I didn't know much about the original story (at that time) except that it involved the life and death of a matador, Manolo and his love for his childhood friend, Maria. The story was similar to Romeo and Juliet, but continued beyond Shakespeare's tragedy. The idea of love from beyond the grave inspired the following images...
|"El Matador" Poster Concept 1|
This poster design (Concept 1) was the first image I had in my head. It depicts Manolo in a traditional matador pose surrounded by victory roses in a pool of light, and skulls in the shadows. The source of the "light" is a portrait of Maria, shown as a window to the living world. Manolo is a skeleton. Manolo's bullfighting victory is bittersweet. This is my favorite of the designs I had done because it concisely portrays the story in a simple image.
|"El Matador" Poster Concept 2|
|"El Matador" Poster Concept 2 (Sepia)|
This concept was inspired by the balcony scene in Romeo & Juliet and some of the posters for West Side Story. There are more concepts illustrated here, from the pool of light with the victory roses to Maria being the source of "light". The difference here is the roses are at the bottom of a grave and Maria is seen reaching into the same. The graveyard is seen behind Maria. Calavera skulls are shown in the shadows and ancestral bones are layered in the walls. The roots from the ceiling share the shape language of Maria's hair and are shown sprouting tiny hearts (a symbol of hope).
|"El Matador" Tattoo Poster Concept 3|
|"El Matador" Poster Concept 4|
|"El Matador" Sacred Heart Poster Concept 5|
|"El Matador" Sacred Heart Poster Concept 5 (Sepia)|
This is another favorite. The concept of the bull skull resembling the "sacred heart" (a popular Mexican symbol) came together nicely. The one image telling different sides of the same story was exactly what I was looking for.
|Sacred Heart of Jesus|
None of these images went beyond my concept stage. Here is the final release poster and teaser for comparison...
|BOL Teaser Poster|
|BOL "Sacred Heart" Logo|
|BOL Release Poster|
Here are some inspired "fan made" posters for "The Book of Life":