- 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 teaches you to use an airbrush. He talks about different types of airbrushes and how exactly they work. He reviews various materials and additional tools you will need and briefly covers color theory. You will learn how to paint lights and shadows with a paint brush and how to finish the composition with color pencils.
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I'll be using a Canson
slight tooth, gray paper,
and on it
I've photocopied a drawing I did, an
individual with very, very craggy, detailed features.
We'll be using air brush
and acrylic paint, both in a jar and in a tube,
and we'll be using soft, synthetic brushes.
And acrylic paint
and Prismacolor wax pencil.
So altogether we'll put something
together which is basically
at the level of what you would do
late in the stage of a movie poster campaign.
It can involve more than just one head but I'm just
gonna demonstrate on one head so you can get the procedure down
and begin to understand how to apply the
technique and learn the process. So
that'll be tonight's lesson and
I hope you enjoy it.
we're doing a phase, usually referred to
as color comp. It's not as tight as the
finished but it's got elements that are very similar. I'm gonna be
using an airbrush
and I'm gonna use it in conjunction with Prismacolor pencils
that are very sharp and some brushes as well.
Soft, filbert, and round brushes.
The paper is just a Canson pastel paper.
It's like a blue gray.
It's not even
as dark as a middle value but it's certainly much darker than a
white. The drawing
was done - I think I did it on tracing
paper and then I photocopied the drawing
onto this Canson paper.
What I'm gonna do now is take
another copy of that drawing
and merely cut it
to create a mask.
That will be for the
protection of the background.
And I'm not gonna be overly precise
or compulsive about it.
I don't mind if there's
a little bit of
paint that comes out on the edges.
That won't hurt a thing.
yourself all the trouble and, more importantly, the time
that it takes to use frisket paper
and just do this.
I'll take a little bit of
and attach it to back of the
simple frisket that I've cut.
This will be good because it also
will not give me a really hard, cut out edge
all the way around.
My air brush is
an IWATA HPC.
I'm just gonna apply some
ambient color to the head and to the clothing.
Bear in mind that skin tones tend
to be a little more yellow in the forehead and a little more ruddy or red
in the nose, cheeks, and ears, and lips
and then a little more gray in the jaw. So I've
got a sheet of test paper here.
And for this
we can see what
we've got. That's quite yellow.
That will be more yellow than we really want but
let's go for it. I've got this
down to about 20 PSI, pounds per square inch.
higher the PSI, the more air pressure
32 is about as high as I go.
Sometimes I'll go as low as 10 depending on what kind of a special
effect I may want.
I just turned that up to a little under 30.
You can see it go down a little bit faster this way.
So now I'll take a little bit of water.
I just had a simple water bottle and put it into
the cup, which is attached to the top of the air brush.
Good idea to wear an apron
or some clothes you don't care if they get a little paint on them.
Airbrush can be slightly messy, mostly when
things drop or drip out of place.
I just used some red
in golden, which is the
brand of airbrush acrylic I'm using. They call this
naphthol red light.
I did not use anything but the
red so it's gonna come out pretty strong, look at that.
Okay the compliment of red is green, so if I
use a little bit of saph green.
I wanted one drop but two drops fell,
let's see how that works.
Probably okay still. I'll just use a
extra brush and I kind of mixed the two color together.
But of course
I have to do a test. You see how that
browned it considerably. Probably too much. So
go back, put another drop of the red into
the - there - into
You keep a
plastic or ceramic bowl
filled with clean water at the side so you can
clear your brush and
get real color out of what you're doing. That's better
but it's still not quite as red as I think I wanna go so I'll put
another drop of red, there we go.
And let's see what happens now.
When you hear that noise, that motor running, it's a very
quiet compressor. And the compressor is what builds up
the air pressure.
You can get a quiet tank,
tanks are inherently quiet, it's just the CO2,
compressed CO2, about $150
and every time you run out you can go in a replace them
for about $30 they'll trade it in for you.
Most compressors are noisier than this one and so that's not a
bad idea if you don't want to spend a lot of money. This compressor is about
$500. They do make others that are reasonably good but they
tend, again, to be a bit noisy. And noise
can be a problem if you have neighbors or family
and you don't want to be waking them up. I think now we've got a
color that's probably pretty good. It's a little strong still
but let's see.
We'll bring a
little bit of red.
Bring a little bit of the red up into the
yellow so it's not uniformly yellow across the
forehead and uniformly red across the center of the head.
There is a mingling of the two.
Don't put down too
much at one because it'll start to bead up and
possibly even run. Neither of those are desirable.
Get a little bit of it and put it into the jaw too
because that forms a good base for what
we're gonna put over it.
I'll put this brush back into its little saddle.
And at this point I'll take a
turn this thing way up.
on hot and then...
That was a little scary.
But you wanna be able to move on to the next level
and if it stays wet for a long time and tonight's kind of a
cold night so things dry more slowly
it's gonna slow down your operation. So you do wanna have a good, strong
I'm gonna take a
black pencil now, Prismacolor,
and I wanna
refer you to our reference photo again. And you'll notice how
strong and deep and dark
those shadows really are.
And so I'm gonna put a base of black right down in those
positions. By now you probably all have electric pencil sharpeners.
And it's just as important as a tool as it was in all the
But by putting in our darkest darks
we get the full range
of values that we're going to need
when we model the subtle half tones for instance.
We're not using a paperstock
that's as thin as printer paper or bond
because it just won't stand up to the
beating that the airbrush and the wet paint are gonna
give it, it will buckle and give you a very unpleasant,
unsympathetic surface to work on.
Here, this paper is not, but it
could be as thick as cardstock.
In fact, the thicker the better.
is not part of this series of
characters in our movie comp
sequence. I just wanted to find a head
that's nice and craggy and gives us a lot of
opportunities to render
phenomenon that we're gonna encounter in different heads.
finally I'm going to go over
how we do a section at least of a finished
I have to remind you of course, finished posters
are far less common as illustrations
than they are as
There's just an industry of preference for
in order to advertise the cinematic product.
Don't fret there's still
a ton of work for people who draw in this business.
So I wouldn't be teaching this
the paper were moist, I couldn't go back in and clearly
make these statements with the pencil.
So once again that's where the
hair dryer comes in.
let me make a couple comments about it. Some people
like to wear a simple paper mask when using it.
It's never a good idea to
inhale pigments. Some are
not particularly dangerous,
others are less benign
so you have to be sensible.
I get an airbrushed look
although I don't like something that's thoroughly airbrushed, I find
it kind of overly smooth and soft but
at the same time, I don't really have to use the airbrush
that much. As you're gonna witness tonight, I only
use it for the overall tone
and then some other aspects which you'll see.
Airbrushes come in two basic types.
single action airbrush, which is very basic and
those who use it typically use it for large
or working on a
set for a theater
otherwise the double action
the only thing that most illustrators
are gonna use.
There's a little grain to this paper.
I'm keeping the pencil sharp
to kind of defeat that graininess but there are times
where I might want that graininess, in which case
don't push quite so hard and or
don't sharpen the pencil as much. Leave it a little dull.
Always watch your edges, remember that
hard edges imply
overlaps or angular form
and soft edges recede or suggest
rounded form. He's got a lot of
angular planes to the cartilages that form the base of his nose.
So I'm gonna keep these edges pretty
firm, almost even hard at times.
is not the finished poster, this is a demonstration of the color comp
so I'm taking certain short cuts.
I might not use black for instance if this were the
finished poster, I might come in width a strong dark
earth tone from my Prismacolor
selection. I do not use all
125 or 130 or what have you different
colors that Prismacolor manufacturers
and I don't only use Prismacolor wax pencils, there are some others that
are very good too but
I have a certain
couple dozen that I tend to use
almost exclusively unless
there's one that's particularly mandated
for an illustration such as maybe
a sports car that's a particular color that
otherwise you wouldn't use but it's gotta be that color otherwise the story
doesn't get told.
But I use yellow ochre, I use cadmium red light, which
goes by a different name in
paint than it does in wax pencil.
That's pretty common with different
pigments, different brands, and different types.
But a good
a good - generally speaking - a good
complexion can be made out of
yellow ochre, white,
and cadmium red light.
keep something equivalent to that
among my Prismacolors. Almost
every time that I work because those colors are very
useful in all complexions, of all types.
There are others too.
For instance raw sienna is a good
substitute for yellow ochre when we have maybe more of a
or Middle Eastern type complexion.
This again can vary from any individual to another.
So what am I doing now? I'm just
drawing. But the emphasis is on getting those darks
in there early. How can I gage my lights, my
half tones, my transitions in the shadow
to the light if I don't have my darkest darks.
I don't have anything to weigh
or measure the other values against.
drawing at this stage is just about as important as it is
during the stage in which I designed the head.
Notice I rarely say drew the head
or made the head or anything like that.
I do see it always as a design issue.
How did I design that head?
When working with an airbrush, as you'll see
being very well organized,
that's your best friend. You have to set yourself
up ergonomically, particularly
when you remember that you're doing all this on the same type deadline
that we've been constantly referring to throughout
the class. You do get
more time to draw and paint a color comp
than you would a first stage drawing.
But when you consider the amount of work and thought and design that goes into it
you still have just about as much of a
somewhat hectic experience to expect.
searching for color or paint or spilling
or anything else that's gonna cost you time
So I'm careful in my home studio to set up
everything you know mostly within arms
You don't wanna - airbrush
acrylic paint, the sort that I just
used does not really come
in tubes. It comes in jars and
as a liquid.
You can use tubed acrylic but you better mix it up very, very
carefully to get all the texture out of it
and lumpiness so that it doesn't
clog your airbrush. Clogged airbrushes are
also a major cause for delay in
getting your job done on time.
I talked about the two different kinds of
single action, so
when you press down on the lever on a single action airbrush
you simultaneously get air and paint flowing at the same time.
In the case of a double
action, which is pretty much what is used all the time,
when you push down on the lever
you get air, and that amount depends
on how high or low you set the PSI, the
pounds per square inch. And that happens on your
pressure regulator and you gotta gage
and you can control that yourself.
So it's far more sensitive than a
single action airbrush.
Now, the airbrush
comes in 3 basic types beyond that.
One is a top loading
airbrush. I'll be using that tonight. It's my
Iwata HPC. I-W-A-T-A.
And they're not the only good airbrush manufacturer.
So I'm not here to advocate you
buy one over another. But they are good and I've
used them for god
how long? The last 25
years or more.
And mine is a top loading which means
the cup is attached at the top of the unit in a fixed
position. There's also a
cup for a different model, screws into
or pushes into the side of the body of the
I've had those two
they're good. There's also an airbrush that loads
from the bottom. Not sure personally if I've used
those at all but they should be fine too.
An airbrush operates with a needle.
The finer the airbrush, the narrower
the diameter of the needle and the needle moves
back and forth at a high speed
delivers the paint. The needle itself has
to stay straight. If it's bent it won't
work or it will blow air in the direction
you're not intending it to go. So I really
recommend keeping a spare needle with you
at all times. If your needle becomes bent
then it can be straightened up if you're
experienced and you like that kind of thing but I don't really like that at two in the
morning with a deadline coming up. So I keep a spare needle.
You're gonna see that the
manner in which I use the airbrush
is not really synonymous with
those very super, hyperrealistic airbrush renderings
that we're familiar with.
I do get any effect I like with it but
I'm not interested in that effect.
it more as a painting tool in the sense that
we think of painting. I
I.E. with brushes and
in this case also with pencils.
can actually be used to lay down a nice
bottom tone on top of which you can
do a pastel more
A good thing to learn how to handle and a good thing to have
in your studio.
If I put down this black tone
using the pencil, then when I overblow
it with airbrush, it will go black
more readily. That's why I'm taking this additional time
early on to do so.
Even though you can get all kinds of fine detail with
pencils and airbrush, you still need to be thinking of the big
picture, the whole head.
Not gonna work otherwise
A quick note -
let me get some white Prisma.
This is not white. Remember
this is not white.
This is far closer to white
and even that's not white, as you'll see when we use the paint.
Okay. Let's do a little bit of work
now using pencil on the
This is just white.
Notice even though I keep it real sharp
it still has a certain graininess to it
because it's toner
rather than Prismacolor that I'm drawing on top of, I can
actually use a lighter color, in this case white, on
top of a darker color because it's the toner and not a
or something along those lines.
In many ways
you can think of this as a layered approach
to drawing or painting.
Because there will be several layers and many passages
on the head.
It might not be there. I hope
it is but it should be.
It was just like most pastels,
I'm modeling the form from
darker to lighter. Modeling up in value.
On a note about color
you'll see that white
leans much more toward the cool colors
than it does toward the warm colors. So when mixing paint,
when you introduce white, we're tending to
cool the color.
Notice that it's fairly
grainy in places. When I put the next layer of airbrush over
it won't be.
If you look at the photo you can't really see it but there's
something called the egg effect. That is one
part of the subject is lighter than all the others.
Usually the part that's closest to the source of light
or who's angles is the most
direct to the source of light.
because we're gonna go back to the
air brush a little bit.
