How to Make a Star Wars Inspired Movie Poster in Photoshop

What You’ll Be Creating

If you want to learn how to make a movie poster, it’s good to try to replicate the work of a professional. This way, you can learn about the trends and techniques with a clear goal in mind. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a movie poster in Adobe Photoshop, inspired by Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

1. How to Start Creating a Movie Poster

Step 1

First, we need to cut the characters out of their backgrounds. I’ll show you how to do it on one example.

Open one of the files in Photoshop. Use any selection tool (I used the Pen Tool (P)) to select the outline of the character. Select only the part that you intend to use in your poster. Don’t try to outline the individual hairs—instead, outline just the visible “masses” of hair.

select photo

Step 2

Go to Select > Refine Edge. Check Smart Radius and increase the Radius to soften the edge. Use the brush to paint over the stray hairs outside of the main outline. Photoshop should intelligently add them to the selection. When you’re done, change Output to New Layer and click OK.

Do the same with all the photos of the characters.

how to select hair in photoshop

Step 3

Create a New File. These dimensions are the most typical for a movie poster:

  • Width: 24 Inches
  • Height: 36 Inches
  • Resolution: 150 Pixels/Inch
poster dimensions

Step 4

To create a movie poster, first you need to plan its composition. Go to View > Show > Grid. Add the Rulers (Control-R) and drag some guides from them to plan the layout of your movie poster. Your grid doesn’t have to look exactly like mine, but make sure that it’s not random.

Add the title in your chosen spot. I used the Death Star font with a big distance between the lines (press Control-T to open the Character panel).

character panel
plan poster composition

Step 5

Create a New Layer below and fill it with any color using the Paint Bucket Tool (G)Double-click the layer to open the Layer Style panel. Check Gradient Overlay and add a gradient to quickly create a simple background.

add gradient overlay
add black red white gradient

Step 6

Double-click the text layer. Check Stroke and add a white stroke to the letters, just like in the original poster.

add stroke to text
text with stroke

Step 7

Add another text layer. Type between the words of the title to add the subtitle. You can use a classic font here. I used Calibri Bold, with very big spaces between the letters.

add subtlitle to text

Step 8

Finally, copy and paste your characters into the poster. Resize them by pressing Control-T, and change their orientation by going to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. First, place the main characters, and then fill the spaces between them with the secondary characters.

add characters to the poster

2. How to Create a Background for a Movie Poster

Step 1

Open your texture set. Pick one of the textures that you want to use in the background, and open it in Photoshop.

brush stroke texture

Step 2

Go to the Channels tab. Hold Control and click the thumbnail of the Gray channel. Then go back to the Layers tab and go to Select > InverseCopy the selection.

select without background

Step 3

Paste your selected texture under the characters. You can duplicate it to make it more opaque. Group the textures (Control-G).

paste the texture

Step 4

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment.

add hue saturation adjustement

Clip it to the layer below (the group of textures) and check Colorize. Drag the sliders to change the colors as you wish.

add colorize layer

Step 5

Add more textures to the group—they all will be colored automatically.

colorize the texture

Step 6

Use the same method to create a background for the title.

add brush stroke background

Step 7

Create a New Layer over the background, but under the characters. Fill it with black using the Paint Bucket Tool (G). Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and add some monochromatic noise.

add noise

Step 8

Go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Artistic > Sponge. Adjust the settings to turn the noise into stars.

create stars in photoshop

Step 9

Add a Layer Mask to this layer. Select the mask and use the Gradient Tool (G) to add a black-and-white gradient on top. The black part of the gradient will make the layer transparent.

gradient options
add gradient layer mask

Step 10

Adjust the gradient in the background to keep the reddish tint right under the brush strokes.

adjust gradient colors

Step 11

Paste the dry soil photo. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to resize it; hold Control to drag the corners separately.

add soil change perspective

Step 12

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment to desaturate the soil.

colorize soil

Step 13

Add the Exposure adjustment to give the image less contrast.

add exposure adjustement
change exposure settings
make ground white

Step 14

Paste the mountains panorama photo over the ground. Resize it. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment to make the mountains colored more like the ground.

