Wk 7: Type choice

Type choice for this project needs to balance the historical content with a modern context.

I researched, on pinterest, some “Western” style movies, as these are the closest in style to The story of the Kelly gang.

A selection of posters from the last 20 years or so include:

movie posters westerns

While these are modern in style, they still reference typefaces of the time, or at least evoke something similar.

Having read the transcript and also some of the original Jerilderie letter, which was dictacted by Ned Kelly to fellow gang member Joe Byrne, I was struck by the handwriting itself, so evocative of the period.

I searched the transcript for the word “Kelly” and found only one reference, mid-way through. I downloaded a high resolution scan from the State Library, and located that word, as well as a couple of other instances of the letter “K”, in order to establish style.

I felt that using this would be a strong link back to something written by the gang. This would give a stylistic and literal focal point for the title itself.

I then matched the handwriting style to a few typefaces:


I feel that Houston Pen is probably most likely, followed by Memoir.

To match these, I tried some condensed and/or bold sans faces:


I didn’t feel any of these were close enough to evoke the period. In research I had noticed the ‘wanted’ poster from the period when the Kelly gang was still at large:


This condensed typeface is quite similar to modern Helvetica variants, however I wanted a close match and isolated the word “Reward” and put it through a font identification website, which indicated a great match in Bellfort:


In particular, the “rough” variants seemed good.

Taking these samples, I applied some of the type weights as very early combinations with two of the script faces identified earlier:


While there is some work to do, I feel this is an appropriate match. The primary decision is which script face to use. The “K” on Memoir font (shown on the left of this preview), is not quite as easy to read, so perhaps some modifications may help. I feel that overall it is the better choice of the group.

Wk 7: A3 poster sketches

After making a couple of false starts with this, I decided to keep it simple, and black and white. I’ve already decided that the colour will be textured black for the entire background, with white overlaid text, and the eye-hole rectangle will be a slash of red – in both posters, which are variants on a theme.

Poster variant 1

In the above version, the title and billing block are balanced left and right, and the small scribbled circles are the bullet impressions in the mask (if I can get these to work, visually).

The ‘eye-hole’ slot of the mask is simply red, with blood dripping from the left hand corner. The positioning of this approximates the position of the eye-hole slot on the actual Ned Kelly mask, based on traces from a photograph.

The concept is simple and evocative.

Poster variant 2

The above version uses a similar base, re-sets position of the type and billing block to a traditional centred layout, and the eye-hole slot contains silhouetted figures facing off against each other, creating scale through contrast of the close-up eye-slot on the evocative sense of the poster as the helmet, while the figures are in miniature ‘in the distance’.

Wk 7: Moodboards

Here are my moodboards: I purposely did much of the research on other movie poster styles, rather than just standard visual research. On the whole, many of these examples give great reference as to visual impact, some with fantastic sense of scale.

Had difficulty finding goof reference for this, but it’s a start.

Mood boards-1

Mood boards-2


As shown in the moodboards above, I feel there is some good inspiration or reference in some of the wanted posters of the time. Many used slab serif ‘wanted’ style fonts, which are pretty average in style, but some used compact extra-bold sans-serif faces, which remain in style today.

Having read the Jerilderie letter, which was dictated to Ned by one of his gang members, I realised that one way to get a type style for the title, even if just for the word Kelly, was to reference the style of hand of Joe Byrne, who physically wrote the letter for Ned.

I searched the online transcripts, and only one occurence of the word “Kelly” appears in the text…..

From this page:

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 9.39.43 pm.png

we can see this:

Crop on kelly

I believe I can recreate the style of this in such a way as to make it strong, bold and evocative of the era, in just one word, while linking back to the actual events by using this type.

That seems pretty amazing!

On to Illustrator….

Wk 7: Sketches

I went through a few rounds of sketches to reach these nine, which were re-drawn at the last.

I’ve discussed this through a little on the discussion boards, and it’s true that Kelly’s helmet is both iconic, and perhaps too easy a call when producing the poster.

However, I feel strongly that unless some amazing other angle occurs to me, it is still the best reference that is culturally known, even if it is used in the abstract. It is effectively the Kelly “brand”.

Inevitably, simplicity of style appears to be the key to getting these posters right. Clumping of information, clear hierarchy, especially between the title and other information, and effective use of shape and colour to direct the eye, are highly important in this process.

These are very rough. The finals will work on the typographic style, more clearly.




As I moved through these, the elements stripped away a little. I can see a vivid red ‘slash’ of sorts representing the eye slot in the mask, which to me is recognisable when combined with the natural shape of the poster.

This is how Sidney Nolan represented it, although he used a more squarish ratio….

So in the final three, I think there may be some good merit. I like the idea of a slash of red, dripping blood or blood spatter, and also that of the guns.

Most of all though, I like the scale of using that slash of red, etched into it a scene of conflict in miniature, shown only in silhouette.

I got a little lazy with the type at the end, but that will be sorted out in due course.

Wk 7: Concepts

Today I did some brainstorming, may revisit this after I finish reading Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie letter, as that may reveal more about Ned.

I feel that while there is possibly more than one description for this film, it is primarily a drama. Ned and his Gang suffered persecution and mistrust, as accorded to many Irish immigrants at the time. They were seen as second class, dirty and ‘no good’.

