V dye J - Veronica Dye Johnson, Illustrator

I’ve been wanting to draw a movie poster for my portfolio – but I decided I needed a twist to get me motivated (and to pep up my decidedly pedestrian taste in movies). Why not pair a movie with a completely different aesthetic?! – like 1960s Parent Trap with Film Noir or 1980s Overboard with the Criterion Collection styling…

Any designers out there want to play along with me?

Here’s what to do:

1. Make a list of 6 of your favorite movies (the less high-brow the better, I’m talking childhood faves like Flight of the Navigator)

2. Make a list of 6 movie genres/drawing styles (e.g., Film Noir, Horror, Cannes Film Festival Entry)

3. Take a 6-sided die and roll it once for each of your 6 movies. For example, my #1 was Troop Beverly Hills and I rolled a 3, which in my list was Film Festival Winner (If you’re unhappy with what you rolled, just keep rolling. I rolled a 1 first, the photograph shows what I rolled the second time.)
Movie Poster DAL

4. After you’ve paired up each movie, choose the pair that most strikes your fancy and start drawing!

When you reveal your poster on social media, label it #MoviePosterDAL so all the participants can admire your work! (DAL for Draw Along)

Who’s with me?!

I have a confession. I draw the most interesting bits first: 1) heads 2) hands 3) feet. If the kneecaps are visible, I draw those next. I get very bored with expanses of arms and legs, unless they’re covered in tattoos or wrinkles or scars or moles. And, although I love the look of intricately folded drapery, I get really, really tired rendering it. I just love drawing the human form and am impatient with the rest.

Side note: If you commission me to do a landscape, you will find craggy faces in the rock cliffs – I just can’t help myself, everything becomes a face to me.

I’m currently illustrating Hans Christian Andersen’s grotesque tale “The Rose Elf.” I chose this story because it’s about a bereft maiden burying her lover’s head in a flower pot. I mean, could there be a more fun illustration? But before the burial scene, the maiden has to make the grisly discovery of her lover’s head in the forest – so that’s the image I started with.

Since I’m a very draw-only-what-I-can-see artist, I require models. I recently found PoseSpace.com where I can purchase 360 degrees of high res photos of a nude model for less than $5 a pose. I’m sure all my family and friends are thrilled to death to be off the modeling-hook. (Now, I never made my relations pose nude, but I have constrained them to don bear costumes and other outlandish accessories.)

Once I have my models (virtually or in-person), I do a rough sketch.

Rose Elf prelim sketch by V Dye J

Rose Elf prelim sketch

Then I block out some color. As you can see, I originally considered including a pop of orange.

Rose Elf color blocking by V Dye J

Rose Elf color blocking

True to form, I spent the next several hours working on the maiden’s face and hood.

Rose Elf - Maiden detail by V Dye J

Maiden detail

Then moved on to the man’s rumpled head.

Rose Elf both heads by V Dye J

Rose Elf both heads

As you can see, I IGNORE EVERYTHING and work up my favorite spots to completion. I’m sure quite a few professionals advise against this, but there’s not too much danger for me since I work digitally.

So here’s where I am now, with my least favorite part to go:

Rose Elf WIP by V Dye J

Rose Elf as of this blog post

Will I ever learn to save the best for last? Probably not. :/

Flannery by Veronica Dye Johnson

“Utterly torturous” is how my teenaged self would’ve described reading the short stories collected in Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955). In high school everything “scarred me for life,” especially literature that didn’t include 19th-century governesses. I’m not sure how the State’s English teachers rationalized giving such raw, devastating texts to us innocents. O’Connor’s stories include [spoiler alert]: the execution-style murder of a family, an old woman’s bartering of her mentally impaired daughter for a fixed-up farm, and the accidental suicide of a four-year-old boy confused by religious fervor. My teachers okayed O’Connor but censored Chaucer. I’m guessing they never actually read the former.

I picked Flannery O’Connor back up to see if I could finally understand what I had read nearly two decades ago. The language is colloquial Southern, so it was not the vocabulary that had tripped me up, it was the tragicomedy. As a student, I only knew the textbook definition of tragicomedy. Now I know how it feels. It feels like absentmindedly trying to use chapstick instead of an ink pen to sign a loved one into the ER. It feels like running away from your greatest fear only to realize your path was a circle and you’ve actually hastened your nightmare.