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Inherent Vice

Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014

Article available in french here

Inherent Vice poster © Warner Bros.
Airbrush and neon

Trailer The uber-talented Paul T. Anderson delivers an amazing series of posters to go with his newest gem, Inherent Vice, an adaptation of the eponymous novel by New York writer Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, starring a fantastic Joachim Phoenix. The film is set in the late 1960s and tells the funny story of a drug-addict P.I. who is enlisted to help his ex girlfriend kidnap her new lover, who also happens to be a billionnaire. If you know Paul’s style you know that the suspense comes from having a passel of characters swim upstream. His imagery reflects that, and here is why. Technique The way the title is done lends the image a modern edge. Italics, the diagonal line - a winning combo to dynamize the type. The neon coloring makes all the difference and adds extra value. There are plenty of ways to do a neon effect in Photoshop - choose a font that goes well with the retro-modern neon spirit, then apply special effects layers like dropshadows, inner shadows, inner and outer glow, bevel, and overlay colors… to name but the principal ones. For kick and depth, duplicate your layers and add a bit of Gaussian blur, vivid light and screen blending mode, opacity, and raw filter. For a final touch, never overlook your adjustment and fill layers with blending mode and suitable opacity. Artwork In the late 1960s, early 70s, the Flower Power wave rolls across America. It’s the era of experimenting with new drugs, of Steve Jobs walking barefoot around his hippie farm, of Woodstock, and of a pre-alopecious Joe Cocker. The “Inherent Vice” imagery reflects that psychedelic and starkly colored moment in time. The posters are hand-drawn, the good old-fashioned way, possibly using oil colors or airbrush, which might explain their pasty and yet feathery appearance. In addition, the print side is textured, giving it the look and feel of canvas. The image is teeming with details: a bunch of people crawling through the hero’s hair, a motley assortment of décor, backdrop… everything is overdosed, and deliberately placed smack center image. It works, the viewer plunges head first into artificial delirium.