, the big
graphic of the head, that's where we notice the likeness
of the subject, not in an isolated nostril
So I've already designed
the shape and then to it I apply my dark
value. I don't do them at the same time,
typically sometimes I do but
for this purpose I generally don't.
I establish the shape
and then into it
I assign a value, and last of all
In real time, I might find
that that sequence is varied from time to time
or a little blurred between each phase
but the logic of it, the philosophy
is shape, value, and then
Again try these at home.
Some will walk up on you
when you're working away and they'll say well when are you gonna get around
to learning how to draw? I just see you tracing.
Well good luck, they should try it.
I do finish portraits, I do finish illustrations
too, I do every phase in between
whether it's for pay like this
or whether it's for
my own purposes in creating a better finished painting.
this is a very important skill set for you to develop.
Notice how I follow
my strokes, I simply overlap them.
This can't be a hard as some people seem to think.
Learn it once
never forget it,
but learn it.
I tend to put
my shadows down along
the form as I go. Half tones
across if I like. Or I can draw them
along the form if I like as well. But if I draw
the shadows across the form, this starts to get
a little bit broken up, almost invariably.
If it weren't for those darn
deadlines, I would consider this to be just
ultimately the most fun that you can have
in drawing. But it's always
something. And so you don't get to just do
what you want, you're being paid.
It's alright. That
goes for every art form I believe.
among people who do this work, entertainment advertising design
and illustration, at some point in there
careers, in their life, they do move on.
Maybe it's a mixture at first or maybe
it's complete immersion in
fine art. Even then you've got
deadlines, you've got galleries and shows and etc.
you might find that you have a little bit less
pressure on you than you do in these other fields
where you learned your skills.
Here I'm a actually following the planes of the cranium.
Now I could do some other things like if I wanted this to be a
finished drawing I would drop all of this into a halftone, I would have a hot
spot right here and so on I have my darkest dark but
that's not the purpose for which I'm doing this.
However having the light and dark pattern
definitely gives me a proper idea
of what were the form is, the likeness,
and the characterization.
So now that goes into your folder
of the original drawings for the heads
of your actors and actresses in the film.
Next time I'll show you how to
actually do a very difficult,
by any standard phase, of an operation
here. And that is how to
attach these heads to figures
doing virtually anything and changing their
expressions too while you're at it.
Not every shot, even though it's the right angle and it's the eye level and it's
front level, not every shot is gonna show
an actor in the mood
such as this, which appears quite gray, quite solemn.
There might be something else which is a little more
expressive. How do you do that?
This one is actually formatted two by three
but it's very, very fast and very small.
This for a film, one of the Frankenstein films, and he's got
his hands up in front of his face. It's really clear and can be followed almost
just to a T, you don't really have to correct for the frame.
This one, the frame is close to a two by three.
Not too bad and the drawing for an art director's drawing is actually
quite good, you can make it out. There's a pipe floating, there's a newspaper, there's an armchair,
a couple slippers. But where's the ghost dad?
a little bit rough, you can see that there's
they've used the square format because they're in a hurry. It's actually
deeper than that because what we'll use is we'll leave this
open for the title treatment and
this was called Nighthawks I think. It had
Timothy Dalton and I forget the other actor. There's an ambulance racing away,
these two guys have been diagnosed with terminal cancer but they're gonna escape
to Europe and there going to have the last great time of their lives.
And so that's what this ambulance represents and this is probably the city
of Paris or something and a night light.
And then they tell you put one actor here, another
actor there. Same movie
but the sketch gets
much cruder. Now this is nowhere near a two by thee
format. We have to make it that and we have to leave enough room
so that this city strip
will have room to make a difference. At the same time we don't wanna have
too much room at the bottom, it's just dead room.
So you wanna set it up so there's more space at the top,
somewhat more at the bottom, and you work it out.
Here's another Frankenstein sketch and this is a
really good for an art director. But so they come in all
sizes and shapes and concepts themselves differ
dramatically. But out of these we have to make the movie poster
designs. Oh here's a really good one actually.
I mean that not sarcastically.
This is called hawks actually
you can see the red cross, they're inside there.
They're off to make their escape.
Now you can keep those.
How do you take that into - here's just a
montage of eight different
movie posters. Nine counting Space Jam. And they're all
formatted into two by three except for these
two, which are TNT and published in
TV Guide and they don't always follow a
two by three format. But here's A Fish Called Wanda,
Back to the Future, Kenneth Branagh's
Frankenstein, I forget the name of this movie, he runs a
theater - big theater, John Goodman - Hotshots!
Part Deux and Home Alone 2
and Conagher. So all of these had to be taken
from sketches such as the ones I just showed you.
In the case here
of Conagher, I did a drawing of Sam Eliot and another
one of - oh god, what's her name? Is it Katharine Ross?
And I reuse those heads in different poses.
Yeah, so I used this in a number of drawings
for the same thing. Here, at the bottom, we can
see Hotshots! Part Deux
and we have Charlie Sheen and
he - there's no reference of him, you know,
with a muscular figure like that or holding a gun
or of Valeria Golino in a pose
like that. So you just make it up and attach the head or if it's more
complicated than that you do a photoshoot. And here
Macaulay Caulkin. I had to do about 40 of these in a day
and a half but they're pretty simple and they're all
driven by the likeness and some of them I had the
Joe Pesci and I forget who the other burglar was.
And so I did a number of heads of those characters.
And I just repeatedly popped them in and made the poses and everything
ready for the title treatment and so on. Here
yeah I just drew his head, maybe five or six versions.
So some are action poses, this is kind of like the key art.
And then the animated characters, this is always easy.
Okay a let me make a couple other references before I show you
how to start using the drawing.
Here's a Drew Struzan
work of art
and it shows a scene
from On Golden Pond and of course another one from Citizen Kane,
E.T., on and on.
It's supposed to be a celebration of American movies.
Henry Fonda and
Katharine Hepburn. It's a little bit like what I just
demonstrated. In fact it's exactly like what I just demonstrated.
And then he does this
and he decides whether he wants to use this angle
or he would have done another drawing like that angle. Most likely
again, using some kind of tracing or projecting.
It could be that he drew it freehand but that
would be the exception and not the rule for people who
do this work. Here's another of
Drew's preliminary drawings.
But here's the finished poster.
If you pull back you can see the poster too.
Oh that's a good shot, gives you an idea.
and we see this over and over
again in movie poster art.
There's a mystique to this stuff. It's kinda sexy, a lot of people think it's cool.
I'm basically taking the process and
lifting back the veil, the cover, so you can
all see the anatomy of how to do this.
That's the whole point of this class. Before I
do some real simple heads, quick heads, let me show you
I love this book, it's called
Lifestyle Illustrations of the 60s. But
these compositions are still used all the time. Look here
we've got a down shot of a woman leaning over
and then a man in the foreground and diagonal. So this is
what we call a bird's eye view. You can zoom in on that,
I'm not sure. Let's center it a little better for you.
So this is a great solution for a
movie poster. It's actually a book cover which accounts for the
extra space. We would just loose that. Art directors
steal ideas all the time from previous
art directors and from each other.
Here, if you can't see this one as a movie poster
then start using your imagination a little more
because it is. It's not a movie poster but we can
easily transform it into one.
Oh does that mean you're a cheating art director or something like that? Hardly.
I just means you are doing something - actually you're doing an homage
a homage to an illustrator or another
art director. This one, just look at the
graphic of it, we have a simple jacket and we have simple
stripes and we have gray, light - dark gray, light gray,
black and white. And there you have your poster.
So a book like this is invaluable.
We can also look in current publications and find
posings and compositions
of all kinds. Many times I've had to do a poster like this
one with one character chasing the other.
My worst nightmare was when they had - when
Richard Gere with Kim Bassinger
up a spiral staircase at night in
a lighthouse and the light from the
beacon at the top was strobing through the slats.
You get all kinds of crazy stuff, it's not gonna just be
you know five heads on a Star Wars -
on a video box. Oh look at this one,
this is really good. The arrangement of these figures and the neck.
negative shapes between them. So try to be
imaginative and if it takes looking at stuff like this to prompt
your imagination, well that's fair game.
In fact I'd consider you a little bit foolish if you didn't.
Also bear in mind, when you
decide what poster idea you're gonna come up with, don't limit yourself
just to Star Wars,
Dungeons and Dragons,
those things. Try to come up with something that's a little bit off beat
for today but used to be the routine. Not everything
is Spielberg and Lucas, as much as I like them but...
So we see a lot of ideas in
a book like this. And I've had art directors who will come up with their ideas
straight out of magazine fiction
or fashion magazines and
will use a fashion magazine and it'll wind up being
some crazy comedy with -
trying to think of a name that might to come to mind. Totally
unrelated to the reference that spurred your idea.
Look here these negative
shapes among the trees. FInd ways of using those items
in your ideas. Now I'm gonna show you
how I can use
the photograph - or rather the drawing of
John Malkovich and what looked like a pretty involved drawing
even though it wasn't is a -
is just the raw
fuel for using it
and sizing it and using it for other purposes in our movies
or our movie designs, poster designs.
Let's go back to this drawing of John Malkovich.
It's just my base drawing. Now if I'm gonna be using this
in a sketch concept, maybe it has,
you know, city of New Orleans behind it, some of the French
balconies, it's got, you know,
be it's a head that's on a figure or
maybe it's a head that's in the background and we find our two characters are in front.
So he's like a conceptual device.
Well in any case, I would photocopy this
to the necessary size for each of the twelve drawings
I'm doing. And then as I do the drawings
this is how I would go over the head for our uses.
You'll see, instead of spending 15
minutes or more 20 minutes on this, it'll get done
Now if it were the only head in the concept
well then maybe I'll just take more time
and focus on it in detail but
my schedule should allow for something at least
to this level.
Ideally it will
carry the likeness, it will look like him.
I won't do it on this one
but I will on a another one soon: if
it was supposed to be smiling,
whether a sinister smile or otherwise,
you know you'd have to be able to - you're not necessarily gonna find
a smiling picture of him in front view. So you have
to be able to change it so that
your subject suits the
emotion, the purpose within the painting.
I'm sorry within the drawing.
Hard edge, create a nice
graphic shape. They also imply overlaps
so they're very important to us.
Soft edge tends to
recede, hard edges advance.
I did have one or two
students who I hired as
assistants and they can draw very well but
whose great love was in rendering everything
to a Norman Rockwell degree of finish.
And so I
gave them projects that involved
a pace that was not - you don't have
that kind of a pace. No, this is not done like that.
There are plenty of finished
illustrations and I've done a number of them but for this purpose
that's too far and so they just
couldn't bring themselves to
simplify. And a lot of this is about
There are a couple people who do this professionally
who have been doing it for a very long time, very good at it,
but their drawings themselves I don't consider particularly
spectacular or glamorous. I've seen drawings
that are paired this way that I do really like but
on the other hand, the speed at which they can get things done
and the ability they have to tell the story
you can never fail to do that and if
got that, you know, you will be busy beyond your
wildest dreams or nightmares.
And I'd probably just separate the head altogether
from the neck because the pose could really be just about
anything. And I would not
fill in the darks. I would take every element
in that drawing, see, and
treat it like this. I don't fill in the darks. Once
I have the whole thing built with no values assigned to it
in my day I would fax
and then today I would email it to the art director. Or if
were in house I would just go over and show it to him and then if he
liked the entire composition, at that point I
would start going ahead and putting in my darks. So I would take all
twelve drawings to this level
before I even put in a dark tone.
Unless the art director asked me to do
that. But usually this is
best because then if a change is called for, I can
make that change and I haven't wasted time along the way
by putting in all my edges and my
values. So that went pretty fast, you can see.
Let's put him
in front of it.
Can you see that? That's just about all you need for most of your drawings
especially if you're doing 12 in a short span.
Alright let me do one of the women in the same manner.
You might remember this is what I did to
design her head based on the
photograph. And now
I could do this at any scale, in fact
you typically would be doing these at different scales.
Not just the one you started with.
I would do
this while I had the photo reference at my side.
So, alright, let's
suppose we only have about
five minutes to do this. That's just all we have,
it's just the time that's left.
I'm drawing the forehead so I
soften the edge, I'm drawing the hair, I firm up the edge a little. I've
got an overlapping sweep of hair
on top of her forehead.
I got the ear.
If you know your basic construction of the ear you should be able to put this in.
Doesn't matter, I'll go over to the other ear. This is more detail than
you probably need anyway, especially for the ear which is the last
area we want to draw our first read to.
The eyelashes and the eyebrow and the
irises. Those are the
areas we want to focus the viewers eye on.
Any glamorous actress that will almost always
be true, if not always.
I'm on a hurry up basis here. It's like they
call a three - whatever it is, a
three minute offense or less in football, so I'm not
even gonna bother to sharpen the pencil.
I'll use it, as I've explained before, as a
After I've done all these, if time permits, if it
somehow come the past that I've got a little more time.
Great, I can embellish.
Well you can see one of the
natural things that happens, my tape came undone.
Well, you know, if you're really in a hurry you can keep
going but it's advisable to take the moment or two and
All the highlight came off its
center point, who cares? Leave it.
You got deadlines to meet and it serves just as well not to
have it dead center anyway.
You might wanna
do these, in fact I probably would, on a
stack of bond paper. Then you get
just the right bounce to the paper, you can draw on it
as though it were a cushion and you're able easily
to modulate your
edges. The amount of
pressure you apply, and so on. Sometimes
it's not necessary to do any tonality, they're perfectly
happy with line drawings.
So I'll find occasion to do one or two of those this term too.
That's just about all we need.
Set her aside and you can
see this drawing. I'll actually get rid of the drawing beneath it so you can see it on its own
And you can go back in.
Like I said, if at the end of the process time permits
probably would, then just punch in their darks.
This is a matter of selection, you are not bound to the darks
that you see in the photograph.
So now I'm bringing my first read, my
focal point as it were, to the
eyes, as I said I would
great, okay, so we can
go very fast on all of these incidental heads. If I had to do
12 heads of her, well that took me about
seven and a half minutes, and if I'm doing it on my own and I'm
getting into a rhythm, it takes even less.
You can see that that adds up to
84 minutes for all her heads. If it's the same thing
for the male actor, now we're at 168 minutes.
And then your bad guy or your character
actor. So maybe you've spend out of a total available
to you, 14 hours, you've spent
a couple hours at most designing the heads
and then you've spent another three hours, at most, doing all the
heads to scale, and so that leaves you
nine hours. You have a reasonably good prospect
of making your deadline and then the check comes
in 30 days. So in next lesson we will take
some of the designed heads for our actors and
we're going to include them
in the thumbnail sketches that we designed or are
designing. Okay. Well
happy designing and happy movie producing and I'll see you
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1. Introducing the Tools and the Materials3m 3sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Designing Actors’ Heads with the Help of Tracing Paper and a Light Box36m 28s
3. Designing Actors’ Heads without a Light Box21m 2s
4. Designing John Malkovich’s Head28m 5s
5. Reviewing Top Illustrators’ Works and Finishing up the Head Designs26m 51s
6. Designing the Key Heads Assignment Instructions32s