Christmas Wars, Process

(This will be the last Christmasy post, I promise)

I love process. It's easily the most fun aspect of any position I've held. In my current career the meat and potatoes of figuring out how to shoot, compose and finish a project are all I ever want to spend time on. More specifically the head-down, earbuds-in retouching that absolutely feeds in to my leave-me-alone-and-let-me-work head space. Here is what I hope is an enlightening look into my process, in so far as I'm able to show it...


The Finished Product:

By now, you've all seen this guy, but it's always good to have an on-page reference. I'm lazy too. It's my page, and I still don't want to click back and look for the end product.


The Sketches:

Been a while since I was in a figure drawing class... As you can see, I knew i wanted to go after the bulk of action movie poster tropes - smoking gun, dramatic poses, dynamic angles. At first I was thinking vertical with my own foot on the Krampus skull but I tend to prefer horizontal applications these days, especially for the actual mailed card. I did come very close to swiping the look and feel of this Sin City poster from ages ago though... but I'm glad I went flatter for my own sake and to make sure I got some ground detail in there... But you can see I did know from the start that I wanted the big four action movie cliches in there: weapon-in-hand, flying debris, smokey background and sparks.


The Shoot:

I'm not blessed with a personal studio... yet... so I make do with what I can. Obviously for paying projects I rent space, but for an I-sure-hope-it's-free approach such as a holiday card, our garage will have to do. Also, a fog machine. As you can see, the guns are toy-store plastic neon colored abominations, the cigars were just wine corks, and we were definitely still figuring the details out while shooting.

The fantastic Krampus skull is actually this little 3" ornament from artist Brian Richardson who makes a bunch of amazing work. I sourced a bunch of horn textures and shot a slew of angles of some skulls I have kicking around (those are bear teeth) to make him a bit more lifelike. 

Pro-tip: Ammo boxes make great general storage containers, so yes, I do have a good few of them. At the moment I am mostly keeping backup hard drives and a ton of (gasp!) printed photographs. They're relatively water-tight, very strong and I mean come on, they just look cool.

I wish we'd thought about making the garland and ornaments into more of a bandolier than just a cowl, but I managed to compensate a bit in post by popping a bunch more ornaments on there in post from other frames. (Think garlic wreath vs vampires... at least that's what I was thinking...)


The Build:

Above you can see the build process. I've compressed it a bit and could get incredibly granular but I think this should suffice. I sourced the far background from some desert shots I took years ago out in Arizona. Santa is a tiny little google-searched SVG and on the biggest versions you'll even see that Rudolph's nose is in fact lighting the way. The fire around the text is an amalgam of some beautiful brushes and some clever actions I found lying around. I'm loving the set of them and should be able to show some others off after another few projects get off of the printing press.



This set of images still makes me laugh. The fact that I'm as stoked as I am about it this long after the fact (I've had it done for weeks now, waiting to be distributed) is pretty much all the reward I was looking for and I'm excited to start on the next one... by googling what the next major holiday is... (after New Year, I'm not trying to stress my Christmas out like that.)


Bonus! Outtakes!:

Some of the poses that didn't make it past the garage door...


Thanks for indulging me in 2015!

Happy New Year!