How to Design a Movie Poster

Like any other marketing collateral, a movie poster is only considered successful if the collective effort of its elements has the ability to convey the intended message to its target audience. But knowing the elements of a movie poster is not enough?you also need to know the proper procedure on how to weave these elements into a single, big picture.

Step 1: Download a Template

If you have limited time and budget for a movie poster, consider downloading and customizing a movie poster template. With the use of a ready-made poster template, you do not only save time and money but you also get access to a file that contains ready-made content that conforms to movie poster design standards.

Step 2: Know the Movie Theme

The theme of the movie is the idea, premise, and purpose of a film that answers the reason why the movie exists. If you want to achieve the best approach in designing a poster for a movie, you have to know its theme before anything else. By capturing the movie theme, it will then be easier for you to determine the message that you want to deliver in the movie poster. The theme serves as an anchor that links the connectivity of every element you incorporate in the movie poster.

Step 3: Secure and Incorporate Required Elements

Bring the movie poster to life by securing its required elements which include the dominant image, billing block details, release date, tagline, and movie reviews from critics. When deciding for the dominant image, be sure to incorporate a high-quality photo by a professional photographer. See to it that the details of the billing block details are formatted and ordered accordingly. It is ideal to have a catchy movie tagline to entice the audience further. In adding the movie’s release date, it is crucial to ensure its accuracy.

Step 4: Review

It is crucial to review the final draft before it gets printed to see to it that the poster is of high quality. Check and edit the spelling of every single word and name you indicate and the grammar of the tagline. See to it that the list of names and positions are complete, matching, and accurate. Check the placement of every single element and make sure that these are placed correctly in the movie poster.

The Dos and Don’t of a Movie Poster

To be further guided during your poster design process, take some notes from the following dos and donts below.


1. Do make it easy to read from a distance.

An excellent movie poster should be able to give exposure to a film effectively. One effortless way to do that is to make sure that its vital information should be easy to view even from a far distance. If you put up posters in crowded areas, passersby might entirely overlook your poster. But if you use the right font size for the text in your poster along with an excellent choice of text hierarchy, rest assured that you can draw and hold the attention of your target audience.

2. Do go bold.

Having an easy-to-read poster is not enough?you have to go bold to make the most out of that one glance that passersby can spare. Planning on a monotone color palette or single-color gradient with a boring typeface? Forget about it and step things up by trying out other color combinations and unique fonts. Thinking of sticking to a white canvas? Scratch that idea and try something another color. By going bold, you allow yourself to experiment with things and discover new possibilities. Who knows? You might be able to create the most iconic movie poster design, yet.

3. Do consider the time and location.

Even the most well-planned poster can go unnoticed if it is placed at the wrong time and the worst place possible. The time and location are factors that could affect the impact of your movie poster to your audience. Put it up too late or too early and you’ll either lose or miss making an impact. Put it up at the worst places where people can hardly see, such as a wall already filled with other advertising materials and you’ll miss the opportunity of conveying your message.

4. Do have one dominant image.

If you find it difficult to start designing, it is best if you try to revolve your design around a dominant image. Creating any print material with its dominant image already identified makes the design process more manageable. To know whether you have chosen the right dominant image, use this as the starting point of the story that you are trying to portray in the movie poster. Other than that, see to it that the image your choice is what the rest of the contents of the poster is pointing. Your dominant image must entice the eyes of your target audience and navigate it toward the rest of the parts of the poster.

5. Do utilize white spaces.

White spaces don’t exist just because the designer hasn’t thought of anything to put in it. In fact, white space is an integral part of any visual design as it increases its impact and comprehensibility. White space or negative space can work wonders in most printed materials and that includes movie posters. The ideal areas where you should ensure to incorporate white spaces are between individual letters, between text lines, around the interior margins, between the different types of elements, and around the key contents of the poster.

6. Do include a call to action.

Without a prominent call to action in your poster’s design, you won’t be able to identify what happens next after you have successfully grabbed the attention of your target audience toward your movie poster. With a compelling call to action incorporated in your movie poster design, you make your audience do what you want them to do. The call to action usually is the contact point in every poster design. Since what you are making is a movie poster design, you can include elements such as a QR code that people can scan to read more information about the film or to direct them to view your movie trailers.

7. Do create focus using typography.

If you are a seasoned graphic designer who experienced designing other types of posters before, you might already know that poster design is one of the best avenues where your choice of typography and its combination can go boundless. However, since you will be creating a movie poster, there are some things that you need to consider and that is to create focus with your choice of typography. Some movie posters are only made up of text and colors and are void of images and illustrations. If your current project is one of this, then this is not the time to be hesitant when it comes to experimenting with bigger and bolder typefaces that usually make you feel uneasy. But this is also not the time to use more than ten font styles either.


1. Don’t get too creative.

It is good to be creative if you are designing a movie poster that is meant for a film’s promotion. However, be careful about getting things too creative for its own good that the final output of your poster loses the main focus or theme of your film. Keep in mind that when it comes to visual design, less will always be more. Sure, you can experiment with various design approaches but know what looks good on the final output and know what is not.

2. Don’t reveal too much.

Avoid designing your poster in a way that you are already spoiling the audience as to what happens in the film. A movie poster should only be able to present the gist of the story and not the entirety of the story. By revealing too much information about your film, you are no longer enticing your target audience. On the contrary, you are making them feel like there is no need to see the film anymore since you disclosed much of the film through the movie poster alone. Since it’s a movie poster, it is essential to ensure that there is an element of mystery to pique the interest of your target moviegoers.

3. Don’t use too many colors.

The best movie posters out there can grab the attention of its target audience even with the use of limited colors. While it is encouraged to go beyond a monotone color palette or single-color gradient, it is best to limit your color choices to achieve a bold and eye-catching visual. Using too many colors in your movie poster design can get too distracting. It might be able to catch the attention of many people but you might not get an excellent first impression out from them.

If you are an all-around filmmaker or a graphic designer assigned to create a movie poster for someone else, the concept, ideas, and guidelines we have here guarantee you a smooth-flowing poster design process. Also, be sure to download any of the movie poster templates and examples we have uploaded here for you to download and customize conveniently.