Poster Design for Your Film

I want this in print form.

So after creating the Talk to the Past and Identify M.E. posters I thought it’d be a great idea to explain what makes a good film poster.

By explaining I mean it’ll be more a showcase and explanation on what works, and what doesn’t. Why things are included and more importantly, why items are omitted!

First and foremost: many posters have different colours, styles, genres and graphical approaches. They are targeted to audiences and if you are viewing this with utter confusion you may not be the audience (we’ll try and accommodate with multiple posters). The same way colour has extremely different cultural meanings, so do film posters. Yet we need to remember these are advertisements – nothing more, nothing less. Their goal is to get you to watch it.

The Posters

The hidden face
So the hidden face is clearly when we get a shot from behind. Mainly this occurs with the protagonist or a lead role, and typically found in films that have a journey but not exclusive to them. Benefits of doing this style increases intrigue into the film. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter we know who is in the image – it’s the iconic image of Lincoln – but hiding his face doesn’t allow us to see who he really is. We know there is more to the story since there are vampires, so the lack of face makes us want to know. Meanwhile The Hobbit is a journey. We know that from the exiting into the wilderness. We understand that once out of the comfort of the house there is no return – a journey that will change us forever.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

The Dark Knight

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Big text (usually over a face)
Pretty self explanatory. But why does it work? Well you can use it for a film that’s not that easy to explain without words. Otherwise, if it were just a face with nothing interesting about the character the text provides a grab for attention: “I have to read this”.

The Social Network

The Man Who Fell To Earth

White space galore – it’s the new age design. These are the posters designed by people who wanted to create those interior design catalogues. Everything is perfect. It’s more of a pleasing to aesthetic than deliver and convey a story.

Four Coloured Girls


The logo
Sometimes trying to explain a well established product is pointless. Stories that have nearly become iconography but more apart of our culture.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Amazing Spider-man

The Hunger Games


Pirates of the Caribbean

The pop
The poster that has nothing to offer you except you just can’t seem to look away. Very simplistic, yet compelling.

Sex and the City 2

The Hangover: Alan

The Hangover: Phil

The Hangover: Stu

The Hangover: Chow

A poster that makes you want to watch the film. A lot of questioning to why things are there, how they interact with the story, and the notion of uncertainty.


Final Destination



Like intrigue only applies on a broader scale, meaning it is more generic in it’s context. Inglorious Basterds is a fictional war film but appeals to us in that sense opposed to the fact that it’s a Tarantino film and very fictional.

Inglorious Basterds

Inglorious Basterds

Cinematic Style
When the poster matches the film in the design style. Above we’ve seen posters that are made to glamorise the film – especially when it may not be the best film – but cinematic types of posters capture the style of the actual film and can tell you if you’re going into a dark film or not.

Tron Legacy

(500) Days of Summer


Here we’re tapping into the fact that these films have been through the ages. Similar to the logo style, only these are recognisable no matter when you were born in relation to the film. Usually the remake films play homage to the original in their posters.

Nightmare on Elm Street

Star Trek

Star Trek

Jurassic Park

The old repeating itself

Looper vs. Brighton Rock

Oz the Great and Powerful vs Alice in Wonderland