Filmmaking: Tips, Sources & Tools — May 15, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Tips for designing a poster for your film

Having a good movie art is very important if you want to sell your movie. Visual design which represents your product should compel and excite the potential viewers to influence their buying decisions and to create a good perception of the film.

To improve your results, your movie art must create an immediate impact and touch the audience on the right emotional level.

The starting point of your overall brand strategy is your movie poster design.

But before designing any graphic elements you should decide on the message you want to communicate. Here are three aspects of a great movie poster design from FilmmakingStuff that you should consider


Decide what kind of movie your poster is going to represent. You should try to convey the general mood of your film to its graphic design. For example, if you work on an action or horror movie poster, you should create an intense or dark atmosphere, if it’s a comedy – it would be better to choose a funny and light style. Your poster should be striking, memorable and focused on a single, clear message. When you are working on your graphic design, always make sure you think about your target audience!


The next thing to focus on is the text. Apart from the movie title, your film poster must also contain a tag line (a striking sentence or branding slogan the conveys the movie’s message), the name of the director, names of main actors (or characters in some cases), the release date and a billing block (credits at the bottom).

If you need to emphasize a presence of someone famous in your movie, or highlight some other particular aspect of the film, you may write it on your poster, along with making sure this information is really indispensable. Your movie poster must say just enough to make the sale – don’t overload it.


The most difficult step is choosing images. You should hire yourself a graphic designer, unless you think you can do the job yourself. But even with the professional assistance, choosing the correct graphics can be difficult. So the best way to find out what to put on your poster is to look at other similar works or to watch some films in the same genre for inspiration.

If you don’t have any good pictures of your actors or movie scenes, think of that in advance, and make some, specifically for the posters. In the future they may become handy. Or on the other hand you could try substituting them with symbolic images. Try googling as well – you may find a lot of interesting photos that can express the mood of your film. Otherwise, you may choose to forgo photos for representative drawings, which would make your poster illustrated rather than photographic.

Although the need to print a poster may seem secondary in digital distribution era, you should always consider that most video on demand marketplaces will require your art in a relatively large format. That’s why anything you do should be created using a high resolution. Make sure you do not skip such things as consistent graphic design in all areas of your marketing, including website, DVD cover and all other visual collateral associated with your film.:


Elements of a Great Movie Poster Design (from WebDesigner’s Depot)

The four-step formula – attention, interest, desire, and action – has been used as the basis of thousands of successful movie advertising campaigns.

Iconography – showing without telling. Most effective movie posters represent the film’s themes without actually telling what it is about. A close-up of a character or item that’s a major plot point, or a simple graphic to “explain” the film’s plot.

Interest – create an incentive to see the film. If  icons and more abstract imagery doesn’t work with your film – try using an image that provides viewers with an idea of the story. Many of the best modern film posters use pictures that put the viewer in the middle of a scene from the film, creating tension and a major incentive. The incentive is that in order to resolve the situation, the person looking at the poster needs to see the film and find out what happens.

Using unique style – whether its an art film or a blockbuster. Some of the most memorable film posters out there have used bold, unique artistic styles to their advantage. What separates these posters from their ineffective art-for-art’s-sake rivals is that they’re consistent with style, in both the movie’s promotional materials and throughout the film itself.

Lasting Appeal – a look that suits other formats. Here’s the danger in getting too ‘arty’ and delicate with your film poster: it’s eventually, after release and theater shows, going to be shrunk to a fraction of its original size for the DVD release. While some films now use different designs for their DVD cover than their in-theater promo posters, most of the classics and high-budget blockbusters still use the same poster for both. Think “Jurassic Park” – it uses imagery that’s just as visible and clear when it’s small as when its big. For your poster to work for the long-term, it needs to have scalable, clear, and lasting design appeal.

Recognizability – if it’s a sequel, make it obvious. If you’re making a sequel (or a prequel) to your film, make sure the poster is related to the first release, generally with a giant title in the top third of the canvas and instantly recognizable imagery throughout it. “The Godfather” and the two sequels in the franchise are a great example – all three use the same style and design, using the critical and commercial success of the previous films in the franchise to draw in would-be viewers.

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