A couple of months ago I was contacted by Chris Lupton, the Creative Director for the British film magazine Empire, to create a feature illustration for their July issue. 2019 marks Empire's 30th anniversary and to celebrate, each issue this year features a different, well-known director answering reader questions. My assignment was to put together an illustration featuring the films of Quentin Tarantino for the opening spread. As a movie buff, it was a dream assignment.
Film-related illustrations are my favorite. I'm a huge movie fan and I can (and often do) watch my favorite films over and over. I enjoy the surprise of discovering something new with each viewing. It might be noticing a small detail or watching a character in the background more closely. I'm especially drawn to directors with a signature style—Wes Anderson, David O. Russell, Stanley Kubrick, PT Anderson, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Quentin Tarantino, for example.
There is no shortage of iconic imagery and memorable characters in Tarantino’s movies, so it was a lot of fun to sift through hundreds of photos from the eight films that he's directed to date looking for images to use in the collage.
I tend to think of an illustration like this as a theater set that’s being built, a small world that you can walk around in. I start by defining a central image. In this case, I knew that Tarantino needed to figure most prominently, so once I decided where I wanted to place him, I moved on to arranging the other images, almost like a supporting cast of characters.
Scale is crucial in building such a world. I vary the size of the images, so that your eye can move easily from the larger ones to the smaller ones. I also work in other elements, such as brick walls, mountains, and trees, which give the image depth and helps create a scene that resembles a diorama.
I work in grayscale mode until the client approves the basic arrangement, and then I add colors and textures. I find that adjusting the brightness and contrast of each image, as well as adding textures, helps tie the different images together, giving them a more uniform and cohesive feel.
For this illustration, I used 33 Tarantino-related photos, including the Bride from Kill Bill, Jules and Vincent from Pulp Fiction, and Mr. Blonde, from Reservoir Dogs, holding the severed ear. (If you're a Photoshop nerd like me, the final CMYK file is 17-3/4" x 11-5/8", with 126 layers, and is 352 MB.)
Do you have a favorite film or director that you’d like to see memorialized? Are you looking for a custom print you can give as a gift or hang in your man cave or “she shed”? If so, hit me up for a custom piece.