colorize mountains
create mountains background

Step 15

Use a Layer Mask to merge the mountains with the background and remove the grey sky.

blend with layer maks

Step 16

Paste the grass image and resize it.

add grass to the ground

Step 17

Colorize the grass with a Hue/Saturation adjustment.

colorize grass
make grass red

Step 18

Add more grass with the same technique.

add more grass

3. How to Add Consistent Lighting to the Characters

Step 1

To blend the characters with their background, add Layer Masks to them and clean up their edges. You can use a soft brush, and then a textured brush for a more interesting effect.

clean up edges with layer mask

Step 2

Put a New Layer between all the characters. Paint on those with a soft brush to separate the characters with a red fog.

add red fog

Step 3

Some of the photos have visibly different lighting. You can fix it by adding a Curves adjustment.

add curves adjustment
curves adjustment settings
change contrast with curves

Step 4

Because there’s so much red around, it should affect the characters. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment to one of them and colorize the character to red.

colorize reflected light
colorzie characters

Step 5

Hold Alt and drag the adjustment to duplicate it. Add it to every character. Don’t forget to clip it (Control-Alt-G)!

create consisten light

Step 6

Paint on the mask of each adjustment layer to reveal a part of the face that’s not affected by the red light.

clean up the lighting

Step 7

Let’s add some stronger rim light. Use the Hue/Saturation adjustment again.

colorze strong light
add strong light

Step 8

Double-click the adjustment and change its Blending Options. Hold Alt to split the lower black marker. This will make the effect transparent over the darkest areas. Then paint on the Layer Mask to keep the effect on the edge only.

change blending options
make string light realistic

Apply the same effect to all the characters.

add rim light to characters

Step 9

In the original movie poster, there’s some white rim light as well. Add it with a Hue/Saturation adjustment, Blending Options, and Layer Masks.

create white rim light
add white rim light to characters

4. How to Create a Light Saber

Step 1

Select the blade of the sword with any tool. Create a New Layer and fill it with white. Place it over the characters.

select the blade

Step 2

Double-click the layer. Check Satin and make it blue, creating a soft streak of bright blue inside the blade.

add satin

Step 3

Check Outer Glow. Make it blue.

add outer glow

Step 4

Check Drop Shadow and turn it into another type of glow by changing its Blend Mode to Screen. Make it blue as well.

add drop shadow
make sword glow

Step 5

Create a New LayerFill it with black. Go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare. Select the type that you like and adjust its brightness.

add lens flare

Step 6

Change its Blend Mode to Screen to remove the black areas. Then add a Hue/Saturation adjustment to make it more blue. Drag it and place it over the blade.

change color of light
create glow

Step 7

Because we introduced a new light source to the scene, we need to add some light to the characters as well. Do it the same way as before, this time colorizing them to blue.

add blue light
colorize character blue
change blend if options
add blue light to characters

5. How to Finish the Movie Poster

Step 1

We’re almost done, so now it’s time to take care of the details. Take a look at all of the characters. Do any of them look out of place? Add an adjustment to fix it. I decided to darken the character in the hood to make him more mysterious.

adjust contrast in the scene

Step 2

Add the jets to decorate the text.

add jets

Step 3

Add the jets to the background as well.

add jets in the background

Step 4

Add some Lorem Ipsum text with the Ultra Condensed font.

add secondary text

Step 5

Add a white glow to the text to make it more visible.

make text glow

Step 6

Show the guides again and see how the whole composition looks. It may be necessary to move the elements to make it more symmetrical.

check the composition

Step 7

Add a Levels adjustment on top. Use it to add more contrast to the picture.

add levels adjustment
change contrast with levels
make shadows deeper

Step 8

Paint on top of the mask to reveal the darkest part.

clean up shadows

Step 9

When you’re done, copy the whole image to a new file, or flatten it. Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise.

add noise to poster

Step 10

Duplicate (Control-J) the layer. Go to Filter > Other > High Pass. Drag the Radius to show only the edges.

add high pass

Step 11

Change the Blend Mode to Linear Light. This layer will sharpen the details.

sharpen whole image

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *