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Nite Owl for WATCHMEN Film by AdamHughes Nite Owl for WATCHMEN Film by AdamHughes
Since the ART OF WATCHMEN book has come out, I feel comfortable posting the art I did for the 8 minutes I worked on the film...

First, the back story. I was contacted by representatives of 300 director Zack Snyder, while 300 was in postproduction, about doing designs for 4 of the 6 main characters from WATCHMEN. Zack wanted me to design the look of the characters, and then do 4 'cover-quality' color illustrations to hep convince the suits & ties at Warner Bros. Pictures to green-light his WATCHMEN film.

I did a first round of sketches, talked with Mr. Snyder, did a second round of looser sketches based on our discussions, and then was given the go-ahead to proceed with designing full illustrations. Since I was running late on CATWOMAN covers as well as other things, I was juggling the assignments. Since I do art for whomever yells the loudest, the WATCHMEN stuff took a minor backburner placing on my To Do List. I never heard from them, they never called or e-mailed saying "Hey, hurry up, you bastard!", so I worked on Selina Kyle.

Then, 300 came out.

It did so well in its opening weekend, Warner Bros. green-lit WATCHMEN the following Monday.

I guess my services weren't required, because I never heard back from the WATCHMEN people. I could've finished the color pieces on principle, like a good freelancer, but I'm so slow that my time is kinda precious, and I don't want to waste time drawing something that isn't going to be used. So, I just chalked it up to "That's business...".

The WATCHMEN people contacted me much later, asking for high-rez versions of the sketches for the inevitable ART OF book. I pointed out that, since I never actually did the assignment I was asked to do, I had never been paid. To their credit, once we agreed on a rate for just the sketches, they check arrived so fast, the envelope was warm, the ink was still wet, and the FedEx guy was out of breath. The WATCHMEN movie guys are a pretty respectable gang, as far as my experience goes.

*****Nite Owl*****

Zack Snyder told me he wanted a BATMAN movie approach to Nite Owl's look; the body-armor with believable tech and all that. No problem.

Now, I think WATCHMEN is one of the greatest novels ever written, and it'd Dave Gibbons' finest work in a brilliant career. I was actually working in a comic shop in New Jersey when the original issues were coming out, and I was there, reading every one as they came out. Dave's storytelling, his design work, EVERYTHING about WATCHMEN was, and remains, brilliant.

I wanted to give Zach what he asked for, but I wanted to honor Dave Gibbons' designs as well. I know that comics (like books and anything else) cannot be translated VERBATUM to the Big Screen, but I am not a big fan of the X-MEN/GI JOE approach, where the original look of the characters is almost ignored for the sake of not alienating the non-fan audience, and you end up with black leather jumpsuits and you almost need name tags on the chests to recognize characters. "Hello, My Name Is Wolverine".

I thought that no matter what details Nite Owl's costume had, as long as he kept Gibbons' 'owl silhouette', it would be a good design. Since the reason movie studios don't like superheros in tights (with the exception of Spider-Man and Superman, my 'never worked in Hollywood' first design (on the left) was a moody shot. If we don't show the general audience the 'silly superhero' by cloaking him in shadow (the way I figure guys like Nite Owl and Batman would prefer to operate), then everyone wins. Zack liked it, but rightly asked for a sketch showing details. Hence, the second looser sketch.

When I saw the first WATCHMEN trailer in front of DARK KNIGHT, I was tickled to see some of my suggestions surviving to the Big Screen. With Nite Owl, they seem to have kept my idea of Captain America-style scale mail, but elongated to look like bird feathers. Other than that, they took the design in a different direction.

I always go into a film with an open mind; I didn't care for the look of Heath Ledger's Joker in DARK KNIGHT, but once I saw it in the context of the film, I fell in love with it. I hope that's the case with Nite Owl, who is my favorite charatcer from the novel; I agree with his stance that it's OK to compromise your morals if it serves a greater good.

That being said, I really DON'T like how Nite Owl's costume looks in the film. They seem to have abandoned Dave Gibbon's wonderful design for what a pal of mine refers to as the 'Sad Batman' look. The type of owl that Nite Owl's mask is supposed to look like makes him look like he has Batman ears that are sad & droopy. :-)

I look forward to having my opinion changed on March 6th!
Add a Comment:
 
:iconiwantpuggleformers:
Iwantpuggleformers Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This should definitely have been what he looked like in the movie.

Much more true to the comic, yet original in its own way.

Not a cheap Batman imitation like the design they went with.
Reply
:icontristanyonce:
TristanYonce Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
VERY cool.
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:iconcomicprints:
comicprints Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2010  Student General Artist
To be honest, I think this design was way better than the one in the film. The one in the film looked too much like Batman, and was nearly indistinguishable. However, this costume contains a lot more originality, and connects more to the book.
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:iconpendiablo:
PenDiablo Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
Cinema... its just like politics =p but I like the concept :) like your work too. Started getting into comic art this year 'cause getting help for fine art was complicated :p especially without $. plus I used to write screenplays for fun :) so I figured I'd give it a shot. You're my idol my friend.. keep em comin =D
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:iconskellingtonghost:
SkellingtonGhost Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
this is my fav dising from watchmen you did i liked their verson but it was missing the cloth thing behind his head so your right looks like flopy bat ears at lest he's not bat-mite lmao
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:icon3rdmillhouse:
3rdMillhouse Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2009
That's a great concept right there, even better than the one used on the movie. The things I like most about your interpretation are the mask and his "utility belt".
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:icondanielaraya:
DanielAraya Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Y'know, I saw the movie and I flipped through the art of book, and I really enjoyed the movie and the majority of the character designs. Ozymandias REALLY threw me out of it though. The guy came off so sinister and conniving, and I always felt like the character was someone who was benevolent and caring, right up until the minute he blows everything all to hell (after which I REALLY think he should have wept). Did you get the impression that he was slightly misinterpreted in the film?

I just get the impression that someone told Snyder that he had to make the antagonist the "bad guy," if that makes any sense.
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:iconadamhughes:
AdamHughes Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2009
I agree. I think he was painted with a big sign that says "Here's The Bad Guy" from his first scene on, so that the WHAM! of revealing him to be the bad guy at story's end was lost.
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:icon0armoredsoul0:
0ArmoredSoul0 Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Well, seems I have another addition to the list of "Stuff I Need To Save Up For", cause this is BAMF.
Well done!
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:iconshadowofjustice123:
Shadowofjustice123 Featured By Owner May 27, 2009
I read that book, your designs were some of my favorites, especially Dan's look in the second panel, that one would've been kickass in the movie
Reply
:icondbzchuck:
dbzchuck Featured By Owner May 1, 2009
HI ADAM!!! :wave: I drew a little fan art bit of your Nite Owl... hope you don't mind... :)

[link]
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:iconadamhughes:
AdamHughes Featured By Owner May 4, 2009
Thank you so much; it's always nice to see a chibi.

:-)
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:iconthepaperbagman:
ThePaperBagMan Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2009
Looks better than the costume in the movie
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:iconyfighter2:
Yfighter2 Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2009  Professional
"Sad Batman" that's good. When I first saw Nite owl in the trailers I thought "Phony Batman", but "Sad Batman" fits well.

I think they even got rid of the instantly recognizable Owl shaped cape...so pretty much the film's Nite owl doesn't even look like Nite owl in Silhouette.
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:icondanitiwa:
danitiwa Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
So you're the brain behind the costumes! =D

I thought they look even cooler than in the comic books, I loved the way they looked in the movie.
Reply
:icondanitiwa:
danitiwa Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
It sucks that they weren't used, but I think elements of your design might have been.
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:iconmybloodstainedshirt:
mybloodstainedshirt Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2009
aw.
too bad this wasn't used in the movie.
it's amazing!!!

:love:
:headbang:
Reply
:icon8video-kid8:
8Video-Kid8 Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2009
nice, you designed the nite owl suit for the movie?
Reply
:iconadamhughes:
AdamHughes Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2009
Not really. Please read the description for the full story.

:-)
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:icon8video-kid8:
8Video-Kid8 Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2009
oh, ok
Reply
:iconwhiterosebrian:
WhiteRoseBrian Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2009  Hobbyist Artist
Excellent work.

Get a load of this!
[link]
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:iconw-orks:
W-Orks Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
I've seen the movie last hour and I prefear your version of Nite Howl and your design of Ozymandias is great (the greco-roman "plastron" is more apropriate for the "Alexandre le Grand" inspiration of Ozy)

(excuse my English, is awfull ^^°;)
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:iconw-orks:
W-Orks Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, th english of "plastron" is " breastplate"
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:iconclan-de-paris:
Clan-de-Paris Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2009
So Adam, have you seen it yet ? What did you think of Nite Owl after all ?

And what DID they keep of your ideas ?
Reply
:iconadamhughes:
AdamHughes Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2009
I saw WATCHMEN at a midnight show (so very appropriate) last night.

Actually, once within context, I had no problems with the movie Nite Owl costume! I grew to enjoy him as I did with the comic version, so it's all good.

The only thing they kept of my ideas were few; appropiate since my work on the film was unbelievably brief:

1. Nite Owl's armor 'scales' being shaped like feathers.

2. Silk Spectre wearing latex.

3. Ozymandias wearing laurel leaves on his head (but it was just some kind of reverse head-band by the end).

So, to sum up.... I had next to nothing to do with the film after all!

:-)
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:iconcomicnerd635:
comicnerd635 Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2009
Kind of gives you the Buzz Lightyear "I want that" feeling. Very nice.
Reply
:iconschillingart:
schillingart Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
man, that is so amazing. i would kill for this line of work. You get to take existing characters and put your own spin on them. just awesome.
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:icongrypscelsus:
GrypsCelsus Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2009
Your silhouette here makes me happy beyond all reason. That was my major beef with the film design for Nite Owl, that he had stopped resembling the owl that he was supposed to be... or at least any owl that might be an imposing figure.

The detail with the elongated feather-scales is fantastic and I am so glad that they kept it! Being an ornithologist, I appreciate those little details! :)

Fantastic job with all the Watchmen sketches you did! Gorgeous! I've been rather impressed overall with all the work I have seen that has gone into keeping the spirit of the original book alive. Here's hoping for a fantastic movie!
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:iconadamhughes:
AdamHughes Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2009
I want to catch an all-too-appropriate midnight showing!

And thanks for the ornithological props!

-AH!-
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:icongrypscelsus:
GrypsCelsus Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2009
Haha... you read my mind... I was just looking into getting midnight IMAX tickets!
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:iconadamhughes:
AdamHughes Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2009
How cool would it be if they did a midnight showing of WATCHMEN at Madison Square Garden!
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:icongrypscelsus:
GrypsCelsus Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2009
OMG I think I would wet my pants. Well, maybe not really... but I would in my head.

They would need a really big screen though. Because I am determined to feel as if I am sitting INSIDE Archie. Hence the IMAX. :)

I want my own Archie soooo bad. Mayhaps I can hope for some super-detailed action figures?
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:iconadamhughes:
AdamHughes Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2009
Did you see that they had the lifesize movie Owlship (that's what she means by 'Archie', kids) at San Diego last year? I got to poke my head in, get my picture with it.... The action figures all look sweet. I bet we get an Archie for the 6" figures!
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:icongrypscelsus:
GrypsCelsus Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2009
No way! Being an East Coaster (and a broke graduate student) I haven't been out to San Diego (but boy do I want to get out there...). That sounds SO COOL. I am jealous.

We should get a nice big Archie for the figures! Just like Veidt Corp. was going to make in the book!! And there better be a Bubastis, too...

...Too bad I don't have the big green Cringer/Battle Cat toy I had when I was a kid to keep Bubastis company. There's a horrible cross over that I don't really want to think about - although Rorschach punching He-Man in the face would be rather funny.
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:iconadamhughes:
AdamHughes Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2009
I'll find the picture of me in front of the Owlship and post it, it was pretty amazing.

I work in the toy industry in my **ahem** spare time, and I know about some cool WATCHMEN toys coming down the pike. If the film is a hit, I bet we get some cool vehicles.

And if you ever get to go to San Diego, do some research. It's such a monstrous show, it's best to go in prepared.
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(1 Reply)
:iconrcwikkydartist:
RCWikkydArtist Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2009  Hobbyist Filmographer
You worked on sketches for Nite-Owl in the Watchmen movie? Awesome! I have the book and I can't wait to see the movie! Awesome designs :)
Reply
:iconsir-real:
Sir-Real Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
I agree with you here. If they at least kept the "head cape" of the Gibbons design and changed the shape of the cape, they could have still been "Batman-esque" without looking like a Batman ripoff like my non-comics friends think having only seen the trailers.
Reply
:iconpu:
pu Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
awesome sketches!
and I really enjoyed reading the backstory/comment text too!!
Reply
:iconpopculturejunkee:
PopCultureJunkee Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2009
dude, i would LOVE to see ur take on a costume for Wolverine or Cyclops that should have been in the movies!
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:iconhawkeye:
hawkeye Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2009
Wonderful illustration of Nite Owl! It seems they took the general idea you built here. Really lovely sketch.
Reply
:iconflyler:
Flyler Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2009  Professional General Artist
Cool, the backstory is nice on the sketches. I can't wait for the film, but my problem is that Nite Owl does'nt look overweight. In my mind that was what made you not really like him as a character. Rorshach had grown cold and hard while Nite Owl became soft and Fat. I always like that. I guess there are other ways to make him look a little like a wuss, which is integrel to the character. But I do miss that pudgy midsection. It's my only problem with the film, from what I've seen in the trailers, But like you said. i hope this falls into the Category of Ledger's joker and 'Organic Webshooters'. A good change for the film.
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:iconsailorbetch:
SailorBetch Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2009
I like this one. Nite Owl is so cute.

I represent Dan Drieberg in
dA's only Watchmen club. ~GungaDiner :excited:
Sorry, just wanted to mention that. ^^;
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:iconadamhughes:
AdamHughes Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2009
De nada; glad to know that Nite Owl is getting his propers, thanks to you!

Nite Owl is proof that chubby guys can get laid as long as the have a sweet, sweet ride (it helps if the girl's ex is radioactive).

;-)
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:iconsailorbetch:
SailorBetch Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2009
He sure is. :lol:

Ahhh, chubby nerds. They never get enough lovin'. :XD:
By the way, my sister just read that and said you're cool.
She wanted me to tell you that. :aww:

Yeah, I'm doing that book report on Watchmen, and
it's really hard to explain Laurie's break-up with Jon.

"Well... these two were dating, until
he was doing science while they were having
sex, so she dumped him, and then he went to Mars.
Now she's living with Dan, but he has a little
trouble in the bedroom. :( Anyways, then
Adrian blew up New York and Jon killed Rorschach.
THE END!!! :lol:"


I don't even want to think about how I'm
gonna explain the squid. :|
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:iconadamhughes:
AdamHughes Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2009
Ah, make some analogy that the squid represents impotence, and all the dead New Yorkers are wasted sperm/lives, and destroyed NYC symbolizes the death of the modern American family and it'll look like you're really intuitive. Teachers love reading into stuff.

;-)
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:iconsailorbetch:
SailorBetch Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2009
Wow man... that is DEEP. O_O

Seriously, I laughed my ass off about the
wasted lives/sperm.

I'm sure my teacher will love to hear all
about Dan's bedtime woes. :XD:
Reply
:iconslownsilent:
slownsilent Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2009  Student General Artist
If I ever meet you I will definitely give you a big hug.
Reply
:iconstretch-ink:
Stretch-Ink Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2009
I'm with you on Owlman; to me, he's the human center of Watchmen, the one you seem to spend the most time alone with. Unlike most of the rest, he's still kept his central insecurities, foibles, and emotions; and the interplay between him and Rorschach is arguably the best-realized relationship in the whole book. You did a great job reinterpreting that classic design. I just wish they'd used more of it in the final film.

I'm rather pessimistic about the movie. I hope Snyder steers away from the crassly indulgent slow-motion tableaux that made me roll my eyes all the way through 300. It was like watching someone post in all-caps on a messageboard for two hours. A complete lack of subtlety, and, when overused, a cheap way to make a shot dramatic. Unfortunately, I counted something like seventeen slo-mo shots in the trailer alone, so my hopes are low. :(
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:iconadamhughes:
AdamHughes Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2009
I've heard that many people are worried that WATCHMEN will be done on the same slow-motion/ramping editing technique that made 300 such a popular film, and that the filmmakers have gone on record saying there's nothing to worry about. Now, that's not saying "No, we have no slo-mo/ramping in WATCHMEN", so we'll all have to wait and see.

I remember when Peter Jackson was announced as the director for LORD OF THE RINGS, and I thought "The guy who made BRAIN DEAD and THE FRIGHTENERS? The guy who can't seem to NOT move his camera around like a maniac all the time?" I was nervous as hell going into LOTR, and Jackson did the right thing and brought a new side of himself as a filmmaker to the project. Maybe Mr. Snyder has more tricks up his sleeve than just what was in 300...

:-)
Reply
:iconstretch-ink:
Stretch-Ink Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2009
I hope so, too...although I also hope that Watchmen doesn't end up like Jackson's Lord of the Rings, which jettisoned the ending that made the whole journey worthwhile in favor of thirty minutes of crying hobbits. In slo-mo. ;)
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