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Design Filter: Psychedelic Poster

11 November 2022

I was randomly assigned the film Raging Bull (1980) to design a poster. You can read about the project and see the final outcome in my Portfolio.

This blog series, Design Filter, is to focus on my design process for a few projects. This includes showing process work like mind maps and thumbnails.

This post will contain some spoilers for film The Raging Bull (1980).

To make this movie poster, I first watched the film in order to form my own opinion about it. I considered a few different approaches to metaphorically communicate a relationship breakdown and did an exercise of word association mixed with a mind map to get me started with the design.

The mindmap starts with the title of the film in the center, then branches to four main sections for characters, objects, art nouveau, and themes. Objects contains subcategories like glove, ring, ice water, blood, towel, and more. Themes includes boxing, jealousy, and domestic violence. Art nouveau includes female figure, nature, colour, and texture. The characters section includes names and roles of characters in the film.

One unused concept was to explore the idea of misguided chivalry (a white knight) using medieval imagery to focus on Robert De Niro’s character who is destructive, violent, and lacks self-insight. The inspiration for the medieval imagery were designs by Aubrey Beardsley who produced illustrations for Le Morte de Arthur [sample images in a blog post by Enchanted Booklet].

The thumbnails are arranged in a 4 by 7 grid. They vary in style from compositions with wavy, parallel lines like psychedelic posters from the 1970s music scene to medieval imagery with symbolic injuries like a knight being pierced by swords or chopping off a hydra's head only for other heads to appear. The images become more surreal like a heart pierced by a sword with flowers coming out of it to images of the main characters surrounded by dragons standing in a barren landscape.

After focusing on one of the thumbnails of the characters sitting apart on a giant sunflower to emphasise their failing relationship in a more literal way, I did studies of some movie stills and used reference books to develop the imagery.

The final thumbnails vary the angle of the camera and the size of the characters relative to the dragons. Beneath the thumbnails are sketches of dinosaur heads from different angles along with sketches of the actors from the film.

Imagery of a knight with arrows in his eye or being defeated by a dragon eventually bled into the final concept with the characters sitting apart and being surrounded by screeching flying dinosaurs. Here's the final black and white lineart to show what I mean.

Lineart of the illustrated poster.

If you would like to see the final design please see the Portfolio. If you would like to work with me, feel free to send me a message! 😊

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