Commercial Joan of Arc Movie Poster Alex Adam Laure Lena
Sometimes, inspiration (or a lack of laziness) hits right after you could really use it. It's never a bad thing to have it come, but if it had just been a little sooner, maybe you could have turned in a really cool, full blown movie poster for your final portfolio review.

My lack of laziness came two days ago, when I decided that two weeks without shooting and nearly a month without blogging was getting to be excessive. Sure I had things to do, packing up to move back to Michigan, looking for a job in California, but I go a little stir-crazy when I'm not shooting or editing something

And sometimes 'something' turns into a project a little bigger than you imagined. I had just rented a bunch of costumes (King Henry VIII, a chain mail jacket and hood and a full suit of plastic armor) when I decided a movie poster for the non-existant summer blockbuster release of "Joan of Arc" would be fun to make.

See the lighting diagram, photoshop hints and more after the jump.

Unfortunately, that's about as far as my planning went. I shot two models as potentials for Joan, a friend for King Henry, and myself as a knight in shining armor. The armor may have been plastic and not very shiny, but I can work around that.

The 'How To' portion of this starts with some advice on movie poster lighting. It can be any lighting, obviously, but consistency is going to be key. I shot myself and my friend Laure with two different light setups, making it look really weird initially. Keep the lighting the same when the situation (layout, theme, etc) calls for it.

Everyone was shot on a black background with the same lighting-beauty dish main, high up, no fill, and a striplight kicker on the back for some rim and separation light. It's very simple, dramatic lighting. The pattern on the face is Rembrandt-triangle of light under the eye, heavy shadows without fill. All the pictures were shot on a medium format Leaf digital back.

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The next part was editing each individual picture in photoshop. I wanted dark, dramatic and a little grungy. Desaturated layers with different blending modes along with some high pass and just a touch of dodge and burn gave me the effect I wanted. It's almost simple enough to make an action and save myself some time doing it.

With each person shot on a black background (which may or may not have been a mistake) the next part was the arrangement and masking of each person. A bunch of different layouts were tried, changed, and altered as three more people were added into the shot to fill in some negative space. The masking was mostly done by pathing people out with the pen tool when edges permitted, with a little bit of a feather to soften their transitions.

Hair is the trickiest part about something like this. I relied on the background to cover up most of the places where I couldn't accurately mask out long hair, which is where the black background was a good choice. It was still difficult in masking out Laure on the bottom right, as her head is right over Lena's armor. That section took a little more tweaking to get it to flow correctly.

Once everyone was in position, text was chosen and blocked out. I'm lucky enough to have a teacher who specializes in typography and designing layouts, so with her assistance we spaced out letters, centered everything to the middle of the frame, and chose an appropriate design for the title. The title font is "northwood high' and the credit text is 'sf movie poster condensed', both of which are available at Dafont.

The shooting itself took only a few hours, with a re-shoot to match all the lighting patterns and fix some costume errors, and editing the pictures themselves was only ten minutes apiece. The layout tweaking and typography took the rest of the two days this poster took from start to finish.


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