The horror genre has its big share of pretty amazing, simple and creepy looking poster designs. In this tutorial, we will teach you some of the basic tricks that you can use to create your own horror movie poster design using Adobe Photoshop. Read through on the steps below to get started.
To start our movie poster, we first process our main feature image. For this example movie poster, we are going to use an image of a church and graveyard. Once the main feature image is open in Photoshop, duplicate it two times. One will be for an extra effect, and the other a backup. Just press CTRL+J two times to duplicate our main image layer or right click on the original layer and choose “duplicate layer” in the context menu.
Next, select the topmost duplicate layer. Then go to Filter -> Other -> Highpass… In the window that opens, use a value of 8.0 for the high pass pixel radius. Once done, go to the layers panel and change the Blend Mode of this layer to “Overlay”. This will add the sharp light areas of the high pass unto the layer underneath.
Now, select the second duplicate image below this top layer. Go to Image -> Adjustments -> Hue/Saturation. Drag the “saturation” slider to the left, decreasing the saturation value to -100. This effectively desaturates the image, turning it into a grey scale or “black and white” type image.
Next, using the Burn Tool, we darken the edges of our image. This will help us with integrating the image later into our poster (which will be decidedly dark). The burn tool also helps darken the clouds and trees for a more eerie and creepy effect.
Now, Go to Image -> Adjustments -> Levels. Adjust the “Shadow Input Level” (the black slider on the left of the input levels to a 20 value. This darkens our image a lot more, darkening the ones we burned most of all.
Now, our creepy image is ready for export. Simply select both the top desaturated layer and our darkened layer and then right click on them to access the context menu. Select “merge layers” to combine them, ready for our poster.
Great! Now we press CTRL+N to create a new document. Take note that we have NOT closed the original image layer yet. In the new document, set the necessary poster dimensions for printing. Also remember to maintain a high resolution so that the quality of the poster remains high. Typically, you will at least want a 300ppi value.
Now, paste in our main image layer from before. Scale it as needed by pressing CTRL+T and then scaling it up or down as needed.
Now, do not worry about the harsh line on top and at the bottom, we are going to deal with that by creating our very own cloud brush. Create a new document with a large square size. A size of 1000×1000 should be ok. Using the Elliptical Marquee tool, select the center of the image. Use a 75px feather radius for the selection. Also, make sure the canvass is white. Press “D” and “X” to change your foreground and background colors to the standard black and white. Then, go to Filter -> Render -> Clouds. This gives us some clouds in the center of a white document like so.
Then, go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset… On the window that opens, name your new cloudy brush as you want. Make sure of course to remember this.
Now, using the cloud brush that we created, we paint in some black clouds on top of our main image. Make sure to create a new layer for this so that you can adjust and repeat as necessary. Of course, pain over the rough cuts at the edges to achieve a more seamless transition with the black background.
As a final lighting adjustment, select the feature image layer again and go to Image -> Adjustments -> Brightness/Contrast… Add a 60 value to the contrast to make things still a bit creepier.
Now, we are ready to add in some poster details. For our example, we pasted in some bogus credit lines from an actual movie poster. You can also recreate this by using the Text tool and using Credit Line fonts such as Movie Letters. Simple search for it as it is a free download.
Then, we type in the title of the movie on top of the poster like so. We of course use a couple more creative font styles here. Just choose the right font for your theme. Also, we changed the color of the word devil to red of course to emphasize it.
Next, we create a new layer just below the text layer. Here, we used a couple of grunge brushes in deep red color to add some more devilish blood splatters near the devil word.
Then, we duplicate the tower text by pressing CTRL+J. We select the duplicate on top, and go to Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur. Set the angle to 45 degrees and the distance to 30 pixels. This gives some ghost text effect that you can use for your titles as well.
We further reduce the opacity of the original tower text to emphasize the transparent ghost effect in the text.
Next, we add a tagline just below the main image using a simple font style this time.
Finally, create a new layer on top of everything. Fill it with white. Then go to Filters -> Noise Add Noise. Use a large amount (around 87%) and set the distribution to Gaussian. Tick the checkbox for Monochromatic.
Change the blend mode of the noise layer to “Multiply” and reduce its opacity to around 52%.
Great! That should finish our Horror Movie Poster design. Use these tricks for your own horror themed color posters. Remember that you can also apply such technique to other printed media like flyers and catalogs if necessary. You would only need to tweak the dimensions of your canvas.
Author’s Bio: Hi! I’m Irene Thompson, a professional writer and a graphic designer. I work at PrintPlace.com, a trusted online printing company that offers quality business cards printing, catalog printing, and other powerful printed marketing materials. You can find me on twitter and facebook.