2 August 2011

How to Make a Roman Polanski Poster

I love Roman Polanski's old films, and my favorite has to be Knife in the Water. I imagined that the sail of the boat in the film kind of looks like the blade of a knife slicing through the water. Not a bad idea for a poster! When I saw that no one else had done it before, I went for it. Here's how you can do it too, either with this or your own favourite old film.

Step 1: Pop in the DVD and take a screen shot of the sailing boat.

Step 2: Put a printout of the screenshot on the lightbox and draw a knife over top at the same angle.

Step 3: Paint some rough fill textures on an a sheet of paper and scan in at 1000 dpi greyscale. Then, make them individual bitmapped tiffs using the diffusion dither setting in Photoshop (Image>Mode>Bitmap>Output 1600dpi and Diffusion Dither). These Bitmaps need to be so large because the final output will be poster sized (in this case A3). However, if you only need to produce the artwork for the web, you can work much smaller.

Step 4: Based on the pencil drawing, create a basic poster layout with space for typography (I used InDesign).

Step 5: Start placing the Bitmap textures into the layout, layering them up to create the right sense of depth. Also hide the knife handle just enough, so that the boat looks like a boat, but the knife can easily be seen as well.

Step 6: I looked at an old Knife in the Water poster for colour reference, because I wanted the finished piece to look like a vintage poster.

Step 7: The great thing about bitmaps is that they can be layered on top of each other in InDesign, and whatever is below them shows through wherever they are white. Also, they can be assigned colours from the swatch palette. This means less photoshop fiddling. You can adjust your colour swatches within InDesign until you are happy with the entire palette.

Step 8: It's finally Photoshop time. Start by grouping the entire layout and copying and pasting it into a 300dpi A3 Photoshop document. Then, layer various paper textures on top of and under the artwork until the old poster look is about right (deviantart is a great resource for this kind of stuff). Play with the blending modes of the paper texture layers. For example, Colour Burn "burns" the color of the texture into the artwork. Screen mode blocks out areas of the artwork. If the effects are too harsh just turn down the opacity percentage of the texture layers.

Step 9: The last step is to set the type.  In this case make sure the paper textures also effect the text in the same way as the artwork. Otherwise, the text will appear pasted on instead of "aged" as part of the original poster.

Step 10: For fun and (artificial) authenticity, I placed the poster into a photo I took in Warsaw. I might be wrong, but I think Luna might actually be an old communist-era cinema. Maybe they played Knife in the Water here when it was first released in 1962!