Little White Lies – Super 8
Here’s my entry for the D&AD Illustration brief – a front cover design for Little White Lies magazine. the brief was to create an illustration in the same style of most that adorn the front cover of the magazine, that of a portrait depicting the main character, with hand-written type stating the name of the film itself – there were several films to choose from; I picked the JJ Abrams film ‘Super 8’.
Why Super 8?
I’ve watched Super 8 recently and I thought it was a excellent film – it features a simple if slightly over-used concept, and the genre of sci-fi/horror is not exactly new, but that fits in perfectly with it’s 70’s setting and small american town folksiness. Brilliantly acted by it’s young cast and given the extra sheen (and lens flares) that has made JJ Abrams a popular name, the film reminds me of E.T, and other alien-orientated adventures of my childhood days, such as Flight Of The Navigator and it’s this sense of nostalgia I get when I watch it that makes the film so endearing.
About the Design
I feel portraiture is a strength of mine, but finding a theme-appropriate setting for this portrait was at first, somewhat problematic – I drew several different versions of this same head (that of main star Joel Courtney) each with a different style, and while they were all good in different ways, I could not find a way to link them to the film (other than the fact that it features the main character of course) – most of the screen shots I found on Google just had him looking terrified, so I wanted to try a different approach. Eventually I had the idea of building his face from the tiny alien cubes that make up the alien’s spaceship in the movie – and I think it works really well. I was worried at one point that he was starting to resemble ‘Pinhead’ from the Hellraiser film franchise, but I think by softening the lines I’ve avoided that. He looks quite sad, but then the character goes through quite a lot of emotional turmoil during the length of the film, so I think a slightly forlorn expression is more than reasonable given the circumstances! Putting the text in a Super 8 film strip seemed like a no-brainer to me, and perhaps it IS a little obvious, but I’m hoping no-one else will have thought filling the entire background with the same strips – if only because drawing them took the longest out of everything!
I’m really pleased with the finished design. What the white/grey head loses in depth that some of my other versions had, it gains in a sense of innocence, and spooky, other-worldly light. As already mentioned, I’m chuffed with the background – the time it took to draw paid off, and although I tried several colours, this dark purple/red/brown shade really makes a good contrast to the soft light of the head. The type lacks a little of my usual flare, but makes up for it in impact, and even looks kind of old-school too. Overall it was worth the time, hard-work and money I put into it, and even if I don’t win, I would be pleased to feature it in my portfolio.
Final piece – Line Work
Here’s the head and the film strips as I drew them, before they went through the Photoshop car wash:
As mentioned above, I went through several versions of the head while i was trying to decide which one I would use. Here are the best of the rest:
– Pencils: This is of course, the medium I’m most confortable in, and while it was technically quite accurate, it was the safe option, and therefore rather boring…
– Brushpen: This one was a lot of fun actually. I never usually given myself the freedom of JUST using a brushpen, as usually the inaccuracy bugs me… but I really liked this one.
– Cross-Hatching: This was more my usual sort of style – tight, controlled line – some parts (such as the hair) work better than others (such as the skin tones) but I liked this one too – it seemed quite striking as an image
– Lines: Back to pencil again, this time with the aid of a ruler. I’d never done anything like this before, but I REALLY liked the effect – this was my second choice if the cubes hadn’t of worked.
Just as a parting gift, I though i would share the different stages of my cross-hatching piece. I scanned them in as I was going in case A) I needed a more basic version of the linework for something and B) quite frankly, in case I ballsed it up completely.
Special thanks to Brogan, Martin and Andy for putting up with my MANY questions about the submission of artwork process, and Lucy for helping me make most of the important decisions!