Here is my new portrait piece, THE VILLAIN. If you’re new to these ones, I tend to do portraits in between full posters as a form of practice as I continue to explore this form of print design. Trying to sharpen my skills.

As with all my stuff lately, this is 100% vector. No brushes, or plugins, or LiveTrace or fancy “time-saving” tools either. Just hardcore bezier point scrutiny through lots of hours. Nuts and bolts stuff. If you want it to look right you have to get right in there and do it yourself. Really trying to simplify things too.

I wanted the colour palette to hinge on THE DARK KNIGHT film, but not exactly. This one is much grimmer than my previous portraits: THE SMUGGLER and THE SCIENTIST.

EDIT: This is the second version of THE VILLAIN. I did further work on it this weekend to mend some issues.






16 responses to “THE VILLAIN”

  1. Leukocyt Avatar

    While I like The Smuggler and The Scientist I don’t think this one works. I don’t like what you did with the nose and hair. And it somehow gives me this very morbid disco vibe.

  2. Rich Aguilar Avatar


    I want to buy this …. How much?

  3. ML Avatar

    I have to agree here. I like the colors and the pose, but I think it’s missing some key details that you got absolutely right in SMUGGLER and SCIENTIST. Namely the hair could be more pronounced, the nose is a little weird, and the lips (a defining feature) could be worked on. It’s nearly there tho! Just giving my 2cents constructive feedback…

  4. Matthew Marshall Avatar

    At first glance, I’m in the same boat as Leukocyt. It’s good, but not quite as good as the first two.

    I think the reason for that is the other portraits have one element to them that brings them up a notch. I really like how you’ve got stars in the black on the Smuggler, and the lightning bolt in the Scientist works really well. I guess I don’t see that defining element in this one.

  5. BigVince Avatar

    same here, but I love the work and wish I could get a tutorial.

  6. james Avatar

    Tough crowd around here today!

    Just kidding. You guys confirmed a few things for me. That nose was the hardest part, spent forever trying to get it to look right. Had to make a design decision due to the white make-up causing lack of detail. Going to revisit the shape.

    Also exploring something cool for the mouth now.

  7. Alan Avatar

    This is excellent, world-class graphic design. But, if I may, I have one suggestion to add. Well, what if the red mouth of the Joker subtly formed the shape of the Batman symbol? It almost looks like a Batman symbol from the way you’ve drawn it, so what if you pushed it a little bit further?

  8. james Avatar

    Thanks for the comment, Alan. Your the 3rd person to suggest the bat symbol mouth, I see your point completely but that kind of thing doesn’t sit well with me. It’s a growing trend these days to cleverly combine two images into one, which is fine. Olly Moss is a wizard at that kind of thing and I love his work. But if that’s not my original plan from the beginning, I’d never want to force something else in there for the sake of being clever, changing the original design/concept to do so. That make sense?

    Also, that was used for one of the official posters. ;)

  9. Matthew Marshall Avatar

    Funny thing, I thought the bat symbol could work as part of the lapel.

  10. Marcus Williamson Avatar

    I was literally trying to do this just now. Well…minus the Joker…plus Michael Jordan. Anywho, schweet dude

  11. Leukocyt Avatar

    So much better than the original version. You are the man! :)

  12. bebop Avatar

    My guess is next poster will be about Robocop or Mad Max. By the way congratulations on The Villain, quite awesome as always.

  13. Simon H. Avatar

    Fuck yeah.

  14. Alan Avatar

    James, you’re right. For some reason I thought the Batman symbol as the Joker’s mouth was an original idea, but I must’ve seen it in the official poster you linked to and forgotten about it. And you’re right not to follow the trend, because that makes your poster more unique.

  15. Jug Avatar

    “Trying to sharpen my skills” lol. this is Sick! just sick….I love the green hints. Did you try different eye treatments? (eg. “looking back”), also in terms of simplifying, removing the eye highlights might make him deadlier. and Please no hero symbols on the villian, I’ll cry. Any graphic homage should be directed to Ledger. Whatever, I will buy this as is.

  16. Onepoc Avatar

    I think you’ve not reached the level of the other ones yet. The problem is on the nose and the forehead. Maybe melting the right nosetril (his right) with the nose itself will help. And for the forehead, use your amazing skills. Thx for your work by the way, very inspiring.

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