G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero illustrations by Oktopolis: The Art of Brian Miller
As a lifelong G.I. Joe fan I was thrilled when HASBRO tracked me down at San Diego Comic Con with an offer to create officially licensed artwork inspired by G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. I've had the good fortune to work on the G.I. Joe cmic books over the years as well as some movie tie-in projects and the opportunity to create collectable limited edition art prints was too fun to pass up.
HASBRO asked me to focus on vehicles and asked if I could do something in an enlistment poster sort of style. Using my concept sketches as a guide I set to work drawing the backgrounds and jets using Adobe Draw on my ancient original model iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. I like to create environments and establish background details first. I know I want to keep the colors condensed to a limited palette of warm yellows reserving white and gray shades for the Skystrikers. I use variations of the gray values to create the shading on the jets.
Illustrating the legendary G.I. Joe Skystriker was like being a kid again playing with G.I. Joe toys. The G.I. Joe Skystriker is loosely stylized after the plane which inspired it, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. I knew I wanted to show the Skystrikers flying high above the clouds and show-off a few of the details the toys were famous for like the fold-back wings, detachable missiles, and pilot inside the transparent canopy.
My hope is every G.I. Joe fan not only feels nostalgia for playing with their toys as children but also can imagine themselves flying the Skystriker when they see this artwork.
Moving on to the COBRA Rattler was a fun challenge as the toy is very stylized compared with the A-10 Warthog and A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft it closely resembles. The trick with this illustration is sticking very close to the design of the Rattler from the toy-line and animated series while creating a sense of scale similar to a real-life aircraft. Again, I made an attempt to include many of the memorable details from the toy vehicle like the markings on the plane, underbelly missiles, and of course the gunner-bubble with COBRA trooper inside.
With both illustrations complete I export the artwork from Adobe Draw on my iPad over to Adobe Photoshop on my iMac where I adjust the colors as needed, drop in my hand crafted halftone patterns to help a few shades of each color look like many fine variations, and make any final clean-up and adjustments needed.
For the typography I wanted to lean into the enlistment poster design aesthetic using bold all-caps lettering for clarity and impact while only using stylized text for the names of each jet. A casual fan should be able to notice this art from across the room and read it at a glance.
Both illustrations were sold as officially licensed limited edition fine-art prints at San Diego Comic Con.