Signalnoise poster for The Sword

Here is something that started as a personal project, kind of. A couple of weeks ago I was sitting at the computer reading some tweets and doing some surfing when my favorite metal act, The Sword posted a tweet in search of an artist. That was essentially as specific as it was so, needless to say I had a message with portfolio link back to them in seconds.

When approaching a new client, or more specifically another group of artists, I always find it awkward simply sending my portfolio as I know the work I do for them will be much more specific. That was the case with The Sword as nothing in my portfolio fit the theme of sci-fi metal, at least not as much as I’d like. So I decided to go that extra step and create a “test” poster to show something in the theme of the band. Heck, I’ve been listening to these guys for 6 years or something, this is a long time coming.

Well, the test poster took on a life of it’s own and I pushed the design through to the finish. Heavily influenced by the likes of Roger Dean and Moebius, I wanted this one to have a very painterly and textured feel and something that call backs to sci-fi novel covers from the 70s with a bit of Heavy Metal magazine in there. A couple of ’80s cartoon references were thrown into the mix as well, Lion-O’s sword from Thundercats was the basis of the style and I wanted the landscape to look like Eternia from Masters of the Universe. All of this influence makes sense if you’ve listened to The Sword’s newest album, Warp Riders.

The concept came together rather quickly, and I moved from the sketchbook to Illustrator to Photoshop within a day. I started just last Thursday. After that it was a matter of adding all the textures, shading and atmosphere you see in the final. The poster has already been sent and seen by the guys and got some very positive feedback. Kind of a dream job. Rock n’ roll!

The overall concept behind this poster: What being was wielding that sword?!

I’ll hopefully be sending this poster to proof this week sometime before getting a full run printed off, with the permission of the boys since it sports their logo of course.


  1. PJ


  2. Now THAT right there is one badassed sword! Great work Mr. White.

    So when are they stopping by Halifax to pick up their posters?

  3. W00t w00t :-) Awesome story to it too.

  4. I don’t have anything brilliant or even that articulate to say. That poster is sweet! You totally nailed the art style from that period.

  5. Gary Voigt

    Just saw this. Caught all the references even before reading your post. Great job! Stellar textures.

  6. Until I read your post I thought ’80s scifi paperback!’ as well as some atari cart artwork you referenced recently on twitter. Man, please make posters of this. Beautiful!

  7. That’s the best looking sword I’ve seen in quite some time! \m/ Niiiice!

  8. Josh

    Awesome. Inspiration for the day my friend.

  9. Cameron

    Jaw droppingly beautiful!! I’d never heard of the sword until you started talking about them on your broadcasts James and after looking at that poster it makes me want to re-think my next album purchase!!

  10. Kashane

    wooow!…really impressed!

  11. Kloud Stryfe

    James White you never, and I mean NEVER, cease to amaze me with the wonderful work you do! This is awesome with a capital A-W-E! Great work as usual and thanks for sharing with us.

  12. Ola

    Really cool work! This would make a really sexy thunder cats poster!

  13. james (Author)

    Wow, thanks so much for the kind words, everyone. Put in a lot of hours on this over the weekend, rocking those textures and bringing all of those influences together. Super fun. Posters coming soon.

  14. You. Killed. It. Amazing work James! I especially love the slight Thundercats vibe I get from it (that may just be me though). I would buy this… it would go great with my Network print :)


  15. WOW James very nice. I can’t stop staring at the ‘jewel’ on the sword. I think it’s trying to penetrate my soul with METAL!!!

  16. Doooood! that is one badass poster. Awesome job. I’m not even into metal that much but I will definitely be buying a copy if you ever sell them! I love that the sword is influenced by the Thundercats. The only question / constructive crit I have is… why no texture on the logo? Great job!

  17. james (Author)

    Charley, thanks man! I originally had a golden chrome version of the logo in there but it blended in too much with the background colors. Having the logo straight white made it stand out the most, plus it’s how the titles on old sci-fi novels were treated. It was problematic during the process, trust me. :)

  18. Ah ha, I see where you’re coming from. Thanks for the response and keep up the ridiculously sweet work.

  19. I’m a huge Sword fan and you did them justice. Sweet, sweet justice! This completely RAWKs. Love the texture work you put into this one. Awesome work!

