Intrigued to find out more about the history of poster design and the techniques involved, I enrolled in the online course "Demystifying Graphic Design: How Posters Work" on Skillshare. The course was run by Ellen Lupton, director of the MFA Graphic Design course at Maryland Institute College of Art.
On completion, I was inspired to employ the techniques learned to create a series of poster designs based on TV shows and books I had recently enjoyed.
Stranger things is a science fiction-horror Netflix TV series which details the disappearance of a schoolchild as he cycles home from his friend's house at night and the investigation which follows. The plot becomes increasingly eerie and unsettling, touching on themes such as abduction, being hunted, aliens, and parallel dimensions.
For my poster design, I decided to depict the aftermath of the abduction as this particular scene leaves a lingering air of mystery and malevolence, capturing the essence of the programme well.
I sought to make the abandoned bike the focal point of the design. This was achieved by horizontally centring all text elements on the page relative to the bike. Off-centring the text also created a tense, slightly unbalanced composition, adding to the sense of unease.
Diagonal lines were used to create dynamism and to encourage the eye to move across the page. It was also used to draw attention to the washed-out horizon, making the viewer question what the unseen threat could be.
Colour and contrast were used to create a visual hierarchy in the design. The bike and the title - the most important elements - were depicted in bright red. This also allows the viewer to link the two objects, despite the distance between them. The dark, dull red colour was used for the next most important elements, as this gave them a high contrast with the white background.
Finally, the text and illustration were made to look as if they were hastily painted with a dry brush. By revealing the brush strokes on the poster's surface, the viewer gets the impression that an imminent threat was present at the time of making the poster.
The Long Earth
The Long Earth is a science fiction novel. It follows the discovery of an infinite number of planet Earths which can be accessed through a simple electrical device, known as a "stepper box", and the exploration of these uninhabited parallel Earths.
In order to create a sense of movement between the Earths, I placed them along a diagonal path. I contrasted this dynamic perspective by designing the schematic of a stepper box on an isometric grid to make the diagonal more prominent.
Furthermore, the iterations of Earth and the schematic expand beyond the poster's border, highlighting the limitless possibility of exploration and the ground-breaking nature of the discovery.
Lastly, the muted sepia-based colour palette and the crumpled paper texture were used to give the poster a rough, aged appearance. This is in keeping with how the plan for the stepper box was discovered in the story, where it is found in a burned-down house in poor condition. Simplified electrical components were used to underline how the device is easy to construct.
The City & the City
Set in the fictional cities of Besźel and Ul Qoma, The City & the City is a crime novel where the main protagonist is tasked with investigating a murder case. The two cities occupy the same geographical space, however through the will of their citizens and through law, they are perceived as separate urban areas through the inhabitants "unseeing" buildings and people in the other city.
I sought to create a typographic poster design. By creating a mirror plane in the vertical axis and reflecting the phrase "The City", I wanted to convey how the two cities shared one fundamental element - their geographic location. This was combined with the opposing black & white text colours and contrasting font choices to communicate the extreme contrast of the residents, economic status, and cultures of the two cities. I chose to use blue in the design due to its links with the police force.
Lastly, I laid out the characters in such a way as to form the silhouette of a person with their arms raised above their head, straddling the mirror plane. This was to hint at the climax of the story where the culprit is found being in both cities at once, which is considered the most serious crime of all.