Thursday, May 25, 2017

Putrid Posters: Spider-Man: Homecoming

There was a time when a movie poster was just as important as the film it promoted, if not more so. A good poster would tease, inform and pique your interest about a particular film, whipping you into a frenzy until you couldn't wait to see the movie.

That time is long past. Gone are the days when movie posters were beautiful examples of graphic design and illustration, and works of art in their own right. Classic movie poster design has been replaced by nightmarish collages, poorly stitched together in Photoshop.

And they seem to be getting worse, not better. So bad that I'm starting a new feature here on Bob Canada's BlogWorld, called Putrid Posters.

For example, take this brand new Putrid Poster for Sony/Marvel Studio's upcoming joint venture, Spider-Man: Homecoming. Oy gevalt! Where do I start?

Seriously, Sony? It's hard to believe this is an official piece of promotional art from a professional marketing department, and not an example of amateurish fan art.

So why is it so bad? Because there's no design! There's no focal point to draw your eye, so your attention bounces all around the thing like a moth looking for a place to land. 

Who am I supposed to be looking at here? Who's the main character? Is it Tom Holland as Peter Parker? He's sort of in the center, but he's overwhelmed by Robert Downey Jr., who's sternly hovering over his shoulder as he stares off into the distance. What's he looking at? And why does he seem to be on fire? Who knows?

Why is Michael Keaton's face bigger than Tom Holland's? Is he more important than the main character? Why not place the small image of Keaton as the winged Vulture closer to his head, to establish a connection between the two?

Plus Michael Keaton and Marisa Tomei are both staring at something off to the right, which is another big no-no, as it drags your poor eye away from the main character (Tomei in particular seems delighted by whatever it is she sees!). They should both be facing inward, to draw your eye back to the center of the poster.

And was there really no other photo of Jon Favreau available anywhere in the world except for one in which he's awkwardly trying to button his suit jacket?

It's blatantly obvious that this "poster" was cobbled together from at least thirteen or fourteen different photographic elements, all of which were shot under radically different conditions with multiple lighting sources.

Seriously, look at the image above. Each yellow arrow represents a different light source.

As a general rule, when designing a collage with multiple figures and objects, you should pick ONE light source and stick with it. It helps to tie all the disparate elements together and make a complex layout into a cohesive whole. When you have a dozen light sources your eyes may not notice something's wrong, but your subconscious mind will.

Contrary to how I sound, I don't think ALL photographic posters are inherently bad. It's entirely possible to have a well-designed one. Take this Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 poster for example. It features lots of photographic elements, but they're all consistently lit, well-posed, extensively modified and they're all tied together with colorful computer graphics. 

You just needs an artist who knows what the hell they're doing.

There's a really easy way to eliminate all these photo-collage problems— ILLUSTRATE your poster instead! That way you won't be at the mercy of whatever photographic content you're provided, and you can control the light source, as well as the poses of your figures. No more guys buttoning their suits on the poster!

Where's Drew Struzan when we need him?

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