Portrait in process: Han Solo

This article illustrates my creative process of making a Han Solo portrait. The work is done on a Canson toned paper sized A3 (42 x 29,7 cm) with Caran d’Ache’s Luminance color pencils.

First I tape the paper to a illlustration board with Scotch Magic tape and lay top of it  masking tape or painter’s tape. This method is important because otherwise masking tape will teal off the paper when removed. Also Scotch magic tape alone is not capable of holding the paper still while working  the portrait.

Drawing accessories from top left: Masking tape, carpet knife, pencil extender. Left below: Scotch Removable Masking tape and a brush for cleaning rubber eraser dirt.
Corner of the paper showing the wide masking tape. Beneath the masking tape is the Scotch removable magic tape.

I begin the work with sketching thin lines and trying to get the size of the character right. With Han Solo I used black pencil to draw the lines. In most cases I use grey color (Silver Grey 002) or light yellow (Primerose 242) to draw the lines. Line drawing took me about     2 and a half hours.Han_Solo_15_6After drawing the lines I started to underlay the skin tone with light yellow (Naples Ochre 821). Other light yellows I use at this stage are Brown Ochre 832 and Primerose 242. These colors have enough variation to accentuate highlights, half-tones and shadows. This phase took Me about three hours.Han_Solo_19_6In the  next phase I started “tighten” the drawing and adjust Harrison Ford’s trademark facial features. For example the mouth was way too “femine” and needed more width. I wanted to highlight/accentuate cheek bones, jaw and area surrounding the mouth to give the drawing more robust, almost three dimensional  feel to it. Also forehead needed some highlights and shadow to feel fully rounded instead of being flat.  This phase took me about three and a half hours.Han_Solo_22_6 After Han Solo’s face was completed I started working the bust area and the vest Solo is wearing. The vest is somewhat dull if only black pencil is used. I wanted to use complimentary colors to bring some vibrance to the vest. Skin is already yellow(ish) so a little bit of violet (Light Aubergine 095) fits nicely to the overall color scheme complimenting skin tone and adding highlight to the black vest. This phase took me about two and a half hours to complete.

This is the final, fully completed portrait of Han Solo with carefully tuned, accurate colors as possible. The portrait took about  eleven hours to complete.

Artist Overview: Reynold Brown


Reynold Brown is truly one of the greatest unknown film poster artist and illustrators of his time. Brown created some of the most well known film poster of 1950s and 1960s; Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), This Island Earth (1955), Attack of the 50ft Woman (1958), Black Sabbath (1963) to name a few.


William Reynold Brown was born in Los Angeles, Califonia on  October 18th 1917. Before he began his career illustrating film posters, he drew Tailspin Tommy comic strip with cartoonist Hal Forrest. At one point of his early career Brown met illustrator/artist Norman Rockwell who advised Brown to leave cartooning if he wanted to be an illustrator. Before his career in film industry, Brown was serving as an technical illustrator at North American Aviation.


Reynold Brown worked in Hollywood in the 1950s throughout 1960s. At some point in the 1960s, probably lattter half of the decade, Brown decided to withdraw from film poster and commercial illustration altogether. Back in the day commercial illustrators or film poster artists remained largely anonymous. Often times they couldn’t sign their illustrations or take/make visible credit for what they had done. Film posters were only created for marketing the picture not to promote the artist who made it. Also film posters were printed on cheap paper and colours appear in printed form more brighter than in the original painting (see comparison below).

Left: Reynold Brown’s original painting for the film “The Creature Walks Among Us” (1956). Right: Printed film poster with “tuned” colors.



After working two decades in film business, Brown became disillusioned with commercial illustration and moved to Chadron, Nebraska leaving the bright lights of Hollywood behind. While in Nebraska, Brown painted landscapes and themes of Old wild west. Reynold Brown died on 24th of August 1991. He was 73 years old.


Interesting note:

Reynold Brown worked also as an art teacher at college where young Drew Struzan was studying. (page 82, The Art of Drew Struzan by Drew Struzan & David J. Schow)




YouTube: The Man Who Drew Bug-Eyed Monsters (1994) (Parts 1-4)