Andrew DeGraff Lord of the Rings

The best movie posters transport us into their world. In a single image, they sum up the characters, settings and emotions of a two hour movie. Most posters do this pretty easily, with a crucial image or actor from the movie, but others take the long way. For example, by literally mapping out the entire path of every character in a movie in one image.

Philadelphia based artist Andrew DeGraff does exactly that. He watches a movie, hand draws and paints all the locations, then guides each character via a specifically colored line, from location to location. At the end, you’re left with a stunningly detailed representation of an entire movie. Andrew DeGraff maps the movies.

In the past, DeGraff has done this with the Star Wars trilogy, the Indiana Jones trilogy and more. Saturday March 29, he’ll open his second solo show at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles called Cartography. This time, he’s mapped out films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Princess Bride, The Breakfast Club, Alien, The Shining, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Below, see a few of the images from the show and read more about DeGraff’s process.

UPDATE: We’ve added an exclusive reveal of Back to the Future and a hi-res version of Lord of the Rings

Cartography by Andrew DeGraff opens Saturday, March 29th from 7-10pm at Gallery 1988 East, 7021 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA. It’ll remain on display through April 19. Remaining prints and originals will go on sale Sunday March 30 at www.gallery1988.com, where you can get more info on the show.

First up, here’s a small image of the massive Lord of the Rings piece, as well as two detailed shots from DeGraff’s Tumblr that give you an idea of how insane this piece is. (UPDATE – The lo-res was updated with a high res.)

Next, here are four finished pieces from the show:

Finally, here are a few additional teases from Tumblr of other pieces in the show. Can you guess which film they represent? (Also, real life objects inserted for scale.)

UPDATE: Here’s Back to the Future, which will also be part of the show, along with Jaws, which DeGraff teased on Twitter.

Andrew DeGraff - Back to the Future

Last year, I spoke to DeGraff for Backstory Magazine and he told me the following about how he makes these epic pieces:

I watch [the film] a lot, probably the equivalent of 20-30 times. I start out watching it and listing scenes, basically reverse engineering a plot outline. I then watch it again, pausing and noting the time of specific scenes when there’s a good shot of an interior or ship. I then start sketching it out on graph paper so it’s proportional as well as figuring out a ratio for a fixed, flat perspective grid, and start laying out the major landmarks.

These are done 100% by hand. It’s about 50-70 hours of very precise pencils, then the whole thing is painted with gouache, which is just opaque watercolor. I mix all the colors first and test them so I know they’ll work together. I then start blocking the major color areas and paint the line on top last with a trusty #2 round brush. These things do get scary when you’re a 140 hours in and almost spill coffee on it.  The paper and gouache are so absorbent to the oils on your skin that you can’t even touch the piece.

All in all, each takes like 200 hours total to make. Something as big as Lord of the Rings was probably much, much longer. I own several of these pieces and I can’t say enough good things about them. The details are endlessly rewarding in addition to being aesthetically pleasing. What do you think?

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