Macbeth Poster Dilemma

Player: … We’re more of the blood, love and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive, but we can’t do you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. They’re all blood, you see.


This Macbeth poster is a self-promotional piece, not attached to any specific production (yet!). While working it up from concept sketch, I had one of those satisfying moments when I stopped struggling to push my original idea and instead responded to what the image was showing me.

I had originally designed a lot more detail for the face (see the pencil sketch below), but when I started adding the bloody textures, the two areas competed for attention with neither completing its task.

The moment of inspiration came when I realized that the bloody shapes could be persuaded to take on both jobs and say everything that needed to be said, so I just did away with the facial shapes entirely. This solution also gave more power to the eye, letting it show how Macbeth’s paranoia, fear and madness are taking hold under the envy-green crown.

I ended up with an interesting dilemma, however. In this first version Macbeth’s profile has a hard, dramatic edge.

The second version, below, is what I had originally envisioned, with a softer treatment that rounds out the features and “turns” the structure in three dimensional space.

Click through to see the second version and the original sketch.


I honestly do not know which one I prefer.

The softer edge is more aesthetically pleasing, but the harder edge holds more dramatic tension, and would, perhaps, be more commercially viable if this were a commissioned piece and not just for self-promotion.

Someone once said that flipping a coin helps you decide because when the coin is in the air you will suddenly realize which result you’re hoping for.

Speaking of flipping coins, the lead quote is, of course, from the screenplay version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard.

Macbeth is available on Google Books.

Original sketch with face detail.

4 Comments on “Macbeth Poster Dilemma

  1. Pingback: Lady Macbeth : Keith's Blog

  2.  by  J Rumi

    The dilemma is alive, that is what your poster says.
    Wonderful, so powerful, the textures so true and Macbeth’s eye, oh he is fearful and mad.
    I absolutely loved your sketch.

    I am a writer and I wrote a short piece for my blog on Macbeth’s speech; I was looking for a background image and I googled for free images and voila, I found this amazing poster. Thank you so much for it.
    I am a fan already!

  3. Pingback: “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” - Chiming Stories

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