  20. I’m not sure I am worthy enough to yield the power of this poster, but I’d like to try.

  21. Anonymous Poster

    I never leave comments…anywhere…ever. One of the best, if not the best poster of the year so far. You and Chris Ware – his recent Uncle Boonmee poster – have set the bar for the next few months.

  22. james (Author)

    Anonymous, humbled to be mentioned in the same sentence as Chris Ware. I’ve come across his work often over the last few years, love it all. Thanks so much, man.

  23. Stunning work James! Beautiful details and texturing.
    Are you planning to sell these in the Signalnoise store?

  24. Paul

    This is an absolutely great piece; matches McPharlin’s original work well, while still maintaining your own style. I can’t stop looking at it.

  25. james (Author)

    Janne, thanks so much man. I’m definitely getting some posters printed off, can’t wait to see this thing larger. I’ll hopefully have them available soon once I iron out some details.

    Paul, I definitely had Dan’s work around while making this one. Love his stuff and was looking to continue the theme he put in place for the new album. Thanks man.

  26. julio bustillos

    woooow….man this poster is incredible…the way you use all the textures just blows my mind….there alot and i mean alot to learn from you brotha…..keep up the good work …ill be passing the link to the poster to everyone at school…they need to see this ….be the way …the sword rules man being from el paso tx. we here alot from them also …..again …man ..just awesome work…

  27. Yew! I would go see these guys just for the poster! And in australia… nice!

  28. The poster is truly amazing! Great work and incredible initiative! You’ll never cease to impress your fans man! Wow!

  29. Tiho

    Lion-O called, he wants his sword back. :P

    seriously though, great job!

  30. Great work mr. White! With this one you exceeded all expectations! congrats.
    I am sure that Moebius is right now chewing on their pens with envy. :))

  31. Alex

    When I first had a look at it, I thought it was something “Firefox” related :P

    Maybe the blue/orange circle that did it.

    Love the texture!

    Beautiful as always James,
    great job!

  32. julio bustillos

    man please do a snbc….on the sword poster process…i just cant stop looking at it …..

  33. calamaquito

    Awesome work!! Congrats!

  34. DarkoDesign

    Dude. That is sharp. Yeah definately getting a thundercats vibe from it but that just adds to the awesomeness. Good Work James, an inspiration to all.

  35. Amazing textures, it couldn’t be better… love it…

  36. Joce

    Wow. Great job… love the type & the sword is awesome.

  37. In my opinion , its one of your best work by far. Superb.

  38. Great poster James, this shreds. This is exactly the type of behavior that I look for in WMC’s. I posted it up on the WMC Fest Facebook page for all to see!

  39. james (Author)

    Can’t thank you enough for all the kind words, everyone. Seriously humbled. Looking to have some posters done really soon.

  40. Hey your work is great! I moved from Halifax to Vancouver a couple years ago and didn’t know of many graphic artists in town, but that was before I was into the scene. It’s not like I truly into it now, but I’m trying to be.

    I’m wondering if there are many others at your skill and quality level it Halifax and if there’s a big design scene there these days?

    Keep up the great work!

  41. Channeling Roger Dean all day James, nice work. Hope the Sword swings through ABQ soon, great live act and the nicest guys in the world.

  42. James, Thanks a lot for showing your process from sketch, digital mock up, to final product. The knowledge you share is fantastic and GREATLY appreciated! This thing turned out awesome as well. The ‘jewel’ thing is way cool.

  43. I knew it was inspired by Liono’s Sword before even reading your post – Love it!

  44. Thank you. So flipping epic. The Sword started blowing my mind a few years ago, and continue to do so. I’d love to see more Sword inspired fan-art from Signalnoise! Great Job!!!!

  45. The real question is: WHERE CAN WE BUY ONE?

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