Photoshop Wars Episode I: The Phantom Saber

A long time ago in a laptop far far away…



Back in January, I created a fan made Episode IX teaser poster. My friend Taylor (@wiintershero) and I were discussing theories for the film; and during our conversation the idea for this poster came up. I worked on it over the course of a few days, and after trial and error; the poster was finished. I thought it was cool, but then I posted it to the internet and it got a BIG reaction.

It was (and still is) the biggest response to my work to this date, but I haven’t broken down how I got to the final product. I usually tell my process to a couple people; some friends, some family, and they seem to think it’s neat. I figure that the internet may find it neat as well, so this will be the first in an ongoing series where I break down my work and talk about how I got from idea to final product; and things I would do differently now.

IX Teaser Poster Draft 1


As you can see, it’s not the strongest first draft for this concept. The hands coming from the side looks clunky, the proportions of the hands and hilt are awful, and there’s some glaring errors with Rey’s hand.

Works: Concept, The Blade, Light Falloff on Hands

Sucks: Proportions of hands/hilt, having the hands face the opposite direction, hands coming horizontally towards the hilt

IX Teaser Poster Draft 2 (ish)


This isn’t exactly draft 2, as the second and third drafts were more gradual changes; so I figure I’d show the next big leap in the design process.

The good news here is that the hands are much more proportionally sized! The bad news is that it feels too saturated. This poster I wanted to feel a bit dirtier and mysterious. This draft feels too clean for me. I also think the saber could be sized more appropriately to the hands.

Works: Hands coming up diagonally and facing the same way, better proportioned.

Sucks: Saturated colors, hilt feels too big.

IX Poster Draft 3 (ish)/Final Poster


The changes I made from my original drafts 4-7 were gradual as well, so I’ll breakdown the changes I made for the final version.

This version I really dig the overall look I’ve applied. It’s a combination of lowering the overall saturation, increasing general brightness, and applying an oil paint filter over everything. The energy from the blade slightly bleeding over the hilt always felt like a unique way to distinguish the legacy lightsaber from Kylo Ren’s. Plus the hilt is sized more accurately to the hands!

There are things that I still think could be improved upon for this piece. My main complaint comes from Kylo’s hand. I used a screenshot from The Last Jedi where he picks up his own saber; and unfortunately there wasn’t enough light in the scene to light his fingers properly. I was also using a screenshot; so I could only brighten that image with an exposure so far until it became a mess.

I’m still well within the learning curve of certain aspects of Photoshop, particularly creating custom poses for characters using limited resources. It is what can make/break an idea for me, and I know it’ll be a battle I’ll be fighting for awhile with my current genre of Photoshop designs.

I hope you enjoyed this little break down of my work! I’ll make a couple more of these for sure, but if there’s any other posters of mine you’d like me to break down; just let me know on my Twitter: @CamVeeFX

Cam Sharpe