Meet Unsung Marvel Hero Anthony Francisco!
Header: Concept for the Vision vs. White Vision battle from WandaVision
“You might not know him, but you know his work,” is often hyperbole, but in the case of Anthony Francisco, it’s just the truth.
Anthony is a senior visual development artist for Marvel, responsible for some of the most iconic characters in the MCU: the ones you’ve seen on t-shirts and all over pop culture in general. In his eight years with them, he’s designed Baby Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, The Dora Milaje elite bodyguards from Black Panther, and Loki’s costume for Thor: Ragnarok. In this video, he’ll take you through the basics of his work and his influences—many of which are realer than you’d think:
“When I create these characters, I draw from personal experiences,” he says. Starting in childhood: There was a time when things weren’t so good in the Philippines,” he says, referring to the dictatorship, conflicts, and coups throughout the eighties. He grew up in close proximity to the violence in a suburb of Manila, where “Comic books became my outlet,” letting him believe in a world where good prevailed.
Concept art for Thor: Ragnarok
He still sees them that way, describing the MCU’s whole art team as “such fans of Marvel, the ‘true believers,’ if you will. That is why there is so much care and respect when translating the source material from comic books to the screen. We are usually off designing the main characters even before the script is done or the costume designer has been chosen.”
Dora Milaje designs for Black Panther
And the better parts of his background still drive him too: When crafting costumes for the Dora Milaje, he drew from not just Africans, but the Igorot natives of the Luzon mountains. He was heavily influenced by his own kids when designing Baby Groot.
But while drawing from experience, he draws on a Wacom. “I still remember purchasing my first Intuos in 1998,” he says via email. Before that, he would have to slowly composite pieces from multiple paper drawings in an image editor. “But after I got [it], all of that got so easy, and eventually I started painting directly into Photoshop. That was magical!” Today, he still designs superheroes on an Intuos—but a Pro Medium, along with a Cintiq and an earlier version of the MobileStudio.
While you’re here, check out this amazing timelapse of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, or one of his character design breakdowns, for an insight into his process:
Where to find him
The rest of Anthony’s Youtube channel is here. His Twitter is Art_AF, his Facebook is AnthonyFranciscoArt, and his Instagram is the same, but with underscores. He also did a takeover of Wacom’s account on May 21st, so look for anything posted that day.
He’ll be coming out with a book on character design, as well as doing online classes for it—including workshops for Wacom—”in the near future.” We don’t have the details yet, but if you like what you see here, make sure to follow him.