Mastodon are an American metal band known for their progressive concepts and unique instrumentation. Their music is a contrarian mix of heavy and soft atmospheres, often accessible but always satisfying and complex. They command a high level of respect in the community and are known to be one of the tightest live bands around, so when I heard that Inertia Entertainment was bringing them to town with Gojira and Kvelertak supporting, I jumped at the opportunity.
This design was done under a serious time crunch and I had a good idea of the vibe I was trying to go for, so I didn't focus too long on trying to figure out the idea. Mastodon, Gojira, and Kvelertak represent a good mix of sounds which all orbit the same centre, so I went with something that would work for all of them; a massive, evil-looking monster emerging from a coved body of water. I gravitates towards doing a Cthulu image because I knew it would read easily, and I knew I could deploy a very loose style of drawing to get it down.
Some moleskin sketches fleshing out early ideas included some rougher and less intimidated sketches of Cthulu, as well as some ideas for creating cultists and tentacle masks.
After drawing a loose sketch, type was implemented along an underlying grid. I don't think I have a great eye for automatically creating especially interesting layouts, so lately I've been using little tools such as grids to guide me.
The projection sketch with random, very rough textures and asset placements. This image was shrunk down to 5" tall, then projected onto illustration board which was pre-coated and pre-shrunk. In this way, I was able to come up with a rough design coupled with type, ready for easy interpretive re-drawing during the physical illustration stage.
Rough outlines first. Many of the marks made at the outset are gestural, to be drawn over at later stages.
Under-drawing built up with many more general structures added.
Starting to fill in and tighten up with black india ink. The midtone of the ground makes the composition feel full, allowing the drawing to turn into a "push and pull,"" situation.
Getting looser and going harder. Using differently-sized brushes, as well as some drybrush, amongst other little hand techniques.
Skipping ahead a bit into working the highlights. Knowing where the light source is supposed to be in the composition ahead of time definitely helps to light your path when working this organically.
Close-up of the typography. One day I'll be better at this.
Little people for scale. A small afterthought with big implications.
Lightning cracking the sky.
Bodily twists and spirals were inspired by the work of H.R. Giger, Guillermo Del Toro, and Junji Ito, all of whom have in turn been influenced by the literary work of H.P. Lovecraft.
The finalized semi-composite drawing of the illustration. Up to this point, everything is kept analog to ensure that the key art retains an extremely evident hand-drawn quality.
The semi-composite sketch was scanned into Photoshop, and different values of the key image were separated and coloured individually using adjustment layers and masks.
The final Mastodon gig poster in its all its viciousness.
Registering the first colour on white paper. The transparencies are printed on clear acetate for easy use.
I''ve gotten into the habit of setting aside one copy and using it as the dedicated registration piece. Since the registration marks are the same on each layer, I leave the layer taped to the paper at three adhesion points (like a three-point register) to save time.
Prints drying. The curled bits go away after flattening and trimming.
Registering the third colour (ultramarine).
This print is available for purchase through The Shop. Thanks for reading!