Just a reminder last demonstration
I did a turpenoid and
wax pencil demonstration on one of the comps
involving Robert Downey Jr. and
Emily Blunt and that was kind of a loose,
very atmospheric kind of a treatment. I did want
here of our subject
and this was an opportunity to do one on a much, much grittier
kind of a tighter surface and subject.
So I just want to show you the range you can get using that medium.
We can also do quick kind of
grainy treatment on tonight's technique. It just depends
on the deadline and the look that you're going for. Those
Alright let's see what we got on this airbrush. I forget where we left
There we go. Kind of a
reddish kind of color.
And I'm gonna go back now into the rendering.
So you see now we're starting to get a little - pull out a little
a little more
Let's talk about color for a moment while we're doing this.
Color has three main properties.
Those properties are value, hue
and saturation. And we'll describe those in a minute.
Value is just light and dark.
You're familiar with the term. We talk about it all the time in this class.
It's the most important of the three properties
Hue is the
specific color. For instance is something
red is something blue is something orange.
That's what we mean by hue.
sometimes called saturation or chroma
that's the brightness for the
dullness of a color.
Of the three,
value is worth about 90 or 93 percent of the whole thing.
It's far more important than the other two.
You can spoil
a painting if you oversaturate it if the
chroma is too strong.
I suppose it could also be too
dull if the chroma is not strong
enough. But if you get the value
right I don't care if I painted this fellow with
green skin, he would sill have form,
you could still see what was happening
if the value structure is off then all is lost.
fact if the color is off and the value is right
don't be surprised if
when you're paintings are done you're accused
of being a colorist, not a bad thing to be accused of.
grayed down this area of the lower head
by putting in a lot of raw umber.
Remember we expect to see a lot of
gray in the jaw, especially in a man's
Let's take a little bit of blue.
Some ultramarine blue.
Put that into our mix and see what happens.
three drops fell into the mix which is gonna be way too much since
ultramarine has got a strong tinting power.
Tinting power is simply
does a color, when added to white, affect
it. Certain colors when
crimson and ultramarine
blue, others even more,
have very high tinting powers. So just a little bit
goes a long, long way.
that these colors are going down on top of other colors so even though
we have quite a bluish color here
it's modified by the fact that's going down on top of
other colors, especially warm colors.
Sometimes there's a little gray around the eye socket so
I put some in there and
I just got this very light almost white
I'm gonna dump out the
contents of the airbrush right now because I wanna go back to
a yellowish strain.
Sometimes what we do to clear the airbrush
is we put our finger over the point
and pull it back like that.
It's called back flushing the airbrush.
That will help clean it out.
Alright now I'm gonna go back over the forehead and hit it with some -
blue scratch seat. I'm gonna hit it with some yellow.
I'm gonna pick up some of the red
areas as well.
Try to unify things a bit.
Okay so now
we blow that with a hairdryer.
So now I'm taking some very light yellow,
Prismacolor calls this
particular color cream.
I'm had a lot of use for it over the years
in flesh tones.
That's just a scribbling, though it may look like it
I'm trying to blend out these planes on the
forehead we get some very big, broad planes.
And so I don't want the edges to look too abrupt.
Okay I've switched over now to
a color they call deco peach.
It's got a little more, or a lot more
red to it.
Those are both pastely colors
containing a lot of white.
If you wanted to go
super tight on these drawings or paintings,
whichever you wanna call them, you could use
Prismacolor verithin pencils too. They don't
make as many colors in verithin by far
as they do in the regular Prismas but they do have
warms and cools. Enough probably to help you out
in any way you want. And you could use those
to really refine your edges.
This is a bit more
of a gray color. They call it
the rosy beige.
They've also got this
it's kind of a gray and in fact they do call it
a cold gray light.
A little darker than I would like
for these purposes
however but it does
have the colored temperature I'm looking for. The very grayed
hue and a very grayed
kind of a cool leaning color.
paint out of the tube.
So I'm using some verithin - I'm sorry, not verithin - some
To allow me to move the paint nicely.
So now I'm trying to bring up some
of the smaller planes and I'm using paint
mixed on the palette for this purpose.
It's a little tricky because I'm mixing tubed paint
with jarred paint.
Because my white tubed paint dried up unfortunately.
However, it's doable. I'm mixing the
Floetrol with it to make it handle nicely. I do not apply the
paint using white, I
clean brushes using white but I put paint down
using matte medium. We're talking about
Watercolor I put paint down using water.
It's okay. It gives it a little bit of a craggy kind of a look
what I'm doing anyway. And that's kind of
in character here.
