My third BFI Sci-Fi poster design was more of an illustration based one. I used my tablet for most of the process as it really helped me colour specific areas.
I started with a blank A3 canvas and copied and pasted my draft in, deleting the Background layer that was already there. I then resized it and lowered the opacity. This gave me a reference for the composition to look back on.
I then made a gradient on the Background layer underneath the draft that resembled the night sky.
Creating a new layer, I used the Elliptical Marquee Tool to draw and colour the planet surface in with the airbrush. Then, using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, I drew the outline of an explosion and filled it in yellow on a new layer and made it symmetric by copying it and pasting it and flipping it horizontally. I used the Eraser tool to make the end fade out into the sky. I also added some orange at the end by using the airbrush and carefully colouring the area with the opacity locked.
Once the background was done, I moved onto colouring my characters.
I used the Pen Tool to draw over my draft and create separate paths (head, neck, hair, eyes, etc.) and made sure to close each one so that they had no gaps. This would help me to fill in the colours easily without having to use the brush tool to create an outline. This part was quite time-consuming as I had to adjust the point in the path accurately to get the silhouette right.
Once I finished drawing all my paths, I selected the face path and right clicked to get Make Selection…This allowed me to convert my path into a selection. I can do this as many times as I need to, saving me the trouble of having to reselect the area every time.
I then created a folder and named ‘Human‘. I then created a new layer and filled in the selection with a skin tone. I did this to the rest of my paths, creating a folder for the alien to to avoid confusion.
After colouring in the flat colours, I moved onto shading. I picked a darker colour of each flat colour respectively, and with the layers’ opacity locked, I carefully added shadows to areas where the explosion light shine on, and to areas to suggest depth and contours.
When the basic shading was done, I then selected all the paths and filled them in with a dark blue on a new layer above my colouring. I changed the layer style to Multiply and moved this shadow away from the light source. I then went to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur… and made the edge of the shadow blurry to soften it.
Now I added some highlights to the illustration. I started with the background. I wanted the explosion light to glow, so I copied and pasted it onto a new layer and blurred it with the Gaussian Blur. I did this twice in order to get the strength I wanted.
I also added some lights in the sky to suggest stars or planets. I adjusted the Brush settings so that it would paint scattered circles when I drew along the canvas. I also added an outer glow to make them shine a little.
After the illustration was finished, I opened a texture onto a new canvas in Photoshop and copied and resized it into my poster design. I changed the layer style to Overlay and lowered the opacity. This gave it a rough, paper texture and made the illustration look more organic and traditional. I then added some more shadows like a vignette and a Photo Filter to adjust the overall warmth of the piece and make the colours colder.
I saved the document as both a Photoshop file and a PNG copy and opened the PNG in a new canvas. I adjusted the Brightness and Contrast, Levels and Hue and Saturation to make the colours and lighting stand out more.
Then I added the text and rasterized it once I was happy with the font choice and sizing. I also added an Outer Glow to it to make the text brighter and more eye-catching. I then transformed it and skewed it by holding down Ctrl when moving the points. I put it at a perspective – kind of like the Star Wars prologue – hoping it would maybe give a nostalgic hint to those who might see it. I made it a little fuzzy by copying and pasting the layer and changing the colour of it to magenta and yellow. I then changed the layer styles to Overlay and moved them a few pixels to the left and right of the original text, giving it that fuzz. I also made it ‘distressed’ by customising the Eraser tool and carefully erasing areas of the text like it’s been chipped or rubbed out.
I then added the date and logos at the bottom in the same style as the main text above it to keep consistency. I lowered the opacity of the logos a little because I didn’t want them to take too much attention away from the rest of the image.
The final design came out like this: