Ben Hur, first published in 1880, is probably better known from 1959 film version, which starred Charlton Heston. Growing up in the 1980s, I remember it as being a regular fixture on Bank Holiday television schedules. Ben Hur, written by Lew Wallance, told the story of Judah Ben-Hur – a fictional Jewish prince from Jerusalem. A Roman slave at the start of the novel, he later became a trained solider and a charioteer.
The brief: Ben Hur
Hesperus Press wanted to reprint the novel to coincide with a new film adaptation. The brief was to try and make the cover look like a modern film poster.
The design: Ben Hur
For inspiration I looked at examples of modern day blockbuster movie posters. These included Marvel Studio’s films The Avengers, Thor, Captain America, etc., and recent ‘biblical’ epics Noah and Exodus. I approached the design with an idea that I would need to artwork several images together.
The first options I presented to the client included combinations of Roman stadiums, chariot racing and roman soldiers/gladiators fighting. I wasn’t happy with the end result – the covers looked too cluttered and over-complicated.
In the end, the best approach for the budget, was a more simple solution. I found a photograph of a group of actors re-enacting a Roman battle. From this image I isolated one of the soldiers. This was a close-up of the shoulder of an armoured Roman soldier, who was staring into the distance.
I added extra colour and shading to make the image appear more dramatic, and replaced the background with some fiery-looking clouds. For the title I chose a Roman-looking typeface and added a stone texture with weathered effect, which gave the type more impact.