Case Study: THOR: THE DARK WORLD End Title Designs

Recently I had the pleasure to pitch an end title sequence concept for the new MARVEL film, THOR: The Dark World. MARVEL's been placing the main titles at the end of their films nowadays to not only entertain the audience while the credits roll, but in some cases, to reveal story elements or teasers for future films. Needless to say, I was pretty psyched to pitch on a project of this scale.

This opportunity came to me through Blur, whom I've been freelancing with for over four years now. They've put me on a few massive jobs in the past, but pitching on the next THOR film definitely took the cake.

Jennifer Miller is the Creative Director of the commercial side of Blur, and she tasked me with coming up with the 'graphic' approach to round out their pitch to MARVEL.

Wellp, I did around 5 or so images for the first pitch round and MARVEL liked them so they wanted more. My process for these roughs was simple: find public images of THOR online, blow them up to 4K in Photoshop, and goto town. I didn't need to make them 4k for a pitch but I suppose I was hoping that if it got chosen, I wouldn't want to repaint them larger to accommodate the big screen's needs. 

I used a mixture of ink brush strokes that I scanned in and turned into PSD brushes and then some random brushes I already had from over the years.

And the style was derived from the concept, which was that THOR was the God of storms and these paintings were to feel like a chaotic flurry of energetic brushwork. I hadn't seen the film yet so I was going off of what Jenn told me about it and from anything I could find online.

So, after a few rounds of revisions to the style frames, MARVEL chose this impressionistic, painterly, black and white and red direction.

I was, and still am, ecstatic and humbled. 

But now to the fun! I needed to paint 46 images. We hand selected stills from the film and began our journey.

It's worthy to note that the new Photoshop CS6 made my life a lot easier, as I was blowing up my brush sizes to the max 5000px, previously impossible on CS5 which stopped at 2500px. That difference alone made it possible for me to cover the 4K+ canvas size with large, energetic brush strokes which heightened the sense of spontaneity and looseness.

I only had a few strokes per layer in most of these paintings so that the animators could reveal them in any order they wanted. Seperating all of the brush strokes would balloon my PSD file layers into the 45-80 range, but it was integral for production.  

I spent a month painting and the animators worked for six weeks, I believe. We were done before we knew it!

I couldn't be happier with the final. The talented and passionate animators on our team were able to produce an amazing end sequence to a great film. In stereoscopic, no less! Phil Hoeschen, Deva George, Allan Donhauser and Nick Lyons did an amazingly fluid job with the animation of the PSD files from hell I delivered them. Their hard work brought the piece to life! Jenn remained a constant, critical eye overseeing the work to make sure each painting reached the bar set by the one prior.

Such an honor to finally show the coolest thing I've ever drawn on!

Thank you, Blur and MARVEL.

Here are 15 of the 36 images that made the final cut in the film.

Thanks for reading!

One last thing, all Thor: The Dark World images are property of MARVEL, Ent and Disney. 

(All Thor: The Dark World images are property of MARVEL, Ent and Disney)