Signalnoise poster for THE THING

A couple of early digital concept studies.

Sketch of the alien gore on tracing paper. Ink and blue lead.

Here’s a poster for my favourite movie, John Carpenter’s masterpiece: THE THING.

I started this design hot on the heels of completing the BLADE RUNNER poster. I’m continuously learning new tricks and processes as I go, so I wanted to really dial in on the style I explored in BLADE RUNNER and simplify it. Really concentrate on the shapes that make up the highlights and shadows. The goal was to reduce the overall number of points, but really make them count. Smooth curves.

The over-arcing concept was to depict the alien taking human form, so I knew early on I needed some kind of weird abstract alien gore in there which proved to be the toughest challenge. I sought reference in the film, but I didn’t want hands, or tentacles, or a spider-head. I wanted a mess of scary “whatever”. I had to draw it all from the ground up (pencil and paper, kids) and on the third attempt it finally fell into place. From there it hit the scanner to be re-built in Illustrator.

Like my BLADE RUNNER poster, this is 100% vector. Not a hint of Photoshop in there. I see this and the BLADE RUNNER poster as kind of companion pieces since I did them both back to back with similar methodologies.

But again, it was all about atmosphere. I wanted this poster to feel like the movie. That was priority 1.

13 Comments

  1. As usual, swell. I’m just puzzled by the small helicopter on the right.

  2. Matt

    Simon H, if you look closely, the dog is on the left. It incorporates the images that open the film.

  3. Pretty cool. Nice job with the eyes. The helicopter and the dog don’t really seem to fit though.

  4. LucasG_Once

    James the poster is amazing. So awesome to see it finally finished! It definitely makes me want to watch the movie again.

  5. As much I found the Blade Runner poster amazing, this is by far my favourite. Great colour pallete with the alien gore red accent. This is the kind of poster that makes me want to watch a movie, not the same old recycled crap with Tom Cruise on it.

  6. Adrian

    This is all vector? Amazing! How on earth did you manage to get that grainy texture in there?

  7. The skull in the red is delicious.

    That sure is a nice thing you did there.

  8. @Matt: and this is why I should watch the movie :-)

  9. bananaman

    This poster also needs to find its way into my collection, along with the Blade Runner one. Is it just an issue of getting the rights and getting it printed?

  10. Rainbolt

    Do one for “Big trouble in little China” and you have just made posters for my 3 favorite movies of all time in that order… keep it going and do
    #4 Pulp Fiction
    #5 The Dark Knight

    Keep up the amazing work

  11. James, I need these prints! Is that gonna be possible?

  12. Matt

    I want this print!

  13. Alistair

    Hi James
    This is one of my fav movies as a kid and I have to say you’ve done a great job and I would reall like to have this as an A1 framed poster in my new house – Are you selling it anywhere?

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