Behind the Scenes: Illustrating a Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse poster with artist Brian Miller

"Alright, let's do this one last time... For real this time. This is it. My name is Miles Morales. I was bitten by a radioactive spider, and for like two days, I've been the one and only Spider-Man. I think you know the rest." — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse illustration by Oktopolis: The Art of Brian Miller
I was already a fan of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse so I was thrilled when I was approached to create an officially licensed illustration inspired by the film. I started by working up some simple grayscale concepts using tone and value to convey the basic composition. I know from past experience if you can communicate the visual at this level then the finished illustration will be successful too.

The first concept would feature Doc Ock chasing our heroes through the forest. Artistically, this is one of my favorite scenes in the movie with the fall foliage and sunset lighting, plus it would allow me to show Gwen swinging in to save the boys. Concept number two would be a more reflective moment with Miles looking at the classic Spider-Man suit in a glass case inside the Spider-Cave. This would be a quiet and inspirational image. The third concept would be a love letter to New York with three of our Spider-heroes swinging through the city. My client looked over the three concepts and chose the heroic city scene featuring the Brooklyn Bridge and also asked that I find a way to add Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, and Peni Parker to the scene.
Using my concept as a guide I set to work drawing the background using Adobe Draw on my ancient original model iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. I know I want to keep the color pallet condensed to just a few shades of blue and red and use variations of the blues to create depth, light, and shadow in the background. I use a dark black in the extreme foreground buildings as a framing element to help draw the eye toward the central action.
With the background complete I focus my attention on drawing the characters. I manage to work Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Ham onto the top of the Brooklyn Bridge. They are small-is but being silhouetted by the moon helps showcase them and provide a powerful statement. I drawn in Gwen, Peter Parker Spider-Man, and Miles Morales Spider-Man per my original guide. At the last moment I decide to add in Peni Parker and her robot mech known as SP//dr as if they are leaping over the shrubbery in the lower section of the illustration.

At this point I export the artwork from Adobe Draw on my iPad over to Adobe Photoshop on my iMac where I adjust the colors as needed, drop in my home-made halftone patterns to help 2 shades of blue look like many fine variations, and make any final clean-up and adjustments needed. 
Now the artwork is done and ready for print. Or is it?
During the review and approval process the client and license holder make the decision to turn the artwork info a collectable alternate movie poster with title and credits. I was thrilled and honored with decision but it also meant reworking much of the illustration. At this point I had to create a master version of the Spider-Man movie logo that would work with my minimal color theme. I did this by drawing the Spidey symbol in Adobe Draw, re-creating the type in Adobe Photoshop and then marrying them both into one logo. Fortunately the license holder was able to supply the text credits so I don't have to worry about misspelling a famous Hollywood actor's name.

I realized the best area within the composition for the movie logo would be where Peni Parker was. So I pulled her out and needed to change her pose and re-draw here smaller on one of the building rooftops. I also had to change the position and scale of Peter Parker and Miles Morales but luckily I didn't have to redraw those two characters! 
With the final artwork completed it was time to make the color separation for the silkscreen process. While I work on my drawings I must keep the various color elements grouped together. In this instance I was using 2 shades of blue plus 2 shades of red plus black. From there the silkscreens are made, 1 for each of the ink colors, allowing for the handcrafted limited edition collectable art prints to be made. When all the ink colors are printed one upon the other the look and feel of the final artwork is simply breath taking. 
The finished Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse limited edition collectable fine-art print is currently available from DarkInkArt.
illustration by Brian Miller © Oktopolis. All rights reserved. This artwork may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of Oktopolis. Spider-Man © Marvel. Illustration officially licensed and released by ACME Archives/Dark Ink Art & Grey Matter Art.

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