The film paints a kinder picture than most, and gives the impression that the film makers agree with many that Kelly was a man made into a criminal by desperation and poor situation.

first brainstorm

From this, I definitely take an emotional stance of anger through injustice and oppression, resulting in necessary violence. So it’s a drama about the injustice of the situation.

  1. What feeling should the poster convey?

A glimpse of the man behind the mask. Anger, injustice, and some fear. An intelligent man forced into a situation.

2. What emotional elements will the poster convey?

The crux of this film is the ending, the man brought down, in spite of his armour. And the man inside revealed as being just a man after all. But regardless the emotion here is anger. Red, raw, anger and self defence from judgement and persecution.

3. How will tone and drama be created?

Always a fan of simplicity, I think that simple outline, shape, colour, strong type in defined clumps with good hierarchy will help ensure the starkness required for this. Focus should be on a single strong graphic element, that may be supported by some outlines.

4. How to promote this film as if it were being released today?

Strong film posters today, leverage refined hierarchy that links firmly to the associated image, and leverages a key point of interest – indeed a brand. That brand may be a director, producer, actor(s), protagonist, film series, or some other point of differentiation to lock onto as a focal point of difference.

In this case, the Kelly name is well known, both in Australia and abroad, and the story is known as a powerful one.


This poster should leverage the Kelly name strongly in the film title. The visual imagery of the armour is so well known that it’s almost essential to include it, however the simplest possible form would be best. Just an outline, and maybe using the eye hole as a window, to either a portion of the face, or perhaps events in miniature…. Colours should be strongly contrasted, and include the red of anger. Clear visual space between elements will add a modern style, utilising asymmetry and hierarchy to ensure clear presentation of information.

Wk 7: Movie poster analysis

A survey of recent movie posters led to a choice of three with very different typographic styles and layouts.

While all three appear to generally conform to the rule of thirds, each uses that space differently to draw the eye across or around the image.

Film 1

A Monster Calls

Film 2


Film 3


Both Split and Obit. have short titles that have been set so large as to create an instant focal point for the poster, while A Monster Calls uses a stacked set of type set more subtly on the left.

In each case, the type remains the focal point, even allowing for the different sizes – the contrast to background has been carefully considered in each case, to ensure this.

There are thousands of example posters to look at, some of which do present an actor’s name as the most prominent, however in the case that the subject or title is deemed more important, the title is given most prominence in a large percentage of movie posters.

Colour, which is almost entirely missing from these, is used in different ways, but always in support of the emotive content of the film. A monster calls uses a sunset/sunrise colour scheme, combined with forest items, and creates a soft, dreamy style, while both of the other posters use very little colour, opting for strongly contrasted black and white instead. For Obit., this works to evoke the style of a newspaper, but also to suggest a black and white working environment. As a thriller, Split uses no colour except for the head of the small human figure. The stark black shadows, one menacing, and the strong stacked layered type of the film title serve to create a sense of foreboding.

It is clear from this research that a simple design, single prominent focal point, and careful use of shape and colour to keep the eye moving around the poster, are considered most important.

Wk 7: Movie choice

For the assessment 2 task of Typography 2, I’ve chosen a 1906 movie, “The story of the Kelly Gang”. This remarkable film is considered the first full length feature film in the world, running at around 60 minutes. Sadly only 20 minutes of footage survives, although even these minutes are compelling viewing.

The story tells of key events in the latter years of the Kelly family and gang:

Ned Kelly’s sister being harassed by police, with Ned coming to the rescue, shooting on of the officers in the wrist. The ambush at Stringy Creek, in which the gang shoot three police officers, through to the final showdown at the Glenrowan hotel, during which all gang members except Ned Kelly are killed, and Ned himself is captured by police after a gun battle. During this battle, Ned approaches in his famous metal suit, but with his legs unprotected, he succumbs to police fire. He pleads for mercy.

The film tends towards sympathy with the gang, rather than showing them as evil. There is a sense of sorrow that these were the last of the bushrangers. This aligns in a way with more recent views that the lives of the Kelly gang, and indeed the Kelly family, were made complex by difficult relations between Irish immigrants and the police.

I would like to focus on the idea of telling the story of the man inside the armour. Visually, there are a few ways to accomplish this. Time to explore.

Here is a poster of the original release.

And here it a still image from the film, showing Ned Kelly towards the end of his gun battle with the police, and below, the gang examining a “Wanted” poster.



Byrnes, P. and Taggart-Speers, E. (2017). Curator’s notes The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906) on ASO – Australia’s audio and visual heritage online. [online] Aso.gov.au. Available at: https://aso.gov.au/titles/features/story-kelly-gang/notes/ [Accessed 4 May 2017].

Crime Documentary. (2017). The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906) – Crime Documentary. [online] Available at: http://crimedocumentary.com/story-kelly-gang-1906/ [Accessed 4 May 2017].

Details of still from The Story of the Kelly Gang,. (n.d.). [image] Available at: http://www.amw.org.au/sites/default/files/memory_of_the_world/sites/default/files/publication/images/x181_img01.jpg.pagespeed.ic.rPVU4vLgKg.jpg [Accessed 4 May 2017].

Poster of The Story the Kelly Gang. (n.d.). [image] Available at: http://crimedocumentary.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/story-kelly-gang-210×300.jpg [Accessed 4 May 2017].