Create an Action Movie Poster in Photoshop

Create an Action Movie Poster in Photoshop
Create an Action Movie Poster in Photoshop

Learn how to make this action movie poster with Photoshop. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to make your own poster in 20 simple steps! Throughout the tutorial, you'll learn techniques that will help you create better image adjustments that will surely help you enhance your skills.

What you'll be creating

To create this poster, we'll start by doing the background. Next, we'll add the combat soldier and modify it to suit the poster more. After that, we'll add some coloring adjustments and we'll finish it up with the title. You'll need Photoshop CS3 or newer to follow this tutorial.


Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Go to File > New (or press Ctrl+N) and Create a New File at 650x900 pixels at 200 resolution. Name it 'Movie Poster'


Step 2

We'll start with the background. To make things more organized and neater, we will be dividing the layers in Groups. Create a new one by clicking on the Group Icon located at the bottom of the Layers Panel between the Adjustments Layers Icon and the New Layer Icon.


Rename the newly created group to 'Background'.


Step 3

Open the Boston City Stock Photo and place it on the canvas. Try to place the center of the image on the canvas with half of the lampost showing on the left side of the photo and bits of the skyline on the top. You can also re-size it if you prefer to show all of the image. If you are doing that, be sure to convert your image to a Smart Object first as doing so would let you retain the original quality of the image even if you resize it lots of times.


Step 4

Now that we're done with the Background, we'll move on to the Model. Create A New Group and this time name it as 'Model'


Step 5

Open the Combat Soldier Photo and remove the background, you don't need to worry about removing the background of the bottom part(specifically from the knees onwards) of the image as we will be covering it up later. You can use various Tools to remove the background: combination of Lasso Tool + Layer Mask; Pen Tool; Quick Selection; Magic Wand; combination of Brush + Layer Mask; Eraser to name a few. Feel free to use whatever Tool you're most comfortable with. I used the Lasso Tool + Layer Mask.


Once you're done Convert it to a Smart Object by Right-clicking on the Layer > Convert to Smart Object... Doing this will not only let us retain the original quality of the image as I stated before, but it will also let us re-adjust future edits we'll make with no problem.


Step 6

After that, place it to your canvas, re-size it to 65% then position it as shown below.


Next go to Filter>Sharpen> Sharpen.


Step 7

The man's arm's are pretty bright compared to the rest of his upper body while his face is a bit dark because of the original image's lighting but are going to fix that. To start off, double-click on the Smart Object Icon located on the bottom right corner of the Image Thumbnail. A window will pop-out just hit 'Ok'. Doing so will open us to a separate canvas filled only with that layer.


We'll start by lighting his face. But before doing so, set your Foreground Color to #C0C0C0. Now grab your Brush Tool (located on the Layers Panel |or| use the Keyboard Shortcut B), with the Hardness at 0% and Brush Opacity (take note, the brush opacity not the layer) at around 40-55%, brush over his face a couple of times.


Then Set the Blend Mode of the layer to Overlay and Create a Clipping Mask (Right-Click > Create a Clipping Mask...)


Step 8

Now we'll move onto his arms. First, using either the Pen Tool or the Lasso Tool, make a selection from his shoulder until his wrists. If you are using the Pen Tool, don't forget to convert the Path you made into a Selection. It doesn't really need to be precise, just enough to cover the bright parts. (I highlighted the parts I selected so you could see them...)


Click on the Adjustments Layer Icon> Curves. Adjust it like so:


Click on the Adjustments Layer Icon> Curves. Adjust it like so:


Re-select the selection we just made (Hold Ctrl then Click on the Layer Mask of the Curves).


Click on the Adjustments Layer Icon> Levels. Adjust it like so:


After that Save the .psb file by going to File > Save |or| press Ctrl + S

Step 9

Leave the .psb file open as you might need to re-adjust some settings later on. Go back to our main canvas, now we will cover the bottom part of the image. Change your Foreground Color to #0c1418, create a new layer and name it 'Brush' using the Brush Tool (Hardness at 0%, Brush Opacity at 100%, with the size of your choice), Brush over the bottom part of the canvas, try making an upside-down U or a triangle shape with a not-so-pointy end or a half circle.


