Drew Struzan

I wanted to take a minute to talk about an interesting artist. This guy is Drew Struzan. He did the posters for E.T., Indiana Jones, Star Wars. And many many others. His work is pretty fabulous, from a technical standpoint.

He works in an odd way. His technique is closer to comic artists than traditional painters. As we all know, you work dark to light. And he does do so- but the variety of media he uses in one piece is astounding.

Stuzan does a sketch, a layout, than uses acrylic paints both with brushes and an air gun. As his last steps, he uses what I think are pastel pencils- to finish off details and highlights. A very odd combination. It’s amazing how well his works hold together with such an array of media.

I am going to examine some of his work for you- from my technical standpoint- to highlight some of the things I see.

Blade Runner Poster

This is the poster in all its glory. Drew likes to work on a one to one scale. That means this poster is not printed shrunken down to give a false illusion of detail.

bladerunner-detail1In this first detail, we see Sean Young’s face close up. I want to point out the lips. It’s very alike John Singer Sargent. There is not a lot of work here- just very perfectly placed shapes and lines. And notice the lips have very few strokes. It’s the strong white highlight that gives this life. What’s masterful about this, is that if you look at it close up, lips alone- it looks done clumsily and brute. But the effect is classy and the viewer’s brain puts it all together so well.

bladerunner-detail3This next detail, shows a close up of Rutger Hauer’s face. Look at this, and imagine all the white is not present. Then you see simply blocks of colors that normally would not go together- ochres, purples, blues. Very harsh stuff by itself. But the the crosshatching- with white pastels and or pencil, give the shapes life. You have to look at this detail shot and imagine all those small white pencil lines gone.