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Create a Minimalist Movie Poster in 10 Easy Steps

Need a fun movie or music-themed poster for a film screening or party? Well now you can create an easy poster to go along with your happening event! In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to use Adobe Illustrator’s image trace to create a clean minimalist poster in only 10 steps! Let’s begin.

Software: Adobe Illustrator CS6 Extended

Difficulty: Intermediate

Completion Time: 1.5 hours

Images Used For This Tutorial

Stock Photo - Old paper with grunge textures and stains

Old paper with grunge textures and stains. (paper, parchment, background): 10380886 © David M. Schrader

Stock Photo - Electric guitar on the white

Electric guitar on the white (rock): 10609456 © photopips

Brainstorm and Sketch Ideas

Step 1

Before we get started, sketch out some ideas digitally or on paper. These simple thumbnails will help you understand which placement works best for our rock n’ roll concept. Once you have a good idea of which one you’d like to use, move onto creating your poster in Illustrator. The sketch in the top middle row will be the one we use today.

Setup the Document

Step 2

Now create a new 16x20in document in Adobe Illustrator. Paste your guitar reference into place and adjust the size so that it reflects your original sketch.


Step 3

Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle over the guitar with no stroke or fill so that it stretches to the border of your artboard. Then use the Selection Tool (V) to select both the guitar and the rectangle. Right-click and choose Make Clipping Mask to hide the areas that spill off the art board.

Trace the Guitar

Step 4

Now select the image again. Go to Window > Image Trace, making sure to switch over to the Edit Contents option. Under preset, start off with Black and White Logo then adjust the settings for a more custom result. Change the Threshold to 64, Paths to 65%, Corners to 60%, and Noise to 100px. Deselect Preview and hit Trace when you’re finished, then Expand to turn the trace into its own object.

Clean Up the Details

Step 5

Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a blue rectangle (#00aeef) for the background color. Lock the background layer to keep it in place. Select and delete any white layers that are still showing up until you have just the black guitar against your blue background.

Step 6

Naturally, the image trace wasn’t perfect so begin to go in and manually adjust points with the Direct Selection Tool (A). You can use other shapes to help trim areas by selecting both objects and hitting Minus Front in Pathfinder.

Step 7

Let’s change the colors to make this poster better. I decided to change the background color to a richer baby blue (#1688a3) and converted the black guitar to white. Continue to tweak and clean up the paths of the guitar, omit any sections that you don’t want, and add lines and dots that are missing on the guitar neck. When you’re finished, select the objects to expand them, and then merge them together.

Add Texture, Text, and Feathers

Step 8

Now for some texture! Unlock the background layer and select it with the Selection Tool (V). Go to Window > Transparency. Hit Make Mask, then select Clip as well as the clipping window. Once it turns black, copy and paste your old paper image into the clipping window, and resize it to fit the background. Lock the background layer once again.

Step 9

Let’s add some musical notes to this poster. Open a new document in Illustrator to work on. Use the Pen Tool (P) to create different musical notes, breaking them down into simple shapes. When you’re done with one, select the musical note and hit the Unite option within Pathfinder. Do this for each one.

Step 10

Copy and paste several musical notes into the document and fill them with a blue color that’s darker than the background (#14757f). Resize and vary the opacity of each one. Keep larger notes in the back for an interesting play on depth of field.

Step 11

Use the Pen Tool (P) again to fill in the guitar with the same dark blue color (#14757f) as before. Next, add the title and actor names to your movie using the Bebas Neue font.

Step 12

Lastly, create a simple vignette effect by stretching a rectangle over your poster and filling it with a soft radial gradient. Make sure the center is transparent and the outside color is filled with a dark green (#002427).

And that’s it! Making your own minimalist poster has never been easier. Have fun creating your own and trying out these simple techniques. Good luck!

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