Monday, March 27, 2017

Theocracy Digital-Stained-Glass Poster

Finally I can share this!  From October to January, I worked on a piece that I had been planning to work on for years ever since I first heard of Theocracy back in 2011.  They have been my favorite band ever since and have greatly influenced not only my art, but more importantly, my faith.
I have worked on a few digital-stained-glass tributes and artworks over the last seven years, but it was only recently that I felt I had the necessary skills to create the poster (as well as Theocracy had just come out with their newest album: Ghost Ship). 
This was by far the most difficult piece of the digital-stained-glass artworks I have worked on, but also the most satisfying.  It went through many revisions before I decided upon the final design.  From there it took months of work as I could only work on it late at night after coming home from my 9-5 job.  Some revisions were due to wanting a more solid and geometric design, but others came when news dropped that Ernie Topran had been officially added to the band which caused me to have to rework parts of my initial designs, but well worth it in the end and exciting that I got to add him to the final poster.
In the poster are all of Theocracy's songs from their albums (not including their incredible and often hilarious, epic Christmas music).  Some are depicted by lyrics on flying pages from the main book, and others by symbols and mini-illustrations.  At the bottom of this post is a "map" of sorts to explain what each represents (some songs duplicated for design-sake).
Theocracy is an incredible Christian-metal band that rises above the rest.  They have greatly impacted my faith and helped me through tough times with their incredible lyrics.  Every song is powerful and epic conveying deep powerful messages for the broken-hearted, marginalized, lost, weary, and hopeful.  They are worth taking the time to check out:

Below is a look at the progress for how I created the final poster.

These were the initial "sketches" I did for the poster early on trying to work out what I wanted to achieve.  Eventually I abandoned this concept, but kept some of the features like the glowing cross beam.

I then started drawing each member through Photoshop in greyscale as that is easier than working in color for me.  Often I skip important steps without working out the values first, so this method helped a lot.
There were few, quality photos of each member in the angles I wanted so I had to use parts of my body for reference for often blurry hands.  I watched the Ghost Ship music video countless times (probably in the 100s of views) pausing often to get close up shots of the drum set, Jared Oldham, and Matt Smith.  In the case of Matt, his final pose is composed of about 4 or 5 different takes from the video.  I gave Val Allen Wood his long hair back as the first reference I was using he had short hair, but recent photos showed he had the long epic metal hair which I drew over my previous drawing.  Jonathan Hinds was the only one I had fairly significant reference for without having to alter much on his pose.  I would often work with the reference on the left screen comparing proportions while having the right screen show reference of some of my favorite artists like Alphonse Mucha.

As I was working on drawing the band, I saw that Ernie Topran was added and had to quickly add him to the artwork.  Here is the final line-up of the band before I moved them to the stained-glass frame.

Next, after drawing the band, I penciled out some rough concepts for frames, but had to change from a 4 panel window to eventually the 3 panel window when Ernie was officially added to the group.  I went through several designs (many not shown here) until I uncovered the secrets of how most stained-glass frames were designed.  On previous artworks I was pretty much just guessing, but now I know how to compose the overall design and frame in a much better and smarter way.

After figuring out the frame I created a color rough and sketched out what I wanted to have illustrated and where.  Some parts were first created in Adobe Illustrator and brought to Photoshop to paint, while other parts were painted directly in Photoshop.  The Paper Tiger was probably the most challenging to draw while the Master Storyteller and flying pages was the most satisfying part of this project beyond drawing the band.

Out of all of the elements I had to draw, the Ghost Ship took the longest.

Pictured left (me with my poster)  /   Pictured right (Matt Smith - lead singer of Theocracy- with his copy of the poster)

Special thanks to Medius for the high-quality prints of the poster.

The greatest part about this project was hearing back from Matt Smith of Theocracy and his excitement about the poster.  Nothing is more rewarding than that and is why I do what I do.
Please check them out and if you can, support them by rocking out to one of their live shows, purchasing an album or merchandise, and praying for them as they help spread the good news of the Gospel through the best metal music I have ever heard.