I'm gonna use the last
bit of time to
overblow this with the airbrush.
And that will give it a
more sympathetic look, not quite so
broken up here.
In fact if we do it
enough times it can actually give it a very photographic look.
Which is really not what I'm striving for.
I've done it, sometimes that's what the job calls for but
I like it when it's a little bit more painterly than that.
The more floetrol you use,
the less the paint will tend to bead up.
Remember you're going down on top of a
wax pencil surface and so
the paint can tend to bead up on it.
I never forget that I'm actually drawing with the brush, drawing with
Let's pause with the paint for a minute
I'm gonna go back to some deep, dark
Let me dry that for a second.
So I'm gonna take some
Tuscan red is another
one of my favorite Prismacolors,
in that family, the reds.
If I just got along the edge here
of that almost black
tone that I've got, it will lend
a reddish color to it, even though I really didn't
draw into it using the red just along the edge.
I'm doing here.
The truest color
of a form is generally
found where the
light meets the form shadow
or along the silhouette or both.
Here, that's where the form shadow meets the
edge of the light so we're gonna put in a good, strong
red since, as I said at the beginning, this
center part of the head is characterized by a more ruddy
complexion. So is the ear.
And I'm certain the area
around the lips and mouth.
Not sure this is gonna work too well for the gray areas, it's a little too light.
What else have I got that might work for that?
Not too much really, just
black I guess.
I'm introducing a little bit
of they call this bronze but
I think of it as kind of an olive green.
Just kinda feather that out a little bit.
now we're going to do
another round of airbrush real quick and
even out some of the roughness
that we've got here.
what do we have here?
I'm gonna take a
little bit of white now, which we haven't
used in our mixture before.
And what this is gonna do now
is give us a chance to soften out some edges
You can see on this
scratch paper, I will actually lighten
the tones beneath it.
Put a little more white in that. You don't wanna put too much because it can look
a little chalky if you do.
A little too much water
mixed in so it's getting a little runny.
Therefore I put some more white in it.
with no more additional water.
See how that does.
I'm gonna do the same now with the
with the red areas.
any white with it.
So start with raw umber.
Okay, enough for that.
Let's put in some raw sienna.
And a little
bit of the red mixed with the raw sienna.
Actually let's use some - I believe
I've got some alizarin crimson here. Yeah, that's good.
That's a nice, deeper red. It leans a little
bit cooler but that's fine.
mix that with a little bit of raw umber so it's not too, too red.
So it really is a mixed medium type
of a treatment.
I'm just putting in at the end some
Payne's gray. Payne's gray is a mixture of
and ultramarine and -
and just a little bit of the
matte medium to make it move better.
Okay so there we go.
Just strip off this tape.
I can have a look at him.
And I'm just
gonna soften a couple edges here.
Soften a couple edges and then
be good enough. This is more than tight enough
generally speaking for a color comp.
Okay good. So here
we have just a basic
mixed media, mostly airbrush, some prismacolor,
for doing color comps. Next time we're gonna take this a little farther
and we're gonna use a gessoed
ground, it'll be hot hot press illustration board
with very thin coats of gesso
applied and then onto that
an even tighter drawing and tighter finish
than this by far. You've already seen the materials you'll
be required to use for the next level
and the final level you'll wanna get some hot press
illustration board, some liquitex
white acrylic gesso, Japanese
some foam core and spray adhesive. And so
those are the tools in addition to tonight's tools that you'll be using.
Okay well I hope you have the patience and
concentration to bear with us.
It's - like everything else in this business
that's what it takes is concentration and patience. Right, one eye on the clock
too. Alright so we've done the lesson tonight
and it's a good prelude to the final
lesson, which is the capper on an entire movie
poster campaign and that would be technique of
finishing a poster, doing a finished poster.
I'm only gonna do part of what might be such a poster
but there's no time in a three hours format to do more than that
but I'll show examples of finished movie posters that have been
illustrated and have used the technique that I'll be applying.
So it really kinda builds on what I did tonight
and it takes it a little bit farther.
Okay, well I hope you'll enjoy the next lesson
and thanks for watching this one, good night.
Transcription not available.
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1. Introducing the Materials for the Lesson1m 28sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Theory and Practice of Using an Airbrush43m 10s
3. Adding the Next Layers of Paint and Rendering the Composition with Color Pencils27m 1s
4. Painting the Lights with a Paint Brush28m 43s
5. Finishing the Color Composition23m 42s
6. Working with an Airbrush and Acrylic Paint Assignment Instructions51s