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Photoshop Movie Poster Assignment

COM 322: Corporate Publishing

As you've learned, posters are often used to promote an event, concert, or presentation. Within the corporate environment you may be asked to create a poster as part of your company's efforts at reaching out to a particular group of stakeholders or to the larger general public. You must design a message which cuts through all the other messages competing for the reader's attention (and dollars). This can be one of the most creative and challenging tasks asked of you.

As a way of making this tsk more fun for you (and me as well), you are to pick a favorite comedy or dramatic movie and research the types of posters that were created to promote it. You will then create your own design with yourself as the star of the film.

Concentrate on dynamic balance and contrast to attract and keep your reader's attention. Illustrations, typeface, reverses, screens, rules, active white space:  these are your tools.

Before starting anything, create a PROJECT FOLDER into which you will place or save everything related to this assignment. I want you to name it yourlastname_COM322F10_Project01. This way when you create your .zip file for placing on Blackboard, all the elements will be there and you won't create a file with which a print service would have problems. Within this you can have a folder (or subfolder, to be completely accurate) that contains your photos, a folder with any clipart , Illustrator elements, or company logos, and your Word document (on which you ran Spellcheck) and InDesign and Photoshop files.

The Links pallet will display a red question mark if a graphics file has been deleted, moved, placed inside a new folder, or renamed since being placed on the page.
The Package command will also present you with a final check of your links. Always pay attention to this information.



This prompts you to relink using the options seen at the bottom of the pallet.


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While it may seem like there's an infinite variety of sizes, the truth is that there are common sizes used by printers and designers. While there are differences between countries, the standard movie poster sizes here in the US are:

One Sheets:

  • 40 inches tall by 27 inches wide (This is the size you will be creating for this project.)


Other Sizes (provided for your entertainment and enlightenment only):

  • Window Card (WC): 14 x 22 inches, are printed on card stock and come flat. These smaller movie posters were usually used for off-site advertising e.g. in windows of local stores in exchange of movie passes. Top four inches were left blank by the printer for the local exhibitor to fill in. For this reason, WC posters are sometimes found with the top 4 inches trimmed off. There is also - though not so common among movie poster sizes, a Jumbo Window Card (JWC), measuring 22 x 28 inches. A Mini Window Card (MWC) is also available, measuring 11 x 14 inches; these are also printed on cardboard.

  • Insert: 14 x 36 inches, usually printed on card stock and come rolled though many pre-1960 were distributed folded. Later ones were printed on thinner stock.

  • 1/2 sheet: This is probably the second most popular among movie poster sizes. It measures 28 x 22 inches, is printed on card stock, and come rolled. Image is usually different from that used on 1-sheet; instead, it is often the same as the first, or title card, in the lobby card set.

  • Lenticular: These come in approximately the same poster size as the one-sheet (approx. 27 x 41 inches); lenticular posters are printed between composite sheets of plastic and lit from behind to create a 3D/holographic effect.

  • 30 x 40 Heavy Stock Movie Posters: 30 x 40 inches, printed on heavier card stock. Image invariably same as 1-sheet but may be silk screened instead of lithographed. These posters come rolled and do not exist for many film titles.

  • 40 x 60 inches: Printed on heavier card stock, otherwise similar to the smaller 30 x 40 heavy stock posters though the image may differ, and again may have been silk screened. Designed for use outside the theater, on an easel, exposed to the elements. This is sometimes, incorrectly, referred to as a 2-Sheet.

  • Banner: These movie posters measure approximately 81 x 24 inches. Older ones were printed on bookbinder's cloth or light card stock. Modern ones are vinyl or light card stock or paper, while banner poster sizes are highly variable.

  • 3-Sheet Movie posters: 41 x 81 inches, printed on paper stock on two and rarely, three separate sheets using lower stock paper. Often pasted onto wall outside of theater. From the 1970s on, three-sheets were sometimes printed in one piece and issued as 'international' versions.

  • 6-Sheet Movie Posters: 81 x 81 inches, printed on paper stock, usually in four sections, and come folded; for use in larger U.S. theater lobbies and movie palaces, or on the outside of the building. This poster size is not so popular, and therefore rare to find.

  • Billboard or 24-sheet Movie Posters: These measure approximately 106 x 234 inches, but may come in various poster sizes, usually in 12 sections, for use on roadside billboards.

As you walk around our building, particularly in the staircases, you will see a number of these sizes on display.



Your task is to create a one-sheet that follows the tone of the posters of your selected film, but is your design.  You will set your design in both InDesign and Photoshop at 27 x 40 inches at at least 180 dpi (dots per inch) or as high as 300 dpi. This is going to create some BIG files, so be prepared for that. At the start of your project you are to create a folder yourlastname_COM322F10_Project01. This is where you will place your images and artwork and save your Photoshop and InDesign files.

You will need to:

Have a number of photos of yourself taken in various poses in front of a solid-colored wall. This will make it easier for you to eliminate the background (as you did with the iMac computer image). You can envision the poses you will need based on your ideas for a poster. These images need to be the highest resolution you can produce given the size of your poster work area.

Using Photoshop, eliminate the background and make whatever alterations you feel should be made to the image. You can composite several images here (you may use your friends as the others in the poster), use filters, etc. at this point. You may decide to use Photoshop in some creative way for headline or movie title, but do not use Photoshop for the body text of your poster. Save that content for InDesign.

Uising InDesign, create your poster. Create layers to hold each element like images, text, artwork (so you can lock a layer when you don't want to use it). Make use of the tools that InDesign provides:  Layer effects, text manipulations, etc.

You include the following information in your ad:

Film title, director, producer(s), writer(s), stars, and a tagline. YOU, however, will be the lead star of the film.

You also should include information about the studio that produced the film and the distribution line that it follows. Find their logos and include them in your poster. Include other contributors to the film or reviewers' quotes as needed.

Take a look at Williams & Tollett pp. 146-49 and review the lecture I've placed on Blackboard on Poster Design. Go out on the web and look at what movie companies and designers have done. Take inspiration from them but don't

When you are satisfied with your design, go File > Export and save it as a PDF (Adobe PDF Preset = High Quality Print, Compability = Acrobat 7 [PDF 1.6]), and use this PDF for printing. Why? Because when you print a PDF you have the option of scaling the image to fit your paper. [After all, printing 27 x 40 inches would print out a lot of pages for you to cut and tape together, and you don't want to do that!] Print this last version, the one you are turning in, in color, to turn in at the start of class.  Go File > Package to collect the files and fonts you have used. Next go to the Finder, select your folder that the Package step created, and go File > Compress. Upload this compressed file to Blackboard's DropBox. You must do this to have completed the project.

[Show me a sample of what you want!][Let me see a higher resolution version PDF.][Return to Schedule]


“The Heart” Movie Poster


You are a graphic designer working for one of the large movie studios in Los Angeles. The studio is planning to release a film called “The Heart” this summer targeted to a variety of audiences. The studio needs ideas for this film, as well as designs for the posters used to advertise them.

The theme of this movie is open to your own interpretation. Anything goes (ie: horror, romantic, comedy, adventure, sci-fi, etc), the goal is to convey an idea of what the movie is about and to invoke interest in the viewer. You may use whatever style as well, painting, illustration, photography, photo manipulation, etc, or combinations of all. Our project is to design an original movie poster for the movie “The Heart.”


Students will develop their compositional/layout skills by applying visual hierarchy principles to both imagery and typography components.


1. Get inspired and research movie posters on the Internet. Look at the different components movie posters provide.

2. Start brainstorming for your Poster. Determine the movie genre, actors/actresses, movie rating, credits, tagline, images/graphics, etc.

3. Develop a proposal on a sheet of paper that contains:

  • Plot Summary: Plan out the basic parts of your film before starting your design. One paragraph including Genre, Title, Tag Line, Plot, Rating, Opening Date, and Characters. List the credits for your film.
  • Sketches: Draw 3 sketches to brainstorm ideas and layouts.
  • Inspiration: Include three movie posters that you like that are in your movie poster genre.

4. Start developing your movie poster in Photoshop.

5. Create a new 11×14 canvas that is 300ppi and in CMYK color mode.

6. Create and Design. Use the requirements below to make sure you include all of the necessary components:

  • imagery you develop in Photoshop must help support the idea  behind  the  movie
  • movie title
  • tag line –(provides more information on the movie besides the title alone)
  • opening movie date
  • Actors & Actresses (at least 2)
  • Credit / Billing block
  • Studio Logo (Paramount Logo provided)
  • MPAA rating (G, PG, PG-13, R – provided)

7. Save the project, with layers, as a Photoshop .psd called: MoviePoster_(YourInitials)

8. Flatten the file and save it as a .JPG for submission.

Poster Assets


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