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In this video, Mahalo Photoshop expert Justin Zagri explains the design theories that were taken into account when creating the Star Wars: Episode I movie poster.
How to Make a Movie Poster - Design Theory
A movie poster is a filmmaker's first line of attack when getting people to know about your film. Unlike a movie trailer, you can put your poster in as many places as you want.
The idea behind a movie poster is to get people to want to see your film. You should be thinking about that fact throughout your design ideas. As you begin to sketch out or visualize your design, you want to think about the genre of your film. This seems like a no brainer, but it's really important. Everything you do with the poster will depend on the genre.
Next, you need to determine the mood of the poster within its genre. For example, a horror movie could be a slasher horror or a thriller horror. A slasher contains a lot of violence, but a thriller tends to contain less violence. You may or may not want to depict the mood of the film by portraying that.
You then want to decide which of the cast members should be in the poster. This can range from no cast members to a full ensemble. It all depends on the movie, but generally it is a good idea to show who is starring in your movie, especially if it is someone an audience will recognize.
Let's analyze a famous poster like one from the Star Wars series to get an idea of how to put one together. The
Star Wars posters are staples of traditional classic movie posters that feature the lead cast along with a few other elements that are important to the movie.
First, the background is black space. This is done to make the more colorful elements stand out and to imply that the movie takes place in space.
Second, there is a large use of bright light. As you can see, the two suns of Tatooine shine brightly between all of the characters. The shine and flare of the suns creates a sense of fantasy, imagination and grandeur. Put simply, it makes it look like a really big deal.
Third, the characters spread throughout the poster are shown in different ways to convey their importance to the story. Anakin Skywalker is the little boy in the center. He is the focus of the film. The eyes will always focus on the middle of the poster, so important elements should be centered. Above and to the poster's left is a big head shot of Qui-Gon Jinn, played by Liam Neeson. There are a few reasons he was placed here: he is the mentor to both Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi, he led on the plot more than anyone in the movie and he served as the emotional core of the story. Either those, or he was simply the top billed of the cast, meaning he was paid the most. This is unlikely, but there are plenty of situations where the top billed actor gets featured on the poster more than anyone else. Usually, it's the main character, so it works out fine.
To the poster's right is Queen Amidala. Her unique appearance already creates interest. Where is she from? What is her significance to the story? She is the only woman on the poster, so it can be assumed that she might be the romantic interest.
To the lower right are Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jar Jar Binks. Obi-Wan is shown holding his lightsaber. This is done to let the audience know two things: the kind of character Obi-Wan is in the film, and the lightsaber itself reminds people that those awesome lightsabers will be seen in the movie. Even the way Obi-Wan holds the lightsaber denotes a certain mood. Jar Jar is smaller, indicating a more supportive role, but his odd look and goofy smile implicate that he is the humorous character.
To Anakin's left are the Naboo's ship (Queen Amidala's transport), R2-D2 and C-3PO. Notice that C-3PO has no visible plating. This adds to the sense of wonder and makes you want to see the movie. The ship next to the droids accentuates the science fantasy nature of the film. It looks different than anything any of the previous Star Wars movies have seen. The ship is sleek, beautiful and streamlined. Very little in the previous films had designs like this, implying that we will see a new vision of Star Wars with new ships, environments, and other things that the audience will look forward to seeing.
Finally, a bright red and black face with menacing orange eyes covers nearly the entire background of the poster. This is the villain of the movie: Darth Maul. The crimson red colors and the...
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