AGP: Graphics & Illustration – Week 4


Create a simplified minimal film poster of a popular movie. Your selection of the movie is important for this exercise. The movie must be known to the viewer for the assignments to work, and although we can not expect all the participants to have seen all the same films, selecting blockbusters like King Kong and Jaws will make this a more enjoyable and responsive experience.


This is actually a more challenging assignment that I first thought, for two very different reasons. Firstly, because of the trend for designers and fans to recreate famous movie posters in a minimalist style, it is very difficult to be original. Most of the “classics” have been treated to this resurgence in “reboot culture”. Secondly, selecting the right film requires a lot more thought then simply how famous it is. I faced a similar problem with the ‘4 Icon Challenge’ in Week 2.

My first step in the the process was to think of a film that was famous enough that people would know of it, and yet not so famous that it had been treated to a minimal makeover. I really wanted to create an original production, not a variation based on an existing project. My thoughts took me to the 80’s again initially as there are hundreds of famous films (as there are in any decade – but due to my age, I am most familiar with this era). I thought about The Goonies, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Indiana Jones, etc. and all of them had many different posters in the full-range of artistic styles, consisting of every possible iconic moment/theme. The only films I could not find posters of were relatively obscure.

Films from the 20’s – 70’s had also been treated to this reboot style of fan-based project, especially Hitchcock’s films! I then turned to more recent films (90’s – present day), and whilst there are hundreds of famous examples, I struggled to think of any that I could create based on a single piece of iconic imagery and maintain originality.

I quickly realised there are two types of approach with this assignment: 1) direct representational imagery and 2) abstract or relational imagery. The first one is where you use a scene or visual direct from the movie and represent it whereas the second is more about allowing the viewer to guess what movie title you are representing from imagery that is drastically reinterpreted or just connected to things (like the words in the title). The first is straight forward to imagine but the second is only obvious where you’re given an example. I considered creating a poster for A Clockwork Orange. Very famous film and done to death in the poster department – however, none of the posters I research featured the imagery I was going to portray. I created a minimalist orange and stuck a clockwork wind-up key out of the back of it. I thought it was quite clever but it wasn’t really representing what the brief was asking for. It would have worked as a “Dingbats” clue but nowhere in the film was there much clockwork, or even an orange!

I took some time out and last night I watched the film War Horse for the first time. I quite liked it but then an idea hit me. One of the most powerful moments in the film was when the horse’s original owner (who was temporarily blinded), called out to the horse (who was about to be euthanased) and he had to describe him to prove he owned the horse (and spare the poor beats’ life). The horse had a VERY distinct mark on his head/face, and for me that was the most visually iconic moment of the entire film. That’s when I knew I should try and use that for my example.

Creating the Response
Due to the brief requiring the poster to be created in a minimal style, I knew all I needed to do was draw a simplified, head-on view of a horses head and then add the marking. Simple! The colours were important too so I obtained an image from the movie with balanced scene lighting to colour-pick the brown and the off-white marking. I also wanted to represent the horrible muddy fields the horse and men were subject to in the trenches. I opted for a dark brown solid fill background but it seemed too clean.

I decided to add some texture but I didn’t want to even open Photoshop. I found a suitable grungy-grain texture and imported it directly into Illustrator. Then, using Illustrator’s Photoshop effects filters, a applied some texture to the solid background colour to try and indicate the rough fields in which the house ploughed and fought. Yes these filters are nothing new (if you have been working in Photoshop as long as I have) but working with them in Illustrator (combined with the Opacity panel) was a new experience and could dramatically speed up my workflow.

Once again I have very much enjoyed this assignment. Unlike the others (with the exception of maybe the 4 Icon Challenge), the actual production of the end result was only a small portion of the time spent undertaking the assignment. Most of my time was spent thinking of a movie and then adding my own selection criteria until I came up with the ideal candidate. I was surprised with my eventual choice of movie, but it just goes to prove that you never know when inspiration will happen!

After some fair and useful feedback, I’ve decided to amend the design of my poster to indicate that the horse has been in battle and to reflect another of the film’s most prominent scene where the horse is caught and freed from barbed wire. I have tried to keep this additional detail as simplified as possible in order to maintain the overall minimalist design.