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Creating a minimalistic movie poster design in Photoshop

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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Simple and clean design, it’s a term you have heard hundreds of times, but take my word for this; in the design industry it is our everyday currency, even while working with a movie poster design. Most of the meetings we hold with clients whirlwind around a very prevalent topic: how can we get you to remove most of the useless stuff that clutter your site and instead choose a simpler design?

Simple and clean design, it’s a term you have heard hundreds of times, but take my word for this; in the design industry it is our everyday currency, even while working with a movie poster design. Most of the meetings we hold with clients whirlwind around a very prevalent topic: how can we get you to remove most of the useless stuff that clutter your site and instead choose a simpler design?

Less has proven to be more, and in this article we’ll be diving into one of today’s most popular trends: minimalist design.

We’ll be making a movie poster design based on the concepts of minimalism, thus creating a graphic representation that is as simple as it is memorable:

minimalistic movie poster design by matias berra


Making the background.

So we are going to open Photoshop and create a new document. We can go to File->New. The following window will appear:


Here we can choose the size of the document and name. In my case I just picked international paper measurements, but you can choose any custom measurement by adding the numbers yourself.

I called the document minimalist movie poster.

Now that we have our document ready, lets…

Movie Poster Design – Add the background:

We will add a fill layer to this new document, to do so press on the fill layer button and choose the color we want:

choosing solid color in photoshop by adding fill layer

Once we press the solid color option, the following window will appear where we can choose our color, then press ok:

choosing black fill option in photoshop


Set border to the background.

Now we can pick the outline for our poster. To do so, first head to the layer panel and choose the background layer.

You will notice it has a lock symbol on the right; you can click on this symbol and drag it to the trashcan icon right underneath it:

trashing a locked layer photoshop

Once we remove the lock, the layer will automatically change name to layer 0. Rename this layer “outline” and move it (by click and dragging it) on top of the fill layer we had made in the last steps.

Don’t forget to turn the fill option (right under opacity, shown in picture below) to 0%:

layer orders in photoshop

Now we go to the fx button (called add a layer style) and choose the option stroke which is the last option:

adding stroke to background in photoshop


The following window will appear where we can choose the type of stroke, the color and the thickness of it.

Let’s pick the inside stroke, a width of 100 px and which ever color you like:

adding stroke to background photoshop

Movie Poster Design – Choosing the best picture to use:

Looking for images online:

Ok so we are looking for a picture that gives us a good outline where we can make our selection. We’ll see what Google has to offer us:

choosing images from google

Firstly we tried hard to identify a symbol that could represent the movie in the most simplistic and attractive way. Here’s the result of the thought process:

poster ongbak 3

Now that we have the picture lets make a selection using the pen tool, which happens to be one of the best and cleanest ways to select objects. So don’t forget it, it’s a great tip!

 Movie Poster Design – Selecting with the pen tool:

Open your image with Photoshop and choose the pen tool, you can just press the letter P.

Click on any part off the edge of the picture we are interested in to make an anchor point:

first anchor point photoshop

Choose a point nearby make another point (do not let go once you click) and move the mouse around to get the right curve:

adjusting curve pen tool photoshop

Once the curve fits the outline of the image, you can let go of the left click.

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Before adding the next anchor point, press option (alt) key and click on the anchor you just made (you have to repeat this for every anchor point or the selection won’t work properly as the pen tool will draw the path instead of selecting around it) like this:

using pen tool photoshop

You will notice it worked because one of the 2 anchor handles will disappear:

one anchor only

Once you have just one handle we can continue with our selection by repeating what we have done in the last 2 steps: Add new anchor point, adjust the curvature of the line without letting go of the left click, remove the extra anchor handle by pressing Option (alt button in PC) + click on top of the anchor point we just made.

Here’s what our picture looks as we go around it selecting with the pen tool:

movie poster design

Finish the whole selection. On the last point the pen will show a circle, which means the selection, can be closed:

movie poster design

Once the selection is closed, right click and choose ‘make selection’:

movie poster design

This windows will appear, just click ok to the options:

movie poster design

Once the selection is done press command+J (control+J on PC), which will create a new layer from your selection:

movie poster design

Refining the selection:

This is one the most powerful and smart tools in Photoshop, it allows you to really make accurate selections.

So once we have our selection we go to menu Select-> Refine Edge:

movie poster design

Now, the options will affect your selection differently, I encourage you to play around a little bit to see which combination gives you the best selection.

For my picture I increased the radius by 1 px, I increased the contrast to make it a clearer selection and I also adjusted the smoothness to give me what seemed to me like the best selection.

Finally, we can add a color overlay effect to get just the outline of our character. We can add this effect by going to the layers panel and choosing the color overlay option, which is hiding behind the fx button:

movie poster design

Choose your color and press ok:

movie poster design

Movie Poster Design – Putting all element together:

All we have to do now is drag the entire layer we just made and drop it in the document which we have already made the background for; we will use the move tool to do this:

movie poster design

Once the move tool is selected, click on the image and drag it to the tab where our document (minimalist movie picture) is, you can see the document tabs at the top of your Photoshop window:

movie poster design

Movie Poster Design – Adding text.

 Let’s go to dafont.com where we can find free and awesome fonts.

Lets make our choice by searching “minimal” fonts:

movie poster design


I like the first choice very much. Now lets download and install the font.

Once finished the installation lets head back to Photoshop.

Now, lets choose the text tool (or press the letter T) and draw a text area (by clicking and dragging) in the approximate area where we want our tittle:

movie poster design

Let’s write our tittle and align it with the rest of the elements in the page.  Once you are finished writing, you can press command (control in PC)+enter to leave the text area.

Notice that you can move the text area just like any object by selecting the move tool (press letter V to use this tool) and dragging the text around:

movie poster design

We can manually align all elements in the page by using the mouse and the arrow keys.

If you press control while using the arrows you can make the elements move little by little, if you press shift key while using the arrows you can move the elements across the page faster:

movie poster design

And there you have it! Its truly amazing to see how a few simple elements can be brought together to create such an impacting display.

The great thing about this type of design is that it caters to the way our brain percieves information,  by simplifying complex ideas (the entire plot of the movie) into noting more than some text and a symbol, we kind of force our brain to work a little bit to make the connection between the tittle and the symbol, which instantly makes the poster that much more memorable.

And ey! Don’t take my word or it! Here are some neuroscientists talking about it:

In case we have interested you in the world of illustrator and graphic design, maybe you would like to try out one of our courses? Why not become a graphic designer? Or maybe webdesign is something you are looking for? You think you have what it takes to become a photographer? Or if you have a project and need to sit with our expert instructor, take our “Build it with us course” and have your project done with a professional.

Until we meet again! Do not stop learning.

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