Image Manipulation in Designing a Movie Poster

When I assign projects to my students, I usually prepare an example to show them. This quarter I’m teaching Image Manipulation, a class focused on learning some Photoshop basics. Throughout the process, I want my students to not only use the program, but to learn valuable design skills as well.

One of the requirements in this course is for students to show their process work. This means showing research, synthesis, analysis, pre-production sketches before proceeding to the final design. These are all important components and careful thought needs to be made before investing time working on a project. By planning the design layout via sketches, I’m able to quickly iterate towards a stronger solution. I almost never go with my first attempt.

I assigned myself a B-Movie title from a B-Movie generator online. The title that was given to me was “The Night My Neighbor Became a Huge Dinosaur.” One of the constraints for this project is that the student must only use royalty free photos, or photos that they themselves have taken. All of the images shown below were royalty free images, found online.

After digesting the common elements of movie posters from that era, I proceeded to the sketching phase.
The core for my approach was to consider the idea of a dinosaur as a humanoid – with a peeping Tom neighbor. That core stays in all four designs, but I changed things up each time – not only with the illustrations, but the position and placement of type.





The fourth idea was the winner – so I started to gather royalty free images that I could use for the composition. I found nearly all of my images on MorgueFile, a free photo archive.

In assembling the final comp I wanted to insure that text would be easily readable from a distance. I also wanted insure sufficient contrast of the main figure.

This is the final image, in all its glory. I used a combination of layer effects to achieve the slightly blown out look. Initially I considered using subtle gradients for the title, but dialed back on my approach to insure clarity between the type and the black background.


Below is the grayscale version to check contrast and tonal values.