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].

Wk 4 Layout development

This week I progressed through 5 of my 8 spreads to first draft, with 3 to go.

I found that overall, the flow is evolving, although my lack of experience in illustration sometimes leaves me a little unsure what to do. It’s slow progress.

One area of interest was how the words changed as I more closely focussed on each spread.

A good example of this is spread 4, which shows the character realising he has changed into a dragon. I’ve been careful to develop the script further each round to ensure that I’m not repeating particular text concepts as graphics.

First draft of the text for this spread was:

Left: In anger I snort and see Fire! Fire from my nose! Green scales! My arm is all green scales. Am I a dragon?

Right: I run from the cave, fall forward, and suddenly I am flying! I stretch my wings and fly back to my friends.

On developing the visual concept further, ready to start actual illustration, I considered my early rough:

spread 4 original mockup

In this, I wanted to show flames coming from the mouth, and then the dragon taking flight. While there is some overlap showing, I considered them in effect two separate parts.

At first, before illustration, I refined my words for the whole book, trying to move the text more into a first person present tense style, as best I could.

For this, I ended up with:

Left: I call out and suddenly there’s flames! Fire from my nose! Green scales! My arm is all green scales!

Right: Outside at last. I need to run. So fast…. I’m flying! How can I fly?

As I finished my first illustration for the left hand page, I rethought the text again, making the text almost verbal, and removed direct reference to the flames, instead having the character ask the question ‘What’s coming from my Nose?”

Spread 4 draft

The next day, I look at the dragon shape on the right, and suddenly realised that it would be better if the lines of superimposed text on the left stretched to the right and included the dragon itself.

This was the result:

Spread 4.jpg

This brought the two pages together in a truly visual spread with linking and flow, plus does give the overall impression of flying.

The dragon is facing left, as I wanted to link the left and right hand pages by reflecting the dragon shape exactly, so that when the page turns, the dragon is then in the same spot, but flying to the right rather than left.

The text for the dragon silhouette page also changed to bring it very much into first person narration, alluding to flying by not quite mentioning it.

Outside at last. Running. Running so fast I’m… flying?
Flying! I’m Flying! Feel so good! I LOVE this!


Outside at last. Running, Running so fast. I’m… WOW
Feels so good. I love this.

For the most part, images remain create from text, or are complemented by silhouette forms, keeping it simple. The general style is to have most of the page covered with a background graphic, either by scale, or by actual background, such as sky.

So, while I had originally defined the colours that are being used, development of the spreads and resultant stronger use of colour than expected means that the visual has become very rich and smooth.

This in itself has helped me settled on a concise digital print that will be trimmed and bound cleanly, rather than trying to achieve an organic look. This should be clean flat paper, smooth prints, and clean bind and trim.

Colour has given the work a feeling of intensity and when lacking, starkness, which has created it’s own intensity.

The tones remain rich, but not bright. Strong slightly muted colours add to the overall sense of foreboding and change, but leading slowly to a lighter colour towards the end of the story.

Some images of the OfficeWorks digital colour proof that I had made:


This proof really let me feel the intensity of the work in progress.

Wk 3.3: Wrap up

To evoke a story that uses a mystical change of form to teach the protagonist a lesson through fear and pain, I’ve focused on using type and simple silhouettes to evoke image. This use will hopefully reflect the idea of the story itself, changing one form into another.

My mood boards show how type can be used to create image in various ways, and how simple silhouette shapes can be boldly evocative. This ties directly to the emotive content of the story itself – emotions can be incredibly strong and bright in us – especially in situations of duress, so this treatment reflects that idea.

My visuals, in bold outline, complement those emotions and actions, making large the emotional content of each spread. This should draw the reader through the book, as the visuals set the emotional tone and colour that reflects the progression of the story.

In looking at typography, initially I explored combining a serif face traditional in story telling, with a strongly stylised feature text. On combining examples, I realised that almost all of the combinations were too stylised – that strong simple visuals were best complemented by a simple sans typeface combined with a strong slab serif that would work to build strong feature text without actually being decorative in itself. Simple and bold in both image and type seemed the best combination for this story.

Colour story boards

As my approach is simple, I used the iPad to colour existing sketches, as I will refine individual spreads as I begin artwork. At this time I have no refinement changes to the draft concept from last week – concentration has been on type as image.

The draft of the first spread was taken to artwork stage as there was no simple way to do this as a sketch. The result is here:

Sample spreadSpread 1 draft

This is more a proof of concept than finalised artwork, although I expect the elements to remain similar enough to this.



Wk 3.1: Concept

As I looked through various reference material to find a style that worked well for me, the essential idea of using type as image kept recurring. Some recent published works such as “A Child of Books” by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston, use galleys of type and random characters to create tonal backdrops and form parts of images. Research revealed many ways of approaching type as image – some overlapping individual letters used to create a form, others using words either in straight lines or with letters jumbled about, to create images where the individual letters are more recognisable.

The broad concept I’ve chosen is an exploration of type as image, using blocks of colour, shape, and maybe cutout to emphasise the forms.

I revisited the mood boards, and refined them to show more precisely the conceptual style I’m using as inspiration.

The first board shows individual letters layered in order to create an image from type. Letters and other typographic symbosl merge in a jumble to form shapes, with little intent for the reader to be able to understand the general mass of letters.

Mood boards refined

The second board separates concepts into two rows.

The first row of these examples show letterforms and shapes formed by words built up in layers. This approach adds a more consistent texture and words that are related to the subject can be used.

The second row shows silhouette and shape forms used to create bold image forms that can be combined with type effectively to illustrate concepts.

Mood boards refined 2

I feel that a combination of both of these ideas could be useful in building a strong visual narrative.

As a secondary visual device, I decided to use colour sparingly, but in a way to help the story move from ‘dark’ to ‘light’ in tone.

This restricted colour palette of five colours, plus the white of the page, focusses on a movement of dark to bright colours as the story progresses, reflecting the journey of the protagonist.

Colour Palette

Revisiting the story boards, I loosely applied colour to show how this might work:

Colour story boards

As this project requires two levels of typography, I did some exploration of possible type choices, for both Body Text, and Feature text:

Type 1

For the body text examples, above, I generally chose serif typefaces, as I felt they may be more readable. A couple of sans serif faces were included to round out the list.

The feature text faces, shown below, are most expressive type, with a bold Clarendon face that may be useful in type layering.

Type 2

Combinations of these two sets are shown below:

Type 3

Type 4

I worked through a printout of these, and found that Clarendon is probably the best face for building type as image concepts. This is paired here with Avenir, as it has a flexible range of weights, and as a sans serif typeface, complements Clarendon’s complex slab serifs.

A PDF of the type samples is included here:

Type samples

Wk 2.5: Review

The process of storyboarding and preparation of the words has led to deep consideration, not yet finalised, of how words and images interact.

Getting image content done for each page or spread was a mix of easy and difficult – finding a visual that complements rather than repeats the text is a real challenge.

My preferred method of illustration is to use type to create shape, and I have considered whether I use actual words drawn from the original story as the basis of that type.

At the end of this week’s process, the mood boards are:

Mood boards3

Mood boards2

Mood boards

The storyboards follow, based on these 8 sentences:

  1. In anger, I shout at my friends, and storm away, aimless in my anger
  2. I find a cave, a great place to hide – and inside I find gold – a veritable dragon’s hoard and all mine
  3. Stuffing my pockets with gold I feel complete, fall asleep, and awake feeling strange.
  4. Rising in anger, suddenly I’m breathing fire – I run from the cave, trip and now I’m flying – a dragon made real.
  5. I fly to my friends, but my dragon form scares them, so I fly away in shame and sadness
  6. I land in a valley, and in frustration try to remove my skin, when a lion appears and speaks to me, asking me to trust him.
  7. The lion helps me shed more skin with his claws, revealing my true self – full of pain and shame, but new again.
  8. Chastened, I return to my friends, who welcome me openly, and forgive my folly and shame.

In creating the final text for the pages, much of the original text was modified to move it into a first-person style and current tense.


Wk 2.3: Storyboard

This is a first draft of the storyboard. This exploration took time, and will need refinement and revisiting as the process goes forward.

I’ve updated my text to bring the language as much into the ‘first person’ with a ‘now’ tense.

The text for each spread or page is:


Page Draft of words Feature words
1 & 2 I shout at my friends, and in anger, I storm away.

I wander, aimless, angry, resentful…. ashamed.

Leave me alone!
3. There’s a dark place I can hide. I climb inside….
4. Look at this gold! So much gold, and no one knows it’s here…. so It’s all mine now. Everyone will be jealous. I’m rich!
5. I push a gold band onto my arm, coins in my pockets. So tired. Sleepy. Everyone will want to be my friend now…. They’re going to be jealous. So Jealous!
6. And I awake… it’s so dark. My arm hurts. Feels so tight. And why is the ceiling so low? Yawn…..aarrrrghhh!
7. I call out and suddenly there’s flames! Fire from my nose! Green scales! My arm is all green scales! Rumble. Roar
8. Outside at last. I need to run. So fast…. I’m flying! How can I fly?
9. I need to get back. Get help… I can see my friends! Why won’t my voice work! No! Don’t run away from me… ROAR!!!!!
10. Flying away. Feeling so sad. They’re afraid of me now….. And my arm hurts so much. The band is so tight. Hot dragon tears
11. Here’s a place I can stop. I need to get these scales off! It’s not my skin! And there’s more green scales underneath…
12. I see a Lion walking towards me. His beautiful eyes seem sad for me. I’m not afraid. I’m sad that I can’t be myself.
13. He looks into my eyes, then see his claws. So sharp….. I let him shred my green scales. It hurts, hurts so bad. Layers and more layers gone… Roooarrrrrr-hheeeeelppp!
14. And I am new again. The gold band is free on my arm. I’m me. All pink and new. He licks my head. He looks so deep inside me…. and then he’s gone Sigh
15 & 16 I’m all new. Real Skin. Me. I need to find my friends. There they are, running towards me. Hugging me. I’m so sorry…. I’m so sorry.

Some of this reconfiguration of text works to ensure that the text complements the visual, rather than repeats it.

The storyboard so far: