Movies & Films

Designs should have an immediate effect.

The three principles of poster design, according to Tomasz, are “image, narrative, and effect.” Tomasz advises artists to strive for simple, timeless designs and to use contrast – “not just black/white [digital contrast], but emotional contrast like healthy/dying or animal/human” – to create visual effect Click here for cartoon-animation .

The devil is in the details once a clear central framework has been formed. “Every line matters when designing posters: it’s all about nuance,” Tomasz says. “There’s a little psychology and sociology here: we’re trying to subtly catch your attention and control your emotions.”

Tomasz uses his famous design for Oblivion, which features Tom Cruise against a ruined bridge, as an example. He says, “You don’t think about it, but you get it.” “Stuff happened, but he made it.”

There are three major design frameworks to consider.

A movie poster’s core elements are the main picture, the title and tagline, and the billing block. The main issue is figuring out how to put them together.

Tomasz claims there are four main design frameworks for posters, but one of them, the freeform “Design What You Feel Like” approach, is unlikely to be discussed further here. Curve-Based Design, which is explored in greater depth in the next tip, offers a collection of readymade models for arranging imagery. “If you don’t have any other ideas, just bring your pictures along the lines and you’ll have a poster,” Tomasz says. For more details about graphic design click here.

Then there’s Word-Based Design, which uses key words created by the studio or marketing department to suggest imagery; and then there’s Metaphor-Based Design, which uses a visual metaphor to reflect the movie’s central theme: for example, the heart of a city is represented by a literal heart, and its highways are represented by arteries. “It’s the most difficult aspect of poster design, and it’s the most valuable to me,” Tomasz says. “There aren’t a lot of metaphors you might come up with.”

You can get a head start with curve models.

Tomasz has about 120 readymade models on his Facebook page if you’re using the curve-based design scheme. The curves depict the key imagery’s outline, while the rectangles depict the key text’s location. “I used to be in charge of [training] new designers, and it occurred to me that using templates would make the process go faster,” he says. “They could make workable posters in three weeks.”

You must create designs that can be used in a variety of formats.

The same imagery must be reusable across a variety of platforms, from DVD covers to billboard advertisements, in order for poster designs to be used. “You can design the best poster in the world, but if you can’t reformat it, it’s doomed,” Tomasz says.

One increasingly significant factor is that when designs are displayed on mobile devices and in online stores like iTunes and Netflix, they appear as thumbnails – a style Tomasz defines as “the future of poster design.” Images in Netflix listings, unlike traditional posters, must function in a horizontal format without overshadowing those on either side in colour or contrast: a new visual language still in progress. “I know putting Jessica Jones’ face in the centre of a design doesn’t seem like much, but getting this right is a lot of work,” Tomasz says.

Fonts are the smallest of your issues.

Fonts, in my opinion, are the least of my concerns,” Tomasz says. “We frequently produce posters without copy [so that the illustration can be reused on other marketing materials],” says the designer.

When the project’s copywriters provide text, the studio would often request that the designers use its house font or a font type that corresponds to the film’s theme. The studio would normally design the movie’s logo as well.

When fonts aren’t mentioned, the serif font Trajan is used for names, and the simplified sans serif Bee is used for billing blocks. “It’s all about Trajan and Bee in poster design,” Tomasz jokes.

Designers who are proficient in 3D applications as well as Photoshop are considered experts.

Along with Photoshop and Illustrator for making vector logos, Tomasz recommends Maya for game projects and 3ds Max and Cinema 4D for movie projects, with the latter being preferred for its ease of use and ability to quickly produce large renders.

“Knowing 3D is a big advantage because it offers you alternatives to stock photography,” he says. “When the CG itself isn’t eligible, CG-based films must have posters a year before release.”

Tomasz uses his poster for Oblivion as an example: the foreground figure of Tom Cruise is made up of archive stills, while the bridge in the background is a 3D model. The design was “created in a few hours, then revised for nine months” according to Tomasz, and after it was approved, the poster underwent a two-day finishing period that included smoothing out the obvious angles on the original low-poly bridge model.