Use of Color in Movie Posters

The Use of Color in Movie Posters and Film Marketing.

If you'll take some time just to look at your collection of movies and study the cover art work, you'll start to notice several trends going on that you should be aware of as a designer.  You'll begin to discover that there are industry accepted practices that just plain work.  As a graphic designer you'll want to duplicate these techniques through your own style and source materials to end up with (eventually) the same quality of results.

One of the most common occurrences in film marketing and design is the use of color.  You really need to start becoming aware of these things and I'm here to help you do that, but seriously everywhere you go, try and break apart what is going on in really awesome designs because it will help you as a Photoshop designer.  Movie advertising will use color balance or hue adjustments layers about 40% of the time.

You know that look that I'm talking about, where there's the "Hollywood" feel to a poster because of the global color theme of (usually) red-yellow or blue.  One sheet designers will use color balance and hue adjustment layers all of the time.  Here is an example to let you understand the concept:

This is so common that the sooner you can learn to use it, the faster the quality of your designs will become.  In the first poster I've got the 3 "actors" in a layer set with a color balance adjustment layer as the top layer in the layer set (so it will apply the same adjustment to all of the layers) with the slider controls tweaked towards the "reds".  On the second poster, just the background has probably a hue adjustment layer (of blue) on top of the background layers or and underlay layer (beneath) with some Hard Light or Overlay blending modes of the layers above it (of buildings, mountains...).

You can also apply color by creating a color fill layer (ie. blue) or colorized hue adjustment layer and changing the blending modes (or by the technique in the last sentence) of the color layer to "bleed through" to the layers below.  Multiply gives a nice rich bleed if you have plenty of lighter layers below.  When you think you've got something good, fool around with the blending modes and it will usually end up with a better quality or "richer" impact than you already have.  You can tell the sand dunes have a blending mode going on (probably linear burn).

Note the global color theme.  If you study movie posters and packaging you will notice this a lot (probably in your favorite movie's design); this is something you'll want to duplicate and can in Photoshop.  It really isn't that hard to do, so I hope you are pleased that I let you in on one of the biggest "secrets".  My Discover Photoshop: Total Package covers the creation of these adjustment layers and their effect in great detail.

- Orion Williams copyright 2004




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Copyright Orion Williams & PhotoshopDesign.NET 2004

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