Step 10

Create A New Layer and name it 'Lens Flare'. Using the Paint Bucket Tool, fill in your canvas with a solid black (#000000) color


Now go to Filter> Render> Lens Flare. Adjust it like so:


Try to position the Flare at the top Left corner of the Canvas. Then set the layer's Blend Mode to Color Dodge with the Opacity at 63% and Fill at 75%


Step 11

Now we move on to the coloring adjustments . Create a New Group and name it as 'Adjustments'.


Step 12

We'll start by trying to make the overall photo dark with Curves. Click on the Adjustments Layer Icon> Curves. Adjust it like so:


Step 13

Now use the Gradient Map to add a brown fill effect to it. Click on the Adjustments Layer Icon> Gradient Map. Adjust it like so:


Change it's Blend Mode to Hue.


Step 14

We'll darken the colors with Color Balance and while we're at it give it a bluegreen-ish tint. Click on the Adjustments Layer Icon> Color Balance. Adjust it like so:


Step 15

To give the image a more darken look and change some of the colors as well, we'll use Selective Color.Click on the Adjustments Layer Icon> Selective Color. Adjust it like so:


Step 16

To make the bottom part a darker, use the Gradient Fill, Click on the Adjustments Layer Icon> Gradient Fill. Adjust it like so:


Step 17

Create A New Layer and name it 'Border'


Select the Brush Tool. With Hardness at 0%, Brush Opacity at 30-45% at the size of your choice, brush over all four corners of the canvas. I also brushed over his waist area and other parts near there. The parts I brushed over are shown in red:


Feel free to re-adjust the Combat Soldier's arm (or other parts of the body) brightness if you feel that it looks weird.

Step 18

We're almost done! Time for the texts. Create a New Group and name it as 'Texts'


Step 19

Open a texture from the Movie Credits Texture Pack of your choice just making sure that the credits are written in white. Place it on the bottom of the canvas. Change it's Blend Mode to Lighten.Doing so would only show the white parts and hide all the black ones.


Step 20

Time for the title. Grab your Text Tool and type in your movie's title. 'Fearless' was the only word that came into my mind when I made this poster so I used that. You don't have to use the same one as I did obviously.


Here are the Title's settings:


Step 21

To add more effectto the title, we'll add some Layer Style. Double-click on the Text Layer to open up the Layers Style window, then follow these settings:
Drop Shadow:


Inner Shadow:


Bevel and Emboss:


Gradient Overlay:


To Create a new Gradient while on the Gradient Overlay Menu of the Layer Style Window, click on the Gradient to open up the Gradient Editor Window. Using the two colors indicated above make six new Gradient Stops by randomly clicking on the Gradient bar ; adjust the Stops' Locations like so:


Step 22

Duplicate the Text Layer ( Click on the Text Layer>Ctrl+J |or| Drag the Text Layer to the New Layer Icon.)


Place the Duplicated Layer below the Original one then Rasterize (Right Click>Rasterize) Name the layer as 'Blurred Title'


Step 23

Go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and adjust like so:


Set it's Blend Mode to Soft Light with the Opacity at 75%


Step 24

You can use a different Background and/or Model if you don't like the ones I used. While we're at it, you can add more textures and characters to it as well to make yours more original.

Final Results


Download the PSD

Fearless Movie

Tutorial by x--tenshii


And we are done! If you we're able to create the final result of the tutorial without any problems then Good Job! Give yourself a pat on the back or something. Feel free to message me if you weren't able to understand some of the steps.

- x--tenshii

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6 comments on “Create an Action Movie Poster in Photoshop”

  1. This action hero isn't messing around! I've often looked at film posters and wondered what kind of work goes into them. I grew up with some classic film posters such as the original Star Wars that were painted. However, modern ones can be captivating when they use the right blend of color, positioning, and shapes. On a more technical note, can I make posters using Photoshop elements or do I need Photoshop to make one as described here? Thanks!

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