W.D. Minihan

Catch me in the NARRATIVE, jackin’ your MECHANISMS

It’s All So Simple

Minimalist TV/Movie Poster -3.5 Stars-

I chose this assignment because I wanted to practice my new Illustrator learning and because I just really like movies. What can I say? Making a minimalist movie poster poses 2 challenges: finding a movie that has a usable piece of iconography and finding a movie that doesn’t ALREADY have a minimalist poster. I was perusing my letterbox film ratings for the perfect choice, when I came across a special little movie sitting at a cool 6/10…

The Fountain (2006) - IMDb

Now, I don’t dislike The Fountain. In some regards I think it is a pretty good film. The problem is that it crumbles under ambition. “Yeah, I’m gonna investigate the mysteries of life and death in the span of a feature length film”, proclaimed Darren Aronofsky.

An absurd undertaking, but admirable. So I decided to take that task upon myself with this poster. How do I communicate the cosmic themes of death and transcendence with Minimalism? Observe…

The boys and I were walking down main street to the theatre on a Friday night. The humid summer night was bittersweet because of school starting on Monday. We thought one last movie night would be the perfect end of vacation. When we got inside we waltzed around the lobby looking at the posters for what was playing.

Then one of my friends said, ‘Yo! check this one out.’
“The Fountain” in big gold letters grabbed the entire crew’s attention. We had no idea what to make of it, there was just some circle and a tube-looking-thing on it. But that didn’t matter when we saw the name in the top left corner. Hugh Jackman: the most badass man alive to us at that time.

The Final Poster

“X-Men” was our favorite movie at that age. There was no discussion, we knew we had to see it. It was only after seeing it that I understood the meaning of the poster. The bubble was in a place to go up or down, to live or die. But the dichotomy wasn’t the point. The point was that they were the same thing. The bubble, and thus Hugh Jackman, was just in a transitory space. His inability to accept death ensured that he wasn’t truly alive. I know this all sounds kind of corny and vague, but that night, that film, really hit me as a teenager.

Tutorial Time

This project was done entirely in Adobe Illustrator. These directions might be crazy hard to follow. I might start doing these parts as videos after this.

1: First thing is to get a black background. Just making a black filled rectangle is fine.
2: Next we want a circle dead-center, with a golden-ish yellow to match the color palette of the film.
3: Then 2 identical oval shapes, filled black with some lighter outline. This is our “cosmic transformation tube”. Don’t worry about the size, everything will be trimmed off the board at the end.
4: Now use the gradient tool on our original rectangle shape.
5: Turn the gradient direction vertically.
6: We want a gradient of our circle yellow to a kind of very dark brown, but not quite black.
7: Next we do a 3 color freeform gradient on our circle. It is a glass space-ball-thing, so we want some reflection play going on.
8: Put a stroke on the circle using the same color as the big ovals. This helps with distinction.
9: Next we do our lettering. We want this gold color text nicely centered.
10: Arial Black was the closest typeface I could get to the reference poster. I think it works great. Squish down the text box a little bit too, as you can see on the reference poster.
11: Copy your text box for the color and settings, then adjust size accordingly for “THE”.
12: Repeat the last step for the actor credits. I changed their coloring to the outline strokes grey. I figured it would help keep them subdued in comparison to the title.
13: Done. Remember to export it “Within artboard” to keep out the giant ovals.